03 Aug

New Campaign Celebrates NZ’s Good, Bad and Ugly Bus Stops

Best and worst bus

A new ‘Best and Worst Bus Stop’ campaign launched by the Public Transport Users Association seeks out the best and worst in New Zealand’s bus stops, in what they’re calling a ‘crowd sourced infrastructure audit’.

The campaign launch will be held today, Thursday, 4th August at 4pm at the bus stop on Victoria Street in Auckland outside SkyCity (opposite the” Casino Gold House”).

Association Chair Christine Rose says “Bus stops are the final frontier in a bus user’s journey. They can define the rest of the experience and be a deciding factor in whether people will use public transport or not”.

Mrs Rose says the campaign aims to “celebrate bus stops that actually provide shelter, amenity, good passenger information and safe access to buses”. “Such bus stops set a standard for the many users of bus services in Auckland. Everyone waiting for a bus in winter, wants respite from the wind and rain, and enough information so you know when your bus will come or if you’ve missed it”. “We all want safe, joined up pedestrian access to our buses, and even rubbish bins and artwork”.

“We’d like to hear from New Zealanders about their favourite bus stops and shelters, and why”. “We’re inviting bus users to share their quality services to be celebrated, on the ‘Best and Worst Bus Stop’ facebook page”.

At the same time, says PTUA Co-ordinator, Jon Reeves, “there are some dismal bus stops out there. There are those that are vandalised, unsafe and undeveloped”. “Catching a bus from some stops is like waiting in a waste land. A bleak and barren experience”.

“Bus stops should provide shelter to a standard fitting the most vulnerable user – as it’s often women and children, school kids, the elderly and early morning commuters who use them. Bus users deserve civilised conditions with a modicum of safety and service”, says Mr Reeves. “This campaign aims to seek out cases where minimum conditions aren’t being met”.

Mrs Rose says that this campaign shines a light on bus users’ experiences – seeking out the good, the bad and the ugly in New Zealand’s bus stops. “The public can easily have their say, in a fun way, by loading images onto the ‘Best and Worst Bus Stop’ facebook page, using social media for the celebration and / or exposure of NZ’s best and worst bus stops.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/fixourstop/

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11686943

Scoop story link

Courier Newspaper Link

Twitter handle: #fixourstop

There are prizes for the Best and Worst Bus Stop photos. $100 supermarket voucher for the Best bus top, and $100 supermarket voucher for the Worst bus stop.

The campaign launch takes place 4pm this Thursday 4th August outside SkyCity on Victoria Street

ENDS

About PTUA:

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is a politically independent, voluntary incorporated society and is run by a committee.
The PTUA represents current and future passenger transport users who travel by bus, train or ferry.
The PTUA is here to help promote public transport use and to ensure councils, transport agencies and central Government listen to bus, train and ferry users.

Best and worst bus stops

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27 Jun

PLANS TO ‘DERAIL’ AIRPORT PASSENGER TRANSPORT, A FAILURE OF COMMON SENSE

no-trains-no-brains

Transport planners are letting down both residents and visitors to Auckland in the decision to abandon heavy rail to Auckland International Airport says the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“Transport authorities are foreclosing future options and compromising optimum long term solutions for airport access, just when they should be protecting the airport rail route and providing connections for heavy rail into the rest of the regional rail network” says PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves.

“Nearly every major airport in the world is served by rail. Dedicated, uncongested and seamless links between city hubs and airports are critical to provide certainty to travellers, but the New Zealand Transport Agency rejects this conventional wisdom in its current thinking”.

“NZTA and Auckland Transport(AT) are proposing busway and/or tram-light rail solutions to the airport. In doing so they are rejecting the strong arguments in support of rail – an existing railway line already reaches within a few kilometres of the airport, whereas light rail or dedicated bus corridors require significant land and infrastructure development costs. Political and public support for conventional rail services from the current Onehunga terminus is high. Extending the link through Mangere will improve that community’s access to the regional rail network and to the airport, while using existing infrastructure wisely”.

“Light rail/trams and a busway are a dream, while conventional rail is already a successful reality for Auckland, and offers travel and construction time savings, cost savings, and it’s imminently do-able”, says Mr Reeves.

“NZTA and Auckland Transport are overlooking obvious solutions while putting faith in uncosted, undeveloped plans that are in some undetermined future. The agency is foreclosing heavy rail solutions even while light rail options are hypothetical, certainly not guaranteed”.

“In the decision to abandon conventional rail which serves the region so well, and compromising future development by removing the Neilson Street overbridge, NZTA and AT are putting the cart before the horse” says Mr Reeves. “Yet this is just when planners need certainty as Auckland International Airport redevelops. NZTA are leading the process which is more rightfully an Auckland Transport role. But what we get as a result is a failure of leadership all round”.

“AT and NZTA seem to have talked themselves into a corner which delivers poor outcomes for Onehunga, Mangere, the airport, Aucklanders, and travellers to and from the airport gateway. Meanwhile they exhibit a failure of imagination and common sense in rejecting the most rational use of existing corridors and infrastructure provided by heavy rail”. “We suggest both NZTA and AT go back to the drawing board, or at least carry out an independent review of their arguments against existing wisdom and investment, in favour of an alternative which is really just a wish and a dream”.

The PTUA supports the Campaign for Better Transport and Cr. Mike Lee’s abhorrent disbelief at the decision not to progress with planning for Airport Rail. Public opinion is set to grow against this highly flawed decision by NZTA and AT.

Reeves said “These two agencies should be ready for a well deserved public backlash in the lead up to local body elections and the general election next year. It could well be a matter the Government will need to step in to sort out as it is clear NZTA and the Council Own Organisation (AT) are lacking competence and common sense.

 

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18 Apr

Diesel Train Service Now, Pragmatic Solution To Area’s Growth, Public Say

DMU Auckland courtesy of M KilgourAuckland Transport (AT) continues its consultation on transport options to serve the region’s massive future growth, and locals favour passenger rail transport, but AT’s plans show unsustainable bias toward road based solutions for Huapai-Kumeu, say the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“The high growth greenfields development happening now in Huapai-Kumeu on the North West outskirts of Auckland, is crippling State Highway 16” says local resident and PTUA chair, Christine Rose. “SH16 is a strategic, freight and service industry transport alternative to SH1, but is at a standstill now because of residential sprawl unmatched with decent public transport infrastructure. Auckland Transport are consulting on plans for transport improvements sometime, including new roads and a busway from Westgate into the city, none of which have real timeframes or funding, nor deliver the transport solutions people say they want”.

In the last consultation round, passenger rail solutions were preferred by the public more than any other option. Auckland Transport, to their credit have moved slightly in suggesting an investigation into benefits and costs of electric rail to the area. ”But in effect, we’re no further ahead, with the plans showing bias toward a road-based solutions which have no timeframe, no budget, fail to address SH16 congestion and won’t serve the current growth of Kumeu” Rose added.

“Meanwhile, we’ve got an existing railway line, railway station, and diesel rolling stock that can be used tomorrow on an uncongested, dedicated route. With smart timetabling to meet the rest of the regional rail network, this service could start tomorrow, with marginal additional cost” says Mrs Rose. “Surely that’s a better deal for ratepayers and residents than living with crippling congestion for decades until ‘if and when’ budgets and plans are developed?”.

Both Mrs Rose as previous chair of the Auckland Regional Council’s Transport Committee and PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves, have been involved with successful rail campaigns such as that which brought rail back to Onehunga. Mr Reeves says “that campaign showed that there will always be opponents of rail development. But in using existing railway lines, diesel rolling stock, and platforms, we save ratepayers money and increase capacity on roading networks for important freight and service vehicles, and we can provide a decent, truly congestion free public transport service now, not in 20 years when it will be too late”.

PTUA propose a ‘Western Connector’ rail service initially offering hourly rail services between Huapai and Swanson from 6am to 8pm daily. This shuttle will connect with the wider Auckland rail network in the exact same fashion as the successful Pukekohe – Papakura rail shuttle service. “The beauty of our solution is it can start immediately as everything is in place and ready to go. Only the will of Auckland Transport is blocking Huapai, Kumeu and Waitakere residents and ratepayers having a rail service.”

The rail service will also encourage visitors to Huapai and Kumeu villages and the cycling community will benefit as they can transport bikes right out west, which is impossible with buses.

“We know the community overwhelmingly see rail as a pragmatic solution to their existing transport needs” says Mrs Rose. “Now we just need to convince the authorities that the public are right”.

As a side note, voices further north are pushing for a total upgrade of the rail line from Swanson to Whangarei to enable tourist passenger trains to operate at faster speeds. While the concept is slightly different to the “Western Connector” commuter service for Huapai, it shows that there is a growing desire by the public for an upgraded rail service, after 40 years of government initiated decline of the passenger rail system.

The Public Transport Users Association are planning a public meeting at the end of May as part of their campaign for rail services to Kumeu. Discussions are underway with Auckland Transport Chairman Lester Levy in the hope he can attend.

Please take the time tofill out or PETITION at the end of the article?

ENDS

Helpful Links

Western Connector proposal details : http://ptua.org.nz/1/2015/03/western-connector

Western Connector Kumeu proposed timeline

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23 Mar

Easter Warning For HOP Card Users

No rail for airport

The Public Transport Users Association is warning Auckland Transport HOP card users to be careful this long weekend as they could be overcharged for fares on Rail Replacement buses.
The PTUA brought the issue to the attention of Auckland Transport after faulty HOP card readers on rail replacement buses and connecting trains over Waitangi weekend overcharged passengers.
Jon Reeves, Coordinator for the PTUA, said “We have warned AT that passengers HOP cards have been illegally overcharged on long weekends when rail lines are partially closed down for maintenance, possibly by hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively. AT have not responded to our concerns, so this weekend the PTUA will be checking the fares for HOP users on rail replacement services. If any illegal overcharging occurs then we will be laying a complaint against AT with the Commerce Commission for breaching the Fair Trading Act by charging higher than advertised fares. Aucklanders have been promised a smart HOP card to make transport easier. Unfortunately, it has turned out the HOP card has made it easier for overcharging users and AT have not been forth coming correcting the issue”.
AT needs to advise and refund HOP card users, who are most likely unaware they are being overcharged by as much as double the published fare.  Reeves says “The PTUA have lodged an OIA request and are waiting for AT’s response to find out how many HOP card passengers used rail replacement services in the past 14 months, and how many were overcharged.
The PTUA are asking passengers to check the fare deducted from their HOP cards on journeys this weekend which use buses as full or partial replacement for train services. If they believe they have been over charged, please contact the PTUA with details. HOP card users should pay particular attention on these services which could overcharge your account:
All services on the Western Line will be replaced by rail buses from Good Friday (25 March) to Easter Monday (28 March).
All services on the Southern, Eastern and Onehunga Line will be replaced by rail buses on Good Friday.
Trains are operating between Sylvia Park and Britomart on the Eastern Line on Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Easter Monday 28 March. All other services will be replaced by buses.
All services on the Southern and Onehunga Line will be replaced by buses on Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Easter Monday 28 March.

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12 Mar

COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR KUMEU RAIL GROWS

Western Connector Kumeu proposed timeline

Auckland Transport staff were overwhelmed with support for commuter rail services to the greenfields growth area of Huapai and Kumeu at a public ‘drop-in’ session on Thursday night.
Hundreds of disgruntled locals expressed strong frustration that the railway line runs through their town but transport officials canned planned services to the area. Auckland Council and the Government identified the area on the western outskirts of Auckland for accelerated growth as part of Special Housing Area (SHA) development. This adds to existing pressure as thousands of houses replace rural farmland along the rail corridor. The liberalisation of subdivision controls in the area is seeing another 3000 or so houses being built now, and another 3500 estimated through the SHAs.

The Public Transport Users Association have been leading a campaign to have rail reinstated and say despite more than a hundredfold increase in population, there’s been no Council investment in transport infrastructure for years. Local resident and former Auckland Regional Transport Committee chair, Christine Rose, who is also the chair of the Public Transport Users Association, says support for rail passenger services to the area overwhelmed all other transport options under consideration to serve urban development in the area.

‘At the public meeting run by Auckland Transport, there was almost unanimous support from the community for renewed rail services to the area given the infrastructure is already in place, and congestion is strangling traffic on State Highway 16.” “People logically see the uncongested rail corridor which sits in the heart of the community as an efficient use of existing resource”. “They don’t see the need to wait until 2030 for a busway to Westgate or road based solutions to transport constraints. The railway line should be offering connectivity and access to key communities of interest and work, education and recreation destinations in the rest of the Auckland network now.” “Locals know like no-one else, that growth has already outstripped the capacity of existing roading networks and a cost-effective solution exists in rail.”

The Public Transport Users Association proposes a ‘Western Connector’ rail service for the area extending services from the rest of the Auckland rail network at Swanson using spare rolling stock and timetable capacity to meet the high growth area’s transport needs now.

Jon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator says, “Auckland Transport promised a review of the 2012 report which was severely flawed in terms of costings, demand and did not take into consideration the growth caused by the Special Housing Areas in Huapai-Kumeu. So far we have not heard a peep out of Auckland Transport over the review so it looks like we need to reapply public-backed pressure on AT for immediate action. The spare diesel railcars are sitting idle and the station platforms are ready to be used in Waitakere and Huapai now.”
“Auckland Transport promised large savings from operating the new electric trains and they have recently increased fares so we are confident they can find the budget required to operate a Swanson-Huapai “Western Connector” rail shuttle. Auckland Transport are rapidly running out of excuses not to deliver the rail shuttle to the people of Huapai-Kumeu. They already operate diesel railcar shuttles to Pukekohe” Reeves added.
Western Connector details can be found at: http://ptua.org.nz/1/2015/03/western-connector/

Western Connector Timeline Proposal:

Western Connector proposed timeline

Please take the time to fill out our petition for north western rail today:

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10 Mar

Rail – Essential Option For High Growth Huapai-Kumeu

Now Auckland Transport and the Rodney Local Board are currently consulting local communities on transport options for dealing with future growth. But the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is encouraging people to support passenger rail options to Kumeu-Huapai, even in the short term, given the massive growth happening now.

Kumeu-Huapai and nearby Riverhead, were established on the railway line, which continues to traverse its centre. ‘The existing rail line offers good connectivity to key communities of interest in the west and central city’ says PTUA Chair, local resident and former regional transport chair, Christine Rose. ‘But Auckland Transport recently scuttled long-held plans for resumption of rail services to the fast growing area, despite a surplus of rolling stock and timetable capacity to run a service’.

The area is undergoing the current development of several thousand new houses, and over 3500 additional houses have been fast tracked under the Government and Council’s Special Housing Area scheme. State Highway 16 which also bisects the area and runs parallel to the railway line, is already heavily congested for most of the day, and traffic volumes double in the weekend. Locals say congestion paralyses the local economy and their ability to efficiently get to work and educational facilities across the region.

‘The development already occurring in the area has created significant transport pressure,
thwarting the State Highway transport function’ says Mrs Rose. ‘We can’t road build our way out of this congestion given the existing constraints in Kumeu, but rail offers the community a congestion free corridor, available now’. ‘This is a location where rail offers clear advantages over alternatives, both for the present and the future’.

The Rodney Local Board is holding a series of future transport consultation meetings, as it grapples with rapid greenfields growth and an existing infrastructure deficit. PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says ‘Given rates pressures facing the region, it makes sense to use existing resources and infrastructure, such as the North Auckland line and the existing railway stations, to serve high growth communities’. Mrs Rose, who was councillor for the area for 15 years, says ‘the area was chosen for growth because of its proximity to the railway line which was seen as an ideal transport solution for decades’. ‘All that changed in 2012 when AT received a report which condemned rail asan option, based on inaccurate growth projections, costings and timetable scenarios’.

PTUA says there’s considerable community support for passenger rail services to the area, now and in the future, and frustration it’s not already being actively pursued. ‘We encourage residents to have their say, and submit to both the Local Board, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, at every opportunity, in the interests of transport and rates efficiency both now and in the future’.
Auckland Transport invites feedback on its plans by March 17.

https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/transport-for-future-urban-growth/transport-for-growth-in-north-west-auckland/
Submissions can be made to the Auckland Council Draft Annual Plan until March 24.

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26 Jan

Prime Minister Can Solve Auckland’s Traffic Woes

Peak hour north western motorway 2015

The Public Transport Users Association is looking forward to the Prime Minister John Key’s expected announcement tomorrow that the Government will bring funding for the City Rail Link project forward by two years.   This move will allow full construction of the CRL to get underway in 2018, instead of the 2020 date the Government has previously advocated for.

Coordinator of the Public Transport Users Association, Jon Reeves, has welcomed the move. “Bringing construction of the City Rail Link forward will provide an important step change in public transport usage across Auckland. It will allow seamless travel throughout the Auckland rail network and reduce travel times to West Auckland by around 15 minutes. It will also allow for the recently marginalised Northern Explorer service to again depart from Britomart, and enable commuter rail services from Hamilton to arrive in the centre of the Auckland CBD”, Reeves said.

However, the PTUA is aware that the Prime Minister may also choose to promote the completion of the East-West connection between Penrose and Onehunga, at an anticipated cost of over $2 billion. The PTUA would view this call as the government bowing to the demands of the powerful trucking lobby. “An East-West truckway is not what Aucklanders want” Reeves says.  “What Aucklanders have been crying out for decades is a fast rail service to Auckland International Airport. Building the Airport Rail line will move thousands of vehicles out of Onehunga and the surrounding areas by freeing up space for the trucking industry. Building an unnecessary East West truckway first, instead of an airport rail line, is taking a short-sighted approach and lacks common sense.”

Other important public transport projects the PTUA would like to see brought forward are:

  • Extend electrification of the rail line to Pukekohe and Pokeno
  • Extend electrification of the rail line extend from Swanson to Huapai to provide reliable and efficient public transport options for this rapidly expanding residential area
  • Extension of the highly successful Northern Busway to Silverdale
  • Construction of the Nor West Busway to Westgate
  • Funding to build a busway from Panmure to East Auckland
  • NZTA funding of public buses from Warkworth to Silverdale
  • Funding of specialist Police unit dedicated to public transport

Fast-tracking these important public transport projects will deliver far better solutions to Auckland’s transport issues than throwing more money at plans for yet more unsustainable motorway expansion. For 65 years Auckland has been building motorways as the city has sprawled, and today the roads are more gridlocked than ever.  Recent and future housing development in areas unsupported by good public transport infrastructure is only adding to the problem. Sustainable solutions that work to move people out of cars and onto reliable, frequent and efficient public transport are the only way forward.

The PTUA hopes to see some of this thinking reflected in the Prime Ministers announcement tomorrow.

ENDS

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16 Dec

Passengers Dealt Double Blow For Christmas

SuperGold_Card_image

An unexpected gift is being delivered to Auckland public transport users just in time for the holiday season. Auckland Transport will increase the cost of purchasing new HOP cards from $5 to $10 from Friday, 17 December. As yet, no justification for the increase has been provided to passengers.

The Public Transport Users Association opposes increasing the cost of the HOP card, particularly at a time when AT should be encouraging people to choose public transport over cars. PTUA spokesperson Jon Reeves says that “while AT have been doing some great things for PT users, this completely unjustified increase is more proof that one arm of AT doesn’t know what the other is doing – and public transport users in Auckland deserve better”. This decision has been questioned by public transport lobbyists across the board because it makes no sense.

The increase follows last week’s announcement that Kiwirails’ Northern Explorer train service between Auckland and Wellington will relocate from its current home at the Britomart Transport Centre to the extremely inconvenient Strand platform at the former Auckland Railway Station, over 1.2 km from its present location in Downtown. CLICK HERE for the recent NZ Herald article.

Kiwirail say a free shuttle service will operate between the Strand and Britomart, however the PTUA are concerned this service will only be temporary. Comment from large tourist operators in Auckland suggest they are unhappy about the impact these changes will have on their customers, and have stated they will keep the PTUA informed of any issues that arise following the changeover. CLICK HERE to read more.

The PTUA has received emails from Paul Reidy, Kiwirail CEO, and Gavin Rutherford, Head of Kiwirail Scenic, but it is clear they seem to be surprisingly unaware of the damage the relocation will do to the appeal of the service. Arriving in the centre of downtown Auckland is a significantly more attractive conclusion to a 10.5 hour long train journey, however “being dumped in the middle of nowhere, with no public transport links, after that long journey, is not the smartest solution they could have come up with” Reeves says.
“I have challenged Gavin Rutherford to join me on the 23 minute walk with two suitcases from Britomart to the Strand, to see if he still truly believes it is a convenient distance for passengers to negotiate. He has failed to reply to that request.” Jon Reeves said.

The PTUA suspects Auckland Transport is behind the Kiwirail decision to relocate the service, and have asked for confirmation from AT that it has not asked Kiwirail to leave Britomart. No reply has yet been received from AT management. PTUA concludes that AT do not support long distance rail, and that the organisation has become disconnected from what best serves the public in this case.
This Christmas, the anti-public transport options being offered by AT and Kiwirail leave much to be answered for.

ENDS

More from the NZ Herald

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04 Dec

Train Plan Set to Fail

2015-12-04_14.01.32

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is concerned about rumours from our members about plans to relocate the Northern Explorer Auckland to Wellington train service from its current base at the Britomart Transport Centre, to the extremely inconvenient Strand platform behind the former Auckland Railway Station, located over a kilometre away between Downtown and Parnell.

“We have contacted Kiwirail on a number of occasions this week for a confirmation of this plan but have not yet received a response,” said Jon Reeves, Coordinator of the PTUA. “It appears Kiwirail have started building an office at the Strand platform in the past week. The PTUA does not support the move of the Northern Explorer service to the Strand site, where public transport connections to the rest of the city are limited.” Reeves added.

The PTUA are concerned the relocation of the Northern Explorer to the Strand will impact on demand and provide cause for the service,  the last long distance passenger rail option in the North Island, to be terminated. The PTUA are considering the possibility that Kiwirail and Auckland Transport are planning to run the service down, in order to free-up the rail network channel currently occupied by the Northern Explorer service.

Ultimately, Auckland needs the construction of the City Rail Link brought forward with confirmed investment by the Government and construction of the third railway line from Westfield to Papakura. Delaying full construction of the CRL 2020 is simply not an option, or in the best interests of Auckland. Without these critical rail infrastructure components, much needed fast inter-regional commuter rail services to cities such as Hamilton and Tauranga will never eventuate.

As an alternative, the PTUA suggest that if Auckland Transport need the morning slot in the Britomart Transport Centre for commuter trains, then adjusting the Northern Explorer timetable for a 9:15am departure would be a better alternative. A later departure time would enable the service to remain in its current location at Britomart.  Passengers, particularly tourists, will not be affected by this change in schedule, if anything it would be potentially more attractive than the current 7:45am departure time. On the flip side, passengers arriving into Auckland from Wellington in the evening will be faced with limited transfer options outside of taking taxi’s to Britomart to connect to the public  transport network.

“This is not a good look for tourists and their first impression of Auckland”, Reeves says. “We know that in Auckland city, if you place trains out near the old station – which closed in 2003 – train patronage will be hampered. The rumoured plan to move the Northern Explorer trains to the Strand platform is certainly a very unwise move and needs to be stopped in its tracks immediately.“

The Public Transport Users Association encourages tourism operators to contact Kiwirail with feedback about this plan. We would also welcome Kiwirail’s response to PTUA concerns.

ENDS

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16 Oct

Pukekohe Rail Users Survey

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