09 Nov

“Sensible solution for Auckland Transport is back to the future” 

Best and Worst Bus Stops

The discussion over new Mayor Phil Goff’s decision not to appoint Councillors to the AT Board highlights that “there’s little debate that Auckland Transport’s governance arrangements need reviewing” says the Public Transport Users Association.

“While there are differences of opinion about the solutions, there is widespread agreement about the problems”. “Poor performance on some indicators, a perceived lack of accountability, inefficiencies, a lack of contestable advice – all show signs of typical transport capture with AT”, says PTUA Chair Christine Rose.

“But the most sensible solution may rest in Auckland’s past” says Mrs Rose. “Up until 2010, and everywhere else in the country now, citizens have the value of a broadly representative Regional Land Transport Committee to help shape important strategic transport decisions”. “Everywhere else in the country high-level transport direction is informed by political representatives. But these are supplemented by voices from the community too”. “PTUA recommends that in addition to the two re-established political Board roles, key Board members could also include those mandated for the rest of New Zealand”.

Regional Land Transport Committees (RLTC) elsewhere in New Zealand develop Regional Land Transport Strategies that set out the region’s transport vision and objectives. In Auckland, Auckland Transport already has the legal functions of an RLTC. “It makes sense therefore, to reflect what is essential and works well for the rest of the country. For a Unitary Authority like Auckland, the main transport decision making board (the RLTC equivalent) should include five elected representatives from the Council, one from NZTA, one cultural representative, and one to represent each of the objectives in the 2008 NZ Transport Strategy – economic development, safety and personal security, environmental sustainability, public health and access and mobility”.

PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says there are clearly many voices missing from important transport decisions in Auckland, that are mandated to sit at the table elsewhere in the country. “Where are the voices for those with disabilities or cultural knowledge, or for sustainability?” “Up until the latest decision to axe the meagre two elected representatives, these Board members carried those cudgels. Now even that opportunity is being removed”.

“Ultimately on an enhanced AT Board that takes on the equivalent role of an RLTC, those positions might be filled by sector representatives, such as the AA, the Employers and Manufacturers’ Association, cycling advocate representatives, other advocates” says Mr Reeves. “But we’d be ensuring statutory objectives were being considered openly, as is required elsewhere in New Zealand.” “There’s no case for Auckland exceptionalism and the prohibition against political and community representation here”, he says.

Mrs Rose, who was Chair of the region’s last Regional Land Transport Committee before the creation of Auckland Council and the Auckland Transport CCO, says the monolithic, hostile AT Board edifice would well benefit from more open governance, rather than closing it down. “Inclusive and consensus based decision making is essential for transport governance elsewhere in the country, and it worked well in Auckland until amalgamation”. “We may have to look to the past – and elsewhere in the country

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

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.

 

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

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:

20 Jul

Pukekohe Electrification Needed

Image courtesy of M Kilgour

Today hails a massive step forward for Auckland rail passengers with electric trains rolled out on all lines. However, Franklin passengers have yet to share the joy of full electrification as it stops short in Papakura.

The Public Transport Users Association would like the Government to come to the party and put up its share of funding to have electrification extended to Pukekohe, or even Tuakau/Pokeno.

PTUA-Jon-Reeves-PukekoheJon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator, says “the only reason why Pukekohe passengers have to change trains at Papakura is because the Government has not funded the logical extension of electric rail services to Franklin. Compared to building the Takanini motorway interchange around $200 million, the estimated $110 million to extend electrification 18 kms from Papakura to Pukekohe is extremely affordable for the Government and will benefit the huge growth in population and passengers.”

The PTUA would like to see the new Hunua MP, Andrew Bayly, actively lobby the Government for immediate funding approval. Auckland Transport has already undertaken in-depth studies and the Benefit to Cost Ratio stacks up. Passengers are now encouraged to actively start contacting their local MP to let him know that Franklin deserves electrified rail services now. “The time for fobbing off Pukekohe rail passengers with excuses is now over. Action and leadership from the local MP is now needed seen and heard” Reeves said.

new-auckland-transport-at-electric-train-no-good-for-pukekoheThe PTUA is also concerned that the diesel rail shuttles operating to Papakura require extremely high quality performance on the part of Auckland Transport (AT). With Pukekohe passengers now having to change trains at Papakura the onus is now very much on AT to deliver perfect train time keeping. AT need to ensure all rail shuttles connect seamlessly into the network. “The last thing we want to see is Pukekohe passengers arriving at Papakura just as the electric train to Britomart departs or vice-versa” Mr Reeves said.

The PTUA will be at Pukekohe station surveying passengers at various dates and times over the next few months to collect feedback about the rail shuttle experiences. Passengers are also encouraged to fill out our online General Passenger Survey. This can be found at www.PTUA.org.nz

Today hails a massive step forward for Auckland rail passengers with electric trains rolled out on all lines. However, Franklin passengers have yet to share the joy of full electrification as it stops short in Papakura.

The Public Transport Users Association would like the Government to come to the party and put up its share of funding to have electrification extended to Pukekohe, or even Tuakau/Pokeno.

Jon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator, says “the only reason why Pukekohe passengers have to change trains at Papakura is because the Government has not funded the logical extension of electric rail services to Franklin. Compared to building the Takanini motorway interchange around $200 million, the estimated $110 million to extend electrification 18 kms from Papakura to Pukekohe is extremely affordable for the Government and will benefit the huge growth in population and passengers.”
The PTUA will be at Pukekohe station surveying passengers at various dates and times over the next few months to collect feedback about the rail shuttle experiences. Passengers are also encouraged to fill out our online General Passenger Survey. This can be found by clicking HERE.

 

16 Jul

Western Passengers Face Rail Cuts

waitakere-ripped-offWestern Passengers Face Rail Cuts. Commuters, communities and ratepayers are angry at Auckland Transport’s axing of all Waitakere trains from tomorrow.

After 133 years service the last commuter train will roll out of Waitakere station all because of an outdated, over-inflated report commissioned and signed off by the Board of Auckland Transport in early 2013.

The Public Transport Users Association has highlighted to the Board the many errors which worked against retaining Waitakere Station and extending commuter services to the growing North West Auckland communities of Huapai and Kumeu.

Auckland Transport’s Board decision rejecting rail services to the North West had nothing to do with benefiting passengers, nor the communities in the Nor West. In fact it will potentially turn many rail passengers off public transport all together. Since that report we’ve also had a Special Housing Area confirmed and more in the process for Huapai and surrounds. All these developments plus the flaws highlighted by the Public Transport Users Association defy logic for cutting back Auckland’s rail network at Waitakere, the first cut back of rail services in over 30 years, affecting one of the fastest growing areas in the region.

The PTUA has surveyed hundreds of passengers over the past 6 months who use Waitakere and Swanson stations. The fundamental reason why passengers have ceased using Waitakere station is the clear mismanagement by design on the part of Auckland Transport. “AT’s own data reveals the huge scale of train cancellations designed to make catching trains at Waitakere a gamble”.
“Passengers never know if they’ll get to work or school on time, or be able to get home in the evening. The bus replacement option is a joke, slow, inconvenient and unable to carry bikes, pushchairs or wheelchairs for disabled passengers” says Christine Rose, Chair of the PTUA.

DMU Auckland courtesy of M KilgourThe PTUA has proposed the “Western Connector”, a regular diesel rail shuttle, between Huapai and Swanson connecting with the electric rail network. This is exactly the same concept as now operates at the southern end of the line between Papakura and Pukekohe and a good interim service until one day when electrification can be extended further west. “Trains are significantly faster than buses from Huapai to every single Western Line destination, including Newmarket, especially with recently announced added delays to the North Western bus service.

Jon Reeves said, “Auckland Transport should be a champion of the public transport user! AT’s continuing disservice to the rail passengers of Waitakere and further West is anything other than putting customers first.”

Due to a continuing campaign by the PTUA, Auckland Transport recently has decided to take another look at developments in Huapai-Kumeu and public transport needs. “PTUA has asked AT to advise us of the scope of the review. We want to make sure they do not use the outdated, flawed report as reference again and that they include a review of our common sense Western Connector proposal” says Mr Reeves.

“Every Local Board approached and the Auckland Council Infrastructure Committee agrees with us and our concerns. It is now time for Auckland Transport to prove they listen to the community it is supposed to serve.” said Reeves.

Click Here to sign our petition. 

20 Jun

Meet the PTUA team at The Green Living Show

ptua funeral train for waitakereMeet the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) team at The Green Living Show, ASB showgrounds June 27th and 28th from 10am – 5pm.

At stand 431 you can find out about the PTUA, current campaigns, sign our petition to have trains extended to Huapai-Kumeu and fill in our 2015 Auckland PT Users Survey. We would be glad to talk with you.

03 Jun

FUNERAL TRAIN UPDATE

ptua funeral train for waitakereThe Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) will hold a special “Funeral Cortege Train” complete with mourners, the grim reaper and a coffin this coming Thursday morning (4th June). The train will depart from Waitakere Railway Station at 6:58am and arrive at Britomart Station approximately 8am.

The coffin will symbolise the pending death of Waitakere and Huapai-Kumeu railway stations as Auckland Transport (AT) refuses to listen ratepayers, residents, business associations and public transport users who want commuter trains retained to Waitakere while the case for having trains extended to the Nor-West growth centres of Huapai-Kumeu is reviewed.

AT CEO David Warburton has been invited to address the cortege when it arrives at the entrance of the AT Headquarters, lower Queen Street.

FULL SCHEDULE FOR 4th JUNE:

Waitakere Railway Station, Waitakere Township, West Auckland.

    • 6:40am Costumed mourners and grim reaper meet at station with coffin
    • 6:50am short speech about the reasons for this action by PTUA
    • 6:55am Cortege and coffin join train
    • 6:58am Scheduled train departs, stopping at all stations en route to Britomart. Commuters will be handed information about planned cuts to Waitakere trains as they join the train.
    • 8:00am Approximately train arrives at Britomart Transport Centre. Coffin carried out of train, through Britomart Transport Centre, across lower Queen St to the Auckland Transport Headquarters entrance (HSBC building, 1 Queen St)
    • 8:15am Auckland Transport representative invited to address the PTUA and supporters cortege. Then speech by PTUA Chair Christine Rose and Coordinator Jon Reeves. Questions and answers.
    • 8:30am service ends.

To ensure everything runs to time media are requested to be in place well in advance of the schedule above.

26 Mar

The Western Connector

A frequent railcar service providing hourly services Huapai – Waitakere – Swanson

14 services per day, each direction, 6am – 8pm utilising Huapai station which is unused, built in 2009. Connecting with the new electric train network at Swanson.

A Reliable Congestion Free route. An independent service. Not impacted by any potential rail service delays or cancellations from Britomart. Connects with buses from Helensville / Waimauku and Riverhead.

Image courtesy of M Kilgour
Significantly faster transit times (see Graphic) to employment/shopping/leisure destinations of Henderson, New Lynn, Kingsland, Mt. Eden, Grafton, Newmarket than buses and faster than private cars at peak times. City Rail Link will further reduce transport times to CBD by approximately another 15 minutes.

Why has it not yet happened? Why did AT remove Huapai-Kumeu from the long held development plan?

A 2013 report commissioned and adopted by Auckland Transport over inflated capex of Huapai – Swanson rail by approximately $13 million by offering a gold plated proposal which included proven flawed advantages of using buses instead of rail.

Existing railway stations at Swanson, Waitakere and Huapai do not require $9 million in upgrades. Signals, track work upgrades and new rolling stock would not be required.

Reports stated operating costs of $3 million per annum. Our “Western Connector” solution will cost approximately half that amount before fare income.

Railcars already available, becoming redundant with electrification, Auckland Transport is planning to retain them and refurbish them.

Train vs bus timetable west auckland

Click on the above image to view the considerably faster travel times

Pukekohe – Papakura already has a similar rail shuttle service with railcars and is an example where rail patronage has grown by 1300% since 2003. Why not West Auckland?

Help your community get a decent commuter rail service:

Sign our online petition. Tell your Councillor and MP’s you want the Western Connector rail service. To get involved Contact Us Here!