Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We the little people vs. Auckland transport planning

ARC announces a funding gap of $700m and declares that the public transport wishlist is in the freezer. Absent from this declaration is any suggestion to cease road building and road improvement so we may assume that this is business as usual in cartown. And the already f****d up public transport system can rot again. Well how bad can it be ?

It takes my wife 80mins to get from Auckland hospital to our door at peak times a journey that can’t be more than 15k (a fit adult on a bike can do this in half the time). At sparrows fart the trip to work never takes less than 50mins (nb. There are no viable really early buses from where we are as we found out when we tried to catch an early plane). But now the fun starts - we cannot afford for my wife to take the bus-ride from the stop at the top of our drive why ? Because that route is owned by a different company to the one that runs the majority of routes into and around Auckalnd central connection of these services for the regular commuter would require a ‘special pass’. To buy a linked annual pass for this purpose would cost another $1000 on top of the $1400 we already pay. So to go from door to door using the bus service from the shore would cost a minimum of $2400p.a.. If my wife wasn’t a student I suspect it would cost closer to $3000. I dread to think of the cost to someone who has to use three services to get to work and doesn’t buy an annual pass. At these prices cars are starting to look really good value for money.

But here’s the best bit, my wife renewed the bus pass (that only she can use) at a cost of $1460 using the provided internet portal. The site declared that the pass would be delivered within four working days. It wasn’t delivered so two days before the expiry date she had to phone them to find out where the pass was. My wife was told that she would have to go to and collect the pass from a someone involved at Auckland Uni who was to be found at enrolment. If we had not have phoned how long would it have taken for them to tell us and did they propose to do it in writing ? After 45mins of queuing the pass was obtained with the accompanying excuse that the passes kept on getting stolen in the post so they wouldn’t send it. This is a lie defeated by the fact that the passes can be de-activated on request and therefore useless to the thief. The second reason given was altogether more truthful, so few passes had been requested they basically couldn’t be bothered to sort out postage. How lame is that ?

Despite considerable subsidies from ARC, the incumbent service provider still fails to open its books to public scrutiny, fails to provide a service that in any way really encourages all but the most determined commuter and has yet to buy its predominantly agreeable drivers a decent wage; But! they still pay shareholder dividends of course. Just how f****d up can this be………………

And no the alternatives for those of us on the shore are not good…..

Both my wife and I stopped cycling to work, why ? because Auckland drivers have no regard for anyone but themselves. We have collectively cycled in Beijing, Shanghai, London, Geneva, Paris, of all these places Auckland remains the worst. So bad in fact that it scared us off the road.

That said you really don’t want to walk in a town where the only safe place for cyclists is the path and consequently there is no safe place for pedestrians. This is also the town that cannot be a***d top put pavement on both said of many roads so getting to work on foot is a trial of lights that seem to take forever. Which is necessary because you have to cross and re-cross the road to find the pavement that will get you anywhere. Don’t bother running unless you want to spend a fortune on orthotics and physio either. The camber of many paths here is just silly…..

When I first got here I wanted to run from my house to the skytower over the Auckland bridge I have given up hope, but the idea still gets a few laughs along with the excuse that no paths were added to the bridge because the gradient was too steep….go on tell me that this rumour is true…..

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