Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's that smell?

5:00 pm boat from city - Fullers dump effluent - stinking sewage smell poorly masked by a strong chemical.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

See how easy it is!

If only one has the political will a lot is obviously possible. Since yesterday a policy of free public transport after 9am, on weekends and public holidays is being rolled out in New Zealand.
A fully integrated public transport and ticketing system has been created overnight, without much murmuring (except by the transport companies left out by the scheme, such as the car ferries to Waiheke) or problems with participating companies. There's one obvious flaw though: it's only for pensioners.
Everybody else who has to pay the fares still faces a balkanised, un-integrated and costly system. I don't need to remind you that on that very day of free fares for oldies we got finally whacked in our pocket with the 14% season ticket increase: a cruel irony which I messaged to the press secretary of Judith Tizard, who had triumphantly released the policy and had mailed it to me. He was on the phone to me immediately so I could give him another earful.
The massive government subsidy in this pensioner travel scheme to transport companies will be a boon for them: overseas experience sees buses, trains and ferries clogged with older people in off peak periods - and not always to the amusement of the other traveling (and paying) public faced with overloaded vehicles and lengthy waits. And it's far from certain that this windfall will be (even partially) passed on to us in lower general fares.

The politics of it all are, of course, very cynical in these electoral times: the division of the community along age lines by these kind of special interest policies are breath taking but unsurprising. We won't be seeing Grey Power coming along to future ferry fare protest meetings! And will other parties now campaign for their interest groups? Free fares for Maori? For Christians?
But there is also a bigger picture to be considered. How are we ever going to get an integrated system without the Government bulk funding and tendering services? Like Pharmac bulk purchasing drugs for the health system's patients, ARTA could purchase public transport on behalf of all of us, which would make it either free for residents or at a capped monthly charge much lower than the current season ticket price.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More rebel rabble rousing

From the C4FFF press release:
Waiheke Island commuters are about to find out just much food you can buy for $44. A protest organised by the Campaign for Fair Ferry Fares (C4FFF) will provide food for thought for the island's commuters on 1 October, when Fuller's new monthly ferry fare increases come into effect.
Members of the Campaign for Fair Ferry Fares will be at Matiatia Wharf, showing commuters and ferry users just how much will be coming out of their monthly food budget once they are purchasing tickets and monthly passes at the new increased rates.
Over the past six years, Waiheke commuters have faced dramatic price hikes of 52%. The latest increase of 12.7% has boosted the monthly commuters' pass from $300 to $344 and, for some Waiheke families, the household budget can't stretch any further.
C4FFF spokesperson Cathy Urquhart said, 'For some people on lower incomes, the choice is between fares or food. So we are putting $44 worth of food on the wharf to illustrate the impact for people and their families.'
C4FFF will be urging fellow commuters and community members to write to their politicians and request a reduction in fares.
'ARTA has powers under the new Public Transport Management Act to regulate the route and its affordability, but this will take a minimum of two years to be actioned. We can't wait that long to see the disastrous impact on families and local businesses as people leave the island. We need our politicians to act now'.
C4FFF held its first protest last month on September 1 after Fullers Ferries first announced the price hikes. A coffin full of petitions was carried onto the Fullers 8am sailing to protest against the death of diversity on the island.
The 'Food for Thought' protest will begin at Matiatia Wharf on Wednesday 1 October at 7am and continue until the 8am sailing.
Meanwhile the ferry monopoly situationand unacceptable fare hikes made the newspaper too, and was even reproduced on an Infratil website.

Shirin Brown, one of the members involved in the campaign, will be on the Scrutiny programme (on Triangle Television 1 October 7.30pm, and Stratos Television on October 7 at 9.30pm)