Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday commuting

Commuting on Sundays in Auckland is a challenge, what with a dearth of buses in town, K Road nightlife debris trying to get on the bus, trying to find the right change and trying to stay awake during the trip, it's life as you can see on no other day in town.
But Fullers does a good job with hourly services, and Starflyte even arrived a minute early (8:33:50) so my congratulations. Please don't fine the captain for putting his foot on the accelerator.
No how about a few more boats on Sunday night so a night out in town will be feasible?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Making Fullers run on time

A flyer was handed out to passengers by ferry staff on Wednesday night - always an occasion for apprehension because it usually spells bad news of some kind, either boat breakdowns (Jet Raider gave up the ghost after two weeks during this year's Superflyte survey - surely a record!) or fare increase announcements.

But no, instead it told us of the installation of a new feature on Pier 2: an electronic clock. The aim is to co-ordinate the boat clocks with the wharf clocks so everybody will know what time it is that the ferry leaves. Finally, 160 years after England standardised its timezone due to the arrival of the railway, Auckland ferry time clocks on board and on land will now be GPS controlled. How that will contributes to the sum total happiness of the population remains a mystery, but I can think of one useful feature: it will enable everybody to see, to the second, whether the Fullers publicity claim of 35 minutes to and from Waiheke corresponds with reality.
On Thursday morning I arrived at 8.38.50, which is a 10% delay. Feel free to keep noting down arrival times and mail it to us.
Arrival times are far more relevant to passengers than departure times since onward connections are made or lost by any delays.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Integrated ticketing: creeping closer

From the Auckland Regional Council:
ARC chairman (and Waiheke Islander) Mike Lee heaped praised on the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for achieving a break-through on integrated ticketing.
ARTA and NZTA today announced they will work with an experienced French company, Thales, to develop a system for Auckland’s buses, trains and ferries.
Mr Lee called integrated ticketing a “key piece in the public transport jigsaw” which would enable a quantum leap forward for Auckland public transport patronage.
“Seamless movement between trains, buses and ferries using a smartcard ticket will make public transport a much more attractive option for Aucklanders.”
ARTA began the tender process for the ticketing system last year but it was delayed by an NZTA review, instigated in part by a rival tenderer.
“While the delay has been disappointing, the system has now passed rigorous checks with flying colours – especially in terms of national application.”
“Because of this, the technical work carried out by ARTA and the tenderer is now being picked up by NZTA as the basis of a national integrated ticketing programme, which will allow regions throughout the country to share costs,” Mike Lee says.
“This is a great outcome.”
Central and local government are sharing the project costs.
In February, the ARC was looking at a capital investment of $32 million to fund the region’s share of the system, but Mr Lee said the final capital cost to Auckland ratepayers would now be very much reduced.
“Negotiations between the parties are still proceeding, so we are not at liberty to say how large the reduction will be.”
However, the reduction would be “significant”.
“Great news for public transport, great news for Auckland ratepayers.”
National application would be good as there is little to be gained from developing local unlinked systems when transport is integrated nationally.

My idea would be to have a cap on your weekly spend on your public transport needs, say $50, which you would load on your "Orca Card" and swipe with whatever transport company you want and need to use within the Auckland region. The ARTA would then become the card fare collector and distributor of the loot to the transport companies based on the swipes they collect. (An analogy would be Pharmac buying drugs in bulk and thus suppressing the cost to the end consumer). It would be a transparent system, easy to use, would not lock you in for a long period, and thus attract far more customers than currently use public transport.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TV One news coverage

The Supercity Select Committee hearing in Waiheke Island heard from a variety of islanders on a wide variety of subjects from waste to local community empowerment and public transport.
Shirin of the Campaign 4 Fair Ferry Fares spoke on the campaign's behalf:
First, public transport regulation issues:
ARTA – or whatever organisation replaces ARTA should be an independent body reporting to the GAC, rather than a department.

Integrated ticketing needs to be a priority for GAC. This would allow a competitor to compete fairly on the Waiheke to Auckland run. At the moment, the commuters are the lifeline for Fullers. The monthly pass allows unlimited travel on Stagecoach buses and on buses on Waiheke, making it nearly impossible for another company to compete.

We also need an affordability criteria and a look at standardising fares across the Auckland region – It shouldn’t cost as much to go 5 kms on Waiheke as it does to get from Auckland Central to Henderson.
If the Half Moon Bay ferry is $13.40 return, why is a Waiheke ferry $32 return, for the same distance travelled?

Secondly, ownership of the wharves needs to be clarified and a system whereby a competitor can be guaranteed berthage at competitive times.

Thirdly, Waiheke needs an effective transport management plan which recognises Matiatia as a transport hub for islanders getting off the island as well as tourists trying to access the island. Transport plans have been made before but are not followed.
Over the last 20 years people have been asking for a more flexible bus service - smaller buses with better coverage. It shouldn’t take 50 minutes to get from Rocky Bay to Matiatia, before you even start your journey into town.
Also Matiatia is primarily set up for tourists and selling tours.
The local population don’t need a flash terminal – they need a place which is safe and warm to wait, free parking within easy access to the wharf and a system with flexibility for the different users (people with bags, families with young children, cyclists and motorcyclists).
A plan needs to combine the needs of all users but then needs follow through.

Fourthly, we support greater autonomy for decision-making on Waiheke.
The Auckland City Council continually fails to represent us or act in our interest. We would like a local council to have greater decision making powers in terms of infrastructure and transport decisions. They are a cross-section of elected representatives who live within the community and their authority should be respected.
Local councillors and council workers recognise the importance of sustainability because they also live on this island. This carries through in terms of waste, use of water, management of septic waste. The more decision making that can be carried out locally, the better.

TV One News clip:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

All in the same boat

The Select Committee hearing submissions the Auckland Council Bill arrived on Waiheke this morning, and I was pleased to see that the eminent MPs were treated to a ride on the Jet Raider. I imagine it was experience far removed from their spacious and comfortable seats in The House, and I hope it has imprinted on them what the conditions the hordes of commuters they encountered on the gang plank are faced with daily.

C4FFF is making a submission in person to the Committee on public transport issues to be faced by the new Auckland Council.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Like the back of a bus

Maxx, the Auckland public transport hub and website, has launched a competition to come up with catchy slogans on why on earth you want to be on the bus instead of the comforts of your own car. It can include your own picture plastered all over the back of a bus if you are one of the winning entries to be published and driven around town.
So it is also a good opportunity to make a little fun of Maxx and the dire state of public transport in Auckland. After all, the overwhelming majority of commuters use their cars instead of the inconvenient buses, creaky trains or expensive ferries.
So get creative and enter some cringe inducing witticisms that should shake the transport regulator's complacency.

Here are mine:
- I pay Fullers $3,780 a year and I still can't get on this bus.
- One ticket to go on train, bus and ferry. Old people can, why can't everybody else?