Monday, April 26, 2010

Superflyte out again

Just got txt flurries from Fullers announcing "unplanned maintenance" (Fullers speak for "the old girl clapped out again") of Superflyte with both Starflyte and Adventurer doing its runs tonight (Monday) and the next two days. Oh joy. Looks like even Jet Raider isn't up to it these days to do a replacement service - not that we're gagging for that anyway.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Talk truth to meekness

I gave the Auckland Regional Transport Authority a piece of my mind on the various proposed smartcard systems for Auckland public transport. Join up to give your views too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time limit on 40 rides

I saw an announcement on the wall at Matiatia that the 40-ride tickets will get a time limit of 12 months' validity after purchase. The old style tickets will expire in March 2011. The reason given by Fullers is to make the tickets tamper-proof, although I have not heard of any incidents of people boarding with falsified 40-rides.
This is just a fare increase by stealth as it will force occasional travellers (i.e. those making fewer than 40 trips a year) to buy an non-time limited 10 ride ticket, which is more expensive per ride.

Oh, and calling it a "Flexi-pass" is a misnomer as it actually decreases flexibility.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carpool coddling

From Lynn: North Shore City commuters have always received better treatment from their council than Waihekeans have received from ACC. ACC received our fee park and ride facility on amalgamation. Then they charged us. Isthmus commuters have a choice of car or bus and sometimes even the train. Waihekeans have only the ferry and the bus routes are not extensive enough to cover all areas of the island.

From the NZ Herald:
Carpool commuters leaving their cars for the day at stations for the Northern Busway and cross-harbour ferries can look forward to VIP treatment.
The North Shore City Council is considering rewarding them with parking spots close to the Albany and Constellation Drive Busway Stations and the Bayswater and Devonport ferry terminals.
Most weekdays, the 550 spaces at Albany and 360 at Constellation Drive are full from an early hour.
Mayor Andrew Williams suggested parking spaces could go further if preferential parking were given to vehicles with two or three passengers.
"We give an incentive of a better parking position and more certainty of getting a parking space," he said.
But preferential treatment is not what Albany station user Rachel White seeks.
She said yesterday she drove 5km to the station from her semi-rural home to catch the Northern Flyer across the harbour bridge to her city job.
"It's a fantastic bus service ... my only gripe is that finding a park is getting worse.
"The station park is full by 7.30am when it's not term break for the tertiary students.
"Since the council opened bus lanes on Rose Elliott Ave in November, kerbside parking has been banned.
"People park wherever they can and we are forced to walk 10 minutes to the station.
"Yet you hardly see a bus come by and the road is so wide that the bus lanes are not essential at this stage.
"Why can't kerbside parking be allowed again until more station parks are provided?"
Mrs White said she was unable to carpool, and her area was not served by buses feeding the station.
Busway stations manager Anthony Blom said the road was always marked for the lanes but kerb parking was allowed for about two years until it was needed for buses serving Albany Mall.
Passenger transport manager Bill Drager said it was hoped to double the spaces available at the station by February.
Albany was the busiest station, and park-and-ride facilities encouraged bus users who otherwise would drive to their destination.
No date is set for introducing the preferential parking scheme.
Motorists registering with the carpool would get a windscreen sticker.
Security cameras would anyone using the sticker without the required number of passengers, which is still to be set.
Campaign for Better Transport spokesman Cameron Pitches agreed with the move to reward people who made more efficient use of cars.
He said the council could not keep on dedicating more land to car parking.
At the Bayswater ferry terminal, the council hopes to settle a deal with the marina owners to lease the paid parking area, providing more convenient free parking for ferry customers.
It will split the $5 parking fee with ferry operator Fullers and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sir Richard Branson tells it like it is

In a commentary column for Bloomberg, Virgin Atlantic airline owner Sir Richard Branson takes a swipe at the proposals to merge the Atlantic routes of British and American Airways, which would result in a drastic reduction of competition on the routes.
[...] the way the regulators deal with issues over the Atlantic -- the busiest air corridor in the world -- is the major focus of my attention. British Airways Plc and American Airlines’ proposed joint venture -- effectively a merger of their businesses on the world’s busiest long-haul routes -- is currently under evaluation by the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. They have a duty to ensure consumers aren’t harmed by big businesses getting together to stitch up markets. It is very clear to me that regulators should be stopping BA-AA in its tracks.
In a clear statement on monopoly power, Sir Richard's example has massive resonance here in Auckland. Just substitute "The Atlantic" with "The Waitemata" and "BA-AA" with "Fullers":
I have no doubt whatsoever that BA will use its exemption from competition laws and its overwhelming dominance to destroy competition, reduce choice and raise fares -- after all when has a monopoly ever led to lower prices? I don’t necessarily blame BA and AA as it is the job of their management to work in the interests of shareholders, not consumers.
And we could blame the regulators in ARTA too, as Sir Richard puts it:
The competition authorities have a mandate to preserve competition and only approve deals that can provide tangible public benefits and demonstrate that these outweigh the risks to competition.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Public action yields results

Surely an inspiration for young Waiheke Islanders to get active too:
A University of Portsmouth business student collected a national award at the Houses of Parliament after his successful campaign to slash the prices of Isle of Wight ferry fares for teenagers.
Third-year student Paul Magee received a Seen and Heard award for his work on the Isle of Wight Youth Council.
The awards recognise and reward the achievements of young people who have made a real difference to their own lives and the lives of others.
When Paul realised that youngsters on the Isle of Wight were spending the majority of their pocket money on ferry fares he decided to take action.
He contacted the two main ferry companies, Wight Link and Red Funnel, to fight for concessions for teenagers.
Portsmouth News

But how high would you rate our chances to get a similar result here? Tertiary and other school students get a discount, but only during term time, not the holidays. The current system is really not comprehensive enough.
Surely the $2 million Government gold card loot could be spread a bit more equally among all ferry passengers?

Fullerswatch Facebooked

This blog has now a Facebook page too. Just search for "Fullerswatch".
Articles will be cross-posted so a non-Facebook audience can keep on participating.