Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Amazing what a little World Cup can do

So, Auckland will be getting a new railway line (well, an old one brought back to life), whereas Wellington spent most of last year trying to get rid of one and building a $40 million road to nowhere. Well, good for Auckland, and I hope that some of the same principle starts to flow through to us. Central Government's $10 million for the reborn Onehunga branch line might seem like a tiny amount in the context of all the roading money being thrown about, and I assume someone else will pay for the extra rolling stock, but it's a good start.


At 9:18 AM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is actually quite cool, groups (e.g. CBT) have been campaigning for it for a while now. It just made good common sense to fix it up, next-step: continue through to the Airport.

(Does make me envious though as a Wellingtonian for some reason, even though its only $10 million, Auckland seems to have started embracing its rail, and its had pretty good reinvestment these past few years with Britomart, etc. It still is not on part with 3rd-world Wellington but I wonder how long it will be before we hear about major new announcements to electrify, buy new rolling stock, fix stations, etc. up there.)

At 9:30 AM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's only a fraction of what the govt was prepared to pay for the waterfront stadium... lets see them stump up with the rest of that cash for a genuine public transport solution - it could be as image building as the stadium itself if done properly!

At 10:17 AM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using the Onehunga line to get to the Airport is an expensive Mistake that will require a large number of houses /existing building in Mangere bridge to be removed,

Onehunga is useful as part of an "outerloop" to join at new lynn,

THe easiest way to run rail to the Airport in Auckland is from wiri Station across rosscommon road, and then strait down the side of puhinui road and in via the back way to the airport, it is mainly agricultural and light industrial and also keep the tracks from having to be undergrounded to avoid any possible second runway at AKL

At 11:49 AM, March 14, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Anon 3: I'll have to defer to your knowledge of Auckland geography, since it's a while since I spent any time there. It sounds like the Onehunga line will be useful on its own (a 20 minute trip to AK central, vs up to an hour for the bus), and could be the catalyst for some Transit-Oriented Development. Some sort of railway link to the airport makes a lot of sense, whichever route it takes.

At 1:19 PM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a waste of money. Even rail proponents, www.getmoving.org.nz, estimate between $6 - $11 million plus rolling stock. To get a half-hour service is likely to need at least three DMUs (or equivalent) costing perhaps another $9million giving a minimum capital cost of nearly $20million. You then need to add operating subsidy and (if the funds are borrowed) finance charges. The chances of cost escallation are also high.

More importantly, the Get Moving report refers some actual facts from ARTA about how many will use the Onehunga Rail service. They estimate (and remember that are rail supporters) that only 300 people will travel at peak with only 58 being ex-car drivers. This works out at perhaps $63,000 per commuter and 1/3 million per person who used to drive !

As with most Auckland rail projects, the main effect of this "investment" is to pillage the bus service. For the same money you could turn the use the corridor into a busway and benefit 10 times the number of people.

At 3:30 PM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous Raffe Smith said...

Tom, can you turn off the anonymous option for when people post?

There are obviously agendas at play here, as in many of the other comments sections of your posts. I think it would be valuable to put names to agendas, plus sometimes I am just curious!

I do realise that fewer people might post if there isn't the anon option, or just use a pseudonym.

I am sceptical over those patronage projections, and would like to see the working done to produce them. They just feel low. I can assert that because you asserted that a busway would help ten times as many people!

Also, the argument that the investment is a waste of time seems fallacious if the next stage is to extend the line to the airport. Given the potential traffic on that route, it would seem the investment would be one that pays itself off over generations.

At 3:52 PM, March 14, 2007, Blogger Hadyn said...

Yeah I was just going to say that the number of Anon-comments increases every time you talk about rail, Tom.

At 5:12 PM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

Speaking for myself, I just use anonymous because I'd prefer the Internet and Big Brother (Google) collect as little information as possible that's attributable to me.

anonymous: "THe easiest way to run rail to the Airport in Auckland is from wiri Station across rosscommon road, and then strait down the side of puhinui road and in via the back way to the airport, it is mainly agricultural and light industrial and also keep the tracks from having to be undergrounded to avoid any possible second runway at AKL"

From looking at the AIA master plan a while back, the second runway wont be a big deal, its planned to be a short runway largely supporting domestic services and current roadway will be re-routed around it, and likewise any railway.

I don't really buy that the Mangere bridge would need to be removed, the rail would run on a separate bridge structure, perhaps the old bridge could be renovated even.

But you're right this does serve as part of an loop which could be Auckland's equivalent of the Yamanote line in Tokyo (with some obvious differences :)). If running as a proper regular service at a proper speed it would actually be viable route for people south of the Onehunga -> Avondale stretch of the line to use to get into the city (even tho it seems indirect).

The bonus of building the Onehunga -> Airport segment is it serves more potential passengers (i.e Mangare), the other option instead of the bridge is to continue from George Bolt Dr straight across SH20 and through to Otahuhu station. (I've always been surprised they didn't connect George Bolt Dr with SH1 through this route, it used to be free of houses like it was intended for it or something). Quickly looking at Google Earth this would knock out about 50-60 homes (which is not a lot for a project like this and would be cheaper than the route via the bridge).

On another note. Not sure if these have been posted on here yet, but they're good watching so far and episode three came out recently, "Auckland: City of Cars":


At 11:42 PM, March 14, 2007, Anonymous cm said...

This is good news, Auckland's public transport system is pretty useless and scuzzy.

Excluding annual maintainance costs, which I wouldn't be able to guess, doesn't the $63,000 per passenger subsidy fall to less than $300 for the year after, assuming 250 work days in a year or so?

And the year after that, it would be even lower, and ridership would probably increase also.

Save Hong Kong, I don't think there are any mass transport systems which run without subsidy in the World, so that's a moot point.

At 12:09 AM, March 15, 2007, Anonymous Raffe Smith said...

And of course any way one breaks down the funding of roads, they are heavily subsidised too.
That is usually ignored when the media discusses roads, while for rail it is portrayed as the major argument against.

At 9:21 AM, March 15, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Raffe: "Tom, can you turn off the anonymous option for when people post?"

I could, but I like to leave the option for people like Erentz, and I don't want to discourage genuine posters. On the other hand, it would be good if people who'd rather not be known by their real name at least chose a nom-de-blog, so that we can track who's saying what in the longer comment threads and not keep having to refer to "Anon #7" or whatever.

Hadyn: "the number of Anon-comments increases every time you talk about rail".

Yep, it's good troll-bait! I didn't look at my logs in time to check who was visiting at the time of that particular comment, but in the past I've noticed regular visits from the Road Transport Forum. Otherwise, given the fear about "pillag[ing] the bus service", I wouldn't be surprised if were someone associated with the Bus & Coach Association.

At 1:36 PM, March 15, 2007, Blogger LX... said...

Funny there is always the same tired old arguement that $$ on a railway and rolling stock is a waste of money while spending just as much converting it to a busway and buying buses somehow wouldn't.

Turning Onehunga into a busway would involve building a two lane road and buying buses. And that busway wouldn't actually go anywhere unless hundreds of millions were spent on a connecting busway to the Auckland CBD.

It really is a cheap and cheerful proposal compared to anything other than doing nothing at all.

At 1:56 PM, March 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having earlier stated that the Onehunga Branch Line was a waste of money, including outlining the reasons and supporting facts, I am puzzled to be attacked as a Troll when I simply do not agree with the original posted comment this was a good thing.

Few subsequent comments actually questioned my assertion or supporting facts that this rail line was a waste of money.

Raffe (after claiming I have an "agenda" as if he doesn't), says "I am sceptical over those patronage projections, and would like to see the working done to produce them. They just feel low. I can assert that because you asserted that a busway would help ten times as many people!"

On the first point I have found it was the ARC that has the "Onehunga Branch Line Report" referenced in the PT Sub-committee minutes (Acrobat 635K) that states gives Patronage Forecasts

Modelling of the above service pattern using the APT Demand Modelling system has indicated approximately 300 passengers would use the eight services over the two hourly morning peak period by 2011. The catchments for the modelling included both potential passengers living within walking distance of the line as well as park and ride users from both the Onehunga area and the district immediately to the south of the SH20 Mangere Bridge.

However a little over half of these would be existing PT users who currently use bus services. Only about 20% of passengers would be new PT users (ie. existing car users). The station boarding and alighting analysis indicates that morning peak journeys would be fairly evenly split between inbound and outbound services between Onehunga and intermediate stations and Britomart. There appears to be little demand for park and ride facilities.

On the second point, I probably overestimated the benefit numbers. After all, there are only about 38 scheduled bus services that travel over from Mangere or Onehunga at peak that could benefit from a busway and they probably only carry perhaps 1,700 commuters (only 5 times the expected Onehunga rail patronage :(

Of course it is much better to spend $20 million to benefit 300 rather than 1,700 because . . . (please fill in here).

I guess in the end, Tom, you need to decide if this blog is to be a forum open to contrary points of view or just a mutual admiration society for Smart Growthers. I thought you may wish to hear alternative views on your blog against which you can have your views challenged and debated. The mutual intellectual masterbation that sometimes goes on here may be superficially enjoyable but do you really find it that satisfying ?

Over to you ;)


At 5:16 PM, March 15, 2007, Blogger Maximus said...

"mutual intellectual masterbation" ? Anon Tony, i'm shocked and horrified to think that you think we're just another bunch of w__kers, so please do keep on posting (but it is spelt masturbation, although why I would know that, i'm not so sure..).

But I still agree with LX that it is strange that a busway is seen as being so much better than a railway. Obviously buses can feed in from a wider area, but from my experience in Wellington and overseas, commuter trains are far, far superior to buses any day of the week, and can carry far more passengers too.

I used to travel from Greenwich in London, into central Westminster, and each train would carry about 1500 passengers - and a train every 15 minutes. Obviously that is more than Onehunga will ever take, but the point is that one train could take the equivalent of 20 buses worth of passengers. Seems obvious to me which is the more capable service. Over to you Tony....

At 7:01 PM, March 15, 2007, Anonymous LX... said...

"Of course it is much better to spend $20 million to benefit 300 rather than 1,700 because . . . (please fill in here)."

Because $20 million won't get you a busway from Onehunga to the Auckland CBD.

The rail option makes use of an existing rail infrastructure for much of the route.

A busway requires a whole new infrastructure to cover the same route.

In reality if the rail coridor wasn't there Onehunga would probably never justify a busway or railway.

Rail vs bus arguements are kind of pointless on their own unless you look at a corridor and what transport assets are already in place.

At 9:49 PM, March 15, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Sigh. Tony, I'm too tired to deal with your arguments: I'll let Maximus & LX deal with them. Yes, I'm happy to have a range of opinions represented here, and I've never suggested banning anyone. The trollishness of your comment relates more to the fact that you don't seem to be a regular contributor here, but only magically pop up here (or on John's blog) when mention is made of rail or busways. It's almost as if you're trolling the internet for mention of such issues, and waiting for an opportunity to jump in.

"I guess in the end, Tom, you need to decide if this blog is to be a forum open to contrary points of view or just a mutual admiration society for Smart Growthers."

Given that this blog is explicitly about "urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design", it's hardly surprising that it attracts what you call "Smart Growthers". I don't go seeking out blogs from advocates of suburban sprawl, roading and the like, so when people appear from nowhere and leap in with boldface and exclamation marks, not to mention the same old arguments (I'm surprised you didn't trot out the tired old "buy them all a Jaguar" line), it can see a little irksome, and yes, trollish.

At 9:09 AM, March 16, 2007, Blogger Maximus said...

Erentz - interesting video clips - where did they come from? Was that a TV programme? (production values seem pretty low, so i presume not). Or is it some private endeavour and in which case, where / who / how is it being aired except for YouTube?

At 9:18 AM, March 16, 2007, Blogger Maximus said...

Although I am not an Aucklander any more, I still visit regularly, and suffer from the lack of an adequate transport system to get into what remains of downtown Auckland. How to get there? Sometimes i hire a car - expensive, but easy. Once i took a taxi - but at $90 (traffic was heavy) i'm never doing that again. So normally i take the airport bus - something like $15 ? and it gets me right there in reasonable time. But to take the bus - ooh, wht a horrible experience.

From the Domestic terminal, you are shunted outside, no real shelter, sharing a space with back of house rubbish bins, no accurate info on the buses, buses that turn up and let people off but don't let people on (must have made sense to the drivers, but us poor travellers are feeling more like cattle in an abattoir than equal citizens). Possibly the worst treatment of bus passengers outside of Topkapi Garage in Istanbul (man, soooo bad i still remember it 20 years on....) but still, Auckland City really needs to get its shit together and treat public transport passengers better, whether they are rail or bus.

At 10:02 AM, March 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, I am dissappointed with your view that I am a Troll on your blog. My interest is in not "Sustainable Urban Design" but Wellington Public Transport and so I don't comments your blogs about new CBD shops or bars (I live with my family in the suburbs and so these are not relevant to me).

As for you "I'm too tired to deal with your arguments", I have only seen you do so once. You are a fan of getting the most rail service rather than the most public transport service. I am a rail skeptic because most of the evidence I see points to buses providing the real increases in Public Transport patronage, the North Wellington Public Transport Study being no exception.

Unlike you, I am a supporter of turning the Johnsonville Line into a Guided Busway. You did review the Stage 3 Technical Report but missed out commenting on the most important bit . . . the expected total PT patronage for the various options.

The Report’s modeling results in Table 5-1 show the Base Case AM Peak only carrying 3,610 commuters: 2,586 by bus and 1,024 by train (rail is less than now !) with PT % share barely shifting. Every other Scenario does better with the Bus-on-Street (i.e. no rail, no busway) predicted to carry 3,841 every morning (despite it’s supposed unpopularity).

I have also commented at length on this (I can't do short posts :) in response to the John Rusks last blog on pro-busway site Betterbus.

My question is this. Is it right to put in/keep rail when a bus public transport service will do better ? But perhaps this is the wrong forum to discuss this question.


At 11:52 AM, March 16, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

Maximus (re the youtube clips):

As far as I'm aware it's just a private endeavor by Michael/Mike Tritt and YouTube is how it is being disseminated. Quickly Googling for him doesn't reveal a lot other than a similarly named person that once worked for the Green Party. The production value isn't bad for what it is, the information is good, IMHO it could certainly be polished up and put on TV1.

Perhaps he should be coerced into doing one about Wellington.

At 5:11 PM, March 16, 2007, Blogger Baz said...

Anonymous Tony:

I thought you may wish to hear alternative views

I'm sure most people welcome alternative views, but posting recycled canards under an anonymous ID in a blog not inherently sympathetic to your views won't win you any converts: it's just annoying.

Kindly come back when you have something more than creative accounting -- say, evidence that ripping up railways and replacing them with one-way busways works well in other countries.

Until then, try posting about Creationism on an Evolution forum and see the welcome you get.

At 9:47 AM, March 19, 2007, Anonymous Simon said...

Ok Tom. New idea for a post to beak all others...If you could somehow weave together a convincing post combining Wheat Beer and Public Transport you are sure to break 40 posts...add in a Tiki reference and you may even pass 50...


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