Good analysis Simon. Here's a couple of options for fixing this situation 'moving forward' (sorry):
Yes there is a need to properly fix the nation’s transport funding system. It is clearly no longer fit for purpose. It automatically excludes a whole type of land transport of the basis of the kind of wheel it has: Rubber wheel good, steel wheel bad. This is simply a form of institutionalised mode bias. And, in practice, it effectively becomes a tax on our most urban areas, as these are the places where the high capacity and spatial efficiency of rail transit is most effective.
There are two possible solutions I can see:
1. Classify urban Rapid Transit as the equivalent of State Highways in terms of funding, ie 100% nationally funded. After all the efficient functioning of our biggest economies is an issue of national significance, and these projects are no more in one place than any State Highway. In other words reform the the use of the National Land Transport Fund.
2. Bulk fund urban regions, so that all transport projects receive the same level of contribution from the NLTF, this would mean both motorways and Transit projects would enjoy the same level of contribution from nation transport coffers, as would local roads. So instead of the current situation where AKL m’ways are 100% gov funded, Rail Transit; a fight as it has not source of funding, and local roads around 50/50, move to a situation where every project enjoys the same ratio of local and national fund, somewhere around 25% local/75% NLTF. This would mean that the merits of every proposal could be evaluated much more rationally without the scales being tilted by some projects appearing ‘free’ to local politicians, regardless of their value.
Simon's article is full of interesting angles but there is a big problem with his central thesis. He argues because National got the most votes in most AKL electorates at the last election that proves that AKL is essentially a tory town, and then asks how come haven't then controlled the first two 'Super City' Councils?
The problem with this is that while National was indeed often the biggest single vote recipient in many seats but that this total was often not greater than the Lab + Green vote combined. So the case that AKL is, in essence ,a blue city is not made, at least not by this metric. In Auckland Central in 2014 for example in the party vote National+ ACT does just pip Lab + Green 12,981 v 12,343, but for the seat Kaye [+ACT] got 12,687 to Ardern + Roche's 13,974. I think we can call that area pretty even.
Mt Albert Party Vote: again National the single biggest vote winner but Nat + ACT still lower than Lab + Green 11,179 v 18,828.
Additionally people do have different priorities at local level. Less emphasis on the economy and much more on delivering services, especially transport and housing. Even if this is unrealistic as central government controls these two areas to a greater extent than most seem to understand.
The biggest problem Goff faces is that everyone expects him to hose in. But the last election shows that even when the 'right' put up a complete no-name muppet he or she will still automatically get strong support from the traditional blue areas. Additionally it is these people that bother to vote; typically older propertied people. The proverbial butcher's pup with a blue rosette has a base of 100k votes it seems [Palino is probably as hopeless a candidate as we'll ever see].
Agree with views above saying Council business isn't as clearly divisible down party lines. And hooray for that.
See Matt's post, all other local overbridges are at 1.2-1.4m [except K Rd] there has been, as far as we know only one incident from these bridges in recent years.
If pursuit of zero harm is NZTA's policy then why is there any speed limit over about 10kph? 300 people will die on their roads this year because of the speed of barely controlled tin boxes being flung around, it seems we accept this risk.
When did we decide that these current heights are unacceptable low?
'no-one could have anticipated'
Well not quite. I was afraid of this very outcome because of the ghastly thing done by Auckland Transport on the K Rd overbridge earlier, so I set out to engage with both NZTA and Auckland Council before any designs were begun as I was one of the those who lobbied actively for this project to happen [here: http://transportblog.co.nz/2014/05/19/photo-of-the-day-concrete-journey/]
I discussed it with design champion Ludo at the actual launch of the programme http://transportblog.co.nz/2015/02/02/celebrating-recent-auckland-cycling-and-walking-projects/, who didn't engage, and I tried over and over to get NZTA to discuss their plans with me. I did get an email from the project manager saying she would send me the plans to date then meet and discuss. Neither happened. I raised it with the NZTA AKL head, by then it was too late, apparently.
The justification for the rush is a ribbon cutting deadline set by the PM's office. I still don't see why they couldn't have listened to a bit of counterfactual from a likely user, and had a more considered design approach. A more human scaled barrier then wouldn't have needed to be ordered from Germany [there's a few ironies there that I will resist].... so close, so monstered by engineering.
Thank-you for adding your voice to this. Where I agree most strongly with you is your characterisation of this process as a sign of insane values. It is I think much more that than an example of privileged elites. And I mean this very precisely. The way our transport institutions are organised have led to the elevation of one class of technocrat into total over-reach. The Traffic Engineer.
Traffic Engineering is a technical discipline, and a fairly straightforward one, it has an important role to play in the service of city. For some reason we have allowed processes to develop where these technocrats [and specifically these ones] are the final arbiters of every decision about the quality of our world.
The phrase they use to achieve this is TINA; There Is No Alternative. For some reason this makes those who should be guiding these [an unfashionable phrase now, I know] public servants surrender their oversight.
There are always alternatives. Good engineering is problem solving, great engineering is creative problem solving. The thing that has to change is our Traffic Engineers need clear direction that their masters are not their own self-serving traffic models, or even traffic flow itself [the whole characterisation of traffic as a liquid is problematic in this- it behaves more like a gas; it goes wherever you allow it], but place, culture, community, life.
They are generally not trained to understand these ideas, or indeed much that isn't easily reduced to math, so they need to put back in the tool box and kept from the massive over-reach they have come accustomed to. They should not be unhappy with this, they are after all only being used by others in their elevation to the strange and unlikely priesthood in our culture.
Traffic flow, what a curious idol. An insane world indeed.
You are right; this issue is symbolic of our exhaustion with this insane arrangement, and it has to be reformed.
There is BTW a great deal of blame shifting going on behind the scenes on this issue; the role of the all powerful and largely unaccountable wing of NZTA called Highway Network Operations [HNO] needs more daylight here; eg What traffic non-negotiables did they demand of AT for this intersection? There is much much more to come on this.
What do I mean by Incomplete Streets:
I just find it incredibly irresponsible of Auckland Transport to be fanning the flames of cyclist hatred with their shoddy survey as a response to the death of a person on a bike. This just looks like an attempt to distract from their appalling record of continuing to maintain incomplete streets that are unsafe for all users.
Why do i call it shoddy? because it uses one descriptor for not heeding a traffic signal and this is, like our rules and road design, the correct expression to describe a vehicle driver; 'Running a Red' describes the dangerous actions of a driver speeding up to get through an intersection against the traffic signal. It doesn't describe the many ways [nor motivation[ that people on bikes also choose to disobey this rule.
For example, I often, when there is no other traffic, lead out from a standing start in anticipation of a green signal, which allows me to get up to speed and through the intersection just before the traffic, mostly because this is safer for me, but also because I can then be not delaying the motorists behind me. This is in no way comparable to 'Running a Red.' There are plenty of other examples, like drifting slowly though on the ped phase, again this gets me away from the traffic and generally up to the next set of lights and out of the motorists way.
Auckland Transport need to get more sophisticaed with their metric, but also not engage in shameful media campaigns which will inflame tempers on the very [badly designed] roads where they have responsibility for safety.
One last note: The road rules, like the road design, are made entirely for vehicle users, with a few small concessions to other users, principally pedestrians. These rules, again like the form of the roads, take almost no account of the peculiar halfway house of vulnerability yet increased speed of people using bikes. Every person choosing to ride on our unsafe streets is completely crazy if they don't take responsibility for their own safety over slavishly following the rules designed for vehicle drivers.
Bernard Oarsman has just tweeted that they're going to break a whole lot of undeclared perks of Cameron Brewer's in tomorrow's herald. So will they be calling for his head too? Or is it really the sex that has got them so workup?
Angus you are just exchanging one choke-point [Britomart] for another [Newmarket]. The CRL is critically needed to shift the system limit from 20 trains per hour to upwards of 48 tph. The CRL takes load off Newmarket as well as Britomart by enabling all western line trains to go direct through the CBD [still by far the biggest destination, and thence to the eastern and southern lines.
In the end , despite all the accusations of conspiracy and skulduggery, Randle's only contribution to the debate is to say that if we build a really poor bus tunnel it will cost less than an order-of-magnitude better rail tunnel. Nothing more. This is probably true but of little value.
He fails to grasp that the CRL is at the heart of an integrated bus-train-ferry Transit plan; it is a case of buses where they are best and trains where they are better. There is no mode bias except in his own mind.
He fails to mention the greatly increased operating costs of diesel buses [in tunnels!] with their vastly higher worker to passenger costs. One train and operator to 750 [or 1000 at crush loads] passengers, operating on our own home-grown clean [and c. 80% renewable] electricity. As well as extreme dis-benefits to the city of those 1000+ extra buses on AK's our streets, especially to other road users like drivers. He just fails understand the scale of the issue in Auckland.
The CCFAS study was conducted by NZTA, MoT, Treasury as well as AT. It just isn't credible that there is some coordinated conspiracy in all these institutions to advocate a poor project because of its mode. Oh and the earlier report was conducted and launched before AT came into existence, which Hide as the minister responsible surely must know, so his inuendo against AT is clearly just political scuttlebutt. Randle's curious obsession with trying to get rail lines pulled up where ever he looks is no foundation on which to build any kind of argument and it does Hide no credit to try to build on it now.
Roughan will always be last to anything good this century; he is cheerfully still living in the middle of the last one somehow. It's an extraordinary achievement, and one carried out with no apparent self awareness. He holds on to retrograde views on everything then sort of seamlessly upgrades to a newer version, not new, but a little more current, without so much as a blink. And all of this is laid bare in his confident and chatty little pronouncements on all and every subject in the dear old Herald. He is consistently conventional and quaintly old fashioned; our little old aunty on the Shore.
Lately he has begun to notice public transport and so has given it a good hard looking at through the windscreen of his car. It doesn't seem to be going away, nevermind he has been kind enough to straighten us all out on the matter. He even found the rial network, a hitherto unknown resource, well some level crossings anyway. These need sorting out, cars get held up by them. Oh where would we be without Aunty John.