Campbell Live has been running a lot of stories on Auckland issues recently which has been nice to see and has obviously also provided us with a heap of material to talk about. Last night the entire episode was devoted to transport in Auckland. There were three parts to the show, the first was the kind of story done by news organisations from time to time where various staff members try to reach a specific location using various transport methods.The second section was the most interesting as involved Gerry Brownlee actually giving an interview on Auckland transport issues while the third section was about a lady who was having trouble topping up her daughters Snapper Hop (SNOP) card. I’m not going to look at the third section primarily because the SNOP card will hopefully be phased out soon although you can watch it here if you are interested. Here is the first two sections.

Campbell Live - Gerry Brownlee

The First Section

If you haven’t watched the video, a bunch of staff were tasked with reaching their office in Eden Terrace by 9am using only public transport and it it seems the first mistake they made was by using the Maxx website to plan their journeys. To be fair there isn’t a lot of other options, yes there is Google and some apps but MAXX is what Auckland Transport provide. However the planner seems so woeful and doesn’t seem to ever have improved,  AT really needs to put the thing out of its misery and  replace it with something more modern. That said the results were not unexpected but also show how vital it is to communicate the benefits of the high frequency new bus network and that a lot of effort is made to make transfers easy. Further not all of the journeys were practical to take by PT, Lachlan Forsyth’s trip for example shows the benefits of commuting by bike and it would be better to encourage more people to do that where appropriate.

The Second Section

This was of course the most interesting and the part where I at times felt like pulling my hair out. To cover this I’m just going to go through bullet point my thoughts.

  • At least Brownlee admits that Auckland is growing and that the transport problems will only get worse. It also seems that he has now read the report, something he hadn’t done before ruling out some of the options in the funding proposals a few days ago..
  •  Brownlee repeats quite a few times that Auckland is getting $1billion in transport spending annually. The emphasis he places on it makes it sound like Auckland is gobbling up the spending but in reality, it is less than 1/3 of the total transport spend in the country. It would have been good for Campbell to ask him how much Auckland provided in fuel taxes annually.
  • I actually agree with Brownlee when he questions whether the suite of projects in the Auckland Plan are the appropriate ones and if they are timed right. However I don’t think that we would agree on what projects should be dropped or having their timing changed.
  • Brownlee is asked his thoughts on the CRL and he is either trying to be deliberately misleading or has been badly informed. He suggests the project is about a short little loop that goes around in circles. This is exactly the kind of reason why it is so important that Auckland Transport actually publicly state the routing pattern that trains will use so that people can see it is about opening up the entire rail network. To put it another way it will have the same impact on the rail network that the Central Motorway Junction does for the motorway network.
  • Brownlee talks about how the cost of the project is $3 billion which of course is an inflated and then rounded up figure. He also repeats the lie that Steven Joyce loved to use, that the government is spending $1.6 billion on the rail network. The reality is $600m was approved and budget for from before this government came into office while half of the remaining amount is a loan that Auckland is having to pay back.
  • I’m really glad that Campbell actually asked him where he would spend $3 billion differently, as I pointed out yesterday, it is really important that people who oppose what is being planned actually say what they would do differently (not that Brownlee did). It was almost comical that Brownlee then went on to list a whole suite of road projects the government has already built or is building.
  • At first I thought it was really odd the way that Brownlee talked about AMETI and whether that would happen as it is well under way and he has even visited the construction site. Re-watching the video, it then becomes clear that he is talking about a reviving of the eastern motorway. Did Brownlee just let slip that the government is now considering building it? It would certainly fit in with some whispers I have heard.
  • Brownlee’s comment that “Aucklanders like roads” really does take the cake. For 60 years this city only ever invested in roads at the expense of almost everything else, it isn’t surprising then that most people drive when that has been made the easiest thing to do. The recent and comparatively modest investment in realistic alternatives has had a big impact and stronger investment in them is likely to see big changes in behaviour. As Stu pointed out yesterday, on a per capita basis people are already driving less.
  • Brownlee is correct that we do need to sort out our bus routes and information systems. The good news is that is under way with the new bus network and should be completed by 2016, well before the CRL is suggested to be opened.
  • The comments from Simon Lambourne are very rational and in line with what I feel. The big question of course is how many would still chose to drive if some good quality alternatives were in place.
  • Brownlee is also correct when he states that the documents released on Monday about funding transport are really just the start of the discussion. This was actually something mentioned quite a few times by the CBG themselves. They suggest that a decision doesn’t actually need to be made on how to fund transport till 2015.
  • Once again Gerry sidesteps the question of what the government are actually going to do to improve transport issues in the city.
  • After the video from Len Brown, Brownlee goes on to talk about tolling new roads. The reality is that there aren’t that many new roads proposed that could be tolled. We have the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway, Penlink, An additional Harbour Crossing and The East West Link. Effectively every other roading project is an upgrade of an existing road, adding a lane here or there and under the criteria, they couldn’t be tolled.
  • Brownlee talks about how they have had to put up fuel excise taxes due to falling revenues and gives a couple of reasons but misses the biggest one that vehicle use is dropping, both in real and per capita terms.

All up most of the comments Gerry made were a bit frustrating but not all that surprising given his previous statements. The more I think about it though, the more it seems as though that he let slip that the government is looking at reviving the Eastern Motorway proposals.

What were your thoughts on the video. Did I miss anything?

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48 comments

  1. “Brownlee is asked his thoughts on the CRL and he is either trying to be deliberately misleading or has been badly informed.”

    He’s not stupid so I doubt it’s the latter.

    In lieu of Auckland Transport getting proper graphics showing the CRL integrated with the rest of the PT network out there, perhaps the image could be displayed prominently and in multiple places on this blog? Keep showing the network with the CRL in it over and over again, increasing the likelihood that casual viewers and Googlers will see it.

  2. The Eastern Motorway? Of course, they are! It’s a freight route. If that gets started say goodbye to the CRL as the cost will be pretty high by the time it’s been through the Environment Court although the Nat’ s will just call it a RoNS and bypass pretty much everything. Wait for it. If that happens and the CRL doesn’t, I’m out of Auckland. Living in the city has actually taken the joy, that I used to get from driving, away. Now I get the same feeling from riding my bike, but the required changes to make that safe and fun are too slow coming as well. The only hope is a Lab / Green govt at the next election.

    1. I agree Bryce. I would hate to leave Auckland but if the city keeps going down the auto dependent route it has for the last 60 years, it isnt the place I want my children to grow up in. I guess Australia or back to Europe.

      I hate to turn these things political, as I dont believe any one political party has the answers. However, my old wood work teacher seemed to be pretty clear in the interview that National is the road party. That is the main message I took out of that interview, the golves are coming off and they are not dancing around it anymore. This government will never build the CRL.

      In a way I am glad he is coming out and being so blatant about it as it puts the choice into stark contrast. National = roads, Labour/Greens = PT/cycling. Easy choice for me as I believe this is the biggest issue in NZ right now although the majority is ignorant of the debate to a large degree.

    1. If Williamson runs and wins, we could have the situation after next years General election of a Right leaning Mayor of Auckland, and a left-leaning Central Government.
      A complete reversal of the current situation.

      It would be somewhat ironic to see Green/Lab coalition trying to shove the CRL and proper transport funding arrangements down Williamsoms throat (as Mayor) all the while he says “no, no, none of this is needed guys”.

      Meanwhile he pushes for the Eastern Motorway, something the Greens/Lab won’t have a bar of.

      I expect the old Eastern Motorway idea is being re-raised now as the current designation of the corridor has to be “refreshed” by 2016 or its lifted (forever most likely).
      That was because a 10 year continuation of the current designation was given by a previous Environment Court ruling back in 2006 or so, so that runs out in about 3 years.
      Correct me if I am wrong.

      So if its not re-designated there will be no options for a motorway through Hobson Bay without a major fight anytime soon.

      And in any case, how will the Eastern Motorway solve the issues raised by CCFAS?
      – making Tamaki Drive a 8 lane monster road won’t achieve better access to the Central City.

  3. Given that we do not seem to be able to rely on the agencies whose job it actually is, I would love to see this blog work closely with Campbell Live on simple graphics and points to explain better the choices facing Aucklanders – and New Zealanders. (And let’s replace that silly ‘loop’ graphic that 3 News keep using).

    When politicians shamelessly lie to the public, we need the media to step up. Thank you John, Pip and team for doing that last night.

    1. Further, if Auckland Transport and Auckland Council do not want to do the job of communicating this properly, they should hand the money over to people who will. I’d be happy to help.

    2. We would love to produce something but we don’t have the graphic design skills to create some great images. If anyone can help us with it then let me know

        1. I’m a graphic designer – would be happy to make something up with some more direction on what is needed – might be a bit slow as I have tons of other work to do, but I’d be willing to try and fit it in.

        2. Put this truely horrible example together quickly – is pretty awful, especially with the upload quality.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6thnrnBkxGA
          Maybe something much much prettier with the real benefits etc could be good. Am sure the good Council ad folk will put something very flash that links in their previous videos soon.

      1. Thank you, Aaron. That’s really useful. Can you try a version with wait time rather than frequency? eg “10 mins” rather than 6/hr

        1. looks good, maybe add all the $3 billion rail projects they keep talking about. Like with rail to airport,

      2. Great diagrams. Could I suggest you say “bidirectional” rather than “unidirectional”? “Bi” is less ambiguous in meaning than “uni” – it always means two, whereas uni can mean “either” (as in unisex toilet) or “one” (as in unicycle).

  4. For my morning commute test it took me 35mins today taking the bus to work.

    If I had driven it would have been about 10mins with free parking or I could have walked in 45mins.

    $1.62 is darn cheap however.

  5. Brownlee says that even with the CRL traffic will still be at a certain level, he doesn’t say where the traffic would be without it, i.e. gridlock
    to

    1. Nor does he acknowledge the RPTP which will turn the current network on it’s head. And the $3b figure for the CRL….talk about flogging a dead horse.

  6. Why didn’t the people with the 2km walk at the start not take push bikes? What about more bike lock ups at bus stations? That would reduce the time considerably. As for taking the bus instead of a 10 minute ride – why?

    1. because they were walking to regular bus stops Bryce and they can’t take a standard bike on a bus (yet)

      so
      1) that’s an opportunity to use a folding bike and
      2) roll on bike racks on buses, I saw buses on route service in Dunedin with back racks mounted on the front

      1. It was a bit of a hypothetical question with an eye to the future and how the RPTP will operate ;-). Less stops, but with more amenity will go a long way to making whole journeys quicker.

      2. Chch has had bike racks for years and I have used them regularly. They are great and very useful. However they only carry two bikes so not really scaleable.

        It shows how lazy we have become as a nation that we think a 1km walk is too much. The streetcar suburbs in Auckland were all designed to be within 800m of a tram stop and that was considered good at the time. Now if it isnt right outside our house we are all moaning.

        I would love to see again the diagram showing how much of Auckland is within 800m of a train station. Does anyone have that? Train stations are a much better candidate for cycling as well. How many people in Auckland live within 2kms of a train station? On a bicycle 2kms is about 10mins max at a leisurely pace – I know as I do it every morning to my ferry.

        1. I pretty sure that kind of mapping has come up in a previous post. One of the mods will find it I guess.

    2. What is wrong with walking? Time with my kids is valuable, and my work chargeout rate is certainly more than $7/hr, but so is my health. PT users get personal benefit from walking. If it is too long for, move nearer the stop!

  7. Be nice if CBT could get a say on some of these Campbell Live programmes – if only to provide some balance.

  8. Brownlee came across as shifty and Campbell is a lightweight who won’t ask the serious questions that should be put before Brownlee. He might as well have doffed his cap to him. When Gerry stated that the CRL was $3 billion all that Campbell needed do was ask him “is that a true statement?”. When Gerry made his claims as to how much the present government is spending on PT in Auckland a simple question as to what proportion was a loan would have put shifty Gerry on the spot.

    Thomas Jefferson stated that a successful democracy requires a well-informed public. On that basis we do not have a successful democracy.

    1. Campbell will absolutely ask the tough questions, but only if he’s been properly prepped ahead of time. This is the guy who had a BSA complaint by Helen Clark upheld after an ambush interview, so if he’s prepared to fight dirty against a PM known for her intelligence and grasp of detail he’s certainly prepared to take on a guy who’s only at ranked Number 3 in the Cabinet and isn’t known for being a great intellect.

      Getting him prepped means that “our” side of the debate needs to get into contact with his production team and give background information that can be used to skewer Gerry in his untruths.

  9. I suspect there will be people in the south-west/west/north-west who will support an Eastern motorway on the basis that those in power can decide an ugly scarring of the landscape can be drawn through those communities, why not in the more affluent East.

  10. MFD : I think Campbell challenged Brownlee as much as the time constraints of the show allowed. He isn’t necessarily immersed in the debate on a day-in, day-out basis like the readers of this blog in terms of having enough information to pick apart some of the figures floating around that go unchallenged. I was disappointed that Brownlee wasn’t asked about the second harbour crossing – I would be quite interested to know if he felt the $5 billion crossing of the Waitemata was more important than the CRL.

    1. I agree, there is so much info it is hard to have everything at the top of your head in a situation like this so while I’m sure there are always things we think could be done better, it can be very difficult in a live situation. Also agree about the AWHC, would have been good to hear his thoughts on that.

    2. not only the on-air time, but prep time as Matt implies, better grounding in the issues would have enabled Campbell to come at the issues from different angles rather than repeating the question

      but the value of the format is that Brownlee had to give more substantive answers than he has to in the House!

  11. I think that some concrete examples are need of how the up and coming changes are going to improve things (PTOM etc) are needed to explain things better than any glossy video would.

    If CBT or AT went on Campbell and explained how the new PTOM model rolling out would improve (or not) the commute times for each of the TV3 personnel who tried to commute to their offices.

    Giving concrete examples of how in the next 3 years, a journey for person A that takes 4 mode changes and 105 minutes door to door will take only B mode changes and C minutes.
    And then explain for each how with CRL in place, it would take only X mode changes and Y minutes to do the same journey.

    Campbell also acknowledged that the comparison times of commute times using cars were pretty much “Best” case scenarios given it was a school holiday, (post March Madness) and the roads were dry.
    And if repeated on a wet Wednesday AM in June when schools are in, the numbers may look horrendous for the car users.
    [and probably the bus users too, but trains should be fine].

  12. It appeared that Brownlee thinks it is a loop just around the city, does he really think this or is he just to provide miss information?

    1. That is good old NLP school. All National people either in parliament or in interviews talk about the City Rail Loop. That implies for the uninformed reader/watcher/listener that it goes in circles around the CBD. That is exactly what they want to achieve to turn public opinion that it is just wasting money. And if you follow comments on the Herald and other blogs, they are actually quite successful with this. I had a chat about the communication of the CRL with Sharon of AT, who is in charge of the PR. It seems they are running on very low budgets, when i consider the projects she listed what they are doing to promote it (like info in shopping malls etc.). At least it is a start. Gut if public opinion not quickly turns into a really strong pro it will get also hard to get external fundings done.

      1. We need clearer, stronger key messages and graphics before the cost of getting them out there becomes relevant. We have one useful example above in less than a day. How long has AT had on this?

        1. I am not defending AT. I think generally they do a horrible PR and Marketing job, particularly if it comes to PT. And I agree, clear messages what it means if the rail is built need to be developed. Particular for the atm opposing people. When chatting with the PR people on one of the CRL meetings I tried to explain to them how important it is, not to urge travel times in the CBD from the West. No one from North Shore or from the south cares about this. But explaining the train would take thousands of cars of the street might work. And lets be fair in Auckland a passenger more on PT means something between 0.7 and 1 car less on the street considering that we have 80 cars for 100 inhabitants. Furthermore they can show, as many here on the blog already outlined, new lines connecting west and south. Actually after Newmarket on the western line only 30% of the passengers are left, where are they going? They might show for the southern commuters that the CRL takes 4 trains (Western line) an hour off the branch between Newmarket and Britomart, what frees up capacity. But i am just telling things here every reader of the blog knows, but public doesn’t. ;(

        2. I know I’m not helping much if I can’t actually draft it up, but I always thought the killer CRL image would be animated – I imagined seeing passenger numbers “pulsing” through lines, like a diagram of the heart and arteries. At first it’s slow and thin, then with the CRL in place the movement accelerates, showing how speed is unlocked through the network. In my mind’s eye; wish I could give it a shot.

  13. The follow up should be to send their reporters to their affiliates in Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Vancouver, London, Madrid, Zurich, San Francisco, and Paris (for starters) to do some reporting on PT in these locals and experience their rail ‘loops’. As it seems like Aucklanders can’t imagine anything other than cars.

    I’m sure nobody would turn down the junket, even take Brownlee along.

  14. “To be fair there isn’t a lot of other options, yes there is Google and some apps but MAXX is what Auckland Transport provide”

    Some consistency please…
    Shouldn’t it read “To be fair there isn’t a lot of other options, yes there are Google and some app but MAXX are what Auckland Transport provide”?

      1. Having the source data be as good as possible is far more important than wasting money building your own website and app. Google’s map website is probably better than anything AT can afford to make, and if they really want to run their own, there’s the free and open source Open Trip Planner – http://opentripplanner.com/ which isn’t too bad, and will take your existing Google Transit Feed.

        I think having a decent map is actually really important. Plenty of people would rather see the whole system and work it out themselves rather than just following directions from a computer.

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