I can’t say I’m normally one to watch Mike Hosking but I noticed this video and after seeing it, felt it deserved a response.
We’re wrecking roads for a mere 2% of people who catch busses – it’s utterly scandalous. Here’s some truth: Kiwis don’t like public transport!
So, I thought I’d go through his comments and look at them in more detail.
The transit lane or the bus lane is an ideological scandal designed to either raise revenue and/or get you out of your car. Now the belief is if they slice out massive chunks of road that the bulk of us actually want to use to get about the place, if they slice out these massive chunks of road that will make it so difficult to commute or do business we will give up and acquiesce to their mad experiment.
No Mike, transit and bus lanes are about allowing our roads to be more efficient and productive by moving greater numbers of people (as opposed to vehicles) within the same amount of road space. It’s simple maths really, a car carrying 2/3/4 people moves more people than a car carrying one and a bus carrying 50 people carries more people than the number of single occupant vehicles that occupy the same space. To highlight the productive, Auckland Transport provided this graph showing the impact bus and transit lanes have. Admittedly it’s not great visually and would be much better if it talked about the number of people that can be moved rather than a vague productivity number.
So yes, AT do want more people using buses in bus lanes, it allows them to move more people in the same amount of space.
Now there’s a transit lane in Royal Oak, which is a part of Auckland, that brings in $557,000 a year in fines, $3,000 per day, what does that tell you. Well yes people are breaking the rules, but why are they breaking the rules, because the pencil pushers at the council have sucked you into believing that buses are good and you should be on one. But if you’re not going to be on one they’ll rob you.
Bus and transit lanes all have general traffic lane beside them. No one is forcing people to break the rules drive in bus or transit lanes. It only happens because people are impatient and believe they have a right to drive where they want. And those that do so, and get caught, it was their choice to pay voluntary tax.
As for the Royal Oak transit lane he mentions (Manukau Rd), an update to the Auckland Transport board report for May notes that in the morning peak, bus travel times have almost halved from 29 minutes to 15 minutes while there’s been a 3 minute saving in the afternoon peak. They also noted that bus usage has increased by 20% while there are also more T3 vehicles being recorded.
There’s a lawsuit being threatened in Christchurch over a cycleway. Local businesses say it will destroy shops and wreck Linwood Village because people can’t get access to them anymore because of that cycleway
Businesses all over the world say this all the time and they’re consistently proved wrong. In fact, time and time again it’s been shown that the addition of bike infrastructure increases business for local shops
And to prove all of this, here are some numbers that expose the lie around public transport. The Transport Outlook: Current State report, yes that’s called, as released by the government tells us the following, 53% of us drive a car, 26% of us are passengers in a car, 17% walk, 1% cycle – so that shows you what a waste of time cycleways are, 1% are on motorbikes. Now add up all those numbers and how many do you have left for public transport, 2%. So, we are wrecking roads, hijacking the majority for what, 2%, it’s a scandal.
The report he refers to is the one we highlighted yesterday and the first thing to note is that the report actually says PT is at 3%. This adds up to 101% due to the rounding on some of the other modes. Regardless, when it comes to talking about this subject, he couldn’t have picked a more irrelevant number. The 3% based on PT use across the entire country, that’s as irrelevant to the discussion of PT in Auckland as arguing that New York doesn’t need its subway because of how many people use PT in Wyoming.
It’s also worth noting where the mode percentages come from. The Ministry of Transport previously conducted an annual Household Travel Survey. Basically, they’d select a few thousand people each year and ask them to record where, when and how they travelled for a week. The data was collected annually but is aggregated over three years to iron out some of the annual variation. The data above is for the 2011-2014 years as the survey hasn’t been conducted since then. More importantly it represents the results of just 25k people over that three-year period, but just over 5,200 (21%) of them were from Auckland. So less than Auckland’s population. Wellington is also under-represented while Christchurch is way over represented with more responses than Auckland – and post-quake when everything was disrputed.
While it has its own flaws, the 2013 census Journey to Work data suggests up to 9.9% of Aucklanders used PT for that purpose, and that doesn’t count uses for other activities, such as getting to school or shops etc.
And what does it cost to create these transit lanes, these bus lanes, how much planning and painting and enforcing and goes on, probably at least partially covered by the millions of dollars in fines. But when was the last time you heard anyone question any of this, far less toss a few facts into the mix. We are so PC these days we simply accept councils who have been hijacked by the public transport lobby, that what they say is sensible, or logical, or indeed even true.
Yes, lets toss a few facts into the mix. Bus and transit lanes are corridor specific and they generally only exist at peak times (not long enough in my view) and off peak there normally isn’t too much of a congestion issue.
Unfortunately, AT didn’t provide me with details of all bus and transit lanes as they say they are in the process of compiling a report about them, but they did provide a few examples. The first is the Onewa Rd T3 transit lane, one local drivers often complain about. The second is Fanshawe St, the main entry point to the city from the North Shore. It has two general traffic lane and one bus lane along it in each direction. Here are the results.
We know that most transit or bus lanes have over 50% of the people in them at peak times. Across the entire city centre we know that more people now enter each morning peak by public transport than they do by car, as a driver or passenger.
Further, let’s not forget what the government said following ATAP, or have they too been hijacked by the PT lobby?
ATAP notes, when talking about access to the city centre “This means it is imperative over time to move more people in fewer vehicles. This requires a continued modal shift towards public transport, walking and cycling.”
Or what about Steven Joyce who earlier this year said in a speech:
There is no getting away from the fact that central Auckland is built on a narrow isthmus which makes it hard to get around – and the available land transport corridors are rapidly being used.
So beyond the current building programme we are going to have to look at demand management to reduce the reliance on the road corridors, in favour of buses, trains and ferries.
Here’s the truth, we don’t like buses, we don’t like public transport, we like cars and cars need roads. I keep saying it, why do people keep turning up to the opening of tunnels and roads, because we like them. Why do we buy more cars per head of population than just about anywhere in the world, because we like them.
If people don’t like buses and public transport, why have Aucklanders kept voting for mayors that have stood on platforms of vastly improving public transport. Why have, in independent surveys, they continually asked for more investment in PT. Some examples include, this UMR survey (image below), a Stuff commissioned poll, and even the AA’s polling showing strong support from members for better public transport.
As for people turning up to openings of tunnels and roads, they also turn up to the celebrations to launch the new electric trains, upgraded stations and other organised events. Perhaps people just like looking at new stuff.
Nothing wrong with the debate over buses and trains and lanes and zones, if you love them, advocate for them, but having advocated, realise you lose, you’re wrong, the battle is lost, the numbers tell the story, 98 beats 2.
Wait, just before you were saying that the numbers show the debate is over. Further, if council’s have been hijacked by the PT lobby, doesn’t that mean they’ve won the battle, or at least winning it?
If he wants us to live in a car paradise, I’m sure he will be supporting of his taxes increasing to pay for all the new tunnels that will be needed.