Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The Greater Wellington Regional Council is currently seeking feedback on their Draft Hutt Corridor Transport Plan. When it's finalised in September, the Hutt Corridor Plan will influence decisions on transport projects in the Hutt Valley worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

VAN - Valley Action Network has made a written submission, which Michelle Ducat will expand on in an oral presentation in Lower Hutt on Tuesday, 2 August.

In addition, we are backing an individual submission from Petone resident Norman Wilkins. In support of his submission, Norman is seeking signatures on a petition to re-open the Gracefield rail line.

He has already delivered the following message to letterboxes along the Petone Esplanade:

"To the residents of this Petone Esplanade property

I am asking you to please support a submission to reopen the Gracefield rail line.

I live near the Petone Esplanade and drive people to Wellington Hospital for treatment so I know that there is simply too much traffic on Petone Esplanade and SH2.

According to CentrePort’s research there are approximately 3000 trucks a day using the Esplanade which is about 10% of the traffic, so that means about 30 000 vehicles on that road each day. Those trucks carry about 2.5m tonnes of freight such as logs and scrap metal a year.

My submission asks the Greater Wellington Regional Council in its Hutt Corridor Plan to ask KiwiRail and Metlink to investigate the practicality of:
1. Re-instating the Gracefield to Woburn rail link for freight transport to and from Wellington’s CentrePort.
2. Building a station where the line crosses Seaview Road and putting in car park spaces to enable commuter traffic from Eastbourne to use rail from there into the city.

In presenting this submission I have the support of CentrePort for the use of the rail for freight movement. I have the support of the Petone Community Board, the Rail and Maritime Workers Union and am seeking further backing.

I would also like your support by signing a petition that I can present to the Council on Aug 2nd.
If you are prepared to do this please phone me at 9701010 to make an appointment for me to come to your house for you to sign."

Can you help gather more signatures on this petition?

Print off the petition form and take it around your family/friends/neighbours/networks, or join me in door-knocking this coming Sunday to take the petition to the residents of the Esplanade, who've been badly affected by heavy traffic since the closure of the rail line in 2002.

Time is short. Petition forms need to be returned by next Monday (1 August) so they can be tabled at the oral submissions on Tuesday.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Grant Brookes
VAN - Valley Action Network

[Go to the website for petition details: Ed]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Give up your car, get free public transportation

you ever surrender your car?

We don't mean to trade in your gas-guzzler for a high mileage
vehicle, or swap your Toyota Prius for a Nissan Leaf, or even agree to trundling around in a G-Wiz. In this case, we're talking going automotive cold turkey. What would it take for you to make that jump? Would a lifetime of free public transportation do it for you?

Well, this is what the city of Murcia, Spain is offering. The city is trying to lure residents into a unique trade-in offer: turn over your car, and you get an unlimited pass to the city's new public transportation system.

Like many cities in Europe, Murcia has become a constant traffic jam. Car owners are also finding it harder and harder to find a place to park. City planners in the U.S. [and New Zealand: Ed] might prescribe construction of additional parking lots and new highway lanes as the solution, but Murcia is taking this other route. Sound like a deal?

Autoblog Green

See additional info in the report below: Ed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trade Your Car For A Free Lifetime Bus Pass (If You Live In Murcia)

BY Morgan ClendanielTue Jul 12, 2011

A Spanish city, in a bid to end congestion, has made its citizens an offer: Give up your car and ride our trolley for free, forever.

Mejor en Tranvia trolley offer

People love their cars. They're willing to maintain a car even when it's expensive and difficult. In the Spanish city of Murcia, which had become crowded with vehicles, the government decided to try to pry people's hands off the wheels by offering a little economic incentive. Not only would you not have the inconvenience of trying to park, you could ride the city's public transit for free for the rest of your life.

To promote the campaign, the city made a series of adorable advertisements showing how unpleasant it is to be stuck in traffic and looking for parking all the time.

And just in case some Murcia residents hadn't noticed how annoying it was to have a car in the city, they also started leaving cars in impossible parking spots, like this one, where the car is forced to sit on two other cars to find a space.

Seeing that, a lifetime trolley pass looks quite enticing. While many cities have campaigns to encourage public transit use, and a few use congestion pricing to help limit the number of cars in the city centers, this is an impressive use of city funds to directly influence how people get around the city. A lifetime trolley pass is probably a minimal cost for the city (though most transit systems are already bleeding money without giving away free fares), but with enough given away, could make a drastic difference in the livability of the city.

[Images: Mejor en Tranvia]

[Hat tip: Springwise]

Follow @fastcompany.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Highway spending up, public transport funds cut

Public transport price shock on way

Public transport users have been warned they will be stung in the pocket by rising travel costs.

The government will cut up to $17 million from its public transport budget for the 2011-12 financial year.

Further costings compiled by Green Party transport spokesman Gareth Hughes estimate that figure could balloon up to $87m over the next decade.

Hughes said the big losers would be the growing number of public transport users, warning that local councils would have to either hike up prices, or cut the number of services they offered.

"The burden is squarely being placed on the shoulders of rate-payers and public transport users.

"The government is reducing the financial assistance rates to councils. This means that regional councils will have to find more money to run the same bus and train services.

"Public transport patronage is growing fast. New Zealanders are looking for affordable options and the government needs to make up for decades of under-investment.

"Instead, they are doing the opposite, increasing funding for new state highways to over $1 billion a year for the next decade, while everything else suffers."

Hughes described the policy as a disincentive to increasing public transport services.

He said the time was right for the government to start investing in a "smart, green transport system for New Zealand".

"It will save us money, improve our health and keep New Zealanders moving," he said.

He said the government funding needed to achieve a sound and efficient nationwide public transport system would be "a tiny fraction of the billions" being spent on new motorways.

Campaign for Better Transport convener Cameron Pitches backed Hughes' comments.

"We hope the government isn't going to be too severe on the public transport spend. But we know they are cutting back on the infrastructure spend. At the moment, the national road transport fund, which is a petrol tax and road-user charges, is $2.8 billion a year.

"Of that, 1.8% is spent on public transport infrastructure. But the government is seeking to cut that back to 0.7%. What the government says is, with public transport, the ratepayers are going to have to pay it [almost] entirely themselves."

Neil Reid

Sunday Star Times 17/7/2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Free buses for university students & staff

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) has struck a deal to continue its transportation agreements with the Medical University of South Carolina and College of Charleston.

This is the sixth year that MUSC has had a partnership with CARTA and the eighth year for CofC of offering students, faculty and staff of both institutions unlimited rides with their organization identification card.

The result is free bus service to these riders, with costs covered by MUSC and College of Charleston.

“Our constant focus is to encourage use of public transit throughout the Charleston area,” said Christine Wilkinson, interim executive director for CARTA. “These two partnerships further our continual pursuit of that goal. We encourage other Charleston area businesses to consider how CARTA can help their employees and staff.”

CARTA also has ongoing partnerships with the City of Charleston, Charleston County School District and Roper St. Francis Hospital.

On average, as many as 65,000 trips per month are taken by MUSC and CofC ID holders. In addition, more than 30,000 riders take the Express routes each month, which are heavily utilized by MUSC and CofC.

“Continuing this important partnership is not only a benefit for our students, faculty and staff, but an investment in the community,” said John Runyon, director of business services at Medical University of South Carolina.

The partnerships offer a number of other benefits, which include:

  • Reduce traffic and congestion in the Charleston area
  • Reduce need for additional parking on campus
  • Accommodating to students and faculty – provides safe travel as well as bike racks for transportation around their respective campus
  • Brings the benefit to staff, faculty and students while increasing ridership and encouraging public transit
  • Increase in ridership enables CARTA to acquire additional federal funding for equipment and upgrades
  • Continuing a strong relationship with two valuable partners and involvement in regular events such as MUSC Green Fairs and CofC Orientation
  • Provides a valuable service to a diverse community

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hundreds protest Kapiti expressway

Activists say road will destroy Kapiti region

DANYA LEVY. Dominion Post 06/07/2011
NO WAY: Opponents to the Kapiti expressway protested outside Parliment today.
NO WAY: Opponents to the Kapiti expressway protested outside Parliment today.

They came on the train from the coast, others walked from their city workplaces and some came by bicycle.

About 300 protesters brought a colourful and vocal message to Parliament today - they do not want the Government's proposed Kapiti Expressway.

Their banners read "Rail Against The Expressway" and "Riding Rough Shot Over Kapiti'' and carried images of Transport Minister Steven Joyce and National's MP for Otaki Nathan Guy.

Forty-three homes will be demolished under the proposal and a further 33 affected under the planned route for the McKays to Peka Peka expressway.

Protest organiser Bianca Begovich said the expressway would devastate our whole district.

"It's not just about a few people losing their homes. It's about destroying Raumati, Waikanae, Otaki and Paraparaumu.''

"Environmentally it's a disaster, socially it's unacceptable and economically it doesn't stack up.''

The Government's consultation on the expressway had been a ``joke'', Begovich said.

"People don't get back to you. I've been waiting six weeks for a New Zealand Transport Agency representative to get back to me. Steven Joyce has never met publicly with anyone that's asked him to.''

The protesters presented a 4000-signature petition to Joyce and Guy asking the Government to revisit the previous proposal for a community link road.

"The community link road was a well planned, well designed road that was for Kapiti and for the greater good of New Zealand.''

MPs from all sides of the political spectrum came out of their offices to see the protesters.

Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi said the Government's move to cancel a public meeting on the expressway just before last year's by-election was "cynical politics''.

"I think everyone was keen to find out what the plan for the expressway was and it was proving very unpopular a few weeks out from the byelection. So all of a sudden they went quiet on the people.''

The expressway was the number one issue on the Kapiti Coast, he said.

"Nathan Guy was all for the link road before the 2008 election. The expressway wasn't even in his vocabulary. He's gone back on his word''

Green Party transport spokesman Gareth Hughes said the real beneficiaries of the expressway were the trucking industry.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the Government had to consider the alternative route.

"Communities do need to be listened to when they feel really strongly about these issues.''

Begovich said she had invited both Joyce and Guy to meet with protesters. Neither were anywhere to be seen.

"Nathan Guy will lose his seat because of this. It's about time he listened to the community.''

- The Dominion Post

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Group puts bodies on line in bid to save rail route

No Sleepers: People opposed to a proposal to mothball the rail line from Auckland to Whangarei made their point during a mass planking protest at Whangarei's Mander Park yesterday.

No Sleepers: People opposed to a proposal to mothball the rail line from Auckland to Whangarei made their point during a mass planking protest at Whangarei's Mander Park yesterday.

Photo / John Stone

What do you get when more than 40 angry people are prepared to lay their bodies on the line to protest a proposal to mothball the rail line north of Auckland - a mass planking in the park.

Yesterday, a low-energy, ground-level planking rally organised by the Save Northland Rail group saw more than 40 people lay their bodies on the line - or should that be tracks - in a symbolic protest against the proposed mothballing.

The planking, which saw protesters lay down planking-style to symbolise the sleepers on a rail line, coincided with a nationwide day of action in support of sensible transport solutions.

Save Northland Rail spokeswoman Vivienne Shepherd said the idea was to highlight the link between massive spending on road projects for truck freight and the running down of the rail network.

The Whangarei-Auckland railway line could be mothballed indefinitely from next year, after talks KiwiRail plans to have with the region's businesses and local authorities. Mothballing would involve maintaining the line but ceasing services.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
To contact the 'Save Our Rail Northland' group:
campaign coordinator is Alan Preston.

Email: thewayforward2011@gmail.com
Cell phone: 021-02377242
Website: thewayforward2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Free, frequent, clean & colour-coded: Yes! - now let's spread it over the whole city

Three Link services to make inner-city busing easier

By Bernard Orsman
Wednesday Jul 6, 2011

Auckland will soon have three Link bus services as part of an expanded and simplified network in the central city and inner-city western suburbs.

From August 21, most bus services will be banished from Queen St to make the city's premier street more pedestrian-friendly.

The only buses using Queen St will be the airport bus and a new city Link running every seven to eight minutes to Karangahape Rd and back, with every second bus going in the other direction to Wynyard Quarter.

The city Link will replace the free City Circuit bus, which carries 2200 passengers a day. The new service will be free until Christmas and then free for Hop card users and 50c for others.

Auckland Transport public transport planning manager Anthony Cross said yesterday the current city and Western Bays bus network was confusing, especially for new bus users.

The inner Link simplified the existing Link route by running it more directly through the city, Ponsonby, Karangahape Rd, Newmarket and Parnell, while the new outer Link would run in a circle that included Mt Albert, St Lukes, Mt Eden, Epsom and Newmarket.

In response to public feedback - the proposed changes in March attracted 1200 submissions - Auckland Transport changed the city routes around so the inner-city Link service now goes via Britomart and the outer Link service via Wellesley St.

Mr Cross said Western Bays areas not served by the Link buses would have two routes to the city via Albert St - one service would go to Westmere, Richmond Rd and Freemans Bay and the other to Pt Chevalier and Williamson Ave.

Auckland councillor Wayne Walker predicted there would be a quantum leap in bus patronage.

"People like to use circular routes. They are incredibly easy to understand," he said.

New Zealand Bus is spending $66 million on 158 new buses for the Link services. The vehicles are 90 per cent cleaner than diesel buses and will be painted red, amber and green.

By Bernard Orsman | Email Bernard
NZ Herald 6 July 2011