Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Another Auckland bridge, another 'b' word

It's been a week of nonsense from Auckland councillors, and it still keeps coming.

Following on from proposals to enact literal highway robbery on Auckland's motorists and those just passing through, and the helpful suggestion by the chairman of Auckland's transport committee to demolish Auckland's Harbour bridge ("past its use-by date" says the twit) and the same twit's earlier claim that cars are "eating" Auckland, we learn today that "cars [are] to be banned from Grafton Bridge" -- at the time of its completion in 1910 (see pictures at bottom) the biggest span reinforced concrete arch bridge in the world.

Of course that was when Auckland's city fathers thought big. Not any more.

Not content with having destroyed the visual appeal of the bridge a few years back with Soviet-era safety screens (left) that make crossing Grafton Bridge on foot somewhat like crossing Checkpoint Charlie instead of the occasion it had become with the removal of the wire suicide screens (above), the council now want to destroy it as a vehicle amenity. "This is one of the initiatives to improve public transport," said Mayor Mother Hubbard. You can certainly see why his friends call him 'Dick.'

LINKS: Cars to be banned from Grafton Bridge - NZ Herald

Auckland Economics Urban_Design,


  1. Robert Winefield3 May 2006, 18:00:00

    Oh good, so now the traffic wanting to get from the Hospital-Newmarket area and back will divert to the side-streets running laterally to the motor-way.

    And this is supposed to ease congestion how?

    Buses? Bullshit. The last time I tried to get a Bus in Auckland it was so late that after 30 minutes of waiting - I walked to my destination (2 miles away) and STILL beat it there.

    That was the second to last interaction I had with a Stagecoach bus. The last one was in an ANZ bank on Dominion Road. The bus driver double parked his bus out on Dom road and pushed past me in pursuit of some poor Asian kid who - he believed - had cut him off. He decked the kid - in the bank and then strode out (past me - I was too flabagasted to do anything other than avoid tripping over my jaw) to continue his rounds.

    Yes, I reported the prick to the company and the cops. No, I don't know if he's still a driver.

    So there you are. Public transport - it's good for ya! Rub shoulders with the shit - oops, I mean salt - of the earth. Just remember, if you value your life, don't complain to the driver about the service and always tip the driver...

  2. Of course, all buses are slow and late and all bus drivers are violent. From my experience, the people who bitch and moan the most about public transport are the ones who don't use it.

    However, you are right about some bus services. The Link especially is prone to be held up at, surprise surprise, Grafton Bridge and Ponsonby Rd. Mostly because the Grafton, Mt Eden, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn crowd are still insisting on using their cars, when they don't need to.

    People who complain about being caught in traffic, are part of the problem.

    If everyone catches a bus to and from work for 1 day a week, traffic will be reduced by 20%. 2 days a week and it'll be close to 40%. Yes, it really is that simple!

    That will improve bus services.

  3. I'm happy for it to be buses only - if the bus companies themselves buy the bridge from the Council. Now THAT would be a deal to support.

  4. Robert Winefield4 May 2006, 02:30:00


    The point is that a company wins customers by providing superior service at a superior price. In my last two encounters with Stagecoach it did neither.

    And to add to the infamy, the bus company is forever getting "favours" from the council determined to bully people into riding them. Do you think that is going to improve their service any? Why? What incentive have they got to improve? This council is nutty enough to prop them up with Rate-payer funding if they can't run at a profit.

    Of course, part of the reason they can't run at a profit is that the local and main government socks them with red-tape and taxes. If this were a truely Green Government - they would make the bus companies exempt from the portion of the petrol tax that goes towards the consolidated fund. If the government was serious about getting people to ride the buses it could make bus fares exempt from GST - instantly lowering the fares by 12.5%.

    By making it easier to BE a bus company - it would be easier to run a company in competition with Stagecoach. And the company with buses that ran late and employed violent drivers would loose - and rightfully so!

  5. "If this were a truely Green Government - they would make the bus companies exempt from the portion of the petrol tax that goes towards the consolidated fund. "

    Um, they use diesel Robert, and all road user charges are dedicated to the national land transport fund, so that wont work. However, there is a tiny 0.33c/l diesel tax applied by Auckland City Council.

    A significant proportion (40% or so) of Stagecoach services in Auckland are fully commercial and need no subsidy - this could grow if ARTA didn't want to plan and subsidise the lot.

  6. Robert Winefield4 May 2006, 08:22:00

    I bow to your superior knowledge wrt land-transport issues Scott.

    But the point about red-tape and the rest still stands. Why is it that there is one big bus company instead of a whole bunch of smaller ones offering to service only the most profitable routes in Auckland?

  7. There are several bus companies in Auckland - and Stagecoach is dominant because it bought the company off of the Auckland Regional Council in 1998.

    I don't think it matters whether there is one or many, their biggest competitors are the car, taxis, bikes and people's own feet (I'd mention rail, but it wouldn't run at all without subsidies).

    If the roads were run as a business then bus companies would decide whether or not they pay for the capacity in bus lanes or not, whether buses truly will compete with cars or whether they are transport for only the poor.


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