Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Why Aucklanders don't use public transport

I had a lunch meeting today; an old friend I hadn't seen for some time had a proposition, something involving talking to her graphics/drawing class about what technical drawing used to be like when it was still called that, and why drawing up houses and presenting them to clients is so much fun.  I look forward to it.

Anyway, the car being in for a clutch makeover, I figured I'd use the bus to get from here to my St Lukes meeting.  I checked the whizzbang Maxx website -- a fun website showing what to use to get from A to B, which even sometimes matches the transport you find in the field -- to find out how to get from here to there using Auckland's celebrated public transport.  You put in your location and your destination and your favoured time of arrival, press several buttons and then watch as it whizzes and whirrs and tells you the quickest way to be whisked across this city by public transport.  I plugged in my info and waited for my answer:  Walk, it said. 

True story.  The favoured method of public transport 4386m across Auckland (yes, the website even knows the distance to the nearest metre) was my own two feet.

You have to laugh.  I did.


  1. Yeah, I have had this experience. In my case the fastest way from Britomart to Kingsland was on foot ????

  2. Ha ha, an amusing story Peter, did you walk in the end?

    I always use public transport as some seven bus routes go past the end of my street..(covering various directions and destinations)...and a monthly pass is a pittance at a mere $110..(you cannot get carparking for that!)..and the new bus lanes make it much quicker, as anyone who has been foolish enough to drive a car down Sandringham road at 8 o'clock in the morning, compared with a bus, will attest..and..all and all, it is simply a "no brainer".

    Where I live, to not use public transport with its convenience, cost and speed would be mad.

  3. Though in fairness the website is probably about as crap as the transport. The last time I was forced to use it I had to play around a fair bit to generate sane output.

    It has no concept of hills and was perfectly happy to send me tramping up and down some pretty steep ones for marginal time savings. It also has a fetish for combining the train and the bus when using one or the other would be about as convenient.

  4. Try checking the am/pm on the times you entered.

    There's no public transport in the middle of the night. :)

  5. I ran to work this morning, Beach Haven to Constellation Drive in Mairangi Bay, took me 47 minutes to run the 9km (yes I know a slow run!) however the quickest bus journey was 1 hour 9 mins and that was via Takapuna, they also suggested via the City - just 13 mins quicker.

  6. I live in Morningside, and work in on the North Shore. On average I leave home at about 8:05 and arrive at the office at 8:25-8:30ish. This means it takes me about 20-25 mins each day, each way. or 4.16 hours traveling per week. I spend $40 per week on petrol, or $8 per weekday, most of my petrol cost is taxation, some of which goes towards subsidising public transport.

    If I was to use public transport here are my options.

    Thats 1.5 hours each way or 3 hours per day, or 15 hours per week. I earn a decent amount per hour.. so the wasted time is worth about $271 to me in lost salary.

    It costs 9.10 each way or $18.20 a day. Thats $91 a week. Before I factor in the wages it still costs me $51 per week more to use public transport than it does to drive my car, and public transport is subsidised by the tax and ratepayer (i.e. me) while petrol has massive amounts of tax on it.

    if I add in the cost of my time, it costs me $322 per week more to travel by public transport than it does car.

    Is "saving the planet" really worth $322 a week to me?

    I don't think so.

  7. The helpful truth in this is that most public transport in Auckland focuses on the CBD - and most Aucklanders don't have trips that start and end there - so the battle to get people on public transport for trips that aren't linear along those corridors is a lost cause

  8. And from the Deep South - a similar story. Christchurch metro has a travel site: we have a bus go past the end of the lane (in north-east Chch).

    Car travel time - 20-45 minutes, the latter for the shocker days.

    Bus travel time (from the site) 1 hour 19 min, and has (count 'em) Two changeovers. Two!

    And there's still a km or so of walking because, get this, the industrial suburb which houses work, doesn't have a bus route through it. Suburb (behind Addington Raceway) has only been there about 15 years....

    Another triumph of Central Planning.

  9. Another triumph of not allowing people to build more densely and not having to pay for the roads directly.

  10. You could think 4386m or you could think 4386 calories. Those pastries you munch on Sunday mornings could be consumed guilt free Peter.

    But public transport in Auckland is rubbish, I don't have a car and don't particularly want one since I hate driving and the cost, but to get from Devonport to anywhere at the best of times, let alone late at night (Ferries, I'm looking at you) takes three years and the gdp of a small African country.

  11. Guilt!? How could one feel guilt for eating pastries. :-)

    BTW, and FWIW, I have no problem either with walking or using buses: I do have a problem with this notion that we must be forced out of our cars in order to use a system that for most journeys is mostly unusable.

  12. The Wellington transport system has given me similar options. It told me to walk to Te Aro (43 minutes) or alternatively I could take 2 buses (45 minutes).

    Most hilariously was when I told it I needed to be at Whitby (a long way from my place) at 8.30 in the morning. It suggested I take the after midnight bus at 3 am in the morning and wait 5 hours at a remote train station before taking a local bus to my destination. The total journey time was, I recall, 8 hours!

  13. PC, you make me glad I live in Wellington. I live in the suburb of Tawa, which is a narrow valley with a railway going right through the centre. It only takes 5 minutes to get to the nearest station by car, or only a 15 minute walk.

    And yes, traffic can be bad in Wellington. But, not nearly as bad as Auckland, and far better than Chicago or DC (I've heard stories of being stuck in rush hour traffic there until 2 AM. I'm not kidding!

  14. Public Transport is not about actually transporting any of you peons to your destinations. It is about transporting money from individual members of the public straight into the pockets of special interests, lobbiests, cronies, assorted hangers on, professional parasites and pressure groups. Govt takes a cut on the way through.

  15. Is that what your crack dealer told you?

  16. Public Transport is not about actually transporting any of you peons to your destinations.

    What about other forms of public transport such as taxis?

    LGM are you a libertarian or a fuck-tarian? I can't believe you reasoning which is more like a 5 year old.

  17. Gosh Craig, how about you go look up the data? Take a look at the cash-flows. Try and see where the money comes from, where it goes to and who gets what. Now take a look at who gets to pay (especialy the ones who are forced to pay and yet get nothing in return- walk damn you, walk!). Is that too hard for you? OK, it probably is. Well, you'll just have to stay ignorant.


  18. Martin

    You really need to get out of that Kumeu barn you live in and find out about how things actually are in the big wide world. You see, that's the advantage of learning to walk upright. You can leave the farm.

    The public transport game is about capturing subsidies. That's where the pay-off for the participants lies. In the absence of subsidy, public transport buses and trains are not a profitable enterprise. Getting huge payouts from the governments is the primary function of public transport industry participants. That's not just in NZ but all over the world. Check it out sometime.

    Building and then operating boondoggles like railways, tunnels, tracks, busways, networks etc. is a lucrative activity if you are an insider (that is, getting paid to do it). These projects are usually founded on the basis of projected patronage figures which typically turn out to be complete fiction (see Bent Flyvberg's research articles and books regarding this topic for numerous examples). Similarly cost projections for the construction or implementation of the new "systems" are woefully inaccurate and fall short, well short, of reality. Costs escallate by orders of magnitude. Revenues from patronage turns out to be lower than predicted (more than 75% lower is not atypical) That's not a problem though, as participants understand that the objective is not to provide an efficient and effective transport service to customers (if it was they'd be striving to make sure that what they were creating was self-sufficient and would generate more money than it consumed). Once the system is in, well, it's too late to go back. No politician is going to admit that none of it makes any sense (or even any cents) at all. None of it can stand on its own two feet (that is, survive on revenue from patronage). So the operators are guarteed on-going and substantial payments to perpetuity. The subsidies are locked in and they are big-time. Lots of loot. All that money has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is members of the public- the victims. Every person, whether they choose to use public transport or not has wealth expropriated from them by compulsion in order to pay those subsidies. Still, for the recipients of the largess it is an exciting and lucrative activity to be in.

    Does this have anything to do with private taxis? Not really. Perhaps you should consider your own pattern of thinking (woefully shallow that it is) prior to making silly ignorant outbursts.



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