Andrew Dickens: Stop sticking the knife into public transport

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Manage episode 237712493 series 2500324
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It's been a bad week for public transport, it's fair to say. Bad year, really. There's bus problems everywhere. We don't have enough drivers and no wonder because there's no money in it. One thing I’ve always known about public service is that a bus can arrive on time 99.9 per cent of the time and no-one will say a thing. But one no show and it’s all over the internet and airwaves. Buses must work because as we learnt this week 40,000 people use them in Wellington’s rush hour. We found that out when Wellington’s train system ground to a halt this week because of a derailment. Apparently 60,000 people use the trains in Wellington’s rush hour. So that’s 60,000 people not in a car. If you use a car in Wellington’s rush hour you should be thankful to public transport that those 60,000 people aren’t on the road. The last few years has been a good story for rail with numbers growing and services improving, but then the wobbles hit. There's Wellington's SNAFU but also Auckland's system which keeps being hit by signalling problems which is the key vulnerability of any transport system. Get your signalling wrong and people die. But then the monster of all problems in Wellington when a train derailed at just the wrong place, shutting down virtually all the system. They say the Wellington issue was one of those once in a lifetime things, which it was, but it also shows you how small and hokey our networks are due to a lack of long term funding. Virtually all our rail into all our cities has one way in and one way out so all it takes is just one screw up and the whole thing goes down. Many of our urban rail lines are not double tracked, meaning you can only have one train using it. Such as the line to Kumeu and Helensville or the line to Onehunga. It’s useless. I mean if you going to put your money on the line you might as well do it properly rather than just half the job because of miserliness. So a bad look for public transport but it's also fair to say our roads are like that too. A tile falls off a building and the Auckland CBD closes. But the problem with these infrastructure failure is the number of people who come out and say that public transport just doesn’t work so don’t do it. This year's problems with public transport is not a sign that it's a bad idea but that we're really bad at doing it. Slowly, little by little, bit by bit, we’re getting the sort of infrastructure we should have built 50 years ago. I’d like to see some decent future proofed public transport going in in more cities. Hamilton, Tauranga and Queenstown are already creaking and will only creak more. But there’s no getting away from it: if you want to drive your car on our roads you’re also going to have to support public transport. Meanwhile, Phil Goff says all Auckland school kids should get free public transport. Great idea. Get the little snowflakes out of Mummy's car. Get Mummy's car off the roads then its school holiday traffic all year long. And the kids will learn more independence and resilience. Apparently it would cost ratepayers $4 million. A bargain. After all, the council uses our money for 500,000 dollar sculptures all the time without batting an eyelid.

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