Monday, 12 September 2016

Local government politicians are the real villians in transport inequality

Great piece here about cycling, however if you delve closer they seem to be shifting the blame onto central government and attempting to paint their pro-road policies as the source of all the issues we are having with transport in the city. NIMBYs also cop a fair amount of blame.

The facts are pretty clear and that is that local government politicians are generally spineless people and in the city of Christchurch the pro-car landscape is largely down to local policies as there are only a few roads that have central government influence, mainly the ones designated as highways. I have been observing mealy mouthed councillors for years. Labour politicians should actually be hanging their heads in shame as they are the ones who campaign on transport equality yet when it comes to being in office and making a change it turns out being all things to all people is the overriding objective, not actually making decisions according to a set of values, whatever they may be.

At least in Wellington they had a Green mayor who stood up to the whingers and put through their cycleways now she is paying the political price for it and a prominent Labour Party councillor has had the gall to claim the Island Bay cycleway should never have been built. I have seen the same in Christchurch where Labour politicians have been chief amongst those whose primary goal is grandstanding or kowtowing in to the loudest voices rather than standing up for some ideals. It probably says a lot about what the Labour Party stands for these days at a local government level. As we know those with the loudest voices tend to be the ones who have the most money so it is grossly disgraceful to any notions of equality of any kind (not just in transport) to allow those people to dominate local government. in Christchurch we have this unfortunate accommodation between left wing political groups called 2021 (although the Mayor claims to be independent of it) that means you have no alternative to a spineless fence sitting Labour politician in a lot of cases.

Anyway back to Christchurch. Due to Labour spinelessness from Mayor Dalziel down we are supposed to believe lack of council ownership of bus services is the key issue for public transport when it is clearly not. The cycling lobby's perspective is great to have but ignores the need for bus services so far. All three out of cycling, pedestrians and public transport should be considered in the same light, and going nutty against all forms of motorised transport is a bit off whack unless you are proposing closing the road completely.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Hard to see how sea freight cannot threaten rail traffic

A few weeks ago I blogged some thoughts about the Greens' policy of wanting to increase freight movements by sea and rail. I noted that it is difficult for coastal shipping not to compete with rail for the same type of traffic. This is a sound reasoning because the coastal shipping industry in NZ was decimated by the introduction of rail ferries and there have been other related instances, for example many smaller provincial ports lost headway to increased rail services.

It has come to my attention that the sea freight increase policy is not new and in fact Labour had a similar policy called "Seachange" which was brought out not long before the 2008 election. As such there was little opportunity to implement it before the change of government. One of the initial statements in the policy document is that "[it] does not mean that the government will be unfairly supporting the domestic sea freight industry as a competitor to the road freight industry, or to the rail freight industry". Presumably this implies it will be fairly supporting the domestic sea freight industry as a competitor to the others. The difficulty is what is fair and unfair. There is no way that the sea freight industry cannot be competing with rail as well as road, as I already mentioned. The next paragraph of the document states "without a strong domestic sea freight industry there will be further pressure on road and rail networks". Generally railfans think there is too much pressure on the road network and not enough freight movement on the rail network, so they would challenge the assumption that the rail network is not capable of dealing with the increased freight volume.

The important aspect of a sea change policy therefore is to identify where it can be more beneficial to move freight by sea compared to by rail. The areas where rail networks are most under pressure are in the main urban centres of Auckland and Wellington, where the networks are heavily used for passenger services, and the Golden Triangle between Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty where freight volume is very large. Therefore it makes sense to move freight by sea for feeder services into the two largest ports in New Zealand - Auckland and Tauranga. Since the rail networks around these areas are choked with traffic, moving the freight from other ports to these two by sea will be highly beneficial if the goal is to prevent the rail network from being put under more pressure.

It also gives the lie to the notion that the rail network can help Northport become a major freight hub. Kiwirail has identified that the rail networks in Auckland will cause a major bottleneck to the efficient movement of freight to and from Marsden Point by rail in the unlikely event of Auckland closing down its port in favour of Northport. A sum of $2-3 billion would be needed to address this. The amount is so large it would not be viable to re-establish at Northport compared to other possible sites in the Auckland region.