Twyford’s Transport Tohubohu

By John

Tohubohu is a North American word which means a state of chaos — utter confusion.

This would appear to apply to both Phil Twyford’s Transport and Housing Portfolios. However, it is to his Transport Portfolio that I wish to address my comments. In particular, I want to talk to this government’s obsession with all forms of mobility over roads and their misguided rationale that an increase in the use of public transport will reduce the number of cars on the road. My comments are largely reflective of Auckland as this is the city in which I reside. I am sure other populated cities are suffering proportionately in terms of traffic congestion.

From an Auckland perspective, the government’s transport policies are an abject failure.  The proof of this is the fact that despite an increase in public transport trips and passenger numbers, the journey times for vehicles on the roads have not decreased.

It amazes me that the government and the so-called experts in Auckland Transport appear to think that by increasing services there will be a consequential reduction in road traffic. This, to me, seems a gross over simplification of a problem made complex by people’s travel needs which cannot be catered for easily by public transport.

There are many occupations where people need their vehicles for commuting during the day. Other business people find it quicker to commute from A to B using their car even with the congestion. If you lived in Albany and worked in Henderson it is far quicker to make the journey by car than to use the bus.

Family reasons for travel will more often than not require the car. Supermarket shopping, visiting family or friends, medical appointments and children’s sporting and other commitments all demand using the car. A case in point occurred a couple of weeks ago when we called in to see our granddaughter in Botany on her birthday. Leaving there at 4.50pm we reached our destination in Parnell at 6.40pm. During the long trip, I reflected on Phil’s transport strategy, and proceeding at a crawl, it gave me time to gauge passenger loads on the many outward bound peak hour buses. On average they were at best a quarter full, illustrating the flawed thinking that by running buses more frequently they will be full.

This type of flawed thinking extends to cycleways where millions have been spent to satisfy a noisy minority. It would appear most cyclists in Auckland are recreational types who cycle on weekends. Even more flawed thinking is the loopy light rail idea up Dominion Road to the Airport. Auckland Transport has just spent $1.5 million dollars raising shop verandas so that double-decker buses can use it. They run very frequently. The Sky Bus also goes along Dominion Road. Why then a tram?

This government’s aversion to building roads will only exacerbate congestion in our main cities and on our major routes. The road from Auckland to Whangarei is a case in point. It is laughable to think of moving the Auckland Port until it is two lanes each way. Rail, I know, is the preferred option but does it stack up in terms of the money that would have to be spent? Other main routes around Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and elsewhere need urgent attention. The idea of putting in a few safety enhancements is simply either avoiding or not realising the extent of the problem.

The Left in politics always fail because they are blinded by their ideology. They never deal in reality, it’s just whatever gives them the warm fuzzies. Cycling, walking, houses that we the taxpayers end up having to buy and well-being budgets. 

It is well past the time this government started dealing in facts, not fantasy.