Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Myopic and Blinkered Auckland Transport Planners


Thakur Ranjit Singh

No-care attitude, inexperience, short-comings and short-sightedness.  These adjectives come to mind when we look at road chaos in Auckland. It appears Auckland Council, NZ Road Transport Authority and other agencies vested with  responsibility for making our roads safer and traffic more free-flowing seem to be doing exactly the opposite.

Hope two Phils also get to read FIJI PUNDIT blog or Facebook, or Auckland Council Watch, so they can get informed: Transport Minister, Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff.

As a school bus-driver-journalist with a window-seat, I have a better perspective and real-life experience than many bureaucrats, some very ill-experienced, giving questionable advice, making nonsensical decisions and making our life more difficult. The frustration is that nobody seems to take notice, and you seem to whipping a dead horse. There are other issues that I will bring up if somebody asks, but today I wish to say what I endure and encounter on a daily basis in West Auckland.

Waimauku, Whenuapai and Riverhead Chaos

Waimauku:

Thanks for the multi-million dollar roundabout at State Highway 16 / Muriwai Road/Waimauku Station Road junction. Traffic flows very nicely now. But… 
With new housing developments and increased student traffic at a growing hub of Waimauku, there are no designated bus stops. Collectively we pick and drop some 200 school students there – but, sorry, no bus stops. 

I drop students with my hazard lights on and urging speeding motorist with hand, to slow down for school buses, where they need to pass at 20km/hr. But nobody seems to know this rule.

It appears Auckland road transport planners, who need to make our roads safer and free-flowing, seem to be doing the opposite. Either they are inexperienced, do not care, or do not know. The problem is that they do not seem to listen, and you get a feeling you are whipping a dead horse. I have the same feeling.

Accidents are waiting to happen. Hope local National (Helensville) MP Chris Penk, who replaced Sir John, also reads my blog and social media to get informed, so he can pull up some bureaucrats for bus stands, which have been requested. However, we have been told that things move at snail’s pace in those managing roads and transport. Like, they took many many months to change Motorway 16 speeds limit on approaches to Waterview tunnel. This took a double-decker busload of NZ Road Transit and Auckland Council Officials to change the digital speed limit from “80” to “100!” As they say, it takes a village to change an electric bulb.
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Whenuapai

As there is no ramp linking busy State Highway 16 to Motorway 18, (wonder why) Brigham Creek Road substitutes as that link. This busy road runs through de-facto Whenuapai shopping centre, past the Airforce base. (Whenuapai Village is hidden behind Air Force base, nearer to Herald Island). Realising this is major link, one would assume planners would to be more sensible. But this is not so. We have bottleneck and traffic jams on single lane Brigham Creek Road because of poor planning at traffic lights at junction of Brigham Creek/Totara/ Mamari Roads.
  
Whenuapai has massive housing development, yet no bus stops have been planned or allocated. The traffic light creates a bottleneck on the major road linking Highway 16 to Motorway 18. Please read the article.

Going towards Air Force base at traffic lights there are three designated lanes: one turning left into Totara Road, one going ahead, connecting Helensville and Massey traffic to Motorway 18 and Hobsonville, and one turning right into a half-horse settlement into Mamari Road for a few houses.

My estimate is, some 4% of traffic turn left, less than half a percent turn right, and over 95% go straight towards Air Force base. A sensible planner would allow at least 2 lanes for straight traffic, to ease daily queues for major “ramp” linking State Highway 16 to Motorway 18. 

And like Waimauku, there are no bus stops for the ever-increasing houses and developments in and around that area.

Riverhead

Again, this is a hotbed of development and ever-increasing population. The newly –renovated and developed shopping centre has a new-humped pedestrian crossing. I would estimate over 100 students catch school buses and are dropped. 

Again, no bus stops have been designed or allocated in or around the newly decorated shopping centre. Accidents are waiting to happen.

Somebody is bound to get a jolt or get hurt on the humped crossing as there are no advance warnings of this-it comes as a surprise, wonder why. 

The road planners be they Auckland Transport or NZ Transit Authority, it appears they have novice planners, still learning their job in an expanding city, while sitting in their ivory towers. People on the field, like bus drivers (like me) who have experience on roads and could reason things out should sit in an advisory role in their planning committees.

The new roundabout in Waimauku seems to have made a positive effect on traffic -flow. However, an expanding hub, with some 200 students using buses have no bus stops in the whole Waimauku Village. Hope local national MP, Chris Penk, who replaced Sir John Key, is reading this.
But unfortunately I do not qualify –as neither do I belong to their school-boys club, nor I am one of their cronies. (And Paul Henry would say, neither do I look or sound like a ‘Kiwi”)

Over to you, two Phils (Twyford and Goff) and one Chris (Penk) – to provide us some solution, or please pass the towel to wipe the tears!

Cry, West Auckland.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a journalist - runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, his Facebook Page, Auckland Council Watch, is a media commentator and a critic of poor transport planning by those who do not seem to care or know. He is also a part-time school bus driver linking West Auckland, (from Waimauku) to Takapuna]

E-mail: thakurji@xtra.co.nz]