Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't like Auckland's trains? Pay more!

Well it's hardly surprising. You get what you pay for.

You see the fares only recover around a third of the operating costs, and not a dollar of fare revenue has been used to pay for the trains themselves, the track upgrades or the station upgrades. They have been paid for by ratepayers, motorists (through petrol tax) and the proceeds of the privatisation of the Yellow Bus Company.

So when Peter Lyons in the NZ Herald moans about services being late, moans about standing room only, moans about the services being inferior to his expectations he shouldn't be surprised. Taxpayers have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the system. He starves the system by paying fares that are a fraction of the operating costs, it's a con that deludes Aucklanders into thinking that you can have a first class urban passenger railway without either paying fares to sustain it (as in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan) or paying a fortune in rates or taxes (as in Paris, Vienna, Montreal).

So the debate is really this. Are those who want Auckland to have a passenger railway willing to use it and pay the fares necessary to sustain it? If not, why should Aucklanders who don't want to use it be forced to pay taxes for those who do?

Meanwhile, if you think it is the solution to congestion in Auckland, consider that 88% of commuters in Auckland do NOT work in downtown Auckland, where the railway goes. Consider that the railway itself only serves three out of the five main corridors in Auckland radiating from the central city, then you can see that at best 7% of Auckland commuters might use it.

It would be nice if a journalist would put in a LGOIMA (official information) request to the ARC to ask the difference its rail plan would make to traffic speeds in Auckland if fully implemented (according to peer reviewed consultants' reports).

1 comment:

Elijah Lineberry said...

My view of the Auckland trains and buses is that most criticism is from those who never use them!

The western line, for one, is excellent and going from Britomart to Kingsland in rush hour the trains are on time and not 'standing room only'

The Auckland buses are also excellent...much quicker than driving, and cost effective for passengers.

The CBD to Sandringham in rush hour takes 18 - 20 minutes along the bus lanes...excellent service.