Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Great Work! Now What About the Rest?


Great Work! Now What About the Rest?

By Rohan G.H. Quinby

By my estimation, the opening of the spectacular Britomart station has put Auckland somewhere in the mid-20th century. Hey, I’m not complaining. Just that every other city in the western world of comparable size got to this point decades ago. Of course, getting the train schedules right will take some work, considering the absence of double-tracking and the lack of money for rolling stock.

New Zealand is, however, a peculiar place. The neo-liberal reforms brought in by Labour and National set back the ability of local government to provide public services by forcing local bodies to divest their assets. That’s why the bus system in the city is so awful. And while most cities in the western world have merged their cores with surrounding suburban areas to provide for more comprehensive planning, the Auckland area is still a disorganised group of squabbling local bodies holding up development of critical public transport.

Sure, there’s the Auckland Regional Council. And thank goodness. But ARC’s powers under the local bodies legislation in this country are meagre. Not only are public policy initiatives often undermined by local politicians responding to narrow interests, but ARC’s lack of statutory power means that good ideas take a long, long time to implement.

Want an example of how bad it is? Auckland has to be one of the only cities where a bus driver has to count out change to every passenger. It’s a quaint system, but it’s also time consuming and a security hazard for drivers. In most other places, machines were installed decades ago that take fares, dispense tickets and give change. Quickly. So ARC has initiated a program to replace the current system with a modern one. It will take an estimated seven years to put in place. Why so long? Well one reason is because the current system of private contracts for providing transport prevents ARC from acting quickly.

Now that ARC seems to be pushing along with plans for better transit, it has decided that it has to raise the rates it charges homeowners. Aucklanders have protested vigorously; letters to the editor of the New Zealand Herald have threatened to withhold the assessed ARC rates. This kind of anti-tax sentiment means that many Auckland residents would rather choke on congestion than see the development of a modern transit system. It seems that in Auckland at least, the legendary Kiwi sense of equality is really nothing more than a desire to see everyone suffer at the same level, i.e., tall poppy syndrome by another name.

But wait! Above the primitive smog of unregulated emissions, there is a bright spot. It’s the proposed Land Transport Management Bill currently being considered a select committee down in Wellington. The proposed bill would enable regional councils to work with Transfund and Transit New Zealand to develop long range, sustainable transit infrastructure just like any other civilised country. Most importantly, the bill will allow regional councils to own and operate infrastructure.

The bill hasn’t attracted a great deal of attention. But it should. John Banks, sensing a diminishment of power, has already attacked ARC’s ability to manage infrastructure, advocating instead for private sector management of Tranz Metro. Surely, after years of privatisation, lack of investment, crappy service and congestion, Aucklanders would welcome a return to the normal world of public bodies providing public services. Wouldn’t they?


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news