Parking Spaces in Matiatia to be Reduced

Auckland Council, through its subsidiary AT, decided to remove ten parking spaces in the premium area of the Matiatia car park between 20 December and February 8. These are to be given to shuttle operators to, in AT’s words, “avoid [shuttle] drivers having to risk receiving parking infringement notices by leaving their vehicles unattended whilst they meet their passengers coming off the ferry”.

This decision was made with the support of Waiheke’s Local Board, according to AT.

AT had failed to provide eleven new car parking spaces in Matiatia, through marginal improvements to the design of the car park. This was promised months ago, around the same time that we were told in no uncertain terms “AT has no plans to significantly increase parking supply at Matiatia”.

FUG was not consulted until after the decision had been publicly announced. We suggested that a more suitable area would be a strip behind the bushes separating the lower car park from the grassy area beside it. AT responded by saying that was not possible, because that area “is owned by Auckland Council, not AT”. We also pointed out that the area was used not long ago to park a restaurant and bar tent, but AT told us that requests for parking “will not be considered due to the cultural significance of the area”.

Sculpture in the Golf

Picture: Headland

We believe that it is absurd that a site suitable to host a restaurant and bar is somehow too ‘sacred’ to revert to its former use as a car park, given the parking crisis situation in Matiatia created by AT’s ongoing failure to provide adequate infrastructure.

AT has spent millions of our dollars building pink suspended highways in the city, for the recreational use of a few lycra-clad middle-aged planet savers.

Pink Cycleway

Picture: Auckland Council

It spends millions more lavishly paying its ballooning management and providing staff with a large fleet of expensive company SUVs, along with free  parking permits (just check out  level 8 of the Downtown Car Park).

fleet

Except when it comes to themselves, AT has declared war on motorists, it seems. It is clear that we will need to elect new representatives capable of controlling this out-of-control outfit.

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The Party Goes On

Auckland Transport (AT) continues to have a great old time at ratepayers’ expense. Their annual report is now out. Staff numbers went up by 8% in the last year alone — 38% in the last three years. The wages and salaries bill went from $107m to $124m, an increase of 16%.

Not only is this outfit employing more and more people, it is also rewarding them better. The number of those on salaries of over $100,000 went up from 325 to 395 in the last year, an increase of 22%.

The Board appointed to oversee AT didn’t do too badly either. We paid them $506,000 for their governance efforts. Chairman Lester Levy was rewarded with directors’ fees of $106,600. Councillors Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee each got $53,300, on top of their Council salaries. The biggest winner, however, was a Dr Warburton, Chief Executive, who took home a cool base salary north of $660,000.

The full (if not very pretty) picture is here:

“AT has no plans to significantly increase parking supply at Matiatia”

This statement was made in a letter from Auckland Transport (AT) to FUG on 10 August 2015.

AT said that it will be conducting a consultation exercise early in 2016 on a new network for the people of Waiheke to get to their public transport park-and-ride facility on the wharf by bus.

We have told Councillor Mike Lee that we regard that statement as evidence of the ongoing failure by Council to provide for the needs of the people of Waiheke. The Local Government Act 2002 provides for “local authorities to play a broad role in meeting the current and future needs of their communities for good-quality local infrastructure”.

We ask the people of Waiheke to prevail on their current and future elected representatives to direct officials to meet their legal obligation to provide good-quality essential local infrastructure. We pay our rates in New Zealand dollars, after all.

The relevant representatives are the Mayor and Councillors, especially Mr Mike Lee, who was elected by the Waitemata and Gulf Ward, chairs the Council’s Infrastructure Committee and has a sit on the board of AT. There is no point in discussing this issue with the Local Board, as that body has no delegated responsibility for parking issues.

It appears that there is some sort of war being waged by ideologues against cars, even those being used to transport people to a public transport park-and-ride facility. Not all of us wish to, or are capable of, walking or riding bikes, and the bus service is far from suitable for all. That is why there is a parking crisis in Matiatia.

This seems to be a classic case of people motivated by their ideology using a public office to pursue a private agenda. The technical definition for that is ‘corruption’. It may well be done with the highest minded intentions of saving the planet, etc., but it is no less corrupt for that.

Those seeking elected office need to come clean on whether they support the ideologues in the bureaucracies that are supposedly under their control, or whether they assume their duty to provide for the wellbeing of their constituents.

Planet Savers and Common Courtesy

Have you noticed the two new cattle-pen-like barriers at the entrance to the Matiatia wharf? They were installed to discourage cyclists running late for the boat from riding their bikes through the throngs of pedestrians boarding the ferries. That didn’t seem to work for some, so Auckland Transport decided that two security staff were to start work earlier. Their task was to ask cyclists to dismount their bikes.

Today (11/8/15) around 7:35 am, a cyclist ignored a request from the security guard to dismount and, when asked again by a second security guard, remonstrated that the wharf is a “road” and he was quite entitled to ride his bike on it. I intervened and said that he should not ride his bike through what is clearly a pedestrian thoroughfare. Someone else intervened too: – a lady (and I use that term loosely) from Palm Beach piped in and proclaimed that riding bikes on the wharf is OK and followed that with a barrage of personal abuse.

The wharf is not a road. It is used by cars and courier vans picking up freight, but never when people are embarking or disembarking from the ferries. To refrain from riding a bike through throngs of pedestrians would appear to be no more than to exercise common courtesy. To point these matters out is not an attack on anyone’s fragile sense of entitlement to moral superiority. It is just plain common sense.

SuperGold Card Changes

The Government decided to allow Explore, a new entrant to the Waiheke Ferry services, to bid for a share of the subsidies that it pays the other operators to carry over-65s at a reduced cost. The change takes effect from 1 September and the ferry operators will need to meet conditions to be imposed by Auckland Transport, according to a report in the Herald.

FUG had earlier petitioned Parliament for this change. We are pleased that the Government has now accepted our submission that all operators should be treated equally. We will monitor the conditions imposed by Auckland Transport, to ensure that they are not anti-competitive.

Submission to Parliament on SuperGold Card

FUG agreed to support and head a petition organised by Waiheke ferry users: “That the House urge the Government to give Explore group ferry service to Waiheke access to the capped SuperGold Card subsidy, and note that 1,559 people have signed a petition on this topic”.

After this petition was presented, we received more than 100 further signatures.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee of the New Zealand House of Representatives invited us to make a submission in support, and we have today submitted as follows:

The SuperGold Card scheme was introduced as a political initiative and an announcement that it applied to Waiheke was made days before a general election.

There is a public perception that the Government subsidises the entire costs incurred by the operators to carry SuperGold Card holders. However, the scheme is capped and only some operators get reimbursement for some of the costs that they incur while appearing to fulfil the political promise.

The Ferry Users Group of Waiheke has no position on whether part charges or some other form of cost containment is (courageously) introduced by this or any future Government. We do, however, object to cost containment initiatives which rely on favouring selected providers over their competitors. We believe that Explore is not a ‘new service’; it is a new entrant to an existing service.

Our objection is based on the self-evident premise that any such schemes are inherently anti-competitive. The introduction of competition is of great importance to the ferry users of this Island, as we have no other mode of transport. Competition has already increased the frequency of sailings available and will, in time, result in the cost reductions and service level improvements that invariably obtain in competitive environments.

While we understand the objective of Government to contain costs, we ask the House to urge Government to implement any cost containment initiatives in a transparent and pro-competitive manner.

Parking Footnotes

A former chair of the Waiheke Local Board said, “[Auckland Transport (AT)] have no intention of doing anything about car parking at Matiatia. They told me so. They want everyone to get on their bikes or park and ride.”

A recent ‘Parking Strategy’ document says that AT has between 101 and 300 potential new parking bays “under investigation” for some time between 2015 and 2045. We have asked AT to provide us with an early indication of what concrete action that organisation has taken or intends to take, in response to concerns raised by FUG at the meeting of April 9 last. We will keep you informed.

The transport spokesperson for the current Local Board, had earlier said that “it is a legal requirement for no parking lines to be in place at the front and back of all parking meters”. During our meeting with AT, it was clearly established no such legal requirement exists for the areas behind the parking metres. It is likely that they will be repainted black, adding another couple of parking spaces removed a few months ago. We invited the spokesperson to use this blog to correct those public comments. She replied by saying that she didn’t wish to retract anything.