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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Information, please.

So it's rush hour and basically people are running to catch the bus or train. And it's raining, then hailing. All with massive gusts of chilly wind. People seem well dressed this evening, but it's miserable.

And the displays at Britomart station are all saying the next trains are two hours away. This throws me as in it's 24 hour time so I wander round thinking I've got 20 minutes. Then I realise the time doesn't make sense and it's not for hours - walk to the mezanine level and there's masses of people swarming around on the platform below. Go upstairs and ask the lady in the information booth at the ticket counter if there are delays of two hours. And she says, "You'll have to go downstairs and ask them". But, I explain, it's saying two hour delay - is that right?. "I don't know, you'll have to go downstairs..." But, I explain, I want some information about the trains. "I don't work for Violieaiu [or whatever the fuck they call themselves now] I work for..." She wouldn't be working there for a second more if I had anything to do with it. You would be out the fucking door lady. You get off your fucking fat arse and waddle down there and have a bullshit conversation with some fucking liar Veoliaeuo idiot about what the fuck has happened in the Newmarket-Bermuda Triangle and then you waddle upstairs and tell us about it - because lady, that's the only fucking thing any of us want to know.

So anyway, fellow commuters, that's when I swore (not nearly loud enough) and stormed off with arms flailing briefly in exasperation and defeat - walked out towards the bloody rain, and the bloody wind, and the bloody buses.

FFS!

If you can't hear the burbling, crackling, English-as-a-second-language, echoing PA system announcing whatever indecipherable excuses and whatever, then neither can we.

Pick up your fucking telephone or whatever and ask them what the fuck is the estimated time of the next trains out. That is the one piece of information that the information lady at the information desk ought to be able to answer rapidly and accurately. She is situated in the very next booth, seamlessly in fact to, or really in, the ticketing counter. Situated in the Britomart railway station. All the other bullshit - it can weight. Tourists who want to know about photographing Kiwis, or someone wanting a bus to Howick or whatever can get fucked - what is the status of the train system NOW? I don't care if you work for Bobo the alcoholic clown, I don't care if you work for MOTAT, if you are in the information booth and there's some bullshit with the trains then I expect you to know. If the trains are fucked for this evening (and they've been fucked for decades so why should this evening be any different) the commuters have to make immediate decisions about catching buses or cabs or whatever. Without having to be told by you, lady, to go down to the platform to be told the information that you should have known in the first place. It's called: I N F O R M A T I O N. Try providing it sometime. People will thank you for it.

17 Comments:

At 24/6/08 10:25 pm, Blogger Barnsley Bill said...

Are you feeling better now?
Buy a car, or better still get yourself a funky inner city metrosexual scooter.

 
At 24/6/08 10:30 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

You cruel bastard, everyone tells me that.

And yes, a little better, just a touch - enough to take the edge off.

 
At 24/6/08 11:48 pm, Blogger Barnsley Bill said...

A free form unpunctuated rant is almost as good as a ....
This is why I cannot do public transport. I swear the one and only time I caught the train to wellington was the longest 16 hours of my life. Felt like a week. Got off in Palmerston North and rented a car. fuck em, I would rather walk.

 
At 25/6/08 3:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the wellington system can only get better now that the governments running it.

 
At 25/6/08 8:15 am, Blogger Bryan Spondre said...

"The latest census showed that more Aucklanders now worked from home each day than used the city's public transport system"

NZ Herald

Cullens train set billions would have been much better spent on more international internet capacity.

 
At 25/6/08 9:40 am, Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Auckland is in recovery mode after decades of car-brained stupidity.

There are many obvious things that COULD be done that are not done.

For example: would it not be a sensible idea to mount a screen (or 5) on the wall, in a prominent place, to display current service information? That way, if the train os going to be two hours late, you can say why. If you don't know exactly, just apologise and commit to saying something useful ASAP.

In Toronto, every train platform (over 100 including each direction) has at least one plasma screen that displays ads or whatever...and service information when relevant or required.

A loudspeaker system isn't heard by the deaf, hearing impaired or in Britomart due to the bad accoustics.

These are such EASY things to fix. One of the huge paralysing issues of the funder / provider split in the Auckland public transit provision. The private operators may be the source of the delay. What bus operator wants to help fund a system tells about train delays? Compound the stupidity from there. It shoold be ONE public system run an authority accountable to people who are elected.

I have never seen a public transit system that worked that was not publy owned. I know the ideologues will say government can't do stuff, but where public transit is concerned, it's private business that can't organise a piss-up in a brewery. The track record could not be more clear on that, if we can allow the evidence to get in the way of market religion for a moment.

 
At 25/6/08 9:46 am, Blogger Truth Seeker said...

I found out the reason that buses paralleling the southern commuter train line don't connect with it and offload city-bound passengers at train stations is because the bus companies don't want to lose their passengers (and thus their profits). So we have the ludicrous situation of buses and trains running all the way into town....and the bus stops are hundreds of metres from stations. But there aren't enough buses to run frequent feeder lines into trains stations.

It's utter madness. The focus needs to be on moving people first, not making money first.

 
At 25/6/08 9:50 am, Blogger Bryan Spondre said...

Truth seeker "because the bus companies don't want to lose their passengers (and thus their profits)"

Given us ratepayers subsidise 60% of the costs of running public transport in Auckland surely we can demand it is run in an efficient way. It is the subsidies that makes these companies profitable not the passengers.

 
At 25/6/08 11:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said truthseeker.

"Cullens train set billions would have been much better spent on more international internet capacity."

Bollocks.

Give that most of the people that work from home regularly work for large organisations such as Vodafone, Telecom, Fletcher, Fonterra, the government or some SOE (ACC etc.) who all have their IT infrastructure based NZ (neatly bypassing the need to route network traffic overseas) its hardly going to help is it?

Very few small/medium buinesses have work from home policies as they can't afford the infrastructure unfortunately (blame network hardware manufacturers and ISPs for that)

And all those work from home book keepers, childcarers, gardeners etc. hardly need superfast access to google do they?

NZ needs better data infrastructure for sure (gigbit fibre to every house!) and yes, more capacity to the Internet at large than the SCC current provides but at least give some proper reasons and leave trains out of it. A national rail network that works can hardly be a bad thing.

Argox

 
At 25/6/08 12:29 pm, Blogger Bryan Spondre said...

Argox: "Give that most of the people that work from home regularly work for large organisations"

Do you have numbers to back up this claim up ?

Rail is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.

 
At 25/6/08 1:20 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

And if they built it all in the 19th century, like Melbourne, we wouldn't have this problem now.

The train company is never straight up about delays unless they are only 10 minutes late. Anything more than that they suddenly can't estimate when the next train is, or are overcome with amnesia about why the delay has occured.

If we went to the French, or the Japanese or whoever could we not get something decent?

 
At 25/6/08 1:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you have numbers to back up this claim up ?"

No I have no statistics, but the main thrust of my point was that 'international internet capacity' would be of very limited use to the vast majority of home workers who would be accessing computer resources (email and file servers for example) based in New Zealand or those have no use for internet connectivity anyway. Money should be invested in high speed fibre networks in all our major population centres of that I don't disagree.

Of course more capacity on the SCC (or whatever alternative) would be useful for software developers working with overseas clients, large companies with offices overseas and perhaps a few in the creative industries and for leisure activities of course.

Put simply and in the context of the article you orignally linked to INTERNATIONAL Internet capacity is only one of reasons broadband penetration is so low in NZ. The other bigger factors include Telecoms grip on the local loop (now disintegrating), ISP's unwillingness to differentiate between national and international traffic, the major ISPs policies on public peering and the difficulties in providing broadband access to rural communities. I fail to see how investment in international internet capacity will affect these?

"Rail is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem."

What a glib comment! Tell that to people in continental Europe, Asia or the US that have excellent long distance and commuter rail services and use them daily.

Argox

 
At 25/6/08 1:48 pm, Blogger Bryan Spondre said...

argox: I work for a web publishing company. We host our video in the US because it is far cheaper, our adserving (done via a large NZ business) is hosted in the US for the same reason. Therefore delivery to our NZ audience depends on a fast international connection.

I don't have the link on hand but somewhere on the TUANZ site is an article about the cost of international bandwith being held artificially high due to lack of competition for the SCC. A second cable would force competition.

 
At 25/6/08 2:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"argox: I work for a web publishing company. We host our video in the US because it is far cheaper, our adserving (done via a large NZ business) is hosted in the US for the same reason. Therefore delivery to our NZ audience depends on a fast international connection."

That is a completely separate issue and nothing to do with either working from home or broadband penetration. Your employers obviously did a cost benefit analysis and decided to go down that road. Which is fair enough. But why should have Cullen spent the money he spent on the railways (which hopefully will benefit many NZ'ers) on another fat internet pipe under the pacific that will only have benefits for a far smaller number of NZ'ers (those in the new media industry)?


"I don't have the link on hand but somewhere on the TUANZ site is an article about the cost of international bandwith being held artificially high due to lack of competition for the SCC. A second cable would force competition."

It could do, or it could just create a duopoly (think Telecom & TelstraClear) that has no interest in lowering prices.

 
At 25/6/08 5:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what you're fucken worried about. I was waiting for a fucken train at fucken Mt Eden for fucken ages and ages. The rain came and then the fucken hail. The stones shot down my back and melted in my fucken hair. I cursed and swore like a mad woman and still not a fucken train arrived to save me. Ended up sheltering under a tree like a homeless dog with wet ears! Fuck it! Damn fucken public fucken transport! If I had walked home, I would have got home before that damn train. AND, when the rain stopped, that damn train arrived, and it was full. I had to stand and some fat bitch of a Veoiloaloa would not explain what the delay was.
Damn it. Useless I tell you!!

 
At 25/6/08 7:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Follow the link .. great transparency.. http://www.veoliatransport.co.nz/about_performance/index.asp

 
At 25/6/08 8:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anon 7:21. Look up the link and there's nothing fucken there!!!!!!!

 

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