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A Waiheke Island Myth Part 1 On Waiheke Island, New Zealand, a myth has grown up among a handful of people in the Rocky Bay Village th...

Thursday, 19 December 2019


One of the many things got wrong by the insane mainlanders in Auckland Transport (AT) when they decided recently to revamp Waiheke Island's bus service was that they did not understand that it could not be treated as one clump. It had three distinct part, which could not be integrated in the way so beloved of the cookie-cutter mentality of bureaucrats, and that is how it must be treated.

(1) Buses coming from the ferries to Onetangi and Rocky Bay
Those buses have always had their schedules dictated by the ferries, which means by the sea, and the buses must allow ten minutes for the ferries to empty before they set off for Onetangi and Rocky Bay. If the sea-conditions do not allow the normal swift transit from the mainland to the island, the arrivals have to be later than scheduled, and therefore the buses meeting those ferries must set off later. They cannot run to a fixed timetable. They are tied to the ferries, so when the ferries are late the buses have to be late too--late plus that ten-minute wait so that all the passengers have time to get off the boat. But AT could think only in fixed departure times, and it cut out the ten-minute wait, which was worse than incompetent, like everything else AT did. It also installed electronic displays at the island's ferry terminal, and issued drivers with voluminous books, telling them exactly when to depart--regardless of whether the ferry was late, or had even arrived. Brilliant! >:-(

(2) Buses going to the ferries from Onetangi and Rocky Bay
Those buses could run on a fixed timetable all the time, and always had to, on the assumption that the ferries were leaving the island on time, because passengers needed to operate to that assumption. So the buses left Onetangi and Rocky Bay at fixed times, they took standard lengths of time to get to the ferries, and they would arrive in plenty of time for the scheduled departures. If the ferries were running late, passengers had to wait. But the buses delivering them would run like clockwork. That is what islanders wanted. But mainlanders did not get that. Mainlanders never get the island.

(3) School buses
Only blind fools would try to integrate them with the other two parts. But AT hurled itself straight into that trap. It decided, against the obvious facts, that school buses were to leave the schools at arbitrary fixed times that AT decided, times that did not take into account how long it takes for kids to exit the schools and load the buses. And AT also failed to see that the lengths of time it had allocated for the runs did not take into account the fact that school buses have to stop at virtually every stop to let kids off, and therefore that those buses would always be late changing over to a passenger-to-ferry buses. The result was disastrous, which messed up the clockwork of (2), and therefore people were likely to miss the boats they aimed to catch, needed to catch.

AT started the revamp in the wrong way, because it started with the belief that a revamp was necessary, and that its ideas about what should happen were right. It then asked for feedback on its ideas, but its ideas were always going to be first and foremost, regardless of feedback,  and it got a mess of 900+ submissions, which it did not have the skill to analyse, and it was always biased to it 'We know best' mentality. It also did not have the skill, the honesty and lack of hubris to ask itself the basic question.

It failed to ask itself what it should have asked, what all good designers ask: 'It is working now? Did it work last summer?' The answer to both questions was yes. If it ain't broke don't fix it--but AT 'fixed' it--and the result is a mess. Passengers were betrayed, drivers quit, infrastructure was ruined all over the place at enormous expense.

AT had failed to perceive the underlying thread of those 800 submission, which was that no change was needed; no fiddling about should be done. Sure, add a Kennedy Point service and a Matiatia-Oneroa shuttle--if, and only if--you have enough drivers and buses. But perceive that nothing needs to be done to produce a working system for this summer, because the one we had last summer worked fine. But AT, like all dogmatic bureaucracies, thought it knew best. Events have proved it wrong at every point, and has had to put bandaids on its broken fiddle. A big mess at the beginning of the peak season. Brilliant!!! >:-(

But AT will not, of course, say 'We goofed', then reset everything to last summer, and reset both routes to go via Korora and Waikare Roads to the top of Oneroa as they used to for very good reasons. Reset the stops, and the routes (with that proviso), and the rosters, and the ruined infrastucture. Admit failure. They won't, of course, because they are psychologically incapable of doing that. So we are stuck with the mess.

Sack them. That's what you do when the hired help proves incompetent. AT has proved worse than incompetent. Sack them. Sack them. Sack them.