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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, 20 August 2020


 Auckland Transport (AT), which constantly proves in action that it does not understand Waiheke, or good planning, or good design, or good execution, only that it knows how to waste vast amounts of ratepayers' money, is now keeping tight watch on our bus-drivers with a long list of pointless, dictatorial  "KPI's" (Key Performance Indicators), which have been made even worse, past the level of control-freak nonsense by the Waiheke Bus Company's local manager, who is forcing drivers to be paranoid KPI clock-watchers, ever fearful of being a minute out at 'key' points along their routes.

Neither AT nor the local WBC manager understands how Waiheke buses used to work, and worked well.

First, the runs from Onetangi Beach and Rocky Bay to the ferry used to adhere to fixed starting-times there, and at reaching the ferry-terminal in plenty of time for people to catch the ferries. The buses were tied to the ferries. We got to know how long it took buses to get to our stops, which was all we needed to know. A precise time designated for each stop was unnecessary--and very expensive to maintain because it demands timetables customised for each stop, not general ones for the whole island, which is what we want.

Second, the runs from the ferry-terminal back to the bays used to begin ten minutes after the ferry arrived so as to give everyone time to clear the boat. The exact time the buses left was not critical, only the relative time--i.e., the time relative to when the ferries arrived. The buses were tied to the ferries. And the buses always parked in the same places at Matiatia, so you could head straight to your bus (you didn't have to play hunt-the-bus as we do now because AT dictates higgledy-piggledy parking).

That was the obvious, common-sense, Waiheke way of doing things. It worked well for decades.

But now the control-freak, AT-dominated, clock-fetishers insist on the KPI list and its clock, not on the relationship with the boats. So now drivers come to Matiatia and leave at times that have nothing to do with ferries (they even arrive when there is no ferry because they stick to the summer timetables when the ferries are sailing to the winter ones!). And buses may stop and pause in odd places, not for passengers, but only because the driver is worried about losing KPI brownie-points and copping black marks--i.e., the financial penalty that AT will impose on WBC at the end of the month if it does hit 97% of KPI's. That of course adds to the toxic atmosphere created by AT--and made worse by the local WBC manager, who pushes the stupid KPI strictures beyond stupidity. He should always remember that he is not there to please overbearing bureaucrats across the water; he is there to please islanders and visitors and give drivers a pleasant working-environment.

AT has recently thrown a 10-year plan at us, with the fawning support of Cath Handley's Local Board. Planning is fine--but only if what is planned is necessary, or at least very useful--but for a plan to be good there must be also be good, efficient execution--at minimal cost. AT has proved over and over again that it is a bloated, profligate disaster-area: wasting money, worse than incompetent, and good only at spinning its performance with self-congratulatory, self-deluded verbiage.

The island would be better off if AT had never existed. Its KPI thuggery is yet more Rule-Them-All proof of that. When a bloated bureaucracy says it means to 'streamline' it actually means it is bent on building a Mordor and binding us in it.

It is just more of the same-old same-old same-old process of de-localisation: stealing power and action away from local people and concentrating it in the hands of over-weening central bureaucracies, which only talk 'local' and 'local character' so as to anaesthetise us into accepting their malign rule. Then they force us to pay for it in bloated rates. There will of course be locals that will manifest the Stockholm Syndrome--they will sympathise with and support what is in fact killing their locality. Which is what Cath Handley's Local Board is doing when it supports, wittingly or unwittingly, AC's and AT's bureaucratic de-localisation strategy and dictatorial tactics.

Monday, 10 August 2020


 Auckland Transport (AT) and the  Waiheke Local Board have released their rather self-congratulatary 'Final Waiheke 10-Year Transport Plan.' It would have been nice if they had throughout stuck to clear, simple, well-written, communicative English--if they had stuck to terms that everyone understands instantly, and not wandered off into in their version of opaque bureaucratese, such as 'accessibility lens','active transport', 'active transport missing link,' 'multi-modal outcomes,' 'reactive and problematic maintenance', etc. etc.

Their blind self-congratulation is glaringly obvious in what they have to say about the results of their 'Waiheke bus shelter [sic] programme' about which they say that 'the project produced a respected public asset that is embraced and valued by its users.'


The purpose of a bus-shelter is to shelter people while they are waiting for a bus. Shelter is its purpose. That flashy design fails to achieve that, abysmally. The old shelters, such as the one at the Placemaker's stop (which AT hocked off for $100) worked fine. The replacement, which looks like about $20,000 of ratepayers' money, is wrong in a long list of ways--on top of being put in the wrong place, and after wrecking, at huge expense, the island's transfer stop.

First, it has two openings in the front, so when it faces the weather, there are two entrances for wind-driven rain to get at you. Second, the gap between the concrete pad and the bottom of the walls is far too high. The old ones had only enough room for sparrows to duck through (I watched them many times). The new ones have a high gap that admits even more wind-driven rain, aimed at your feet. And the unnecessary height of the thing means that there is unnecessary vertical space to let the weather in through those openings. The result is that in the worst weather a puddle forms on the seat, right where you want it, in the middle. There is also a gap at the top of the walls, which lets in more wind. And the smart-alec that designed the thing has made most of the supports double as drain-pipes, so water is directed through them down round your feet and your luggage. And the seat does not go right across; a third of its possible width is wasted by expensive, decorative wood panelling. Artwork does not shelter you.

Not only have they inflicted this bad design on us, they have also put instances of it where there was already a serviceable shelter, such as at Rocky Bay and Palm Beach. They added one of those flashy things, in the wrong place. So now we have two shelters, one right and one wrong. More wasted ratepayers' money.

Their self-vaunted changes to the bus network cost a fortune, almost all of it wasted, and they only achieved an incompetent result. For example, when good designers are designing systems, they eliminate wasted effort, they do not create it. The new system has seen an explosion in the number of buses trundling about with 'Not in Serice' showing. Buses going where people want to go, at regular times, but not available to people. Brilliant!

And those damned route-numbers! All have three characters, and all begin with 50, so those characters tell you nothing, they only clutter the destination-signs. Only the last character tells you what you want to know--where the bus is going.We used to have nice simple, 1, 2, etc., and you could tell at a glance where buses were going. Now we have 501, 502, 50A, 50B, etc., and a scrambled-egg arrangement of LEDs, and, even worse, different scramblings on different buses, so you have to stand there deciphering the thing.

But 'Not in Service' is very clear. All those buses are going to AT. Because it is not in *service*; it wants, like the Dark Lord, to rule us all. Not serve us.

The deficiencies in the new regime are legion. That is only a tiny sample.