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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...

Monday, 7 December 2020


 The worst combination of vanity and incompetence is to be so vain and incompetent that you are not in the least bit interested in finding out how incompetent you are, and therefore have descended from mere vanity to the depths of infernal hubris. You have proved yourself wilfully wicked.

Auckland Transport (AT) has reached that nadir, dwells in that nadir, rejoices in that nadir.

Last year it came to the island with the premise that our bus service needed to be revamped. It didn't. That was a false premise. If you start with a false premise you cannot possibly arrive at a true conclusion. And if you are a public entity, you implement your disgusting false conclusion with a huge amount of ratepayers' money. AT wasted a fortune, and made everything worse. The contractors giggled all the way to the bank. (Note the term 'entity', because AT is not an organisation: it's a mess)

I have had long experience in fixing messes, troubleshooting, industrial-engineering, designing good methods and systems--making order out of chaos, efficiency out of waste. One of my favourite quotations is from Saul Bass, a great American designer: 'Design is thinking made visible.' Thus to fix messes you look for all the evidence of bad thinking and eliminate it.

One thing you look for, that you should look for, that you must look for, if you are to arrive at the best design, is wasted effort and inefficient use of resources. Eliminate all the waste. And be scrupulous about doing it; look for it, hunt it out; get rid of it.

But when AT revamped the bus service, one of the glaringly obvious consequences was a sudden explosion in the number of buses trundling about displaying 'Not in Service', 'Sorry Not in Service', 'Special', etc. Buses going somewhere but not picking up passengers. Thus there was a huge increase in wasted effort and wasted resources both human and mechanical.

To use Rocky Bay as an example of what is happening on all the routes. Now, post revamp, you will be waiting for a bus to go to Rocky Bay, and a bus displaying a 'Not in Service' sign will pass you. It is going to Rocky Bay, and the driver knows that, but he is not allowed by AT to stop for you, because under AT he is only going to Rocky Bay to start the next run back to the ferry at Matiatia. So you have to wait for a bus displaying 'Rocky Bay.' So two buses and two drivers are going to Rocky Bay, one to carry people there, one to go there to start the next run back to the ferry--and often they are nose to tail. Then the one that has carried people to Rocky Bay changes its sign to 'Not in Service' and goes back to the depot near Placemakers (meanwhile passing people who want to go to points along the way). And the one that went out to Rocky Bay displaying 'Not in Service' changes its sign to Matiatia - Ferry. That used to be done with one bus and one driver, because the bus that went out to Rocky Bay would wait and turn itself into the bus going back to the ferry. AT uses two buses and two drivers (and screams that there's a shortage of drivers).

I asked AT under the Local Government and Official Information and Meetings Act what was the total distance travelled by its buses across its entire bailiwick and what was the distance travelled displaying 'Not in Service' etc. I asked for the mainland as well as the island because over there there are also a huge number of buses trundling about displaying those signs.

What was AT's official reply? The letter reproduced below, which says that it does not keep that information (and note that it took about a month to tell me that--because if LGOIMA says you have up to a month, you take that long even if you have nothing to say). Thus AT, on its own admission, is so uninterested in finding out how inefficient and wasteful it is that it does not bother to gather that information. It guesses at 15%, but the figure on Waiheke is obviously far higher; it looks like well over 50%.

AT is daily guilty of highway robbery committed on ratepayers. It is worse than incompetent. Incompetence does badly a job that needed doing; worse-than-incompetence does badly a job that should not even have been contemplated. Waiheke would be better off if AT had never existed. It is a wicked empire. A worthless extension to the damned swamp.