Kapi-Mana News : September 27th 2011
8 KAPI-MANA NEWS, SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 OPINION Ekers' Week LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Train schedule Editor, [In response to John Burke s letter, published last week] All the new Matangi trains are expected to be in service next year. Up till 10 months ago, John Burke was a Greater Wellington regional councillor and a director of Greater Wellington Rail Ltd. In these two capacities, he received detailed information about the contract between Greater Wellington and Rotem Mitsui. He will also be aware that those details are commercially sensitive. For the information of your readers, yes, there have been delivery delays (for a variety of reasons), but the trains are being built and delivered progressively. To date, 42 cars (44 per cent of the Matangi fleet) have been delivered, and this week the 30th car will be commissioned and ready for service. The most recent delay was the result of a design fault in an electrical component. This was picked up during the testing and commissioning of the trains. Fixing these things takes time, but is precisely why we have such a comprehensive testing process. Feedback from passengers about the new trains has been very positive -- they are a huge improvement. I hope that Mr Burke has been able to enjoy a ride on one of the new trains now running on the Kapiti Line. FRAN WILDE, chairwoman, Greater Wellington. Fare questioned Editor, I needed to get a taxi from New World Porirua to Redwood today (September 14), and unfortunately for me there were no Porirua Taxis at the rank. So I hopped into a Wellington Star Taxi. The driver was very pleasant and, ironically enough, we discussed the topic of being overcharged by mechanics. The ride was fine until I arrived at my destination, when, to my horror, what is usually a $16 fare turned out to be $31.30. I couldn t believe what I was hearing, and when I rang up the office to complain I was told the fare was all going to the driver. Whether that had any influence on his tariff or not, I don t know. The driver s response to my protests was not to charge me $2 for using Visa -- big deal. Big lesson learnt -- support the locals, and if Porirua Taxis don t have a cab at the rank, then call for one.NOELINE O'ROURKE, Porirua. Wellington Star Taxis Limited responds: We have had the driver come into our office and provide a detailed sequence of events as they happened on September 14. We do acknowledge that the sequence of events as narrated by the passenger is correct. However, she has neglected to mention that she requested the driver to take her to the destination via a route specified by her. The driver, having received specific instructions from the lady to go via the motorway, and assuming that she must be having some more jobs to do before her final destination, took her as requested. The driver was aware of a shorter route but, out of politeness and the fear of being accused of prying into personal affairs, did not question the lady, and heeded her instructions. We did receive a call from the lady after the end of the trip, querying the cost of the trip, to which we told her we follow what has been shown on the meter. We can assure you that all the meters are checked and locked by the legal required authorities. We have NZTA-approved tariff signage posted outside the passenger door as well as inside the cabs, which clearly shows the amount that will be due per kilometre and the respective surcharges per type of transaction. Finally, we would like to request all members of the public to please have more trust in our drivers for a safe and profitable journey. We do acknowledge that you might have previous experiences from other companies on taking longer routes and charging more etc, but please have faith in our drivers to always take you on a shorter/cheaper route, unless you request otherwise. (Response abridged) Public ignored Editor, It was interesting reading regional councillor Peter Glensor s explanation for public transport fare increases. He explains the system but ignores the elephant in the room, namely that the Government is not funding public transport adequately. In the Government s recent 10-year transport plan, it aims to spend $13 billion on new motorways and roads over the next 10 years but only a pitiful $372 million on public transport infrastructure, despite road traffic declining for years, petrol prices up over the same period and public transport usage increasing. The smart alternative is to reduce government spending on unnecessary motorways (saving borrowed billions) and put that money into essential smart transport projects instead, such as the Wellington rail network, walking and cycling, and keeping fares to a minimum. GARETH HUGHES, Green Party MP. Stand up for us! Editor, It was with considerable shock that I read Peter Glensor s article in the Kapi-Mana News [September 13] where he said, As far as I m concerned, regular fare increases are here to stay . Mr Glensor is wrong when he says that only cash fares and long- distance trips increased last year, when in fact monthly rail passes increased in price -- I buy one every month, and I did notice the increase. Visitors to Wellington are absolutely staggered when I tell them what I have to pay for a monthly pass for my short train trip to Wellington, on run-down, unreliable old trains to a grotty, cigarette smoke-filled station. So regular users of public transport are to be hit again. Mr Glensor claims that readers deserve to know the facts , but he is being misleading when he states that the NZ Transport Agency now calculates costs differently . Differently here means that the Minister of Motorways, Steven Joyce, is deliberately starving public transport of funds whilst investing $10 billion of taxpayers money in yet more roads. The GWRC should be doing its utmost to promote public transport use and demanding of the Government that it changes its current insane addiction to roads and adequately funds public transport. It is not Mr Glensor s role to justify changes in central government policy to the people of Wellington who elected him to represent them in a regional body. The facts are that the Government has clearly announced that it is reducing its funding to regional bodies for public transport. This Government sees no public benefit to public transport use, in that it keeps more cars off the roads, reduces our carbon emissions, and means less congested and more liveable cities. National has shown its complete disregard for the clear public good that comes from public transport use, and if re- elected, we are likely to see both the Wellington city and regional councils bullied by the Govern- ment into accepting a motorway from the airport to Levin. Piece by piece, this is happening, and the attack on rail and buses by the steady and unnecessary increases in fares is a part of that strategy. The people of Wellington did not vote for such a strategy, and Mr Glensor should be aware of that. Can Mr Glensor explain to his constituency why he appears to have so completely bought into the Government s line? When will he stand up for the people of Wellington against a bullying Government? I know that there were some regional councillors who voted against the latest set of fare rises. I know that they are truly concerned that we have a transport system in place for us and for our grandchildren. It is impossible to understand how those councillors who slavishly obey the Government s anti-public transport line will ever deliver us that. MICHAEL PRINGLE, Tawa. Being cut short Editor, The wealth distribution for money allocated on the Village Plan is, surprisingly, an abomination. I use 2006 census population figures, and it smacks of disproportionate dealings. (No 2011 census figures available.) But Titahi Bay has increased in population size, due to residential infilling. Pukerua Bay: 1722 people, divide $180,000 = $104.52 per person. Plimmerton: 2058 people, divide $225,000 = $109.32 per person. Cannons Creek: 3873 people, divide $80,000 = $20.65 per person. Titahi Bay: 7527 people, divide $30,000 = $3.98 per person. The councillors of the western ward are really cutting us short of these funds. The above figures are derived from the council public document (the 2011-12 programme of proposed works/village programme). This document clearly shows the inadequate allocation of budgeted funds. Again, Titahi Bay is the poor area on the block, and when will it change from the management/ officers/councillors of the PCC? To have $3.98 allocated is an affront to common sense and an affront to fair allocation of ratepayer funds. PETER WINDSOR, Titahi Bay. PCC Village Programmes manager, Ian Barlow responds: The village budget essentially provides seeding money and, with an empowered community, this funding is added to significantly by local voluntary labour, personal donations, business and Charitable Trust sponsorship, funding and subsidies from other council budgets and regional and national Government agencies. For Titahi Bay, the Village Planning budget for 2011-12 is relatively small, as it is a design/ review opportunity for this community to identify what s next for their village. However, last year in Titahi Bay major work associated with the Titahi Bay beach upgrade was done using $179,000 from the Village Programme, plus $61,000 from the leisure assets area of council. A total of $240,000. In addition, it is estimated that $6000 of value has been added to this project by local volunteers providing their time and energy for vegetation clean up and replanting work. This year (2011-12), a further $100,000 will be funded by council (leisure assets) to continue the physical work at Titahi Bay beach, in addition to the small budget, for ongoing future design, contained in the Village Programme budget.
September 20th 2011
October 4th 2011