Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greens All Aboard for Rail Link

By JEFF NEEMS and DANIEL ADAMS - Waikato Times

The Greens have added their support to the campaign for a revived Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail connection, promising to keep pressure on the Government to explore the proposal.
More than 11,000 people signed a petition calling for the construction of a commuter rail connection between Hamilton and Auckland.
The idea has met with strong support locally, with dozens of submissions to Environment Waikato's draft annual plan backing the idea, but it has yet to gain any traction with the Government.
Greens transport spokesman Gareth Hughes – in the city yesterday to meet the Greens' new student arm at Waikato University – said the commuter rail connection had real merit and offered a long-term option for linking Auckland and Hamilton.
Parliament's transport and industrial relations select committee chaired by Hamilton East MP David Bennett had effectively dismissed the petition but Mr Hughes said he believed the idea was "still not dead" despite Mr Bennett acting as "a roadblock".
"We've got the tracks, we've got the (rail) cars, and we've got the support out there, so we need to go ahead and do it – link up the first and fourth-largest cities."
Mr Hughes pointed to the 2011 World Cup as a "great incentive to get a commuter service happening".
He accused the National Government of "gambling all our transport resources on roads" and not thinking long-term.
The Greens wanted to see a "corridor of national significance", with construction of a rail-line – or space for it to be built – alongside the Waikato Expressway the Government has pledged millions toward. Mr Hughes said the Greens did not have costings for a Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail link, but they believed the cost-benefit ratios would still be greater than those for new roads.
Hamilton City Council, has set aside money, and asked Environment Waikato to fund a two-year trial, and support a bid for the New Zealand Transport Agency to contribute.

Monday, May 10, 2010

All aboard for the Waikato Express

By Brian Rudman (NZ Herald, 10/5/10)

"Given all the stick we Aucklanders come in for from anyone living south of the Bombay Hills, it's rather endearing that 11,499 Hamiltonians have signed a petition wanting the passenger train service between our two great cities revived.

Somebody loves us after all. Instead of standing back and letting them fight their own battles, Auckland leaders should be rushing to the petitioners' support.

Indeed, we should be encouraging the Hamiltonians to raise their horizons and campaign not just for a commuter service of two or three trips a day, but something more comprehensive. More...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

40kph Speed Zones outside every school in city?

NEW:  Sign the Petition for 40kph speed zones outside schools.

Hamilton City Council's Transport Committee decided today to press ahead with implementing its plan to have a 40kph speed zone outside every school in the city, despite Govt 'rules' supposedly preventing this.

The decision is made to enhance safety for kids - vulnerable road users - after a very recent report showed speeds and accident numbers had both lowered significantly outside the first 7 schools with such zones in Hamilton.

The Govt transport agency (NZTA) currently has a rule that only allows such variable zones (i.e. operating only during start & finish times for schools) in a very limited number of schools 'warranted' for the signs, and does not allow the much cheaper 'static' (non-electronic) signage. This flies in the face of international experience and practices, showing that - once again - NZTA is light years behind the times.

Currently NZTA has only 'warranted' 32 of the 70-odd schools in Hamilton for the low speed zones (though over half of the primary schools are covered), and Councillors are concerned that the travelling public will become confused as to which schools are and aren't covered by the low speed zones. It will be much easier to promote and educate around the low speed zones, and general road safety for vulnerable people, if every school is treated the same.

That's what the City Council intends to do - and will use static signage [see photo of static signage in Brisbane at right] whether or not NZTA is happy, in order to implement the policy in an affordable and timely way.