Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Clean up the homeless Mr Mayor

SO I take some friends along to show them the wonderful Brit and the train service. We go to enter the Brit at only 5.3opm and there lies a homeless right across the entrance.
People are having to literally step over him.
So much for security at the Brit.
Finally some guy goes and tells a security dude on the platform.
The guard wanders over and speaks to the homeless and calls for backup.
Anyone else notice how the homeless are lying around Queen St during the day now?
Mr Mayor, if they need social services get them organised. My friends were appalled and thought the Brit must be very unsafe if this happens in bright sunshine during rush hour.
On the iPod: Nothing, My iPod is broken. It won;t go. I feel like I have lost a close friend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Keep terrorists away from here, please

What a pain it must be living in Sydney or Melbourne and having to put up with clowns every few hours ringing up the terrorist squad with claims the trains are about to be bombed -resulting in train services being stopped for hours.
Photo from Crater@Flickr Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The strange case of the 5.54pm west-bound

The train heads off west-bound but just a few minutes after leaving the Brit, just beyond a tunnel on a bend, it comes to a sudden halt.

Nothing happens. The carriage is hot and steamy.

The train guards continue to collect tickets, pleased they have time to get through all the carriages before Newmarket.

Sorry read Train Ambassadors or TAs as they should be know. Makes them sound like something out of the UN or at least diplomatic.

The theory develops the sudden stop has been caused by the emergency brakes being applied. The TAs come through each carriage inspecting the brakes’ button to see if they have been activated and looking at us suspiciously as if someone is the culprit.

That theory ruled out, we are told it is a “technical” fault.

The TAs sit down as the hot closed train gets hotter.

A long time later the train slowly begins. “We don’t know why –some malfunction,” is the official explanation.

Will these trains ever be fixed, asks one hot exasperated passenger, who has now finished his sudoku puzzle book.

“We’re getting some more trains from Australia,” says the TA.

Yeah right. From which museum will they come?

On the iPod: Billie Holiday

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More trains,. more delays

How would Air NZ survive if it was as unreliable as the trains?
Those with end of year exams at this time of year can not afford to see their whole year's work disappear because you couldn’t make it to the exam on time.

Due to a mechanical fault the 710 Western line train from Britomart has been delayed by approx 15 mins.

Due to an earlier mechanical fault the 7.52am train service from New Lynn has been cancelled.

I love how the approx 15 mins delays delay becomes a cancellation.
I’m taking the car. This could become a habit!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Stranded in Paradise? Yeah, right

SO tonight the electronic sign at the Brit says the next train to Waitakere leaves just after 5. People take their seats, the train leaves, the guard comes and clips the tickets and the scenery flashes by.
And flashes by.
The onboard sign mentions the usual train stations but it seems to be taking foreever to stop.
When you use the trains a lot, you adjust to the rythm. Even if you are head down, reading you somehow are quietly counting down the stops in your head and recognise the subtle twists and turns of the track to know just when your station is coming up.
But a look out the window resembled unfamiliar scenery.
It looked like Avondale.
It was Avondale.
You could tell the look on the passengers who were unaware they had got a non-stop express to New Lynn. Confusion, shock and later - as we waited around the New Lynn station -much anger.
Why didn't the sign at Brit make it clear it was a non stop to New Lynn?
Why did a guard at the Brit encourage everyone to get on board without telling us?
Why did the onboard signs continue to count down stations the train never stopped at?
Why didn't the guard question us when we had 2-section tickets yet the first stop was New Lynn ( a three stager)?
Why did the guard on the eventual train Brit-bound for New Lynn (after a half hour rain-soaked wait on the platform at New Lynn) have the cheek to argue with us all that it was our stupid fault and we should have asked for transfer tickets if we expected a free ride back to our proper intended destinations.
While I am fuming, we had another major grizzle: The signage itself at New Lynn is woeful. When a train stops no sign, no-one tells you if the train is going on to Waitakere or back to the city.
Connex, listen up.
I am the only passenger of the stranded who plans to keep using the trains. You have lost the others- because of poor and rude communication.
Hire a communication expert. Sort out your signs, your messages, your treatment of your passengers.
Otherwise you don't deserve the support we are all trying to give you.
On the lap: Stranded in Paradise John Dix

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rod Donald

The news of Rod Donald's untimely death is very sad. He was a great supporter of Auckland's trains and seemed a very nice honest guy. We so need politicans like him.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Out come the freaks

Train security in California (left) and Auckland (below)

In London muggings are up 40% and iPods are the prime target.

In Merseyside, muggings were up 35% with young people targeted for iPods and phones.

In San Francisco there have been at least 20 people robbed of their iPod on buses in the last month.

The other day on the train a guy with faraway cold drug-fuelled eyes kept eyeing my iPod.

One of the good things about the trains –so far- has been that you don’t strike the smelly drunk people you find swaying down the aisle on the buses at night and trying to engage people in rude conversation.

But trains have get more popular – and there are lots of new faces since the new timetables were advised in a junk mail drop (oddly some of the regulars have vanished. Did they want to keep the trains exclusive to their club or have they given up?)

And as night services start, the oddballs are now using the trains.

The other night a strange man sitting by himself in one of the side seats kept talking to himself, then to imaginary people, then to those standing demanding someone had to sit next to him. Finally someone did to shut him up and was subject to odd questions everyone in the train could hear. Like his full name and address and where he had bought his clothes and why.

The guard, a woman, looked a little nervous as she went through the carriage wondering what might happen and whether she was equipped to handle it.

Then last night a man also sitting on one of the side seats kept asking the guard odd questions like why chickens cross the road (actually how one gets from one side of the tracks to the other) and demanding phone numbers to ring if you lose something. He might have been legit but it all went a bit strange. An odd mating ritual if you ask me.

So it’s good to see Connex putting guards now on night trains and at certain rail stations like Kingsland.

There around 10pm, gangs of 14 years come out of the bushes to do tagging or rob the odd person waiting for a train.

Thankfully private security firm, First Security is now watching over the area nightly and during the weekend.

In Sydney, night trains in the last year have seen their share of muggings, and even women being followed and raped.

In parts of the US, security cameras are being placed on the trains recording people getting on and off – a move funded to watch for “terrorists.”

Let’s hope the trains keep safe. It’s a shame we live in a time such security guards are needed and it’s good they remain reasonably inconspicuous unless needed.
On the iPod (until its stolen): Was Not Was Out Come the Freaks

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Connex reply why the 5.45 got axed

I wrote to Connex asking why the 5.45pm Westbound rail service has been axed . Here's Connex's reply:
The new timetable represents an important step forward for Auckland rail, offering an overall service increase of 25%. This includes extra peak and off peak services, new Sunday services and extended late-night Friday and Saturday services.
One of the key focuses for the new timetable is to increase the frequency of services across the network and make efficient use of the available rolling stock. Services on all lines have been re-timed and some express services will now stop at all stations. The new sectional running times better reflect the current operating conditions on the Auckland network. We understand from your comments that some changes in services may not longer be as convient for some individuals but the changes are part of a wider plan of improvement which will continue to permit further development on the network.
Thank you for you comments with regards to the 5.45pm service from Britomart to Waitakere. Your concerns have been forwarded to the Connex operations department for consideration.
Your understand during this period of upgrading and improvement is greatly appreciated.
Yours sincerely
Craig Inger
Train services manager

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Auckland City replies re the Newmarket Toilet saga

Dear Miles
I am writing to answer to your query re the toilet removal, and the provision of toilets in Newmarket. As well as provision of toilets at train stations generally.
The Newmarket toilet was removed as the land on which it was sited was not owned by Auckland City Council and our lease had expired and not been renewed because the property owners wished to develop their property.
As you will understand Auckland City cannot impose a condition on a private property owner to provide public toilets unless there is an associated use on that site which requires toilet eg a bar or restaurant. Auckland City Council can impose a condition of consent on a new development that public toilets be provided as a means of mitigating the effects of the development which is the case here in Newmarket, it would not be consistent with the Resource Management or Local government Legislation to require the toilets to be provided before any effects were created by the development. Nor are Auckland City Council able to force a private property owner to let us site toilets on their property, as I am sure you will agree this would be undesirable for any property owner.
Hence we had no choice but to remove the facility at the request of the owner. The toilet was nearing the end of its useful life as well, the electronic components were regularly causing trouble and a major failure of the door mechanism had also occurred, there was no significant loss of economic value in closing this facility early.
Unfortunately this has left Newmarket without a public toilet (other than those provided by local businesses such as 277). We are currently investigating sites for the provision of a replacement facility for Newmarket.
The provision of toilets for train users is not a role which Auckland City Council has agreed to undertake. There are toilets in the train stations on the rail platforms most of which were closed when the stations were closed by NZ Rail.
The provision of toilets specifically for train users should be addressed through the Auckland Regional Transport Network Ltd (ARTNL) or through ARTA or the ARC I have included some information for you
Daren Day
Asset Manager
Parks and Streetscapes
Level 1 UDC House 35 Graham St
Auckland City
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A few problems today

Hmm.. not a great day for the trains.
Due to a technical fault the 6am Western line from Britomart to New Lynn % return sdervice from New Lynn have been cancelled
Due to mechanical problems the 10.48am Western Line train service from Waitakere has been cancelled. Next service from Waitakere is 11.18am
Due to a technical fault the 13.20pm Western Line service from Britomart has been durther delayed by approx 25 mins.

On the iPod: Was Not Was Hello Dad..I'm In Jail

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Good People

Two wonderful "train ambassadors" today.
A guy who has served several decades with the railways and cared about the service and let old people get seats.
A woman (I think called Joanne) on the 5.53pm from the Brit who was so buddly, caring and nice despite the heat and fact she must have been working for hours.
These people on $16 an hour deserve a rise.
On the iPod: Augustus Pablo  Posted by Picasa

The leak drama at The Brit Chapter 12

The leaking drama at the Brit continues with no sign of action other than that the concourse is still closed.
What week is this? Week 5? Week 12?
On the iPod: Studio One Roots 2
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