Intimidating train travails
Last Friday, just before lunch, I got on the train in Onehunga. As the train was about to leave, three young thugs (one a girl), who had been hiding in the carpark,
came leaping onto the train, without paying, after they were sure the only AT staff was a sole train manager. Two had hoodies pulled down over their faces, straight out of a horror movie. They sat in the front carriage glaring down the whole train. They were in charge.
There were no guards at all. Like us, the train manager knew these thugs were dangerous and couldn't approach them on his own. They fled at Penrose without paying - an extremely common occurrence on the Auckland trains, which are only randomly policed.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at Onehunga station after dark. There was no one else there but a sole security person (who does not get paid a living wage and was there until midnight, alone).
I got on the train to find three guards (who are paid a living wage) and a train manager. I felt safe.
Why can't I, and the station security people, feel safe all the time?
Véronique Cornille, Devonport.
Auckland Transport responds:
We want everyone who uses public transport in Auckland to feel safe.
All stations have extensive CCTV coverage and there are emergency call points linked back to our control centre.
Each train carriage has multiple CCTV cameras and, over the past two years, Auckland Transport has employed 67 transport officers on the rail network.
Transport officers are not on every train but cover as many services as possible, particularly in the afternoon and evening, there is always a train manager on a service and often police will travel as well.
If any passenger does not feel safe they should sit with other passengers and contact a transport officer or train manager for assistance.
Auckland Transport has a programme of installing electronic ticketing gates at many stations, this is part of a programme to increase security and safety and to reduce vandalism and fare evasion. Detected fare evasion is steady at less than two per cent.
Once the programme is completed, 90 per cent of train passengers will have to go through electronic gates.
Mark Hannan, media relations manager, AT.
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Sky Cabs proposal
For the first time in my life, and that's a pretty long time now, I agree with Richard Prebble (NZ Herald, November 11). His proposal that Auckland builds and uses Sky Cabs, in place of light rail, is so eminently practicable, so do-able, so environmentally and financially right, that, at the very least, I think it should be seriously considered.
Lynn John, Orewa.
It's okay, Boomers
Parents and children have been sniping at each other's generations since Adam was a cowboy. Children do it to assert their relevance and uniqueness and to differentiate themselves and their culture from their parents. Parents do it to assert the worth of their greater experience, and to prop up their sense of diminishing importance and relevance. When I was a kid I was used to hearing that my views on a nuclear-free New Zealand and apartheid-free South Africa were naïve and unrealistic, and that I should get a haircut and knuckle down at work. My parents' generation were used to hearing that their war-mongering ways were primitive, their music was rubbish, and their respect for authority counter-productive. It was known as the generation gap.
Chloe Swarbrick's well-aimed barb seems to have got under a few skins, but it's just part of the age-old battle between the generations. In a few short years, she will have switched sides and be copping her share from the next generation. So cheer up and brace up, Boomers, and give a bit back.
Rowan Hill, Mt Eden.
Kitchens and heat
Reading Cathy Casey's comments (NZ Herald, November 11) reminds me of the phrase "if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen".
I don't for one moment condone violence and verbal threats being used against politicians, be they government or local ward councillors, but to argue that they should be treated with kindness is naive in the extreme.
Looking at the chaos that once went by the name Auckland CBD, and looking at the totally arrogant and dictatorial attitude of Auckland Transport and its avowed aim to rid Auckland of the motorcar, kindness is the last word that comes to mind.
Sid Felman, Mt Eden.
Spring is a wonderful time for tree lovers: beginning with traceries of budding shoots against winter's skeletal branches, then blossom burst and bright new leaves contrasting with the darker green of evergreens. But, oh dear, such pleasure in these deciduous exotic trees becomes not only non PC but under threat as the natives only ecological ideology takes over.
And so we have puriri planted around children's playgrounds; dark evergreens which while providing shade in summer will still be shade providing in winter when the ground needs to dry out and every sunny ray is precious for warmth. Totara, those most prickly of trees, are planted in public spaces repelling close contact and so cutting down available space.
Meg McMillan, Mt Eden.
Thank you for your call for more thought before clear felling the exotic trees on Mt Albert (NZ Herald, November 12).
Despite the Maunga Authority's attempts to devalue these trees as mainly olive and monkey apple, there are actually a large variety of magnificent, healthy trees, all hosting an abundance of bird life.
An arborist supporting the protesters on site on Monday said there was no problem to be resolved; all the trees had been well-maintained and were in excellent shape. Another protester spoke of how his father and grandfather had specifically chosen tree species that would cope with the conditions and planted them accordingly, many years ago when the mountain was largely bare.
Fiona Mackenzie, Stanmore Bay.
I disagree with the use of the term "bailouts" to describe health funding top-ups. Healthcare is not a profit-making business that fails to cover costs which then asks for a "bailout", as happened with our banks a few years back.
Healthcare is a public service, paid by our taxes, and it should be given the funding required to operate properly. If you underfund it, you'll be forced to put further funding in – but that is in no way a "bailout". It simply means it was not properly budgeted for in the first place.
Mike King's counselling service is a classic example of this. Brilliant idea – but wrecked through underfunding. Maintaining the country's mental wellbeing requires funding whatever it takes to achieve that.
Jeremy Hall, Opaheke.
There is some unreasonable haste to chop down non-exotic trees on Mt Albert right in the middle of the nesting season. The area is currently likely home to numerous nesting tui and kereru. Morepork used to live in the macrocarpa trees on Māngere Mountain that were recently chopped down.
I agree we should lower the number of exotic trees and replace them with natives, but this should be done gradually otherwise we risk denuding the landscape and devastating the local bird populations. I am told that Mt Albert is the first and that all maunga in Auckland will suffer a similar fate.
This seems to be a continuation of the non-democratic way the current council appear to be operating. Obviously, the local people would like to have a say. I urge the council to put a hold on this current process, consider the ramifications and, above all, listen to the people who trying to give a voice to the wildlife affected here. There is no reason for a scorched earth policy. We need the trees to stay to serve the wildlife and process carbon emissions until the natives are in a position to take those roles.
Niall Robertson, Balmoral.
First the poor birds in Mt Albert were subjected to a week of sporadic cannon fire from fireworks which seem to get bigger and scarier each year before they were due to have their homes cut down by order of an authority posing as guardians of the maunga they inhabit.
There is a good chance some birds having survived the fireworks will still be nesting at this time of the year or at the very least have young fledglings finding their way to independence leaving exhausted parents to recover from raising them.
Good on the protesters stopping the carnage of the most stupid planning ever to cut down (any kind of) mature trees before others were grown to replace them.
Coralie van Camp, Remuera.
We attended Les Misérables on Sunday, November 10, what a fabulous show.
However, coming from the provinces we have a few observations:
Could someone please complete the expressway upgrade at Te Kauwhata soon? And could someone please complete the motorway upgrade at Papakura soon? Both projects are the pathetic efforts of millennials and not switched-on Boomers. Crawling up the Southern motorway at 3pm on Sunday was no fun.
Could someone please train Aucklanders to park their cars in the underground civic carpark between the white lines and not over them? The spaces are tight as it is.
The carpark cash machines will not accept crumpled banknotes, so please lady, come prepared so the rest of us don't wait while you have four attempts at making your payment.
To summarise, we are pleased we were refugees out of Auckland 40 years ago. Problem now is, many of you are moving our way.
Allan Griffin, Mt Maunganui.
Short & sweet
On All Blacks
So 26 coaches have been invited to apply for the head coach role, to replace Steve Hansen. Surely, many will not bother. It strikes me as an insult, to every one of the 26. Wal Warehi Britton, Birkenhead.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority, with its plan to cut down 345 exotic trees on Mt Albert, is in the same league as the guy who took a chainsaw to a lone exotic tree on One Tree Hill in 1994. Peter Culpan, Te Atatu Peninsula.
I absolutely support the Mt Albert group who are objecting to the clearing of exotic trees on Owairaka in "one fell swoop", particularly as Auckland Council is planning to use our rates to fund a similar process on all of Auckland's volcanic cones. Margaret Bongard, Grey Lynn.
Planting native trees is a good idea, however removal of the exotics should only be considered once the others are fully established. Glen Stanton, Mairangi Bay.
What really troubles me about "Okay, Boomer" is the energy with which its proponents defend it, instead of admitting the obvious - as though they have a phobia about being accountable for what they say and do. Gavan O'Farrell, Lower Hutt.
Up until now, we had a Green Party. Now we have a Greener Party. Mohammed Yakub, Māngere East.
How can moving the port away from Auckland make economic, never mind ecological, sense when the majority of offloaded goods either remain in Auckland or go south? Jan Beaumont, Whangamata.
The wonder of the favourite bird public poll, is marvelling at our feathered taonga and sincere aroha for their preservation. Larry Mitchell, Rothesay Bay.