Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Running for Greens in Brisbane March 2008

I've placed my first election ad for my campaign in the MacGregor ward of the Brisbane City Council on YouTube:

So what do I stand for?

In short, a liveable city.

What does that mean? A city that puts people first.

In the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, one of the main characters is called Ford Prefect. He was a space alien and in an error in his research prior to landing on Earth, he thought cars were the dominant life form. If you look at the priorities in development in Brisbane, you'd be excused for making the same mistake. Billions of dollars are being committed to building a car tunnel that no one will want when it's built, because petrol will be so expensive, we'll all want to use our cars as little as possible. After totally neglecting the issue for 4 years, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has announced $100-million in future spending on bike paths. He and his Labor opposite number are in a bidding war on the number of new buses they will lay on.

All of this is pathetic and inadequate, a reaction to demand for better public transport and alternatives to cars, rather than a coherent plan.

For example: why do Brisbane buses not run anywhere close to on time? Because the system is designed that way. For buses to run to a timetable you need:

  1. busways and bus lanes that isolate buses from regular traffic
  2. minimal or better still no ticket sales on buses
  3. rapid entry (related to avoiding selling tickets on the bus) and exit

What do we actually have? A limited network of busways, in which most of the routes spill out onto regular streets. Many routes do not go on busways at all, and don't make much use of dedicated bus lanes. Ticketing is mostly by buying tickets on the bus. While there are other options, you can't buy tickets at most stops. Ticketing alone is a significant factor in the difficulty in having buses run to time. Add to it that getting off buses at a popular stop can take considerable time, and there is too much variance in stop times to make accurate timetabling possible. Add in the other issues, and you can see that any attempt at maintaining an accurate timetable is a joke.

Brisbane buses, in other words, don't run to time by design.

The Labor and Liberal side of politics (pretty much the same side on this issue) can make all the election promises they like, but both have had ample opportunity to address this issue. The Libs have held the mayoral office for the last term, and Campbell Newman, as a Civil Engineer, ought to be capable of understanding the problem. Instead, he has ignored it in favour of building tunnels. The Labs ran the city before him, and they set things up the way they are today.

That's it for now. Watch this space for thoughts on bike paths and other failures of the existing city government. And how things could be done better, with examples from other parts of the world.



Hi Phil.
Danny BLoom (ing) in Taiwan, re the polar cities blog and the cartoon caption contest. thanks for your good caption. Aint that the truth!

Btw, i see you are running for office there, cool. Or standing for office, as they say there, right? Hey, I think that is great, taking a real action and standing for election for the things you believe in. I support you, even though I cannot vote. Your ad is way cool, and more power to you.

when you take office, drop me a line at danbloom GMAIL and let me know if I can work with you in anyway from here in Taiwan. Maybe we can build some model polar cities in Australia for survivors of global warming in the far distant future.

By the way, sir, did you see the Guardian interview today with James Lovelock, it's a powerful read. Maybe you should not read it. But then again, do.

Google his name and you will see it under



an American in Taiwan

"I told you that kind of lie would only work at a Senate hearing. Exxon-Mobil's budget doesn't stretch to bribing this lot."

Good one!

Philip Machanick said...

I think running and standing both apply which is a paradox. Lovelock is a bit of an alarmist in my opinion. His pro-nuclear position assumes alternative power is impossible. He is correct however in his view expressed elsewhere that carbon geo-sequestration is virtually impossible on a realistic scale (billions of tonnes a year: where are you going to put it all)?

Thanks for the optimism, but running for Greens is not a ticket to city hall here.