Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The sin of cheapness

On Monday, RNZ reported on the results of testing CO2 levels in various places, which showed that Auckland buses had CO2 levels of 5737ppm, making them effectively covid-filled sewers (CO2 is a proxy for exhaled air, which in the current situation is a proxy for covid). As with school classrooms, its a problem that could be mitigated with proper ventilation and filtration. But Auckland Transport had ruled out fixing it due to cost:

Auckland Transport acting group manager of metro services Darek Koper said plans to improve air quality on buses were dropped due to cost.

"Based on the financial assessment of costs for the identified air treatment options and the efficacy and safety of the systems, it was decided to abandon the plans to introduce air purifications systems or introduce more fresh air onto existing buses and trains."

He said the investment required to change the public's perception of safety "without the scientific evidence and subject matter expert support" presented a challenge in justifying such investment.

What this actually means is that they're dumping the cost on the health system, while running an unsafe work environment (which ought to be of interest to WorkSafe). And not just because of covid - high CO2 concentrations have a significant effect on cognitive ability, putting the drivers at greater risk of accidents. But that's just not on Auckland Transport's budget, and there's no regulation requiring it to be - astoundingly, Waka Kotahi regulates almost everything about bus design except air quality. And this institutional blindness has turned the entire public transport system into a public health threat.

But I guess its just the government's covid response writ small: they want covid to go away, but they're not actually willing to commit resources to make that happen. To their minds, gaslighting us while we get sick is just cheaper. And if that results in higher costs due to Long Covid later, well, they're just not thinking about that either.