All aboard for awesome public transport

Written By: - Date published: 10:03 am, November 30th, 2017 - 40 comments
Categories: local government - Tags: ,

‘It’s less fuss, take a bus’ is a tagline for public transport campaigns from Hamilton to Northampton. And it’s true, buses, trains and ferries are not only better for the environment, if run well they are cheaper and faster than being jammed in motorway gridlock and fighting for carparks. Public transport options are also vital for the young, the old and those without the space, money or ability to own a car.

A good public transport network makes a huge different to your quality of life if you either choose not to, or can’t, add to New Zealand’s 3.6 million motor vehicles already on the road.

If you’re one of the 34% of New Zealanders who use our local public transport networks, you have probably noticed that the people working hard to keep us moving aren’t entirely happy. Union members have had to take or consider industrial action in both Wellington and Auckland to protect their terms and conditions of work, and in some cases minimum safe staffing for passengers. Transdev, the French rail operator in Auckland is proposing introducing ‘driver-only trains’. Unstaffed services are several hurdles away from reality, but nonetheless concerning to those with decades of experiencein passenger management and industrial engineering. In Wellington the bus drivers are holding a stopwork meeting to discuss how they can protect their income and employment conditions when our bus services are taken over by a new provider. In Auckland, drivers have already had to take pay cuts after a changes to bus service contracts, despite the ticket price for commuters staying the same.

The best thing about public transport is it’s ours – funded by taxes and rates, it’s a great example of how things just work better together. We pool our money and give it to central government or councils to get the best value for money while getting us from A to B reliably and safely, without clogging up our roads with taxis or private cars. But unfortunately under the last Government, councils became less free to pick the operator that best reflects the local values of their region, or a service model that ensures quality experiences for commuters.

Under the ‘Public Transport Operating Model’, which is just a fancy name for the ‘rules’ to choose who runs your services, councils are forced to tender for companies who can ‘reduce reliance’ on ‘public subsidies’ – which is actually the point of a publicly funded service. What this means in reality is if you are an existing local company,  even a big established one like Kiwirail, you can be squeezed out by competing tenders based on lower wages, like those from big multinationals Transdev or Hyundai Rotem. As our need for public transport increases, these giant companies can easily scale a business model by screwing down local employment conditions and often sending the profits from ratepayers offshore. If the financial bottom line is the primary decision criteria for council members, then of course it’s harder for local providers who respect good wages to win tenders.

But the people who take and fund public transport in New Zealand also live and work in our communities. They don’t want a bargain basement bus or train service with all the expected delays caused by skimping on train guards and quibbling over weekend rates. One can only imagine the level of care that goes into safety and maintenance if getting cash back to the shareholders is the company’s whole reason for being. Rather than a Scrooge McDuck tendering system, we think that if you want to play with our public rail set you have to promise to treat it carefully including guaranteeing fair wages and conditions. And that locals should be able to tell the Council what they want out of their pooled money.

If we are going to meet our international climate change commitments, or our vision of people-friendly cities, we’re going to have to fast-track the expansion of clean, affordable and reliable public transport services. There are fantastic models overseas where you don’t even need to check the route or timetable, you just turn up at the station knowing the next service will be along soon. In Japan, they apologised recently for a 20 second deviation from the train schedule! This kind of quality model requires highly valuing the skills of everyone employed to deliver it. And that’s less fuss for us all.

If you support people working on trains, you can sign up to keep train carriages safe on All Aboard here.

If you want to say ‘Thank you driver’ to our bus staff in Wellington who are facing an uncertain future with a new employer, you can support them here.

You can support your local bus drivers in Auckland and find out more about the tendering issues on First Union’s site, Bus Fair.

 

~ Sam Huggard (courtesy of Together)

40 comments on “All aboard for awesome public transport”

  1. cleangreen 1

    We as a community NGO support all rail services be they either; “freight/passenger/tourism/excursions activities.”

    Earlier today we posted an article on TDB on why we need rail services returned to all our regions.

    I would like to post it here as a rail based article.

    Our response was also placed at parliament earlier and clearly supports this article, so I offer it here as we have already sent it to the labour coalition ministers at parliament this morning.

    30th November 2017.

    Dear Ministers;
    On our current truck routes through our regional towns/cities; we do not want it four lined roads as that will only “encourage more trucks and other vehicle use – we need return of rail freight and passenger services.

    Our communities are badly in need relief for the East Coast regions below for ‘truck gridlocked’ routes & road mitigation through our city’s residential zones in HB/Gisborne.

    As the rail closed in 2012 truck freight increased dramatically through Napier on the “so called HB Expressway” we do not want it four lined as that will only “encourage more trucks and other vehicle use.

    We need our rail services returned to our regions firstly please. Regarding road improvements, we do not want or need more road building as it only promotes more truck use and less rail use.

    On our current truck routes through our regional towns/cities;

    We just need ‘lower speed zoned residential locations’ with noise walls and all residential areas be given back our previous (OGPA) “low noise road surfacing” the former Labour Government placed in 2006 (at our request) now removed savagely in 2014 by the last National Government.

    Here is our today’s blog on this issue;
    Todays blogs. 30/11/17.

    Over on The Daily blog we responded to a similar article on the future rail improvent/actions ec’t.

    Our response was placed there earlier and clearly supports this article, so I offer it here as we have already sent it to the labour coalition ministers at parliament tis morning.
    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/11/30/guest-blog-mike-lee-fear-and-loathing-auckland-transport-and-the-super-city/#comment-409470

    “The so-called ‘Super City’ it must be remembered was Rodney Hide and Steven Joyce’s baby and was imposed on Aucklanders without any vote.”

    Thank you Mike for placing the blame rightly on two evil politicians who during their time as “public servants” did nothing meaningful for all NZ of our “public communities” and instead imposed their own personal style of uncaring nasty hardships of less services and more taxes on us all for their own ‘grandiose plans’ for ‘highways to nowhere’.

    These ‘highways to nowhere’ must really be seen as just very ‘extravagant ’yet more public taxpaid roads just to their own beachside properties, and not for other any benefits for other NZ regions, which now must be investigated by the labour coalition Government in the coming months.

    For instance our Napier/Hastings/Gisborne regions has for many years been damaged by poor roads and declining road maintenance and mitigation measures such as “low noise road surfacing of (OGPA) ‘open graded porous cement’ on truck routes and noise barriers for all our city’s residential zoned roads that are now being impacted by a massive increased amount of truck freight traffic that is now harming the health and wellbeing of many thousands of those residential property dwellers/owners.

    http://www.pce.parliament.nz/media/pdfs/Hawkes-Bay-Expressway-Noise-and-air-quality-issues-June-2005.pdf

    One example is the shoddy built highway known as the “HB Expressway” built to a lowest cost standards then without any noise walls or smooth road surfacing as the trucks pass through residential zones at the time of building the roads, and any improvements in mitigation was only made after some residents spent many years fighting for their rights to fair mitigation as the residents on “the highways to nowhere” received. Sadly in many cases when we look back now most of the urgently needed mitigation requested by those residents were ignored by NZTA or the former Transit NZ and even some of the smooth road surfacing has now been replaced by cheaper noisier rough chip road surfacing, and the residents have still no relief from increasing truck noise, vibration and air pollution brought to them by steadily increased freight truck movements through their residential areas.

    These same politicians Steven Joyce and Rodney Hide actively promoted closing down regional rail services in these regions at the same time making matters far worse now.

    This is pure corrupt politics by two of the most “devise politicians NZ has witnessed in our history, which now must be investigated by the labour coalition Government in the coming months.

    The current lot of NZTA regional managers who allowed this to happen must be sacked as a result of a sadly woeful lack of services offered to these regional communities so badly affected by their inactions.

    Warmest regards,

  2. roy cartland 2

    And just on cue, what the Public Transport supporters have feared is coming to pass:
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/99327881/travel-times-in-and-out-of-wellington-getting-slower-despite-new-expressway

    $650 million. On a road that just clogged up again after a few measly months. Imagine if that eye-watering sum was spent on public transport for the region.

  3. The best thing about public transport is it’s ours – funded by taxes and rates, it’s a great example of how things just work better together. We pool our money and give it to central government or councils to get the best value for money while getting us from A to B reliably and safely, without clogging up our roads with taxis or private cars.

    Cooperation is always better than competition. Competition costs us more while providing less.

    Under the ‘Public Transport Operating Model’, which is just a fancy name for the ‘rules’ to choose who runs your services, councils are forced to tender for companies who can ‘reduce reliance’ on ‘public subsidies’ – which is actually the point of a publicly funded service.
    If the financial bottom line is the primary decision criteria for council members, then of course it’s harder for local providers who respect good wages to win tenders.

    This is the most expensive way to provide government services. There are added expenses in:
    1. The tendering process
    2. The extra bureaucracy needed for the ‘competition’
    3. The dead-weight loss of profit

    If the councils did it all in-house then we’d either get the same services for less or better services for the same cost.

    The idea that the private sector can always do it better is a load of bollocks.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929310-200-state-of-innovation-busting-the-private-sector-myth/
    http://neweconomics.org/2017/01/railways-failed-next/
    http://neweconomics.org/2017/03/big-care-providers-wasting-taxpayers-money/

    I haven’t seen anything to indicate that privatisation would be any better in NZ.

    • Marcus Morris 3.1

      Spent three weeks in Kuala Lumpur recently – what a fabulous public transport system. Handy to our apartment was an elevated railway which was very cheap (for us anyway), very modern and we never waited longer than four minutes for a train to KL Central (except Sundays). It was fully automated so no drivers!!.

      Spent last weekend in Sydney – another wonderful public transport system – $2.50 all day on Sundays for buses trains and ferries. They are actually re-laying a light rail track (where the trams used to be) out to the S.E suburbs (Randwick et al). For too long our government has been in the pocket of the Road User Association although it is interesting to note that the two biggest companies, Main Freight and Toll are strong proponents of rail.

      • Grey Area 3.1.1

        Same experience Marcus. We visited KL a couple of years back and found the public transport extensive and reasonably priced. The rapid rail to and from the airport was brilliant. We enjoyed the novelty of the monorail (as you do) and found the commuter rail services regular and convenient.

        We visit Melbourne a bit and always use the trams and rail services extensively.

        I’m sure with the current government we will see a significant shift away from the myopic vandalism of National and New Zealand will move ahead. I doubt we will ever catch up with many overseas cities when it comes to public transport and transport infrastructure but things should improve markedly.

      • halfcrown 3.1.2

        Well said Marcus. One of the arguments I have heard about our public transport system is the lack of population. Adelaide with a population of about 1.3 million to Aucklands 1.5 million has a far superior public transport system with buses and rail to the outer suburbs plus the last time I was there in 2008 the Adelaide O-Bahn where buses run on a special track from suburb to suburb

        • feels surreal 3.1.2.1

          That’s what a friend told me – regional rail would never work as the population was too small. But when I countered that then the same logic goes for duplicate motorways up north or wherever, he didn’t have an answer.

      • greywarshark 3.1.3

        Marcus M
        Fully automated so no drivers. How naice for you. Soon you may be able to enjoy a virtual experience with headmask on by your computer in your comfortable living room, and never have to mingle with the hoi polloi. Put it on so real, like being there, and there won’t be any need for infrastructure to be built the experience will be fully technologised, so no passengers as well as no drivers.

        It would be good if people who have a bit of money can find enough in their pockets to interact financially with the people who live where they gather and mingle. The wealthy paying tips to waiters, buying street food, taking rickshaws, looking for ways to be part of people supporting themselves. If tourists then they are not cutting people out of the tourist poster leaving person-sized gaps.

        When one goes to one’s bach it would be good to go to the local shop and buy some of what they have for sale, be part of the throng, the people, wherever you are and let’s not go for automation as a forward move.

        • Fully automated so no drivers. How naice for you. Soon you may be able to enjoy a virtual experience with headmask on by your computer in your comfortable living room, and never have to mingle with the hoi polloi. Put it on so real, like being there, and there won’t be any need for infrastructure to be built the experience will be fully technologised, so no passengers as well as no drivers.

          /facepalm

          You really are a technophobe aren’t you? You seem to think that all technology is bad.

          Passengers don’t meet the drivers on trains so automating them doesn’t remove the socialisation that you seem worried about. Does make them more reliable, safer and cheaper to run though.

          And getting more people on to trains through better services is probably better for socialisation as well.

          • greywarshark 3.1.3.1.1

            Oh dear. I am concerned about people having a place in society with a job or something that earns them a living and carries respect, but may be not. The chap that emptied the effluent in the old days wasn’t respected but that was a very important task for health and sweetness. So we probably will always be snobs and call some people slobs. That’s why it is important for people to have a job they get paid for, so they can have pride in themselves. You gloss over that in your Great Schemes DTB.

            • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3.1.1.1

              That’s why it is important for people to have a job they get paid for, so they can have pride in themselves.

              There’s better jobs available. No point wasting time doing stuff that can be done better by machine.

    • cleangreen 3.2

      Hi Draco,

      Privatisation was a plan to take away any public owned services and rort the system nothing alse was planned to imoprove our services it was to actually run them down as we saw happen with our privatisation of our rail system the Labour government have saved and now intends to build our regional rail up again.

      Now as was seen this week UK is now reversing the years of loosing a third of their rail services also to “privatisation” (Beecham) and are now taking the closed rail lines back and beginning to restore them too.

      This is finally hope for our rail system we have all bee waiting for since 1993 but never came under two innings of national Governments who since 1993 have proven they wanted rail dead.

      • Privatisation was a plan to take away any public owned services and rort the system nothing alse was planned to imoprove our services it was to actually run them down…

        Privatisation is a way to shift public money into private profit and have that profit government guaranteed because the government couldn’t let the services fail.

        …as we saw happen with our privatisation of our rail system the Labour government have saved and now intends to build our regional rail up again.

        We’ve seen it in more than just rail. Telecom and power come to mind.

        • cleangreen 3.2.1.1

          Yes Draco, 100% there,

          Selling our State Electricty generaters & our Community trust power networks also to privateer’s is shameful here.

          I lived in Canada and Florida for 11yrs from 1987 to 1998 and all electricty providers were either provinncial owned or state owned respectively and I came home again and everything is getting bloodywell privatised here!!!

          And so it will be household water next as ‘privateer’s’ set about by privateers already pushing for metering all homes in NZ now, so we expect they will move to take off Municipal autorities our water supply then, and then charge the premium per litre for what is our natural elemental right to have free water.

          Stop the sale of our “life sustaining essential services” Government please!!!!!!

        • halfcrown 3.2.1.2

          “Privatisation is a way to shift public money into private profit and have that profit government guaranteed because the government couldn’t let the services fail.”

          How true Draco. Branston(as in pickle) Branson is a typical example. He gets massive subsidies from the Taxpayers for running Virgin Rail Then the fun-loving prick salts it all away in a tax haven.

          https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/10/truth-richard-branson-virgin-rail-profits

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/10376341/Ive-been-a-tax-exile-for-seven-years-says-Branson.html

          I do love that word “entrepreneur,” In other words another cheating fraudulent limelight seeking fucking spiv.

  4. savenz 4

    Excellent post by Mike Lee about Auckland council and Auckland Transport.

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/11/30/guest-blog-mike-lee-fear-and-loathing-auckland-transport-and-the-super-city/#comment-409509

    For example at Auckland council Recent disclosures about an unbudgeted blowout on staff salaries amounting to $42m, ‘communications’ costing $45.6m per year, and $1.3m spent on business class travel and luxury hotels… while having a 15 per cent public satisfaction rate with the council’s performance and only 17 per cent trust in the council to make the right decision.

    And most of the rates money going to AT who provide an appalling service with poor wages for staff that actually do the work driving the buses and trains while paying themselves handsomely, and are completely unaccountable to rate payers.

    • For example at Auckland council Recent disclosures about an unbudgeted blowout on staff salaries amounting to $42m

      Depends upon how it came about.

      That said, the top pay rates are far to high but I doubt that cutting them to where I think they should be would save more than a few million.

      ‘communications’ costing $45.6m per year

      Communications happen to be really important. Like consulting with with the public and informing people of projects and stuff.

      and $1.3m spent on business class travel and luxury hotels

      They’re going to need some people to travel and stuffing them into the cargo hold and a show box will get less work done while they travel.

      while having a 15 per cent public satisfaction rate with the council’s performance and only 17 per cent trust in the council to make the right decision.

      I suspect that’s more to do with people’s ignorance than anything else. If things were really that bad our city wouldn’t be functioning at all. This is the problem with perceptions based upon ignorance.

      And most of the rates money going to AT who provide an appalling service with poor wages for staff that actually do the work driving the buses and trains while paying themselves handsomely, and are completely unaccountable to rate payers.

      Except that the service provided is actually pretty good and getting better. Still, the low wages and unaccountability are a problem and need to be addressed.

      • Stunned Mullet 4.1.1

        lol comedy gold.

        • savenz 4.1.1.1

          The terrible Auckland council performance of the supercity is one of the few things that the righties and the lefties agree on.

          • greywarshark 4.1.1.1.1

            The RW having a go at Auckland Council is part of their trickster, malicious approach. They made it, they took it out of people’s hands and said we know how it should be, so STFU and now things that were very likely to happen because of their choices and methods have happened, and the RWs don’t accept responsibility.

            Their closest to that would be to say that it is their fault for not cutting harder and faster and closer. And to blame poor productivity (a regular cry which nobody really understands but it implies slack workers), drugs and bad choices by customers or something. I have nothing but contempt for Hyde and the cream-skinning sycophants that gather like wasps around meat.

        • Got anything other than stupidity to show?

          • Stunned Mullet 4.1.1.2.1

            Let’s face it when it comes to showing stupidity we must all defer to your complete mastery.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Still no argument? Still just throwing out ad hominems?

              Yep, still showing your pure stupidity.

              • stunned mullet

                I am in awe of your bespawling.

                • It is truly amazing at how you RWNJs consider trolling and belittling people to be high-conversation.

                  • Stunned mullet

                    Not as stunning as your intellect you cumberground.

                    • In Vino

                      Hi Mullett A mullet is not all that bright in the first place, and apparently you are also stunned – an additional handicap. Your idea of comedy gold is an illusion you may want to cling to, but I think that you are basically wasting the useful life of your keyboard, and that you would be better advised to spend your time on other activities than ineffective trolling.

  5. bwaghorn 5

    Instead of striking and pissing of the very people the workers want on their side . is it possible to run the vehicles but not charge the passengers.

  6. McFlock 6

    A good public transport network makes a huge different to your quality of life if you either choose not to, or can’t, add to New Zealand’s 3.6 million motor vehicles already on the road.

    Even if you do have your own vehicle, good public transport is awesome. You can park farther out, rather than in the inner city. You can go out for works drinks without worrying too much about how to get home. You have a backstop if your vehicle breaks down. Visitors can come straight to your place or town, rather than you going to pick them up at the airport and being reamed for a cuppa while you wait.

  7. Chris 7

    9Wellington has excellent public transport

    Probably the best in NZ when it comes to citys

    We don’t even mind the workers striking if it is for a fair cause. Which it looks like it is.

    It is just the annoyingly short notice that is a pain in the ***se

    But all good

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