Greens: New public transport model must be backed with investment

Written By: - Date published: 8:41 am, August 16th, 2022 - 9 comments
Categories: greens, internet party, michael wood, public transport - Tags:


greens.org.nz press release

New public transport model must be backed with investment
4-5 minutes

The Green Party has once again shown that bringing people together to demand change works, with the announcement today that the Government will give communities a greater say over how their local transport services are run.

“The Green Party has long campaigned for faster, cleaner, and more frequent buses, trains and ferries. Greater public ownership of public transport will make this easier to deliver. We are delighted the Government has finally taken note and agreed with what we have been calling for,” says Green Party spokesperson for transport, Julie Anne Genter.

The new Sustainable Public Transport Framework announced today by the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood will replace the Public Transport Operating Model put in place by the previous National Government.

“The reality is that the National Government’s model for contracting services mainly benefited the private companies. It did not deliver the excellent public transport outcomes the community deserves, and the pay and conditions of the people who work on public transport suffered – which has also contributed to a shortage of bus drivers.

“Public transport is an essential service that is fundamental to our quality of life, for cutting climate pollution, connecting our communities, and making our cities more liveable. After years of political pressure from the Greens, we are pleased that the Government is finally rebalancing our public transport system towards the needs of local communities.

“However, this is only the start of what needs to be done. To have any chance of meeting our climate change targets the Government needs to significantly increase investment in sustainable public transport infrastructure in every community, and we need fewer cars on our roads. It’s great the Government will prioritise cutting climate pollution as part of the new operating model, but this needs to be backed with significant new investments in public transport right across New Zealand.

“Last month, the Green Party published an open letter to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructure calling on the Government to stump up the cash to improve rail services in the lower north island. This is just one example of the type of investment we need.

“Along with public ownership and better wages and conditions for people working on public transport, if we can get the Government to focus nearly all transport investments on making it easier for people to walk, bike, or hop on a bus, train, or ferry we can create a world-class transport system that works for everyone. The best way to do that is to get more Green MPs into Parliament,” says Julie Anne Genter.

Green Party MP for Auckland Central, Chlöe Swarbrick added:

“The unreliable buses, infrequent train services, and the gridlock many of us experience in our towns and cities is the result of decades of political decisions that have made it really difficult for anyone to get around without their own private vehicle.

“That vein of decision making and neglect led to the exemption for Waiheke’s ferry route by the former National Government, contributing to it becoming among the most expensive comparable trip in the world.

“I have been working with community groups and local residents to get the current Labour Government to reverse the Waiheke exclusion that was completely and inexplicably decided by Steven Joyce when he was Minister of Transport in the early 2010s. Hon. Michael Wood has started that process and I am hoping that today’s rebalancing towards public ownership is a sign of his intent to put people over profit permanently in the operation of our integral, truly public transport services,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.


Government press release

Creating sustainable public transport for all

Hon Michael Wood

15 August 2022

Our new approach to public transport will:

  • Support ‘on-demand’ public transport services
  • Allow councils to own and operate services in house
  • Improve pay and working conditions
  • Deliver routes and services that reflect community needs
  • Incentivise the decarbonisation of the fleet

Workers and public transport users are at the heart of the new Sustainable Public Transport Framework, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.

“We are rolling out a new public transport model, that will prioritise fair and equitable treatment of employees, mode-shift and improved environment and health outcomes,” Michael Wood said.

“For too long, the public transport model has encouraged operators to squeeze worker conditions, pay and opportunities, preventing public transport from living up to its full potential.

“The current model that was meant to lead to better public transport is causing operators to wind back services and timetables, because they can’t get drivers. Public transport is too important to our environmental, social and economic goals to allow this to continue.

“The new Sustainable Public Transport Framework will help to create a public transport system that is reliable, an attractive career opportunity and a credible alternative to using cars to get around.

“Improving the conditions of employees will make it easier to recruit and retain the workforce, allowing frequent and reliable services. This will also provide job security by allowing drivers the opportunity to maintain employment if there is a change in operator.

“The new model will also give local authorities more flexibility and control over how public transport is planned and delivered, so they can have a solution that works for their communities.

“Public transport authorities will have the option to own assets and operate services, if they feel that’s a better solution for their community than outsourcing to an outside provider. This will make it easier to plan networks and services, to set fairs and policies, and encourage innovation in how services are delivered.

“Our Government recognises that public transport is a lifeline that connects people to work, to school, to recreation and to their friends and family. These changes will mean that we have an effective, reliable and sustainable public transport system well into the future.

9 comments on “Greens: New public transport model must be backed with investment ”

  1. Maurice 1

    A Bike rack on the front of every Bus!

  2. Ad 2

    Excuse me for not popping champagne.

    For those cities that don't have unified councils – such as Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin – unity won't be breaking out into spectacular policy outcomes. It will likely be the same territorial fights. Even in Auckland there is often limited control over Auckland Transport.

    We have the next three weeks to see which local candidates will make $$ costed promises to integrate services and increase public investment in them.

    Great Minister Wood is at least providing instruments to reassemble Jenny Shipley's full dismemberment of the local body politic.

    But like water this move is another governance halfway house. The whole of NZ public transport should be run inside NZTA, not regions. It's already done with Education school buses, and they already do it with rail services. They've just re-centralised health into managerial blobs without messy democratic input.

    Now that this and prior governments have gutted local government into nothing, a small state with a large petrol addiction needs a strong centralised hand to guide it.

    This is another of this government's sub-therapeutic doses that is neither coherent as a treatment nor a cure.

    • weka 2.1

      Maybe it's a stepping stone.

      As with water I can't see how bods in Wellington would have the expertise to design PT for Gore or Te Anau. Or even Dunedin and Oamaru. Good deesign isn't only mechanistic, it's experiential. People that live in Dunedin and understand viscerally what the place is, as well as the communities are going to have knowledge that outsiders just don't have.

      NZTA's public facing organisation has a terrible culture. It's better than it used to be, but still needs to sort its shit out. PT isn't simply infrastructure, it's also deeply about people, their needs and patterns of behaviour.

      Maybe the solution is centralised overarching policy, with local authorities doing the details of how that gets enacted in their rohe.

      • roy cartland 2.1.1

        It raises another question for me. Would we rather have a centralised democracy that is well-participated but can't deliver on those local details; or local democracies that could design and deliver well, but is under-participated?

        Obviously we'd like citizens and communities to design and engage in their own cities' transport and infra; but with the pitiable participation in council elections, we get the clowns we get.

        Also, it feels like Central Govt tends to emphasise how great the places would be for tourists and visitors, rather than the people that have to live there.

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          I'm not sure central government is that well particpated in. Voting once every three years is pretty minimal involvement.

          But yeah, we should be putting more into increasing democracy, as a priority at this point.

          Also, it feels like Central Govt tends to emphasise how great the places would be for tourists and visitors, rather than the people that have to live there.

          Yep. Although tbf, local govt does this too in high tourism places.

      • Ad 2.1.2

        Maybe I'm just not in the mood for little stepping stones.

        If you look at the perpetual pushme-pullyou between regional council PT operators and city councils, local specific reflexiveness is really code for 'nothing happens': Wellington region, Otago region, Canterbury region, Bay of Plenty region being the outstandingly bad examples over several decades now.

        Auckland however is where the biggest PT turnaround has been successful. In no small part because a fully professionalised AT has started to work well with NZTA.

        Just this year we saw central government unilaterally halve public transport costs for many. It can be done.

        • weka 2.1.2.1

          If you look at the perpetual pushme-pullyou between regional council PT operators and city councils, local specific reflexiveness is really code for 'nothing happens':

          Any reason central government can't intervene in that? eg legislation that requires x, y, z

          I don't think Auckland can be used as a template for the rest of the country. Size and culture make the needs and solutions there quite specific.

        • weka 2.1.2.2

          does the new legislation mean that district and city councils can now set up services that regional councils are failing at?

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