Amidst spending zillions of dollars on motorways over the next few years, NZTA’s National Land Transport Programme also established the “Public Transport Leadership Forum”. This is what’s said about that forum in the NLTP:

Meanwhile, an NZTA programme will take a longer-term view of public transport investment while seeking to make decision-making processes more robust. We will convene a public transport sector leadership forum, with one of its first tasks being to develop an action plan to improve the effectiveness of public transport in New Zealand.

It may not seem like particularly much, but I think that there are likely to be some very useful results coming from simply getting together a pile of people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to public transport, and thrashing out some ways to improve public transport nationwide.  The forum held its first meeting in September last year, and is holding another meeting in a couple of days time.

A progress report on what was achieved at that first meeting, and a series of next steps to take makes for quite interesting reading actually – and suggest that this might actually achieve something, rather than simply being a talkfest designed to distract us from NZTA’s potentially disastrous farebox recovery policy that is being developed.

The forum considered a number of aspects of public transport, including its wider context. Their findings on this matter are summarised below: That seems to cover pretty much everything. I’m particularly glad that parking policies, peak oil and the ability of public transport to help achieve growth strategies has been mentioned. These three issues are often overlooked.

A number of reports were put together by various transport experts – including Russel Turnbull from Parsons Brinkerhoff, Dr Peter Stoveken from Stoveken Consulting, and Ian Wallis from Ian Wallis Associates (I must say it’s nice to learn that we actually have public transport experts in Auckland). Various long-term strategies and plans were discussed, but perhaps what I found most interesting were the identified “low hanging fruit” – or relatively easy to implement improvements in the next five years that could make a big difference:

Improving real-time travel information, creating a full integrated ticketing system and looking to create incentives so that employers provide staff with free public transport (instead of free parking) look to me as three steps forward in particular that could make a very positive difference.

There’s quite a bit of other information I have, which can be read from the links below:

  1. NZTA Powerpoint Presentation – Improving Public Transport Effectiveness
  2. Planner/Funder Breakout Group Notes
  3. Operators Breakout Group Notes
  4. Users Breakout Group Notes

Of course who knows whether all of this will actually achieve anything, but it’s certainly good to know that some serious thinking is going on to improve public transport. Hopefully all parties involved in the forum have read Paul Mees’s excellent book: Transport for Suburbia. It will answer most of their questions I would imagine.

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  1. This can only be a positive thing. Hopefully the spin off could be the CBD rail tunnel in the near future.

    Do they talk about congestion taxes anywhere? These are important because they would remove cars which are pointlessly driving around the city. I will also significantly reduce the amount of people who are getting chauffeured around the city.

    I agree that changes to the parking policy is needed and parking levies will go a long way to helping change journey modes. Hopefully this kind of thinking will change the image of the city, which should be a feature of the Auckland Super City.

    Once land use policies are set up to align public transport, it would have to be common sense to invest in a high quality system.

  2. It is really encouraging to see such a group, I think more organisation is needed to ensure the public transport and rail lobby gets more more oomph…

  3. Hi Joshua,

    Very encouraging.
    What does ‘FBT’ refers to in Number 6 in low hanging fruit?

    It is true for other organisations could provide free transport for staff instead of carparking. However, for organisations like schools, where the role is large, and parking isn’t provided (except for 7th formers in some cases), I imagine all of Auckland would benefit from free public transport for school age students.
    Do you know of any work done on quantifying/back of the envelope calculations on congestion savings from free public transport for e.g. schools?
    Based on the congestion savings (I assume these would be worth it), I imagine a new council might be interested.

    Keen to hear your thoughts,


  4. FBT = fringe benefit tax. Basically work related benefits (such as employer provided or sponsored public transport) are taxed the same as if they were personal income.

    “Fringe benefit tax (FBT) is a tax on benefits that employees receive as a result of their employment, including those benefits provided through someone other than an employer.
    What is a fringe benefit?

    Fringe benefits (perks) include most benefits given to employees in addition to their salary or wages.”

  5. Yes, so effectively any PT ticket is considered to be in lieu of part of your income and is taxed like it was income.
    So removing FBT from PT tickets would create a tax break that would encourage companies to allow their staff to buy them through the company.

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