Yesterday, Auckland Transport finally announced who would replace David Warburton as Chief Executive later this year. The job has gone to Shane Ellison. It certainly seems that he has significant experience with running public transport which will be very useful for Auckland. What’s less clear, and what we look forward to learning, is his views on other areas such as active modes and the balance needed in our urban environments between movement and place.

Here’s the press release.

Auckland Transport has appointed Shane Ellison as its new Chief Executive.

Mr Ellison is a returning New Zealander with whakapapa linking him to the iwi of Ngai Tahu and Te Ati Awa. He has had more than 20 years of global experience in senior leadership roles across the transport and infrastructure sectors in complex commercial, political and organisational environments.

Since 2011, Mr Ellison has held a number of senior executive roles of increasing responsibility in Transdev Australasia, including being the senior executive responsible for the delivery of Transdev’s operations across ferry, bus and light rail in New South Wales and Queensland.

In these roles, Mr Ellison was instrumental in delivering exceptional customer experience, workplace safety and patronage outcomes.

Prior to 2011 Mr Ellison was located in Paris with Transdev where he was responsible for global corporate development and innovation, playing a key leadership role in large transport infrastructure projects in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

“What particularly impressed the selection panel was Shane’s leadership capacity, innovative mindset, mix of operational experience coupled with a deep understanding of transformative change and the importance of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do,” says Auckland Transport Chairman Dr Lester Levy.

“In a first, Shane was selected in an exemplar of a collaborative approach between a CCO and the Mayor, with the Mayor, AT Deputy Chairman, Wayne Donnelly and myself fully involved in the selection process from the outset. Pippa Coom (Chair of the Waitemata Local Board) and Renata Blair (Member of the Independent Maori Statutory Board) were both involved in the final selection panel.”

“Mr Ellison was unanimously selected by both the panel and the AT Board for this role. It is good to have a returning Kiwi who will bring years of overseas experience to AT as well as familiarity with our city and culture,” says Mayor Phil Goff.

“Auckland is facing rapid changes in the transport space and I am confident that Mr Ellison will work with Council to implement a transport strategy focused not only on reducing congestion but also on better public transport that is responsive to the needs of this city.”

Mr Ellison says, “Being part of that, and part of an organisation that can help to shape and influence that change is incredibly exciting.”

He says he will place a particular emphasis on organisational strategy, innovation and customer focus in the role.

Dr Levy confirmed the remuneration for Shane Ellison at $575,000 per annum, significantly less than equivalent positions in the private sector and well within the remuneration band for the role demonstrating the financial prudence of AT’s Board. The remuneration does not have a bonus scheme attached to it.

“I am pleased that the Auckland Transport Board has been responsive to my request for fiscal prudence in setting a lower remuneration, which can be difficult when you are competing in an international market for the best person,” says Mayor Goff.

Both Dr Levy and the Mayor acknowledged the excellent contribution that David Warburton has made as the organisation’s founding Chief Executive.

“During David’s time he has brought multiple legacy organisations into a single united organisation that has delivered many significant projects of world-class scale and complexity. But his true legacy is leaving behind an organisation with a culture and capability that is well positioned to meet the many transport challenges Auckland faces into the future,” says Dr Levy.

Mr Ellison will join Auckland Transport on 11 December for a handover from Mr Warburton.

CV for Shane Ellison
  • July 2017 – Global Development Role
  • July 2016 – July 2017 – Chief Operating Officer (NSW & QLD) / Deputy Director of Business Development (Australasia)
  • December 2015 – July 2016 – Managing Director (NSW) / Director of Business Development (Australasia)
  • November 2012 – November 2015 – Managing Director (NSW) / Deputy Director of Business Development (Australasia)
  • August 2011 – October 2012 – Deputy Director of Business Development (Australasia)
  • October 2007 – August 2011 – Project Director Corporate Development & Innovation Paris
  • April 2005 – September 2007 – General Manager Veolia Transport Sydney

We look forward to meeting and hopefully working with Shane once he arrives to help make Auckland greater.

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  1. Welcome back to Auckland, Shane. You’ll find a lot of enthusiasm and support here on GA for all your progressive endeavours.

  2. Wow, looks like a good appointment. AT needs better leadership, and a perspective that stretches across the whole city. This looks very promising, and it’s great that Shane’s experience is in public transport delivery (across multiple modes) rather than road-building.

    1. To fix the dwell tmes just teach the people getting on the trains to stand to one side so that those getting off don’t have to fight their way through them . Most of those that are blocking the entry/exit seem to be new imigrants

      1. There’s actually problems with the trains traction system that make our dwell times unusually long. Don’t make this a education/immigration problem. It’s a technical and operations one.

        1. No traction system problem causing dwell time to be slow. Pauses between motion and door opening, door closing and motion are by design and design is by request. Door slowness is chosen to improve reliable performance and long life. AT chose and accepted all these things because they wish to preserve machinery and statistics more than they wish to preserve staff and passenger experience.

      2. That’s usually an issue at the larger stations such as Britomart which the station staff need to get better at managing. The other stations it still seems to be down to the train managers.
        Immigrants don’t spring to mind to me when I’m fighting my way through people. I sit and disembark from further down the train now where there are less people on the platform.

        We were three minutes late leaving Britomart on Thursday waiting for the TM to go beep beep. I don’t think that was a stopping traction issue.

        Where are we up to with the SAFE program?

      1. Per Linked In he has a BBS (Hons) (business studies) from Massey in 1999 where he was a Massey Scholar (awarded to the top few.
        Later he obtained a Masters in Public Infrastructure (concentrations on Public Infrastructure and Public Private Partnerships) from University of Melbourne, in 2006.

        “The Masters in Public Infrastructure takes a cross disciplinary approach to examining the infrastructure sector of national and state economies. The focus is on economic and social infrastructure, public private partnerships, and large project procurement. Papers include infrastructure economics, infrastructure finance, public policy and finance, risk management for PPPs, principles of PPPs, infrastructure regulation and a PPP research project.”

        Let’s hope he uses his PPP understanding to nudge Council away from a PPP for Skypath.

        I note he has also been involved with Jerusalem light rail, a rail concession in the Netherlands and Gold Coast RT PPP. A good combination of experiences that should have exposed him to a cross section of walking, cycling, light rail and rail options suitable for Auckland.

        1. I guess one doesn’t usually do a masters in public infrastructure and focus on PPPs if one is opposed to them. I hope there’s something in his education about equity, because PPPs can be a useful mechanism, but they usually fall down when looked at from an equity pov…

    1. Shane was operations manager for the ARC rail project team prior to the passenger rail contract changing from Tranz Metro to Connex (subsequently Veolia and now Transdev) in about 2005

  3. The quality that he will need most of all is courage. The current approach where AT seem to be timid in proposing change is only taking Auckland forward in small steps. The CRL will be a game changer, but where are all the little projects to drive change and enable alternative means of movement rather than the car. Where for example is the commitment to ensure that buses run to timetable; to increase bus lanes; and to implement all the bus network changes?
    The mood for change is here, let’s hope AT seizes it.

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