Yesterday I a piece on Radio NZ caught my attention about Labour wanting to change how public transport is tendered.

A much-criticised way of choosing companies to run bus or train services look set to be axed. Unions argue the competition pushes down wages and conditions and the new Minister of Transport Phil Twyford agrees. He’s asked officials to come up with a better way.

This is potentially quite concerning, not because we don’t want to see bus drivers get fair wages – on the contrary, but because changing the tendering system risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It could be a case of treating the symptoms while not addressing the underlying cause of funding constraints.

Before getting into the details, I think it’s useful to take a few steps up in altitude.

Thankfully, PT is no longer seen as the transport option of last resort, something used only for those who can’t drive. As such there now is broad agreement that Auckland needs a good quality public transport system and achieving this is increasingly important as the city continues to grow. While it’s most pressing here, other cities need to see improvements too and the pubic want to see more spent on PT.

The good thing is we know what is needed to deliver a quality, successful PT system. Auckland is no different to any other city and a mix of frequency, reliability and legibility are critical drivers of increased PT use. We’ve already been seeing it working here on selected routes, such as the Northern Express, for some time and Auckland Transport’s New Network takes that concept and city sizes it. The New Network that’s being rolled out is just the beginning though, a minimum viable network if you will. Future enhancements are likely to include upgrading more services to ‘frequent’ status (minimum of every 15 minutes, 7am-7pm, 7 days a week) and increasing frequents above the minimum specs.

All of this costs money though and most of the attention tends to go to big flashy infrastructure projects like Light Rail rather than the day to day operational challenges. So, at a high level, here’s how PT operations are funded, or at least how they’re meant to be based on government policies.

  • Fares – The NZTA’s Farebox Recovery Policy (FRP) seeks to have half of all operating costs paid for by PT users from fares.
  • Subsidies – The operating costs not covered by fares are paid for by a combination of money from Council and the NZTA through the National Land Transport Fund. The NZTA’s share is determined by their Funding Assistance Rate (FAR) which is the percentage of costs they’ll cover. This is usually 50%.

The outcome is meant to look something like this.

One of the key challenges is that to roll out the New Network, it requires a substantial increase in service. Thankfully most of that comes from using existing buses much more efficiently but it still does require some additional funding for the rest. There are three general ways this extra funding could be achieved.

Increased fare revenue

There are a couple of ways we could increase fare revenue, with different impacts. We could:

  1. potentially get more money by increasing the cost of fares. However, this would have a negative impact on ridership, especially given fares could need to rise substantially.
  2. get more people catching PT. At a high level that sounds great, but more people would likely result in needing more services and therefore cost. The best solution to that is to roll out the new network but the extra money is needed for that roll out to occur.
Increase subsidies evenly

If the farebox policy wasn’t an issue we could look at increasing the share of funding from both the council and the NZTA. However, the FAR means that the NZTA will only match what council invests, and the council already has plenty of funding constraints.

Increase NZTA funding

Like above this would see fare revenue stay at the same level. The council already has funding constraints that makes it difficult for them to increase their share. Instead, the NZTA could increase their FAR to cover the extra costs.

Tendering

A brief history

In the early 90’s, the then National government changed PT, bringing in a true privatise the profits and socialise the loses setup. Bus companies would run the profitable services they wanted and then councils could contract out provide other services, such as for coverage purposes. Those contracted services were provided on a net basis, so the bus company would collect the fares and then tell the council how much extra money was needed to break even.

In the 2000’s as PT use started to grow again, it lead to a huge increase in costs, in part due to some operators actively rorting the system. That, along with a range of other issues led the last Labour government to introduce the Public Transport Management Act (PTMA) in 2008. That would hand control of the planning of the system to councils and allow for gross contracting – where the council pays the full cost of running services but also gets all the revenue. However, shortly after the last National government came to power, PT operators beat a path to Steven Joyce’s office and he promised to repeal the legislation.

Thankfully, sanity ultimately prevailed and the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) was born. PTOM is a bit of a hybrid system, still allowing for routes to be run commercially but only if an operator runs all required services throughout the day, so no cherry picking of just the profitable ones. It also allowed for some legacy commercial routes, such as SkyBus and the Devonport and Waiheke ferry routes to remain. For everything else we gross contracting. However, it took till 2013 for the new legislation pass and even longer for all the intricate details, like contracts.

How PTOM fits in all of this

The New Network represents a wholesale change to how PT works in Auckland and it’s being rolled out alongside PTOM. It’s PTOM that allows AT to require a unified bus livery, minimum bus standards and a range of other improvements. But just because PTOM is rolled out at the same time, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s at fault.

Impacts of ‘axing’ the tendering process

AT are still working through contracting for some areas of the new network. Axing PTOM now to come up with an alternative tendering solution puts the new network at risk. Labour have spoken well about the need for better PT, particularly in Auckland but without the New Network that can’t be achieved.

The blame that is getting heaped on the tendering process, or sometimes AT, for driving wages down is misplaced. PTOM is just a tool and doesn’t inherently require wages to be driven down. As for AT, they’re clearly responding to the circumstances placed in front of them. The New Network is essential for the future of PT in Auckland but they can’t just roll it out if they can’t afford to pay for it. They’ve clearly made a decision to push to get as much of the network rolled out as possible.

The real culprit in this whole situation is the squeeze that’s been put on PT funding over the last nine years and that has helped force these tradeoffs. Farebox and Funding Assistance policies are stated as being about trying to improve efficiency but have resulted in restrictive outcomes. They’re hard barriers that take no regard for what levels of funding would deliver the best outcomes. If that funding isn’t sorted then the only other outcome is that either we don’t make improvements or we have to scale the ones we do have.

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74 comments

    1. Yoyoyo, drivers’ wages are yoyoing – and that’s NOT OK. Auckland Transport needs to choose a trustworthy company that will value its workers. A full $1.00 less than the going rate, especially in Auckland, means that drivers’ families go hungry, no doubt Ritchies and their shareholders are enriched by, I estimate somewhere between $1 million and 2 million, they will lose drivers to other companies, thus creating what Ritchies calls a shortage and then Ritchies wants to bring in immigrant drivers. This is absolutely untenable. We need highly qualified immigrants. As the drivers’ union says, there are plenty of drivers available here.

      AT should either offer Ritchies a little more and INSIST that drivers be paid the going rate as a requirement of the tender, OR rescind the contract and choose a company that is prepared to pay the going rate.

  1. This problem is not unique to bus drivers, it problem with a tendering model like this. There no such thing as job for life now, any of the new bus companies could loose their contract next time it comes up for renewal. Maybe it time we look at protecting workers rights, such as sick/holiday pay/etc and allow transfers from company a to company b.

    I would like to assume market forces kick in over wages, I assume most private companies operate on what market forces dictates wage rates. The only thing I am aware of is it common that public goes soft on private in these public-private relationships, and maybe need harsher penalties if not performing. For the companies It sadly all comes down to risk, under paying drivers $1 vs fine for not providing enough drivers

    1. We could also add Bus/Train drivers to vulnerable workers list. This would mean if the contract changed the drivers would have the option of what you say.

    2. Market forces have had an issue with cheap labour/immigration so its kept a lid on realistic demands.

      But the fact is we are forking out ratepayer money to maximise profit margins for shareholders so I cannot see why we don’t just change the stupid law that prevents AT having its own buses and reinstate the Yellow Bus Co.

          1. They only got interested in rail after they had lost their ownership of the buses. Before that they ran rail down.

          2. If rail competing with bus is the problem, I’m sure that can be solved. Waspman’s absolutely right. If the bus services are lucrative, AT should be running them so the profit can be put to good public use. If it’s unclear whether they’re only lucrative when wages are too low, AT should be running them to determine this.

            Do the bus companies have to declare their profits or is that considered private information? I had heard the latter.

    3. That is why the new government is looking at a collective fair wage agreement, that will give drivers, etc in the PT industry a minimum hourly rate, conditions and benefits. There is currently problems with the latest PT bus contracts in Hamilton and Wellington where the previous contractor paying one set wages and conditions is replaced by a new contractor that is paying less wages and benefits. There are alot of unhappy bus drivers in Hamilton and Wellington.

  2. Just thinking aloud here, but what would happen if the drivers were removed from the tendering process by not being employed by the private companies and instead they were employed by the council.

    1. Why not extend this to bringing all of the bus operations back into council ownership and save money by removing the profit component.

      1. While this would be fantastic idea, the costs to the councils would push their debt ratios beyond acceptable limits and unfortunately restrict their abilities to expand public transport. Don’t get me wrong, I would far prefer to see public transport “nationalised” I don’t see how that could happen unless the government stepped in and did it on a whole of country basis.

        1. Unfortunately this would be true. The promised economies of scale of the super city have not materialised. While privatisation or outsourcing of some services should in theory lower costs often when comparisons are done later it turns out the in house provision was better value for money. That’s why reviews are seldom done.

  3. Outstanding post Matt.

    So many old battles recounted there, both industrial and bureaucratic, over more than 20 years.

    We haven’t had this debate out in the open since the Yellow Bus Company got sold off under instruction from Jenny Shipley to ARTA way, way back in the day.

    Hope you get to sit down with Minister Twyford, and of course with the union that he is listening to.

  4. No analysis of wages and tendering. On the face of it, lowering wages is logical for private firms tendering to run public transport services.

    A quick fix would be calls for tendering for services to include that a living wage range to be paid.

    Longer term an industry wide industrial agreement.

    1. Yes, and we have to be clear about using an Auckland living wage. When I first learnt about how the living wage was calculated, it was based on a 4 member household with 1.5 salaries and average NZ housing costs. Given Auckland’s housing costs we have to look at an Auckland version, which I’m sure will have been calculated too.

  5. Where are they getting their supply of drivers from that allows them to keep wages down? In pretty much every other part of the heavy vehicle industry operators are finding it very hard to find drivers at the moment.

  6. PTOM is the best thing that’s happened to public transport in Auckland – it underpins all current and future service improvements. It does not drive down wages. Those who claim that it does, are very much misinformed.

    It’s my understanding that the New Network is currently around $10 million per annum short of the funding needed to operate at the service levels it was designed for and agreed to as part of the public consulation process. That amount is small compared to expenditure on other transport projects around the country. $10 million can in the interim, surely come from central govt coffers and the transport minister(s) surely could sort that out quickly, especially as the key part of the New Network – Central Auckland isthmus goes live mid 2018 and the government will want to make sure that it and the rest of the network is a success ahead of starting work on light rail services.

    Ongoing, $10 million or more in funding annually for operation of the New Network, can I believe, come from non-farebox sources. Micro convenience retailing is one such source – a very profitable revenue stream for transport operators when configured and experience-curated well.

    1. I am sorry but you are very misinformed – wages and worker conditions are being eroded as they are the every things that affect the tender amount. They are the only large scale variables. The companies that have the better wages and conditions are the ones or rather the one, that are losing the tenders. All bus companies are short of drivers, or have a higher than usual turnover of staff. They may not be short for a week or so, and then they are. Drivers are very tired and working long hours or working less hours and getting less pay in relation to other industries compared to the past.
      All bus companies are paying fines regularly to AT for lost trips, late running etc because of loss of drivers or vehicle maintenance as that is the other variable being eroded in the drive to keep costs down.
      Tired drivers is unsafe
      Minimally maintained buses is unsafe.
      Overall the the service may look better on the surface, but not underneath.
      I do not know these figures (so this is ancedotal), but maybe someone could find out the overall amount of fines paid to AT in the past year since PTOM started in Auckland. I doubt if companies with give turnover figures, but it could be an idea to check that out too.
      I personally have evidence of how it is harder to live on a basic driver wages and have a decent family life with shift work, compared to what it was like a few years ago.

      1. Sounds like the fines are not high enough. If they were then it would be more economic to pay drivers more and therefore recruitment should be easier.

      2. Of course it drives down wages. That is the whole point of the exercise. The reduction in wages through monopsony power is where the cost savings come from. AT just doesn’t want people to notice the impact they are having on working people.
        (sorry that was meant to be a reply to Rob)

          1. It is every bit as bad as a monopoly except because it is market power on the buyers side it is usually held by government agencies or big business so the Government doesn’t care about it. We have a market economy but only when it suits those who hold the power. They have no interest in allowing market forces to lift people’s wages, they only allow market forces to reduce wages.

      3. I agree with you. Greater Wellington Regional Council is tackling this problem now with wages, benefits and conditions between the better paid wages, benefits and conditions of NZ Bus drivers and Tranzit lower wages, minimal conditions and benefits.

      4. AT is only doing what (a) they are legally required to do by the PTOM model, and (b) what every other business would do in a similar situation – put the work out to tender and choose the lowest bid. I’m fully with the notion that drivers should be paid a living wage, but it’s unfair to blame AT for the consequences. If Council required AT to have a “fair living wage” policy and put up the money for AT to pay the extra, that would be another matter. But the money would have to come from somewhere . . . probably ratepayers.

        1. That is what the government is planning to do with the proposed an industry wide fair wage and conditions agreement. Jacinta Ardern has singled out bus drivers as an example, where there are different wages and conditions between bus contractors and to set a ‘livable’ wages and working condition for all drivers regardless of contractor. Yes, the ratepayer will ended up paying for it.

  7. You are wrong Matt for many reasons. If I get time I will explain them all later. Service contracts create a monopsony where there is only one buyer of drivers services and many drivers looking to work or remain in work. Tendering allows the company to exercise that market power with a take it or leave it wage. Naturally over time a company may face pressure to lift the wage to employ sufficient workers at the margin to provide the services. But the wholesale tendering bites those wage gains back by putting workers in a position of weakness where they are all potentially looking for a new job at the same time. Think of it as a market manipulation. If I tried the same thing as a seller rather than a buyer then I would be prosecuted as it is illegal to try and create a system where all sellers work together to increase the price through market power.

    1. Don’t worry mfwic. When buses drive themselves we don’t even need the drivers and we can pay security guards even less. At least until we get those terminator units working properly.

  8. My preference would be fully public services.

    However, if we are going to outsource, it’s very simple.

    We present a statement of requirement covering all routes, whether profitable or now. In those requirements we specify frequency, reliability and so on. We then tender. The cheapest tenderer (who still meets our requirements) wins. We aren’t purchasing a poor quality product as it still meets our requirements. Done.

    If the provider fails to meet requirements, we sack them.

  9. The tender can include conditions for employees like Drivers, living wage, minimum wage levels or no reduction in wages plus annual increments etc or even open book on wages. But is it AT or the governments role to set exact wage levels, certainly they need to be fair to encourage longer term drivers staying on. Perhaps wage bands set depending on experience levels.

    Overall a union is probably the best mechanism to ensure representation and fair levels with interventionist AT/Govt involvement to ensure fairness. I’m not sure what Uber will do to the model particularly if it gets into public transport……………….regulation is required to set and govern markets.

  10. bus drivers are vastly underpaid imo given the responsibility they have. I doubt theyd earn signifigantly more than somebody stacking shelves at mitre10 with vastly less responsibility.

  11. I am probably reiterating what is the main theme here but since PT is non profit and will always be that way, why the hell do we have profit motivated organisations operating our public transport services? How much potential is lost for better PT because of this idiotic system?

    The new government really do need to get rid of that law that was enacted by National back in the 90’s to provide profit and income for private business via ratepayer funds to provide such services.

    And include in that rubbish collections, roading etc etc. Take the middle man and his shareholders out of the equation!

    1. Yes, you would think a council the size of Auckland would be able to run a fleet just as effectively as any company. I can understand somewhere like Blenheim deciding it would be cheaper to contract in a specialist bus operator for their two runs, but not Auckland.

      1. Yes except a Council owned bus company would need $300million for a PR department and more for trips overseas for the managers for ‘study tours’. They would need a bespoke computer system for another $500million and then they would need to buy a tower block in the CBD for a head office and then another $50 million to reclad it as they would probably buy a dud. Other than that I am sure they could run some buses.

        1. Very negative.

          So what you are saying is the history and sum total of Auckland Councils woes go into an inability to provide public transport services do they? Seems they are making a go of it with AT, not perfect but a lot better than it was.

          Of course your comments is already on the tab for private operators anyway isn’t it in some form or another!

        2. A council owned PT company makes huge sense in theory. But in practice it would be so incompetently run it would be a disaster. The 7 councils were all basket cases. Now it is one giant basket case. Getting the giant basket case to run the buses and trains will not end well.

          If AC/AT had a history of competent management and proven leadership, then yes, it would be a good idea, but all of council and CCOs are barely managing as it is.

  12. Anyone know if the new light rail routes will use driverless light rail technology? I hope so as that can allow for a great farebox recovery ratio for light rail

  13. What if the whole transport system was self funded? No rates money, no licensing fees, no fuel tax ( change to a carbon tax). The GPS pricing gives us the opportunity to do things differently.
    Say that there was a flat rate per kilometer dependant on vehicle size then use congestion charges and fares to manage peaks. I would like to see models of this. Model would need to consider the whole network not just a series of cost centers and should be able to help with planning.

    1. So you’re meaning everything gets costed? Health costs, water pollution costs, social disconnection costs, true carbon costs based on the most likely upcoming climate change costs including resource war costs and refugee costs? I’d be into that.

  14. The current contracting for bus services needs to be looked at, as there is serious hidden costs, like depots, recently purchased new buses, etc for the bus operator who is losing the contract and the new bus operator taking over the contract.

    The case in point in Auckland, when NZ Bus lost most of the South Auckland bus routes to Go Bus and Ritchies. What happen to the South Auckland depots that was owned and used by NZ Bus, recently purchased Alexander Dennis buses by NZ Bus. I see that Go Bus in Auckland has purchased some of Alexander Dennis buses for their new contract.

    The problem also applies to Hamilton, when GO Bus Hamilton lost their west Hamilton bus routes this year to Pavlovich Coachlines which has better wages compared to Go Bus. Whilst GO Bus purchased new buses for their new contracts, Pavlovich has been purchasing surplus ex NZ Bus Alexander Dennis buses. First Union has presented a petition to Waikato Regional Council asking for contracts with bus companies to include a requirement to pay a living wage, It was reported that some drivers were being paid the minimum wage. GO Bus is paying their drivers a base average of $17.50 per hour where Pavlovich is paying their drivers base average of $19.50 per hour. Pavovich has employed GO Bus surplus drivers due to their route knowledge and now Go Bus has the cost of employing and training new drivers. This is a big expense to the 2 operators.

    In Wellington is even worse. NZ Bus has lost 60% of their routes to Tranzit Coachlines. Once again Tranzit is paying lower wages and basic conditions and benefits and want to employ ex NZ Bus drivers at the same wages but reduce conditions and benefits and the unions representing NZ Bus drivers have said no. Tranzit has to purchase new buses to service their new contracts but only has a small depot in Wellington, yet NZ Bus has 4 depots, being the main storage and maintenance depot at Kilbirnie (formally the major tram depot), a large depot in lower Hutt, a depot in Newlands and a smaller depot in Trentham. Tranzit needs to find new depots before 1 July 2018 when their contract starts. This is huge cost to Tranzit and NZ Bus will have alot of surplus diesel buses.

    NZ Bus is not happy with Greater Wellington Council, as NZ Bus was in essence shafted by the regional council, when the regional council would no longer pay for Wellington’s trolley bus network, which was decommissioned on the 31 October 2017. NZ Bus now has 60 trolley buses, which they had to pay for, in storage at their Kilbirnie depot with an average life of 7 years. NZ Bus is planning to convert the 60 trolley buses to hybrids. So far with previous battery and hybrid tests in Wellington, these tests haven’t been that successful due to Wellington’s hilly terrain. With the decommissioning of the trolley buses, NZ Bus had to bring from Auckland, 40 extra diesel buses to replace the decommissioned trolley buses. Wellington residents are not happy by having older ex NZ Bus Auckland diesel buses in town. Also, the regional council is paying $11 million to remove 82kms of trolley bus overhead.

    Greater Wellington rate payers are not happy how the regional council has handled the bus tendering process, which could ended up costing the ratepayers more.

    So I think the new government needs to have a serious look at the current law when it comes to PT bus tendering. In theory, the law can work but in reality its not working.

      1. Yes. Its a real mess in Wellington. Why replace trolley buses which have been operating since 1949 with older diesel buses despite the Greater Wellington Regional Council wanting environmental friendly green bus network.

        Wellington was the only city in New Zealand where most of its PT network was electric – the trams from 1904, trolley buses from 1949 and electric suburban trains from 1936. There are alot of ratepayers in Wellington scratching their heads on this one.

        At least the anti trolley bus people can now travel in their beloved diesel buses breathing in diesel fumes.

        1. Fact is, most of the anti-trolleybus people don’t use the bus service at all. They just bitch and moan about ugly wires and occasionally getting stuck in their cars behind de-wired trolleys.

          Meanwhile their cars impose a far greater ugliness on the urban environment than a few skinny wires do, and 99% of the time it is buses that get held up in car-caused congestion, not the other way round.

          The pot calls the kettle black, as they say.

          1. I agree with you about the cars users moaning but there are bus riders who felt that the diesel buses are quicker than the trolleys, which as you know, is not true. In fact, as you know, once in the CBD regardless whether you are in car, diesel or trolley bus, its slow moving most of the time. What the anti trolley buses didn’t realise, the trolleys had governors to reduce speed due to the speed restrictions of the old OB (Ohio Brass) overhead. Once the overhead had been upgrade to high speed the trolleys could have gone faster.

          2. Had the opportunity for the first and sounds like last time to use the trolley buses, ironically and fortunately had to make a trip down there just before the last weekend before they were going to start to decommission them IIRC.

            From my small read up of it, and it sounds not all that simple an issue, I thought the idea is to move to electric buses longer term which they have already with some routes (I guess less hilly ones) & partly as the maintenance costs/age of the old buses were at their end. The newer diesel ones are pretty efficient & partly replace some older diesel ones anyway & so overall they are better off environmentally. I do note they have problems running them in high winds, like the other week too.

  15. There are room for efficiency improvements which improves passengers served per driver. So wages can be increased without affecting profitability.
    For examples:
    -Double deckers: double capacity for same driver
    -Faster bus journeys time: by having more bus lanes and bus priority traffic light, higher timetable frequency can be achieved by using the same number of fleet and drivers.
    -Improve dwell time: Using both door boarding and more contactless payment options which includes visa paywave and smartphone NFC payments – that means less people will need cash payment
    -No bus stopping to wait for timetable: For routes that is high frequency, passengers shouldnt need to look up timetable, and bus should just keep running.
    -Route optimisation: Bus route should use city as pass though, from northshore to south auckland, east auckland to west auckland. So no turning around is needed and no waiting in city as well. That will improve efficiency.

    These are few examples of all possible opportunities.

    Bottomline is higher efficiency means less cost per passengers.

    1. Not sure where you would bring in double deckers that does not already have them or is planned to have them. If the route is not at capacity then any cost savings can only be made by reducing services, which isn’t great.

      They are great for adding capacity on high demand routes, but I’m not sure they are really a cost saver.

      Also a credit card payment system would come at a significant cost, it would be introduced for convenience not as a cost saving measure.

    2. Kelvin, you seen to have fallen for the myth that there is always more efficiency to be had. It goes hand in hand with the myth of eternal growth. There are limits. And driving down wages is always the answer for people who don’t want to accept limits.

    3. The way I see it, Cash = no discount, Visa = partial discount, Hop card = Full discount

      In reply to Heidi, my point is to protect driver’s wages by making other things more efficient.

    4. And why can’t we amalgamate all PT in NZ into a HOP system, and incorporate it into our eftpos cards and get a full discount, thank you very much.

      1. I seem to remember, before snappa threw their toys out of the cot, that the HOP card system was to be a trial for all regional authorities to use the same system.

  16. Problem is the new network looks too much like the kind of thing forced on regional councils around the country by National’s funding cuts. Where there are now a lot more interchanges because passengers now have to transfer between a high frequency spine route and a low frequency local route.

    1. The new network costs more to run than the old network. It is based on a proven model of public transport provision that works around the world.

  17. I agree that PSOM has been a vast improvement in many ways over the old order, but we shouldn’t be too quick to absolve AT of responsibility for reduced wages. They could have chosen to require tenders to include a living wage for drivers, or to maintain pay, conditions and union membership for drivers changing employers. And from some things that have been said, AT seem to have been well aware of the union-busting effect PTOM would have and to have seen it as a bonus.

  18. Matt can I take this moment to congratulate you on you comments in today’s article on the cancellation of the East-West link. Not the normal blind anti-car crap which pervades transport debates but rational, informed comments that added to the article.

    Patrick Reynolds could learn a lot from you.

    1. Real Matthew I believe you and your ilk overlook a basic fact in your anti-anti-car stance. That is, for the past 50+ years we have suffered a gross overdose of pro-car crap thanks to generations of blind being led by the blind. What you call “anti-car crap” is but a mild and gentle backlash to what a growing number perceive as a profusion of mistakes made in the past and of course perpetuated by the previous government.

      A period of correction is long-overdue. Get used to the anti-pro-car-crap era. It wouldn’t have come to this had the collective “you” not pushed things so far the other way. You’ve brought it on yourself. It’s your fault (collectively)!

    1. Ha, classic typo. I’ve seen that in several documents over the years, including one particularly humorous request for a “comprehensive pubic investigation”.

  19. 1) Its not surprising that bus drivers salaries are under significant pressure
    1a) high immigration meaning that there are plenty of suitable applicants available
    1b) The capital cost of a bus is fixed. The only variable cost that bidders have to play with is the drivers salary given they cant do much with fuel and maintenance costs

    2) This article is looking for a funding handout. That shouldn’t come from taxpayers and ratepayers but from road users.

    3) In Auckland in particular congestion tolls should be implemented.
    3a) defers/delays hugely expensive capital projects
    3b) provides revenue stream
    3c) increases PT ridership & reduces the subsidy

    4) Fuel excise tax increased in needed countrywide. Historic papers suggest road users don’t pay the full costs.

    5) Make sure a full coverage social PT network is provided at minimum 30min headways from about 6am to 12 midnight

    6) If needed strip the requirement that fixed routes have to be used and provide on-demand PT in areas where fixed routes provide << than 50% farebox recovery. The on-demand has to feed to/from the fixed network.)

    7) Ensure 5-15min PT frequency is available across the congestion cordon

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