March madness officially kicks off tomorrow with university students back to classes. This is the busiest time of the year where buses and trains are at their busiest and every bit of capacity is needed. Roads are more congested than normal too. But if you catch a train, things are about to become a whole new level of busy.

Expect to see a lot more trains like this, or worse

Late last night, Auckland Transport advised that due to industrial action, peak train services on the three main lines will only run every 20 minutes instead of every 10. Temporary timetables can be found here.

The Rail and Maritime Trade Union (RMTU) has given notice of its intent to commence industrial action from Monday 26 February to Friday 16 March. This action will affect some peak services on the Southern, Western and Eastern Lines. All inter-peak and off-peak services will run as normal.

Auckland Transport and Transdev have developed a temporary timetable to minimise disruption and provide consistent rail services on these lines during this period.

Customers can expect Southern, Western and Eastern line weekday peak train services at 20-minute intervals, with inter-peak and off-peak services running as normal.

Many trains on these services will run with six cars, which can hold 900 passengers, to help reduce impact.

Onehunga and Pukekohe weekday train services and weekend train services across all lines will remain on their usual timetable.

Ferry and bus services will operate as normal.

Auckland Transport’s Chief Transport Services Officer, Mark Lambert says, “With increased demand for services, the trains will be fuller than usual. I encourage people to plan ahead and consider other travel options such as travelling outside of peak hours, carpooling, walking or cycling.”

Mr Lambert says AT staff will be on duty at some busy locations to assist customers with information and advice. Daily service updates will be provided on the station information boards, the AT website, Twitter and Facebook.

AT is proposing to transfer the responsibility for train door opening and closing from Train Managers to Train Drivers with specific safety controls, pending safety case approval from independent rail regulator, NZ Transport Agency, and replacing Train Managers with a larger team of roving Transport Officers.

Currently, Train Managers work alone and, when in a six-car train, cannot provide customer assistance in both 3-car units at the same time. They are not encouraged to intervene in incidents and cannot leave a train service to manage antisocial behaviour off board.

Transport Officers are trained as first responders to incidents across the network. They have warranted powers for fare enforcement and can also be deployed in larger patrols to focus on trains that need additional assistance. Transport Officers are trained to manage anti-social behaviour, security and medical incidents. They have the flexibility to move any antisocial behaviour from the train onto the platform where additional assistance can be provided, without stopping the train service.

Transport Officers form part of a wider series of customer experience improvements including an intensive gating programme that will mean 90 percent of all passengers will have to pass through an electronic gate before going onto the station platform.

AT believes these changes will improve safety and security on the rail network and reduce fare evasion and antisocial behaviour.

More than 30,000 people travel by train around Auckland on an average weekday.

This is going to have a massive impact, obviously the point for the union, but the people it will hurt is not their employers or Auckland Transport but other workers.

This action is also likely to have significant and long term impacts on PT use. The stunning growth in rail use, particularly in recent years, has helped to justify more investment and more services. For example, projects like the City Rail Link would likely not be happening without it. That growth is driven in large part by this time of year when people, sick of the congestion, give PT a go. Many will choose to keep using it. This is reflected in this graph showing the average number of boardings on business days.

Apart from being the busiest time of the year, there’s another reason the timing on this is terrible. We’re just about to have the latest census. Whilst there are many other sources of data these days, the census still seems to play a disproportionate role in making decisions. This action means we’re going to get a lot less accurate reflection of how transport is working in Auckland and that could lead to poorer decisions in the years to come.

My suspicion is that the public will quickly lose patience with this action. A one day strike, like we had in December, is an inconvenience. After three weeks of disruption and super crowded trains people are going to be frustrated and annoyed. Especially so as in replacing train managers, who are only really there to open doors, AT are wanting to put more staff on the network. Personally I think claims that TMs are there to customer service and safety to passengers are bogus. It’s particularly hard for them to be able to do anything, or even provide passive security, when they’re in the other train on a 6-car service.

So, if you use the trains you definitely need to think about how you travel. The temporary timetables are here.

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    1. Only some trains are affected because onehunga services aren’t affected and only peak services on southern, western and eastern line trains will be affected.

          1. The article is based on AT’s media release. For reasons I don’t understand, RMT haven’t given their side of the story since January, when they were going out to their members. That’s why I was asking and it seems no one on this page knows the answers.

          2. It’s an overtime ban.

            This action, and it’s effects, show how badly the system is being run that it requires so much overtime

    2. That’s what unions do if they deem necessary to get leverage in a dispute, take “action”, ie disrupt services. I think this is what you are after for an answer? Obviously it’s just a partial “Strike” rather than all so things work to some degree or perhaps some are not in the union (I’m no expert on this specifically or in general). The positive is that we have some services still running, I’m guessing they could of taken the service down 100% and we would have had no trains?

      1. Industrial action can cover a whole range of things, from working to rule, through overtime bans to stopping all work. I’ve still not read anything to tell me whether some union members are stopping all work, or all are working to rule, or banning overtime. If AT have rules which cause chaos when strictly applied, they need to change the rules. If AT rely on regular overtime to run the trains, they need to recruit more drivers. It seems we’re all guessing, but that’s not stopping a lot of comment.

    3. The reason only some trains are affected is the RMTU members have voted to take industrial action in the form of an overtime ban this time, as well as full stoppages, and Transdev don’t have enough train staff employed to run the current timetable (normally relying on staff working overtime), hence the reason the service frequency is being reduced for the duration of the industrial action period.

          1. It’s Transdev which employees the train staff and manages training, not Auckland Transport.

            A lot of Drivers keep leaving, particularly with being enticed with higher pay rates and better conditions in Australia than Transdev offer in Auckland.

          2. Sorry, it’s ridiculous that *Transdev* haven’t got enough drivers yet. There is a really easy solution Transdev could use to retain drivers who wish to leave for better pay and conditions.

          3. Yes, it never ceases to amaze me how some businesses run staff conditions to bare minimum only to spend more on continuous recruitment & training (plus usually have less experienced staff as a whole…nothing beats experience).

          4. So if AT were direct employers rather than having contracted out the services to Transdev, then AT could directly improve conditions and increase wages. Contracting out services is not the same thing as keeping it in public control.

          5. and if AT were just a council department, then elected councillors would be directly accountable – as things used to be in the days of the transport departments pre 1991.

          6. “So if AT were direct employers rather than having contracted out the services to Transdev, then AT could directly improve conditions and increase wages. ”

            +1, alternatively, AT could actually state in the contract that enough staff are required to run xx many services and failure to do so results in millions of dollars in penalties.

        1. “Next question is why don’t they have enough staff without overtime?”

          I suspect one reason is that it’s cheaper to pay overtime than have redundant staff sitting around half the day. When I worked at a large public agency in the States, our union rules stipulated that operators were required to have solid 8-hr shifts, i.e. no split shifts, and we couldn’t hire part-time drivers, but you can’t really run 8-hr shifts and cover both peaks, so you have to either almost double your staff or just pay overtime to have 10-hr shifts covering the full peaks.

          Some could argue that you just run better service all day, but then you have increased costs with fuel (or electricity in this case), maintenance and vehicle depreciation.

          1. I certainly hope they bond/restraint of trade those drivers then so that they can’t just bugger off to Australia as soon as they’re qualified.

        1. perhaps transdev are taking the same approach to wages as the bus companies in Wellington of trying to cut wages. Interesting move given training a driver is not cheap and there are other opportunities in Australia for qualified Drivers. I hope it backfires on them.

    4. If it’s anything like the disputes over similar DCO in the UK it’ll be that the services operating on a strike day will be operated by those members of staff who aren’t part of a union (a small proportion in the UK) and by managers trained up to operate trains (a much larger proportion).

  1. This is ridiculous. The total economic cost of this action ($10s of millions) vs the tiny financial cost of paying for TMs (a few hundred k). AT shouldn’t have backed the union into a corner. Pay for them, Auckland will thank you.

    1. Why would you keep unnecessary roles just to keep the union happy? The TM’s will likely be gone and well forgotten within a year as will this strike action and we will finally have a proper enforcement system on our trains like many other systems do.

  2. Seems like a well-aimed shot to the foot, by one or both of the parties. Or is this an over-reaction on AT’s part to frighten the horses and quell some incipient dispute? Perhaps we should ask the union what it’s all about. But the spectre of people being wrangled from their cars into trains with grumpy unions dictating their terms plays right into the Bolger-era scaremongering of the 1970s.

    1. Well thanks to the commenters here the issue is now clearer – if awful timing, like the Cook Strait ferries on strike from Christmas Eve. AT does enough harm with its summer and weekend track closures, all of which adds up to a service that is great til you have to be somewhere. On a side note, my sole contact with train managers has been to admonish me for carrying aboard my tiny dog. Not such a client-friendly stance.

      1. > Bolger-era scaremongering of the 1970s.

        Jim Bolger was elected to Parliament in 1972 and was a minister in the National Government from 1975 to 1984, but he was Prime Minister in the 1990s.

        I think you meant “Muldoon-era scaremongering of the 1970s.”

  3. pathetic from the union. Could insist that all tms get jobs and free training as officers and a pay rise for the inconvenience, but no, that’s far too productive. No wonder there is such an animosity towards unions in nz.

    1. “Pathetic from the union” how? The union is there to prevent capital exerting undue influence. It has dont its job. Workers of the world, rise up; you have nothing to lose but your chains.

      1. Typical that I get called Thatcher for criticizing the unions for being ineffective.

        I agree that “The union is there to prevent capital exerting undue influence”. I disagree that it has done it’s job!

        The union is trying to protect existing jobs, not existing workers. The best way to protect workers would be to accept that their position is redundant and ensure that the workers get new jobs at no cost to themselves, with equal or better pay and conditions.

        1. SB – Yes 100% – it appears (from the outside of course) that the union is trying to protect the status quo.
          The timing of this couldn’t be worse and should have had more thought go into it. I’m very concerned that this during the Cenus time, and of course during the busiest time of year for PT.
          I don’t have the option of driving, so am now spending an extra 30-45 mins a day in my commute due to this.
          Transdev and the union are both to blame. Transdev for relying on workers doing overtime to maintain a timetable for so long, and the union for making the strike happen during these 3 weeks.

  4. The entire dragged out issue with Train Managers has been a cluster almost entirely of AT’s making.

    They were originally there for revenue gathering as well as platform/boarding/alighting safety and did an excellent job. Then AT wanted to save money on wages by using an honesty system and ever since the culture of fare evaders along with their antisocial lifestyles has comfortably been established, with vague estimates of their numbers given to suit AT’s agenda.

    To marginalise the TM’s role, to phase them out, they ceased their revenue functions and managed the door opening and closing and safe running of the train from a carriage perspective. Recall when train doors opened instantly and closed in sub 30 seconds, pre EMU, pre get rid of humans thinking? (And they now close the doors only by the way)

    Then the EMU’s came along with the ability for the driver to take over the role of door operation and surveillance and platform management to save on wages. For any academic here who thinks driving a train is very simple and something they could do in their sleep were they not pursuing their otherwise vital intellectual careers, think again.

    To add platform watching via less than average quality, dirty camera lenses, on less than fantastic monitors as well as ensuring Aucklanders don’t stuff up boarding and alighting which they seem to do with consummate, almost infantile ease at times, plus simultaneously look forward for signals that can be as unreliable as AT’s management, plus control a train, plus watch out for fools walking in front of you, starts to encroach even further into safety margins. And as any driver will tell you, mistakes are not tolerated and just a few will see you out of a job. And as any driver will tell you, distractions in the cab that AT want, are a recipe for a very big disaster.

    And only yesterday a passenger was wanting to fight others on a train out west. Very high odds he paid no fare. Who will be there when that happens and God knows its not as if AT and the rest of us don’t know that’s a reality!

    The fact is TM’s could have easily been used far better and adapted to a changing environment. They were not, they were increasingly marginalised to this point, purposely, to simply get rid of them.

    Drag out the hoary old 1970’s union shit but really, this could have all so easily been avoided with benefits for all users. AT chose not to!

    1. Obviously it’s impossible to safely operate metro rail services driver only. There definitely aren’t dozens of other systems that do it. /sarc

      As to “Who will be there when that happens “; A transport officer will be. Someone trained to intervene. Someone allowed to intervene. Someone useful.

      1. A transport officer might be there, maybe but then again maybe not.

        And our “metro” railways are just like Japan/ France/ London sarc! They are not some freight line half arse adapted, sort of thing, like Auckland!

          1. Perhaps you should apply to be a Transport Officer seeing as you think they are such a good thing Sailor Boy. Might change your views once you see first hand how ineffective they are.

          2. Perhaps you should apply to be a Train Manager seeing as you think they are such a good thing Grace. Might change your views once you see first hand how ineffective they are.

            I think that the people who collect rubbish are a good thing. I think that aged care workers are a good thing. I think that bus drivers are a good thing.

            The great thing about public funding is that we can choose to employ people to do roles that we consider useful, but we would be unwilling (or in my case for all 3 of those, unable) to perform ourselves.

            Someone being personally unable or unwilling to perform a role doesn’t detract from the value they see in it and is a really odd line of argument.

          3. Yes the new Transport Officers will be much more useful with more powers than the TM’s. This from the article says it all: “Currently, Train Managers work alone and, when in a six-car train, cannot provide customer assistance in both 3-car units at the same time. They are not encouraged to intervene in incidents and cannot leave a train service to manage antisocial behaviour off board.”

          4. further, they are there to be helpful in giving directions & friendly assistance ete, more than a TM as they are busy with doing the door operations.

    2. Had a passenger playing loud music a couple of weeks ago. Disturbing all the passengers. What did the TM do? Went down the other end of the train. Bring on Transport Officers. (Retrain guys and girls. They’re jobs there). Let modern technology open and close the doors. By the way, thanks for the month’s disruption, at least.

      1. Transport Officers are NOT Police officers. They have no real powers to do anything. They can demand your details but should you refuse, they are utterly powerless.

        Its a half arsed bit of legislation almost to make AT think they got something to overcome the lack of law enforcement on the trains, when really they didn’t!

        Do not delude yourself they are anything else!

  5. Every metro I’ve travelled on in other countries don’t have TMs. Automatic opening and closing of doors isn’t that complicated. I still don’t understand why they are there in the first place.

    1. At the moment TMs serve no useful purpose, it’s like having lift operators in elevators. Redeploy them to do something useful.

      1. sure, handwinding motorpoints when the system fails can be done by anyone. Likewise performing a brake test when an unplanned coupling or uncoupling is required.

        1. On a high frequency network paying someone to be onboard the train to manually move points when they fail is the definition of insanity.

          Surely a better solution would be to install points that don’t fail or if that is too much employ someone at each of the five junctions to deal with them when they fail, rather than a TM on each train.

    2. Because they used to be there to sell paper tickets for cash onboard… and have kept a stranglehold on those jobs even though the need for a clippie has long since gone.

      Lift operators campaigned on the grounds of safety and customer service too…

  6. Re the comment “Personally I think claims that TMs are there to customer service and safety to passengers are bogus. It’s particularly hard for them to be able to do anything, or even provide passive security, when they’re in the other train on a 6-car service”.

    It was Auckland Transport and Transdev (previously Veolia) that created this situation with their progressive and obviously deliberate tactic of firstly reducing the number of staff on trains over the years (there often used to be one staff member per carriage when there were ‘clippies’ on the trains) and then instructing Train Managers not to check tickets or try to remove fare evaders and not to get involved in trying to remove problem people or get into confrontational situations. This is because both organisations are only interested in ‘On Time Performance’ and keeping the trains moving and avoiding any delays – at the expense of the safety and welfare of passengers and fare evasion. Transdev get paid bonuses for meeting On Time Performance targets set by Auckland Transport, so that is what their primary focus is.

    Anyone who has used the train service in Auckland prior to the HOP card ticketing system being introduced in 2013 will recall how the trains certainly felt a lot safer with having a much greater staff presence with Train Managers (Guards), Passenger Operators (Ticket Assistants) and Maori Wardens onboard, who combined in strength in numbers, were very effective at keeping the trains safe with removing problem people and stopping fare evasion with quickly removing anyone who got on a train and didn’t pay for a ticket.

    When Auckland Transport brought in the HOP card ticketing system, they didn’t do it properly and did it on the cheap by not gating all the main stations which needed to occur from the outset and did not have a proper enforcement system with only having a small team of Ticket Inspectors with no real powers to actually do anything about anyone they caught and were further instructed not to delay trains for dealing with fare evaders they caught.

    The message soon quickly spread in the community that you could now easily ride the trains without paying and this has resulted in a noticeable increase in the number of ‘problem people’ riding trains that under the old system of having fully staffed trains, would not otherwise be on the trains. These problem people then quickly realise that no one cares if they don’t pay and then start to vandalise the trains, with many of the new EMUs all scratched into with tagging very quickly after being launched. And who pays for this damage to be repaired and for increased subsidies for the lost fare revenue – ratepayers and taxpayers along with the honest people who do pay their fares with fare increases such as what Auckland Transport have just done.

    With the removal of Passenger Operators off the double unit trains, this resulted in a worse situation for passenger safety with problem people knowing they could not only vandalise trains where there was no staff watching them between stations, but also smoke, drink alcohol, perform obscenities, harass female passengers, assault and rob other passengers in that unit, which has steadily increased in recent years but seldom ever used to occur prior to the HOP ticketing system being introduced, even with all the Train Managers and Passenger Operators carrying the large amounts of money that they used to.

    In short Auckland Transport have created the current problems with their own actions and poor implementation of the HOP ticketing system. The HOP card integrated ticketing system itself is fine and is obviously a better system than the old manual cash handling system with staff carrying out cash transactions -but- the Train Managers should have retained the duty to check that all passengers had a ticket or HOP card on all trains rather than being given a ‘hands off’ instruction to ticketing. If all trains had a Train Manager (with a Ticket Inspector on services with double units) checking all passengers for tickets and HOP cards, there would be far less fare evasion, vandalism and onboard crime, and passengers and staff alike would feel (and would be) a lot safer than what they do now.

    Auckland Transport’s new Transport Officers are in reality no more effective than the Ticket Inspectors they replace, in that despite having the legal right to -ask- the person they have caught fare evading for their name and address, they can only rely on that person being honest and giving their real name and address and voluntarily taking the fine if issued. In reality we all know how likely that is to work in practice. And guess how many fines the Transport Officers have issued so far – none.

    The Transport Officers can not hold trains to remove problem people and the situation is no different to that with Ticket Inspectors and Train Managers. The only difference is that the Transport Officers get paid less than the Ticket Inspectors and Train Managers they are intended to replace, do not get the same conditions and are not members of the rail union – this is the real reason behind Auckland Transport and Transdev wanting to replace all the Train Managers, Ticket Inspectors and Maori Wardens with random pairs of Transport Officers – cost cutting and removing the influence of the RMTU from the workforce. The Transport Officers do not even look like they have any power with their uniform which does not look appropriate or authoritative and doesn’t stand out or have any deterrent factor. They should have uniforms similar to the Police which would be more appropriate and would stand out and have a deterrent factor just by presence. Likewise the same for the train staff and their uniforms.

    The critical comment about Train Managers providing passive security is somewhat bemusing – how do you have passive security if there is no staff at all present inside a train?! The Driver can not and will not be able to do anything locked away in a terrorist proof drivers cab at the front of the train concentrating on the very distracting ETCS and what is going on out the front of the train. Train Drivers are not allowed to leave the cab to go back to attend to passenger issues. So if you are getting beaten up, robbed or raped – what would you rather have – a Train Manager (and a Maori Warden) who could try and help and provide assistance, or just a Driver by themselves isolated up the front of the train who isn’t going to be able to do anything until they reach the next station, by which time the offenders will probably take off.

    This whole situation has been the result of poor implementation by Auckland Transport (being primarily driven by Mark Lambert), who try to do things on the cheap with bringing in an integrated ticketing system without the necessary supporting infrastructure and then find that there is an issue with fare evasion and safety. The latest demonstration of incompetence to solve this is to remove all the Train Managers so that there are trains operating with -no- onboard staff and bring in a system of having the Drivers closing the doors which will be slower and less safe than having a trained pair of human eyes in the form of the Train Manager closing the doors, which has been proven to be the fastest and safest system on the Auckland rail system. The existing problems will remain and will get worse, as will the dwell times.

    All the current issues could be easily sorted with Auckland Transport admitting they have got it wrong and for them to instead have the Train Managers retained on the trains, get them carrying out a basic ticket check that all passengers have a ticket or a HOP card (which the Train Managers have previously asked to be able to do and were told ‘no’ by Auckland Transport) and they can be supported by the Transport Officers working in pairs on the ‘problem trains’ which Mark Lambert talks of, and give the Transport Officers and train staff uniforms which look like they have some authority and enforcement power to help deter problem people.

    Until this occurs, I fully support the RMTU and rail staff action, as will most of the public who want to be safe. Auckland Transport and Transdev are putting the safety of the public at risk with what they are proposing, not to mention wasting ratepayers and taxpayers money with all the fare evasion and increased vandalism to trains and stations they are allowing to occur with a poorly managed and run system. Misinformed keyboard critics who do not know what they are talking about need to get the facts from the people who know the situation and know what they are talking about, and provide balanced and informed information rather than blindly taking the side of Auckland Transport.

    1. You probably raise some good points but (not sure how you some of this) but I did some quick maths and 200 transport officers spread over the current fleet of 57 3 car set trains running 18hrs of service per day (would be less than this, more like 17 & given rail maintenance total days off etc) x 7 days = 7,182 service hours needed per week. 200 Officers would give 200 x 40 hrs week = 8,000 supply hours per week. So very roughly gives you one transit officer per THREE car set all the time. Compare that too one TM per 6 car set sometimes & very occasional ticket checking staff. I’m sure they could still sometimes have security staff as well at stations doing more of a protecting asset role also as they currently do? They plan to have almost 230 officers I just noticed but I guess a small number will be used on buses & ferries.

      1. Is there a difference that the numbers of TO’s are related to the number of cars which would have to increase as our fleet increases, whereas the number of TM’s is set for the network and would only increase as management sees fit? Just wondering…

          1. Yes they could increase them as they see fit, wondering if 1 per 3 car set all the time would work in general. Could swap between this & work right together as pairs as needed.

      2. The Transport Officers will work in pairs as a minimum which means half as much coverage on trains as what you have calculated. On top of this not all 230 will be on duty at the same time, some will be off on annual leave and sick. And they going to be used on buses and ferries as well, which means a lot of trains are going to running with just the Driver only.

        It should also be noted that the current Ticket Inspectors virtually never get assigned to work on the very last services at night or very first services in the mornings, and are not allowed to do overtime – will this be the same for the Transport Officers?

          1. I had a free busride in the wee hours of yesterday morning, as the tag-on machine wasn’t working. Beautiful ride on the top floor, with some happy and mellow fellow passengers. I suppose that bus wasn’t collecting fares all evening/morning – maybe the TO’s will indeed be employed on buses for such situations?

        1. Only just seen this reply. No it’s not half as much as I have calculated, I’ll do a more accurate calculation later when I have time. I actually did do a better one after I commented above realising about holiday pay etc but with 230 offices, works out about 1.3 officers per 3 car set. So if 6 car sets were used all the time would be 2.6 officers on a run, but obviously they are 3 car sets often. I’m guessing what they use on buses/ferries will be very rare and small amount overall.

    2. “removing the influence of the RMTU from the workforce”

      This is a significant detail that had slipped me by. Thanks for filling us in, Grace.

    3. I was a regular passenger on trains prior to 2012 and completely disagree that it was hard to avoid paying for your ride even if you wanted to pay. Every 10 trip ticket I had got me at least 11 rides as the inspector often wouldn’t get to me before Ellerslie. Also on the couple of times I forgot to bring money for my ticket they just said that’s alright as long as you pay next time.

      The old system was antiquated wouldn’t have been seen in a suburban train in Europe since the 1960s.

    4. Grace you forgot to mention what happens if there is a medical emergency. If I have a heart attack on the train who comes to my assistance?
      Train Manager – yes
      Driver – no way, he can’t leave the cab.

      I’ve also learnt in the past two-three days that throughout the system the track is dropping due to a combination of heavy freight trains and the incredibly wet weather. This means that the wheelchair ramps are not level with the platforms and a number of time the Train Manager has had to assist in moving stuck wheelchairs. Driver’s can’t do that.

      What I really want to see is the provision of one staff member per set, providing both a presence and a customer service role, especially for elderly passengers.

      Later I will post my email to the Seniors and Disability Ministers

      1. In Melbourne I believe the drivers leave the DOO cab to assist wheel chair passengers by deploying a manual ramp. Why can’t they leave cab in Auckland for such special cases or in the event of an emergency?

    5. There was an item on 3news/newshub tonight Sunday with somebody from a commuter organisation saying the same thing that is wanting Tm’s on all Trains cause they are worried about these new train police not being there when needed . That means 3car 1 Tm and 6 car 2 Tm’s . So AT listen to the customers not your operators

  7. Regardless of the merits of the union case, industrial action in the busiest month of the public transport year is a big F U to the public, and IMHO will only reduce public support for the union case.

    1. Auckland Transport and Transdev have created this situation by having negotiations drag on this long with deliberately stalling organising meetings with the union for as long as possible, i.e. weeks apart. Negotiations have been on-going since May last year.

      The quick fix solution would be for Auckland Transport to drop their plans for Driver door operation and Driver only operation. Transdev only got their current contract renewed by Auckland Transport on the agreement that they would bring in DDO / DOO.

      1. “The quick fix solution would be for Auckland Transport to drop their plans for Driver door operation and Driver only operation.”

        That’s not a solution! AT want to make an improvement to the rail service, difficult negotiations aren’t ‘solved’ by just giving up!

        1. Removing Train Managers off trains is not an improvement, that is cost-cutting.

          An improvement would be to better utilise the Train Managers, as per my original post.

          1. Replacing train managers with transport officers is a massive improvement. At least give them so legal powers and, as mentioned in the article, kick people off of the train without holding the entire train up.

          2. I would guess there must be way less TM’s than the transit officers they are replacing them with so can’t imagine it’s a cost cutting exercise even if their salaries would be less I’m guessing.

          3. Grace, can you explain why having TMs check tickets would be useful. I don’t think it would achieve much, fare evaders would just move around the carriages to avoid them. Having teams of TOs as happens in many other countries meaning it is harder for evaders to get away makes more sense to me.

          4. Jezza… fare evaders don’t really do that at the moment and those that try it get caught. Shockingly humans come with built in facial recognition.

            Sailor Boy… no, it isn’t. Replacing Train Managers on every train with Transport Offices and also having the roving model would be a massive improvement. It’s not even clear if the scheme is any kind of improvement, we’re trading off better safety for worse customer service… on a rail network which already has God awful customer service, but which is pretty safe.

            What this blog, most of its comments section and the unions themselves don’t seem to understand is that train managers are managers… they manage anti-social behaviour and passenger confusion. And maybe, yeah, they don’t know enough about the wider network… but that’s not a criticism of the concept, it’s a criticism of the training (potentially even just individual incompetence).

            When someone suddenly collapses between Pukekohe and Papakura, you want to have someone knowing what should happen. Even with shorter trips, you want this. When a train is told to turn around at a station, you want to know if you can actually travel back a station with it or if the train is legging it to the depot. You’ve accidentally caught the wrong line, what is your best option? How integrated are the busses with the trains? Waking up sleeping passengers. Knowing which stations might have delays due to prams/bikes/wheelchairs/etc. That’s what customer facing staff provide. Notice how these aren’t safety matters.

            And, yes, it’s obvious that this really implies a manager per set of three and it doesn’t say that the managers shouldn’t also be transport officers. That’s why replacing Managers with Officers and bringing in a roving team would be best. That should be obvious. By the sounds of it, there will be more TO’s than TM’s so I really have to wonder /why/ AT isn’t doing this. We should /all/ be wondering.

            Cue comparisons to a mature transport system in 3…2…1…

          5. Of course fare evaders don’t try and get away at the moment as there are no consequences. It is naive to think they won’t once fines are in place. Not sure of the relevance of recognising their face if the TM can’t catch up with them.

            TMs don’t manage much at all, they actively avoid anti-social behaviour and their announcements generally only add to passenger confusion.

            ‘That should be obvious. By the sounds of it, there will be more TO’s than TM’s so I really have to wonder /why/ AT isn’t doing this. We should /all/ be wondering.’

            That’s simple, by not having TMs we can have more TOs, who will be doing full time job rather than doing nothing most of the time and occasionally doing something useful.

          6. I’m beginning to wonder if you even catch trains in Auckland, Jezza.

            Do you honestly not notice the number of people who get kicked off trains for not having fares? Do you not see the ticket inspectors recognising people? These are daily and mundane occurrences. The truth is that if you stick a person in a uniform, they get listened to… even by people who are disregarding rules.

            Nor do the train managers actively avoid anti-social behaviour. They pull up people listening to music. They get feet off seats. They ask people to move down the train… and even encourage bicycle users to take their bikes where they belong, i.e. the middle carriage. And, sure, not all of them are stringent about this.. but not all of them walk up and down the train as much as others.

            >That’s simple, by not having TMs we can have more TOs, who will be doing full time job rather than doing nothing most of the time and occasionally doing something useful.

            I’m not sure what you think you read, but that’s not it.

            1) Put one transport officer on every single set of three.
            2) Have a bunch of transport officers wandering around the network.
            3) Do this without having any Train Managers,
            4) Finally, make sure the Transport Officers know stuff about the network and what to do in a variety of situations.

            You seem to believe I am suggesting we keep the train managers around. I am not. I am saying that it’s quite dumb to believe the idea of what the TM’s DO is less needed than “more security”, which is the /sole/ purpose of the TOs as currently conceived. The staff on trains should be doing customer service stuff. They should also be able to do TO stuff.

          7. I’m on the trains daily, the most common occurrence I see with the current inspectors is people without tickets ignoring the inspectors and just staying on the train.

            I personally think a customer service rep on each train is a giant waste of my fares and rates. The vast majority of urban trains I have used around the world don’t have customer service reps on them, it’s just not the best use of finite amounts of money.

          8. I don’t know about Jezza but I already do. There are quite a lot of tourists on my line and when they ask the TM for advice about how to get somewhere or which bus to connect to or where the museum is, etc, they get either wrong information or none at all. The most common response is to go ask someone else at the station when you get off. I have to step in to give them simple advice on how to get around by public transport.

          9. I pretty much do what the TMs do already in that I sit down go for a ride and get off at the end, I just pay for it rather than get paid.

            I have occasionally helped blind passengers on and off, helped tourists find the right place to be and gave a guy his wallet that he dropped this morning.

            I struggle to see why this customer service role is so vital in Auckland when it doesn’t exist on any of the suburban systems in Australia and many other cities in the world, yet they function just fine.

        2. I don’t doubt AT has made a hash of things, but that’s no excuse to keep people on to do an obsolete job. Besides, driver-controlled doors should speed up the woeful dwell-times.

          1. The dwell times with the EMUs are not due to the Train Manager operating them, it is due to the slow response time of the computer software on the EMUs. Note there wasn’t the dwell time delays such as there is now, back when the SA trains and DMUs were operating.

            The delay causing features of the EMUs were all features installed at the insistence of Auckland Transport when the EMUs were designed. Auckland Transport wanted plug doors, they wanted buttons on the doors which passengers could open individually as needed rather than having Drivers opening all the doors (to reduce wear and tear on the doors and help maintain the air conditioning better inside the carriages).

            They were warned by the RMTU at the time that this system would be slower and the door system of having passengers having to press a button to open doors individually and Drivers closing the doors (with bell codes from the Guard) had been used previously before on the DMUs when they first introduced to the Auckland rail system and was subsequently changed to the system used on the SAs and the ADL units today, which was proven to be the most reliable, safest and fastest system. Auckland Transport knew better did not listen (just like the issue now with wanting to have Driver only operated trains and to replace Train Managers with random pairs of Transport Officers) and here we are today with all these problems they have created, just like those they created earlier with the HOP ticketing system.

            Auckland Transport and Transdev need to listen to the RMTU which has staff who know the Auckland rail system and what works and what doesn’t – and could save a considerable amount of ratepayers money in the process.

          2. Grace, while I agree the TMs are not the cause of the prolonged dwell times, I think you are incorrect in blaming the door buttons and the plug doors. Melbourne has door buttons on all its trains and nearly half it’s fleet has plug doors, yet they maintain 20 sec dwell times.

  8. According to AT, their Transport Officers have warranted powers for fare enforcement. What does that mean exactly and is it any different from the powers of a ticket inspector?

    1. It means they can demand you name and details like the police can. And be able to act like bouncers in a bar and forcibly remove you from a train. If you fail to provide them details then the police can arrest you.
      Train Managers on the other hand sit there with one finger up their arse and the other closing doors.

      1. AKLDUD – The Transport Officers can only ask for people to give them their name and address. It is not compulsory to carry ID in this country and the Transport Officers have no powers of arrest like a Police Officer. The Transport Officers also cannot put themselves in a position of harm with manhandling problem people as you suggest, and they also cannot delay trains to remove or deal with problem people. Even with them phoning up the Police, the Police are so short in numbers, they often do not attend for a matter like a fare evader, and trains will not be held to wait for the Police to arrive if someone refuses to get off a train or do as they are asked.

        So as you can see, there is little difference between a Transport Officer and a Ticket Inspector other than that a Transport Officer has the legal right to ask for people for their name and details and can issue them a fine. They will also work on buses and ferries, rather than just trains, but will get paid less and be on inferior conditions to Ticket Inspectors and Train Managers, and will not be on every train like a Train Manager currently is.

        The Train Managers (and previously Guards before them), were much more effective when they had more support from their employer at the time, with being able to deal with problem people with firstly being able to check tickets (which deterred problem people who don’t pay from coming on the train in the first place) and could use their discretion on how best to deal with a situation and were not afraid to get involved and confront people, and could hold trains for short periods while they attempted to remove problem people or fare evaders, which gave them more apparent authority and respect, compared to now. This system worked very well for many years and the trains were far safer then for it.

        What you mention with -some- Train Managers not intervening and doing anything as you so eloquently describe, is because they have been told not to get involved or check tickets or put themselves in a position of harm by Transdev, who many are more afraid of with getting disciplined for not following their instructions, rather than doing what everyone naturally would expect them to do and to be more active and involved with passenger issues.

        1. There are far more services on the network now, with trains having to meet tight slots at Britomart and Newmarket, the last thing we need is TMs holding trains for short periods while they remove people. This is better done by someone not tied to the train.

          We’re in the 21st century now and will be running even more services once the CRL opens.

          1. TMs are specifically forbidden, under threat of instant dismissal, from getting involved in threatening situations.

            Apparently it is all about AT/Transdev liability if somebody gets hurt.

          2. So the TM’s mere presence at a potential threating situation is not acceptable to Transdev either? Since that is in effect being passively involved, does this mean the TM has to move away and allow the threatening situation to possibly develop into violence or serious injury. Does someone have to be seriously injured or killed before it becomes acceptable to have the train delayed? or not? Is it the resonsibility of other passengers to step in or call the police?

  9. Thanks Harriet for bringing up the issue about data at the time of the census. With the need for data to help support a change in culture and mindset around PT, this is really important. Decision-makers committed to improving our PT and with a broad understanding of the city’s social dynamics would negotiate pretty damned hard to prevent stuffing up this opportunity for good data.

    1. Nice call Heidi, this is a colossal own goal from AT. Those who advocate for a fair share of funding for active modes fought to get questions into the census which more accurately capture various modes of transport. And now this strike means that train patronage will almost certainly be depressed on census day.

      What a shambles. Does AT not realise that those opposed to fair funding for active modes will use the justification “aaah but train patronage was only such and such on census day” for rhe next five years. (Arguably another) five years of misleading data driving decisions, handicapping funding allocation and pushing to retain the status quo… and there’s basically no way to argue against it.

      What a total failure. Heads should roll for this.

      1. Are you suggesting that AT should have kept people on in a redundant position just to ensure they don’t go on strike for accurate census data?

        If the union has cynically decided to go on strike now to impact census data then they are clearly just thinking of their own political ambitions, not the many people who will be employed in the future as a result of PT growth.

        1. We can only surmise if the union was that cynical. AT certainly should be fairly focused on the census date and be proposing something that at least delays action until after then. Indeed central government is a major player in PT planning and funding here too and they are paying for good data because of the savings such data can make to transport investment. Where are they in all this?

          The cynic in me imagines that none of the players have decided that the census data is important enough. But if I’m wrong, whichever party acted to try to prevent the census data being affected would do well to make public both their overtures and any callous response from the other side.

          1. Jezza, I’m not interested in the mechanics of it, I’m interested in the result. The census date has been set for ages, and the result is that the strike will affect PT use on that day, which will affect decisions made for the next five years.

            The point of the census is to get highly accurate and broad data. As Heidi mentioned, this (expensive exercise) is paid for by central government, and at the very least doubt has been cast on how representative that snapshot will be. It is not good enough.

          2. Heidi – I agree if the union action can be delayed until after the census without AT having to agree to keep TMs for good then they should do that.

            I assume if the union are not cynical and were asked to move the industrial action until after the census to help with future PT planning then they would be more than happy to do that.

          3. The RMTU have got a long history of carefully scheduling their industrial action to maximize customer pain. For them it wont be about the census, but it will be all about hitting March madness when the impacts will be greatest and AT will be least able to make up the train shortfall with the buses already stretched. It would be delusional to think that anything short of total capitulation would have resulted in this being deferred until after the Census.

          4. The RMTU’s industrial action timing has nothing to do with the census or March madness, it has come about now due to the very long slow drawn out time period between meetings with negotiation talks since May last year, which has been a deliberate stalling tactic by Transdev. It doesn’t need to take weeks between meetings. This is why the industrial action period has ended up occurring now.

            Also, Transdev and Auckland Transport didn’t need to reduce the timetable such as they chose to, as all train services could have still been run as normal with all staff working their normal shifts as per usual with only those shifts not able to be covered on any given day needing to have the trains on them cancelled.

            The reduced timetable during this period was suddenly introduced to the surprise of the RMTU, as mentioned by the RMTU spokesperson in this item on Newshub yesterday:


            Transdev and Auckland Transport appear to have taken this unnecessary action which has resulted in a greater amount of disruption and inconvenience, to make it look like the result of and fault of the RMTU overtime ban, when most train services could still have otherwise have run. The fact that Transdev and Auckland Transport have agreed to a timetable which doesn’t have enough staff to run it is not the fault of the RMTU or rail staff.

            The travelling public are being unnecessarily inconvenienced while there are train crews now ironically sitting around in Britomart and rail depots all over the city due to all normal shifts being suspended.

  10. The most throwback aspect of this action is a total lack of any kind of explanation in terms the travelling public can understand, let alone support. In the 70s the unions pulled off the remarkable feat of making organisations formed to protect the vulnerable look like selfish bullies. I would have thought some painful lessons would have been learned, but it appears not.

  11. Unions have a very important role to play in protecting real workers who have poor pay conditions, but when a role is no longer relevant and is being replaced with train managers with transport officers which is a massive improvement all this is going to do is to give unions a really bad name. (and of course a major disruption to public transport).
    This move is doing real harm to real works who need the help of unions.
    The train managers is a historical role that plays not part in the 21st century, and like hat makers of the 1920’s – jobs change and trying to hold onto the past is not doing anyone any good.
    Move on, and don’t destroy the reputation of unions and Auckland public transport at the same time, and don’t use Health and Safety which is a real concern as your limp excuse.

    1. Problem is, the “role to play in protecting real workers who have poor pay conditions” is a slippery and subjective concept. Rumour has it that only 15% of teachers at St Cuthbert’s were in the union when the recent principal started in her job, but that 85% were members by the time she resigned. Apologies if that is incorrect (and I’d love to hear the real figures). For those teachers, recent personal experience may soften them to the plight of Transdev’s employees more than any objective analysis of the situation.

      Had Transdev acted to attract, train and retain train drivers, the organisation would sit in my understanding as an employer making network- and employee-friendly decisions. Instead, the arguments posed by Waspman and Grace above have more traction with me.

      So as our country is lacking a balanced media, you’re probably quite right. Most people’s reactions will be based on nothing more than their own personal experience; for many that will be transport inconvenience over the next few weeks.

  12. Interesting to note in this article which has come out on the Herald website today, that the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) have conducted a survey of train passengers and the majority want the Train Managers retained:

    It also mentions the PTUA are planning a public meeting next week sometime and inviting a number of senior managers from Auckland Transport and politicians to discuss this issue in public with the public. Should be an interesting meeting.

  13. Email to Tracey Martin and Carmel Sepuloni, Ministers for the elderly and disabled

    “Ladies I would be grateful if you were able to exercise the powers of your Ministries in the current dispute at Auckland Transport, from the point of view the elderly and the disabled.

    As you will probably know from the media Auckland Transport is trying to remove Train Managers (used to be Guards) under the guise of saving money.

    This affects people covered by your portfolios in the following ways:

    For the elderly there is the ever-present possibility of a medical event. I am told by train crew that the incidence of medical emergencies affecting the running of trains is increasing at a higher than expected rate due to more elderly people using the trains. These people, and I am one at 68 years of age, may also need assistance onto the train, or at least have the train wait a little longer whilst the passengers board or alight. The driver cannot attend to a medical event or provide assistance as he/she must remain in the cab.

    For the disabled, in addition to the above, is the problem of getting on and off the trains with the wheelchair ramps no longer level with the platforms. This has happened because the track at many stations has slumped. Once again train crew have told me of this problem and how they helped by manoeuvring the chair for the passenger. Once again, the driver cannot assist.

    One other thing that Auckland Transport has done or are doing, and I stress that I have knowledge only of the route from Manurewa to Britomart, is gate the stations at Manurewa (completed) and Papatoetoe (in progress). To do so they have gated the north end of the platforms at Manurewa and closed access at the other end. In Manurewa that means who left or accessed the platforms at the Southern end must now walk the full length of the platforms if they wish to go south of the station. For travellers from north of Manurewa that means negotiating the Southmall carpark. The platforms at Manurewa are short in that they just fit a 6-car train. At Papatoetoe the gates are at the south end and passengers must walk up a ramp and down the other side to get out of the station. There are no lifts. The north end access to the station is to be locked off. For passengers who live north or east of the platform must now exit the station up and over the ramp and walk the full length of long platforms.

    Ladies I believe that Auckland Transport is
    • Failing to adhere to disabled access legislation or
    • Paying lip service to that legislation or
    • Deliberately trying to dissuade the elderly and infirm from using the trains.

    In view of that I would like your officials to run an official inquiry into these points. I would like to see, although I realise that it would be very contentious, Government funding withdrawn until Auckland Transport revises its attitude to the disabled and to retaining on board staff on the trains. The other thing that should be considered is to amend the Super City legislation to bring Auckland Transport under the full control of the Mayor and Council of Auckland City.

    1. People can have a heart attack anywhere, we don’t station trained people on the street in case this happens and we certainly don’t station people along the much busier motorway just in case a driver or passenger has a heart attack.

      If the elderly think this service is so important then they can pay for their train rides to help contribute to the cost of keeping the TMs on.

      1. “the cost of keeping TMs on” reduces Transdev’s profit. And why do we need a multi-national to staff the trains anyway – but for God’s sake don’t give the job to AT, they can’t seem to do anything properly.

      2. Maybe you are not aware but there are a growing number of defibrillators being located in all sorts of public locations. This is a recognition that heart attacks can happen anywhere and victims have a much better outcome where these devices and use instructions are available.
        TMs trained in their use and making one available on every train would be reassuring for many passengers.
        Keep the TMs. Driver only operation is just penny pinching and corporate greed for profits.

        1. Yes, I am aware of their presence, they designed to be easy enough that anyone can use them. I agree having them on the trains is a good idea but there is no need to have a TM onboard to operate them.

          Given the cost of running a PT system falls on rate payers and passengers I think it is quite reasonable to reduce costs by removing a role which most of the time involves being paid to sit and ride a train.

        2. So are there any docs on what the cost savings would be by not having TMs? Would their absence make any significant dent in the overall costs of operating the emus?
          I think there is something reassuring having a uniformed TM on every train, a visible AT employee, quite separate from the door opening/closing, dealing with enquiries, assisting with problems, health emergencies, deterring vandalism etc..
          Western line this morning 10am there were many passengers telling the TM they wanted TMs to stay.

          1. They wear AT clothes with the AT logo on shirts, trousers, ties etc hence giving the impression they are part of AT even though they are really Transdev employees.

          2. Labour costs are significant chunk of any PT system so I imagine it would make a significant dent.

            TMs opening doors from the carriage is not a long term option with the frequencies proposed for the CRL, the second door closing sequence will need to be removed by then anyway.

            There are only two options for keeping TMs, one is to do what they do in Brisbane and Sydney where they open to doors from an empty cab. This means any argument around them being useful for helping passengers, deterring vandalism is out the window.

            Alternatively they can stay in the carriage and leave the doors to the drivers, but then we are paying people to be an occasional assistant in a carriage.

          3. I don’t have the numbers but can take a wild guess at it…
            say there are roughly 140 TMs @ $65k each pa (could be even more than $65k).
            That’s $9.1 million each year in wages.

            As we would be replacing them with Transport Officers (say $50k each per annum).
            They were talking about getting 200 of them (although they would also be working on buses, ferries and stations) that would come to $10m each year but do a whole lot more (and taking into account the buses and ferries probably brings the cost below that of having TMs).

          4. Thats what I thought, little or negligible extra cost or savings in keeping the TMs. Can’t understand why AT didn’t go for proper warranted transport police in real NZ police uniforms or at least contract to police to provide some police presence on the problem train services.

          5. Good point Jezza. Also didn’t factor in the extra revenue made from them doing a better job of checking tickets or the reduced maintenance costs from reduced damage (graffiti etc)due to their being less free-loaders and less chance for them to do it with TO’s actually actively working to prevent damage etc.

    Rail & Maritime Transport Union

    26 February 2018

    Auckland rail workers refuse overtime due to safety concerns

    Auckland rail workers have overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action as their employer insists on cutting staff on commuter trains.

    Beginning tomorrow, rail workers who are members of the RMTU will take a ban on overtime.

    “Transdev and Auckland Transport aren’t budging on driver-only operation, which will severely compromise passenger safety,” says John Kerr, Rail and Maritime Transport Union organiser.

    “This plan will make locomotive engineers – the people driving the trains –responsible for passenger assistance and security. This isn’t safe, and rail workers won’t put their passengers at risk like this.”

    The workers have been in collective bargaining with French-owned multinational Transdev, since May. Auckland Transport is involved in the negotiations, but is also pushing the driver-only model.

    However, preliminary results from a survey by the Public Transport Users Association have revealed nearly all passengers support keeping safety critical staff on trains.

    “Train managers are the first responders in medical emergencies; they ensure all passengers, including those with disabilities, can safely board and disembark; they’re a deterrent to anti-social behaviour. With train managers on every train, the public can feel safe knowing a skilled, uniformed member of staff is never far away,” says John Kerr.
    “An overtime ban will affect services, so we hope management will start listening.

    “We issued notice of the ban on Saturday afternoon and AT immediately
    announced a reduced train timetable. Our members don’t want to inconvenience the public, and we know they support us in not compromising their safety, so we’re calling on AT and Transdev to resolve this dispute.”

    “We had a positive meeting with both AT and Transdev on Friday and have another scheduled for next Wednesday. If we make progress we can call off the overtime ban, if not our members are also willing to take full-day strikes.”

    “We call on Auckland Council and central government to step in and tell Transdev to keep our passenger trains safe.”


    For more information contact:

    John Kerr
    Rail and Maritime Transport Union
    Mobile: 027 246 4941

      1. Sorry, that was the most recent media release on the RMTU website so I assumed it was the same content. Seems that as well as not foreseeing the impact on the census they may need some help with comms.

    1. Thanks John. Good to get the media releases for both sides.

      Do you know who the PTUA commissioned to their survey for them? As a Public Transport User I have never been surveyed by them.

      Also do you know why there was such short notice of this strike? I would have thought it would be in the RTMUs interest for the train users to have a reasonable amount of notice so we could plan accordingly.

      1. I would also like to know why they are targetting the busiest period of the year. But then we already know that, I guess.

        Maximum potential disruption. Charming.

    2. I have some issues with this statement. I’m interested that this is from someone with a thick British accent and I say that because he has no qualms pointing out Transdev are a French company. Train managers are not a deterrent to anti-social behaviour. This has been well discussed from both sides of the argument in this posting blog alone where they are explicitly told not to get involved in anti-social behaviour. Skilled? He states an overtime ban will affect services but he doesn’t want to inconvenience the public? None of the argument makes sense. Our passengers will be safer with Transport Officers.

  15. Why can’t train managers be given the same “powers” as transport officers? Surely there is not much training involved (pun not intended).

    I think the union will get far more sympathy than the whingers expect. People will see AT/Transdev shafting the managers to pinch pennies when the whole story comes out. It seems likely that AT are the ones pushing for the changes, given the budget report released in January.

  16. Well that was an interesting commute to work. Took way longer because trains are too full to get on and it isn’t even peak yet. I think I’ll go back to driving into the city.

    Totally support the union action though. TD/AT is abusing the workers and knows they can get away with it. Good on them.

  17. Remember, who ever is on the back of the train, TM or TO, both are taught to not engage with anti social behaviour so as to provide for there own safety and don’t delay the train(company instructions). The POWERS given to the TO are: 1) to demand name & address of a person 2) demand the person to leave the train and 3) to not board a train from the platform. At NO point do they have the power or authority to actually touch or for forcefully remove a person from a train! Also the TOs are to work in pairs and to be put on ‘known’ trouble trains. Trouble happens at any time, anywhere. The last time staff were taken off the train (POs) assualts increased significantly mostly to TMs (stats not held by AT but the private company that runs the trains before you ask). If history repeats itself, it’s the public that will get the beatings….. Think on that people.

    1. [sarc] Don’t worry. Only poor people use the trains. And students. And immigrants. The people that matter are in their cars. [/sarc]

    2. Why would the TO have the power to demand someone leaves the train but be taught not to engage with passengers who are being anti-social. That seems completely contradictory to me. Sure I can understand why they wouldn’t be physically handing the passenger but to not engage at all doesn’t make sense.

      1. Yep exactly – My point was more to highlight that when I’ve pointed out that many many systems elsewhere have trains that run without a TM, that many people then point out that, ‘oh but those systems are usually gated’ – Which then begs the question, is it only the ‘fare-evaders’ that cause safety concerns for passengers? I don’t know

  18. I do worry about people being made redundant from railway jobs. Where will they get work? My late grandfather explained it to me in the 1970’s like this “If a boy is a bit dim and his father owns a farm, then he becomes a farmer. If a boy is a bit dim and his father doesn’t own a farm then he gets a job at the railways”.

    1. It’s all changed, mfwic. If a boy is a bit dim now he can adopt a growth mindset and brighten up. Alternatively, he can take a below-minimum-wage zero-hours-contract position helping import, transport, market, sell or dispose of unnecessary Stuff. Or, he can adopt an 80’s style swagger and deal in cyber currencies. The opportunities are vast. Whereas the brighter kids knuckle down to do what their pressure-cooker schools tell them, losing any sense of who they are and what’s important, and end up saddled with debt from studying the wrong degree. But that’s OK because in the process they lose all sense of civic duty, and spend their adulthood burning carbon to drown their misery.

  19. While there were a lot more standing than normal on my southern line train that arrived at Britomart at 8:30 there was still plenty of room.

    I can’t speak for the western line, but I think as long as they are all 6-car trains on the southern and eastern lines we will get by without people being left behind. For many of us it is still a better level of service than we had four years ago.

  20. The Public Transport Users Association we’re present at Britomart, Papakura and Henderson stations with the Passenger Safety Questionnaire.

    Full results announced this Wednesday as well as details of the public meeting.

    1. What was the wording of the question that determined whether passengers supported the presence of TMs or not?

      Also was the survey self-selecting and if so were the data normalised to account any biases this might introduce?

  21. My son travelled to Britomart on the eastern line this morning. Seemed the temp timetable was bumped 10 mins maybe due slow dwell times which was what he observed. Anyway had to wait full 20 mins after just missing ~7:46am and very crammed, some people opting to not go on, not sure which stops but suspect all from that point north but he got on at Sylvia.

  22. Dear Jezza. Check for the survey.
    Over 500 forms were manually completed by passengers at the three stations mentioned.

    You will have noticed AT Metro never asked for public consultation on a matter that affects all train passengers. Makes you wonder why they didn’t bother reaching out?

    Have a great day and let us know if you will attend the public meeting when it is announced this Wednesday.

    1. Thanks, I found the survey. If I presented that to a university lecturer or my boss it would get knocked back pretty quickly for a couple of reasons. Although the main question is fair there are too many leading questions surrounding it. Also there is no evidence of normalisation, it appears to be a survey of those who could be bothered filling it out.

      Also any useful analysis of the results would require a survey of the other half of the equation, what do passengers think of fare evasion and do they support the introduction of TOs.

      Consultation would be overkill for this, most passengers wouldn’t care either way, it’s just the few of us that have strong views on this. If a train didn’t have a TM on it most passengers wouldn’t even realise.

      I imagine if you could bring evidence of the ill effects of removing TMs from the carriages of trains in Australia that would certainly provide more of a smoking gun than an unscientific survey.

  23. I think we all want the best possible outcomes for Auckland’s Transport Network.

    What I can’t understand however, is why some here think that that automatically means the vast majority of human jobs must be dis-established. Maybe it’s some fantasy of living in a ‘Jetsons’ type future where everything is done by robots…? Honestly I don’t get it…

    Does eliminating most of the workforce make the network better, more efficient, more usable? Maybe, maybe not.

    Is it the way things are done overseas? Often, but our network isn’t comparable to The Tube or Subway for many reasons.

    Will it cut costs? Almost certainly. But where will those savings go? I’d argue the majority would go Transdev Shareholders and Executives, that’s who they serve ultimately. I’m not sure how the contracts are structured, but would be surprised if Transdev will lose proportionally if staff are reduced – the opposite is far more likely.

    They’d argue that it will lead to more efficient service, and reinvestment into operations. But the evidence for this, and really the way the business is run, and managed by AT, is rather opaque, and I think we need to avoid accepting their word at face value. Negotiations are two-sided, and they bear just as much responsibility as the union for where we are.

    Further automation is inevitable, but I’d argue AT and Transdev need to do more to prove that they are doing it in a way that is world’s best practice, and improves safety and service.

        1. I would hope you don’t mean that. I don’t think you believe that the Ministry of Health should be footing the bill for other moves to keep society functioning in a healthy way – such as repairing our transport infra to include amenity for cyclists and pedestrians.

          Loneliness is being studied at length, and we’re finding that each move away from real contact with real people compounds the problem and adds to the health costs. That’s a cost falling unfairly on the Ministry of Health, and thus all of us.

          I’m quite open to the idea that moving from TM’s to TO’s is a good idea. But we don’t seem to have all the figures here to be able to make that call. And we can be sure that no-one’s even calculating the health cost caused by incremental loneliness. It probably wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it wasn’t for similar calls to remove all responsibilities involving conversation from bus drivers…

          1. I think it is quite reasonable if staff on trains were to result is say a $20 million saving from the mental health budget that they fund the say $10 million cost of these staff (figures not real). This is the same as ACC funding part of the road policing budget as they see it as reducing their accident costs.

            I see your point with cycleways, however they also a tangible part of the transport system, therefore it is logical to fund them from transport budgets. The TM role has become largely irrelevant to the transport system so it is unfair for this cost to be borne from the transport budget.

            I completely agree with you regarding loneliness, there is no doubt it is compounded by the increased automation in society. Automation also frees up human resources, I can see a situation in the future where some of this resource is targeted directly towards this problem across society, not just on trains.

  24. ‘Lead to a more efficient service and reinvestment into operations’
    Like what? Sort out the ETCS with its inbuilt delays and the crawling away from stations? Or maybe just get wifi into the trains? or replace those bone-arse seats in the emus?
    Perhaps reinvestment means better bonus for management? More overseas junkets for managers

  25. What a day from hell. I live in Manurewa and usually catch the train to and from work in the city. Both morning and afternoon it was standing room only. I don’t mind standing but I dislike waiting for significant periods of time. I am staying with family on the north shore until this issue is sorted.

  26. How about replacing TMs with permanently manned stations? Any problems on the train and the station staff can eject the people causing the trouble and deal with the issue off train. These same staff can also staff ticket gates, clean station, sell Coffee etc, etc. Like a station master and deputies. Trains after a certain time of night would also have security guard on board.

    Be interesting what the net effect on staff numbers would be if you had say a minimum of 2 people on each station 18 hours per day. Would reduce the current security staffing requirements on some stations, which would offset some of the cost.

    Passengers could use an app to request help onboard at next station anonymously.

  27. Under the umbrella of “efficiency”, Transdev and AT have demonstrated total contempt towards their job, namely, the travelling public.

  28. NZHe story “Train delays as Aucklanders head home from Lantern Festival “.

    ” An Auckland Transport (AT) spokesman said while they had not had any complaints about delays, industrial action being taken by Rail and Maritime Transport Union meant they were unable to put on special event trains currently.

    Instead tonight’s trains were running at a normal frequency for weekends.

    The spokesman could not confirm whether or not AT had planned to put on special event trains for the Lantern Festival.”

  29. Apparently strike action has now been postponed while they go back to negotiations so should be back to normal tomorrow (census day – hopefully everyone goes back to trains tomorrow).

    1. AT and Transdev should both want the census data to be correct, so I hope they are both putting some money into advertising that trains will be back to normal tomorrow?

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