Next Tuesday the Auckland Transport board meet again. As usual, I’ve had a look though the papers to find the things I think are interesting.

Closed Session

The closed session is where all of the interesting stuff happens. There are quite a few items but most look fairly boring. The interesting ones are

Items for Approval/Decision

  • National Ticketing Programme Update

Items for Noting

  • Housing Infrastructure Fund Business Case (HIF)
  • Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP)

The updated ATAP is due to be released next week so we should hear about that last item soon.

Street Lighting Procurement – Stage 2

Street lighting might not be the most interesting topic but it does play an important role and it’s an area where a lot has been changing. Since being approved in late 2014, AT have been rolling out LED street lights across Auckland to replace High Pressure Sodium ones. The first stage of the project has seen 36,000 lights installed by the beginning of February and that number will hit 43,000 by the end of June. By then, over half of all street lights will be LED and AT say that Auckland is “leading the way in Australasia” for it. The stage 1 project costs $22 million to roll out, although it comes with a subsidy from the NZTA of 85% (expires on 1 July and reverts back to 51%). The benefits are significant, including:

  • Energy costs will reduce by $1.7 million/year (11.2 GWh/year)
  • Maintenance costs will reduce by $1.2 million/year as LEDs last longer
  • White Light is better for safety, both of pedestrians and drivers
  • The lights are connected to a central management system (CMS) that automatically records faults, can monitor energy used, and allows AT to control light levels.

AT now want to roll out stage 2 of the project. This is both bigger in terms of the number of lights being rolled out (49,000) and in the cost, which at $43.1m is almost double the stage 1 costs. The reason for the higher cost is this round of lights is mainly for feeder and arterial roads so are higher powered and have higher installation costs. This will:

  • Further reduction in energy costs of $2.6 million/year (16.3 GWh/year)
  • Maintenance costs will further reduce by $1.3 million/year.
  • Because the lights are connected to the CMS, they won’t need to go around at night checking lights are working.

Overall this seems like a good project

Business Report

These are just the items from the main report I found interesting and the order is based on where they appear in the report.

Digital HOP Concessions

For the return of Uni Students, AT rolled out a trial app to load concessions on HOP cards. These are the results so far.

AT Website Refresh

AT say they’re working on refreshing the website, which is good because some areas of it, particularly the PT section, are not customer friendly at all. Here’s some of what they say about it.

This aligned with research on best practice and has identified 11 key areas to address within the website experience. The first three areas of focus are:

  • To enhance the Bus / Train / Ferry landing page to ensure that customers maximise the benefits of access to public transport data, and to ensure consistency through improved alignment with AT Mobile.
  • To integrate the core way-finding tools (Journey Planner, Real Time Board, and timetables) to reduce confusion between the tools and to ensure that customers seamlessly transition between them.
  • To personalise the wayfinding experience through the greater use of geo-awareness and historical usage data, so that predictive models can be established and fewer manual steps will be needed to realise the benefits of wayfinding.

In the last week of March, the team commenced an iterative design approach ensuring that customers are put at the centre of the design process while working within current content management platform constraints.

Parnell Station

The path to provide access from the station to Carlaw Park is due to be completed in June and after that AT will be installing HOP gates. This should make the station more useful but changing platforms will still require a far too long trek to the underpass south of the station.

Freyberg Square

The upgraded Freyberg Square and Ellen Melville Hall are great but the retention of a road through it wasn’t far from ideal. Now, AT are looking at changing it permanently

Working in partnership with Council, AT is proposing to alter Freyberg Place to a Pedestrian Mall. Last year Freyberg Square was upgraded providing a community space in the heart of the central city. At this time, Freyberg Place was maintained as an access road linking High Street to Courthouse Lane in front of Ellen Mellville Hall. We are proposing to change the designation of Freyberg Place to a pedestrian mall, with access for emergency service and authorised vehicles only. This will reflect the nature of the square as a pedestrian space and improve safety. To enable the pedestrian mall a Special Consultative Procedure is to be undertaken. Consultation will be undertaken through April to early May.

Fantastic news.

Special Events PT usage

The table below shows the level of PT usage to special events that occurred in March where free travel was included in the ticket.

Red Light Cameras

Auckland is getting six more red light cameras by the end of June to complement the 13 that already exist.

The proposed locations for the new cameras for 2017/2018 are:

  • Great North Road / Titirangi Road / Rata Street
  • Te Irirangi Drive / Accent Drive (two cameras)
  • Great South Road / Reagan Road
  • Great South Road / Cavendish Drive (two cameras)

Bus growth

Finally two good news stories to end the post.

  1. Since December when AT increased the timetable on the 380 airporter to have a service at least every 15 minutes most of the day. So far the results are good with AT recording boardings up 10,000 on a year prior.
  2. The 18 bus route from New Lynn to the city along Gt North Rd replaced 6 previous routes. AT say that “By providing regular service intervals, a simple single bus number and a fleet of new double deckers with dedicated service branding” that ridership has increased by 30-35%

Have you read the reports, is there anything which I haven’t covered that stood out to you?

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87 comments

  1. I like LEDs but am surprised at how little the savings they provide. The payoff period seems to be around 10 years (based on power savings and maintenance savings). Seems to be quite an expensive project once borrowing costs are included. Is there some other long term payoff from having them? Again I do prefer them just curious.

    1. For public infrastructure a 10 year payoff period is fantastic. These things are normally calculated on a 30 or 40 year lifespan, so to have it turn the tables only a quarter of the way through would mean it has a very good economic basis.

          1. So they want to spend $43m to save $3.9m pa?
            Something just isn’t adding up here. The interest alone on the $43m is about $2m pa.
            I would expect either the cost to be a lot lower or the savings to be greater.

          2. I would have thought the rate of return would be higher for LEDs too, but overall, 9% is a pretty good rate of return on Opex reduction. Then there are the road safety benefits and SiD benefits too.

          3. Based on your figures thats a NPV of $58m and a cost-benefit ratio of 1.4. So it adds up just fine.

          4. good to know. Does seem to be low especially considering interest costs, but if the numbers stack up purely on a cost basis then great. Even better if the other benefits occur.
            Still think it sounds a bit gold plated/poor deal as the costs should probably be a lot less as LED prices have tumbled massively.

      1. I guess the question is, if you wait 3 years, will the cost of the units be half or quarter of the price. Probably.

    2. The LED lights are “smarter” and are more easily managed centrally and individually. In theory you could also stick other sensors on them and create a city wide network of sensors.

      My only problem with them is that they decimate moth populations. Seriously. No joke.
      The lights attract way more moths, they get tired, die or get eaten by birds.
      Lower diversity and fewer pollinators. It will have long term implications. Maybe not huge, but it is a measurable impact on the environment.

      1. Is anyone aware what the “temperature” of the LEDs for Auckland are?

        I know that both Dunedin and Wellington have selected “warmer” 3000K LEDs for large areas of their rollouts ( Wellington will use 4000K ” cool” LEDs on High traffic volume arterials)

        1. I must have unusual eye sight as I really struggle to see with white (cool) street lights, the yellow ones are much better for me.

        2. Warmer colour is actually better for human sleep cycle at night. It is also has a calming effect on human and surrounding environment.

          3000k – 4000k is the sweet point. 6400k is actually not desirable.

          1. Circadian rhythm issues obviously need to be considered. But it depend on the purpose. For suburban street lighting perhaps warmer lights might be better. For day time lighting and some other purposes I never been as convinced of the evils of 6000k light as some people make them out to be. Definitely they don’t seem to be as hated in parts of Asia as they seem to be in much of the west.

        3. Also an interesting thing, yes could keep people more awake while driving. Too white in residential streets may cause people to not sleep somewhat?! I use that f.lux program on my PC (& iPhone has similar thing as a standard feature) so if using it late at night I hopefully won’t be too alert before bed….an issue with people these days and reading their devices in bed etc.

        4. Looked at the document, this is also another thing of interest:
          “LED lights reduce upward light to near zero and reduces spill light onto adjoining properties.
           The CMS provides the opportunity to reduce light levels between 11.30pm and 6.00am each night further reducing energy and nightglow. Note: “Dark Sky NZ” has complimented AT for this.”

          I wonder how night photography of cityscapes will look if all lights are done – better or worse or just different. Patrick Reynolds will know.

          1. I wonder if that means we city dwellers will be able to see more stars in the sky at night? That would be nice.

    3. Yes considering an ordinary consumer Led will pay for itself in a little over one year based on energy savings alonea. These ‘smart’ bulbs must cost a fortune compared to the sodium ones.

      1. I doubt that would be true if you factored in having an electrician coming to install a new fitting, which is what is happening here. It’s way more than just changing a bulb.

          1. Yeah. I’m not sure what Dan C is comparing to but ordinary incandescent are very different beasts from high-pressure sodium lamps (or really anything commonly used in street lighting). Sodium lamps are monochromatic and already have very high luminous efficacy. Actually beating the luminous efficacy of sodium lamps is in itself not so easy.

            I’d note I’m unconvinced you get a pay off without a year from energy costs if you’re comparing LED lights to CFL. So I’m therefore not convinced the claim is necessarily true even for house lighting anyway. Although the life span and increasingly small cost difference means when replacing dead lights, LEDs normally make sense.

          2. I was talking about consumer bulbs, comparing LED to incandescent.

            Yes if sodium are already more efficient then the savings are less, and replacing the whole fitting means costs are higher.

            From consumer.org:

            “Let’s compare a mid-range LED to a standard incandescent bulb. The LED has the same brightness as a 60 watt incandescent while only drawing 9.5 watts. The LED costs $18 and has an expected lifespan of 15,000 hours, while the equivalent 60 watt incandescent bulb costs 50 cents but lasts for 1000 hours. If the light is on for three hours each day the incandescent will use $17.08 worth of electricity in a year, compared to $2.70 for the LED. That’s a saving of $14.38 per year.

            The LED will have paid for itself in a little over a year. It will then keep going for another 12 years if used for three hours every day, while the incandescent bulb will need to be replaced every year. These figures show you shouldn’t wait for your incandescent bulbs to blow – it’s more cost effective to replace them with LEDs now.”

          3. @Dan C. I think those figures might be out of date. An LED bulb is typically available for around $14-15 now so the payoff is even quicker.

    4. If they are safer for vision, then in theory should also be savings with less crashes, fewer ped trip over on the path type things. Also safety with less attacks on people especially if the old style bulb is blown for a few days say. I wonder how much lifespan a person loses when walking down a dark alley for example if they are fearful. ie stress causes death really.

  2. Was interested to read that the train frequency will increase from 30m to 20m at weekends – long overdue and still not enough but very welcome nevertheless.

    Interestingly this means for stations like Papatoetoe, Otahuhu, Newmarket and Parnell there will be a train every 5 minutes at peak times and every 10 minutes at weekends.

    1. I wonder if on weekends the Onehunga line could run at 20 mins too, must fit operationally if the other lines normally all do 10 mins in peak. I know slightly strange in that would have to go back to 20 mins in peak as presumably there won’t be slots and or enough train sets.

  3. I concur with the success of the 18 bus from New Lynn to City. It has to be one of the most frequent routes in the city! Now we just need more bus lanes to make the service more streamlined.

    1. Yes, it’s been noticeable for me. I hope they will give more timetable information along the route too. I was caught out at a bus stop late in the evening just not knowing what frequency I could expect (and whether I should bother to wait for a bus to take half an hour off my one hour walk home or not).

  4. I have to confess to being seriously surprised at the apparent success of Route 18. Living at the city end of the route I see the #18 coming and going with the norm appearing to be no more than a handful of passengers on a double deck bus off-peak and only a mediocre loading on many peak services. Just of late, following March Madness, I’d noted a bit of an uptick, but still not enough (I’d have thought) to warrant a double decker.

    If this reported increase over the pre-NN situation is real, then all respect for AT’s courage in running such great frequencies and specifying double deckers. And it bodes very well for the Central NN introduction in just a few months’ time.

    I’m an observer of the route and only an occasional user of it, though: do others have more regular direct experience, perhaps, and can comment from a user’s perspective? Or even better, are there more stats out there that can be shared?

    1. I travel from pt chev to city a couple of times a week, and have done so for the last 14 months, and i would say more people use the service now than last year, it difficult to pin point this just on the 18.

      The old network had something silly like 20+ bus routes, much easier now.

      A lot of people from pt chev onward to city will just catch first bus that turns up, so i have seen standing room/full buses on 110,132,133,134,195 etc. during peak. While i never seen a full double decker bus, i do think worth having capacity, assuming the cost of running doubles arn’t massive.

      I think the new bus contracts are for 9-10 years, with bus lasting 10+ years, i suspect it much better value to put doubles deckers on the 18 now, than in say 5 years times

      1. Worth pointing out that 30 odd people on a double decker looks mostly empty, while 30 odd people on a standard single decker ADL or something looks chockers. Both cost about the same to run (driver costs and overheads are the same, and unladen mass difference is only around 10% higher, so pretty small impact on fuel consumption), so not being crowded is a good thing.

        1. Agree, but my observation (from the street and occasional but regular use) is that off-peak many Route 18 buses carry just three or four pax as they leave K Rd.

          1. It would be interesting to see on/off peak boarding stats, if the growth is just at peak or not.

          2. Totally random, but I just made a return trip from the city to Pt Chev on the #18, and in both directions it had a reasonably healthy (15-ish) off-peak load. Which is not bad at all.

          3. My experience has been at random, usually off-peak times, and the buses have never been close to empty. Certainly wee hours of a weekend morning there have been plenty of people on board.

  5. 10% going to Auckland City Limits on PT is tragic. Shows how damn awful Western Springs is as a location for outdoor concerts, compared with say Ed Sheeran at Mt Smart at around 40%.

    1. For me the problem, coming from Birkenhead, would be the detour via Britomart, which means it would take almost an hour to get there. Replacing buses with light rail probably won’t change that.

      Unsurprisingly the last time I visited the zoo finding parking was a bit of a mayhem.

      I wonder what the stats are for the Lantern Festival. It’s a bit closer but still fairly cumbersome to reach on PT. And Sunday the curfew apparently was around the time the fireworks started…

      1. “Replacing buses with light rail probably won’t change that.”

        I’m sure a rapid LRT from the shore, reasonable right of way up Queen St & directly on to it’s own corridor along the western motorway & a station nearby would be a lot quicker than the current situation.

    2. This, for me, is one of the major reasons why the RFA plan to build the test cricket arena at Western Springs is a terrible idea. Maybe when LRT to the area arrives it will improve, but even still the non-centralised location reduces the ease of access (time, distance) to Eastern and Southern populations.
      A far superior option would be to build an arena at the Auckland Domain, in the model of Hagley Oval, utilising the old Cricket Pavilion. That location is situated perfectly to make the most of the CRL and high residential and business population catchment, as well as greater number of hospitality options for people to arrive from/disperse to. The entire Hagley Oval development cost ~$20 mil, compared to the RFA plan for Western Springs of $40-70 million.

      1. Maybe AT should be required to organise PT to events such as Pasifika at Western Springs Park without the local school damaging its field with parking provision, before Council is allowed to consider putting more events here.

      2. Wherever we choose to have a cricket ground it will be there for a long time. It seems crazy to rule out Western Springs because it won’t have light rail in place for a few years.

        Crowds for test cricket are not massive so I doubt it would be a huge issue.

        1. There are more factors to consider than the arrival of LRT to the area, however near or far that might be. It’s one of the reasons suburban/city-fringe Eden Park – despite the availability of rail and bus – is still somewhat difficult to get to for populations that don’t live along the Western line and/or whose only use of PT is for travelling to events. It’s also important to remember that, if designed correctly, the arena would likely host one-day formats of the game with bigger crowds.
          A centralised location (i.e., the Domain):
          – more-easily services a larger number of the city’s population via public transport (Southern, Western, Eastern rail, link buses, etc.)
          – has higher catchment from surrounding areas during weekday matches (e.g., CBD, Newmarket, universities, schools, hospital, etc.)
          – has greater amenities (hospitality, accomodation etc.) close to the ground
          – and, if we’re looking at the possibility of a National Stadium at Quay Park/waterfront down the line, we can create a Sports and Entertainment Precinct with an 800m radius from the ASB Tennis Centre that encompasses the cricket arena, stadium, and Vector Arena, which will all be serviced incredibly well by PT.
          Just a sport and PT fan thinking big here…

          1. I’d hesitantly say it seems like a good location… as long as the Domain is improved by removing access to private car and converting the roads to buslanes, cycleways and walking paths, which are all improvements the Domain needs anyway.

    1. Probably by counting how many people used PT services and then working out how many people actually went to the event.

  6. Nice summary and lots of good news again this month. Thanks Matt!
    One comment – it’s not clear what your note

    > Since December when AT increased the timetable to have a service at least every 15 minutes most of the day. So far the results are good with AT recording boardings up 10,000 on a year prior.

    refers to. I think (referring to page 48 of the PDF) that’s it’s about the 380 Airporter service.

    It’s amazing what happens when frequency becomes much more useful 🙂

  7. Excited for the New Network in Central Auckland going live on the 8th of July! Only 3 years late! Surely that is a record for New Zealand.

    1. It is a disgrace that the Central Network has taken so long. And of course we are yet to see the new northern network.

      Maybe the following article in today’s Herald (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12032034) explains part of what the problem is. Lester Levy talks of a culture in AT that needs to be changed and that there are a number of managers that are not on board with the changes that are happening.

      One thing is certain, Aucklander’s are driving more kilometres per year than they ever have and the recent PT projects have not been able to change that. And there is little in the near pipeline to make a difference.

      If AT’s goals are as waffly as what Levy portrays I am not so certain that Levy and the Board are heading in the right direction. “Those goals revolve around making it worthwhile for as many people as possible to leave the car at home, by providing much better public transport and active transport (walking and cycling).”

      Is the following a more focused and necessary goal? We will achieve the targets that we have set for car usage and will provide much better public transport and active transport (walking and cycling) to assist achieving that.

      I feel a letter to the Chairman coming on.

  8. Thanks Matt for these AT board meeting updates.
    Reading through posts from last 2 years I noted that one of the GA team, Patrick Reynolds, was appointed to one of the AT board sub committes. Is there a possibility we could get an article from Patrick outlining his views from that committee?
    Will he eventually get on to the main AT board?

  9. The Carlaw Park footpath is currently under construction by John Fillmore Contracting. Looking back through Auckland Transport’s contracts list, this contract was awarded on 26 June 2017. So it is taking 12 months and $1.6m to build about 200m of pathway. And this will only be completed 18 months after the station opened. This may be a somewhat glib summary, but it does raise the question about whether we are getting value for money from Auckland Transport projects.

    1. That price sounds about right, the topology is pretty challenging through there and it will need to be well lit.

  10. So apart from tinkering, the Parnell platform is still an isolated pointless wasteland.

    Will AT simply admit defeat and either finish it to what it was supposed to be meaning it has a reasonable chance of success or if they cannot bring themselves to do that, close it?

    As is it holds up trains, pure and simple!

    1. Parnell Station is not ideal but it’s not an “isolated, wasteland” either. Believe it or not, most people are capable of walking several hundred metres, even uphill! The connection to Carlaw Park will make it even more useful, a short 10 min walk to Auckland University avoiding the crawl into Britomart.

  11. Shouldn’t be any argument over backup generator for Ranui station, after it being powerless for the last two days.

  12. “to ensure consistency through improved alignment with AT Mobile”. This usually means the features that mean people prefer to use the website will be removed. I have mobile devices and phones with good sized hi res screens. There is nothing more annoying than being forced to use the ‘mobile friendly’ version of a site with different functionality and/or missing features. This is also an issue where a web option is removed after an app is rolled out. Good choice of libraries should mean a seamless experience across all platforms. As for: “the team commenced an iterative design approach ensuring that customers are put at the centre of the design process while working within current content management platform constraints”. Most modern life cycles put the user experience at the centre, most modern lifecycles are iterative. What have they been doing up until now? The caveat about “cms platform constraints” is of concern as that is often the limiting factor. Having worked with relatively small teams with small budgets the outcomes observed on large projects often leaves you wishing for a crack at it to show them what could be done.

  13. The Special Events PT usage table is very instructive. It is telling us that although public transport was free, on no occasion was usage ever more than 50%. Strangely, or not, amongst perhaps the poorest demographic (the Warriors game) PT usage was the lowest. And Mt Smart isn’t that hard to get to evidenced by much higher figures elsewhere.

    For me these figures send an absolutely clear message; that the carrot approach alone will not change travel habits, so it is pointless thinking otherwise.

    AT should recognise this and immediately start to take measures to reverse the current modal share. Given that AT is so timid in its approach maybe even small steps will be helpful. It is of course appropriate to spend the revenue derived from the stick to improve public transport options or pricing.

    1. It’s only free on certain routes and often only a single mode. If it was free to ticket holders on most routes that would change things

      1. That’s a good point. In Sydney they get this right. If you have a match ticket in your hand they wave you through the gates, doesn’t matter which bus/train/ferry combo you catch on the day.

        Why can’t we do that?

    2. What is most interesting to me about that table is the severely limited number of special events listed. Is it all just on a trial basis, and why? Why aren’t festivals on there? Even some of the most car-dependent cities in the US have better PT planning for sports events.

      1. They’re only the events that free public transport is provided for. This is paid for by the event organiser not AT.

    3. Warriors games are quite frequent thus often attended by regulars and don’t have huge crowds. This means if you know the area you can usually find a reasonably convenient carpark, when coupled with poor weekend PT frequencies it’s generally easier to drive.

      In contrast the concerts have much larger crowds, many who won’t have been to Mt Smart often and there are generally special event trains. These factors make PT a lot more appealing.

      1. Would the incredibly poor walkability around Mt Smart influence mode choice for sports games? Intersections with no way across for pedestrians, more driveways to cross than continuous footpaths, tiny refuges if there is one at all, few street trees or greenery…

    4. We were discussing the Warriors numbers at home. Our family, of Warriors fans, felt that since this is the first season the free train trip has been included in ticket there is some way to go yet to get the message out ( if you have always driven to games and don’t follow AT twitter would you even know this offer is in place). Comments below are also important most fans have their parking spots down and have used them for years creating part of their match day experience. Also the comment from Heidi is right – something could be done to make the walk from station more appealing, a mini fan trail if you will.

  14. Can anyone explain the figures given for the Uni Students? Are they just uni students, or all tertiary students? I believe there are in the order of 100,000 students in Auckland, so if the figures of 15.3k students in 52 days refers to tertiary students, it is rather low…

    1. “A trial of a digital application process for Tertiary Student Concessions was launched in February with University of Auckland. This has significantly automated and improved the application process for customers. A total of 13,000 concession registrations have now been processed through AT Mobile.”

      Unfortunately, anyone who had linked their children’s cards to their own, will find their offspring can’t use the app unless they buy a new HOP card, as the linked card can’t be unlinked.

      1. Yes, I didn’t know about the problem with the app, but I knew about not being able to unlink the cards, and having to buy a new one. (Which children will want to do as they become adults unless they want their parents managing the card forever).

        Recently I was told the reason why. It is to prevent money laundering, or to meet the anti-money laundering legislation.

        Which doesn’t explain why AT won’t buy back the cards from people who can no longer use them. “No replacement will be offered”.

        And no, for similar reasons, money from the child’s card can’t be transferred to the new card.

        1. Which is a pretty weak excuse. All they need to do is limit how much can be transferred (say $20 limit) nobody would bother money laundering $20!
          And if for some reason that really is too hard then just as in other countries you should be able to return your card for a refund of both the credit and the card (perhaps less a $2 admin fee). Not hard to do.

  15. Thanks Matt. I couldn’t find the info about the website refresh (only had a quick look though.) Does it include anything about providing cycling network information on the journey planner?

  16. Regarding the LED street lighting program, I bet there is no mention to the board of the hundreds of original LED street lights which have been installed since the conversion program started, which are less than 5 years old and working perfectly fine, all currently being replaced by AT’s various street lighting contractors with newer LED lights as the originals are not compatible with CMS.

    What a huge waste of money, particularly when there are many more much older high pressure sodium lights which haven’t been replaced and many areas where there is no street lighting at all.

    1. Yes councils (and their organisations) are very good at wasting money like this…
      things like replacing footpaths that are still in good condition simply because they have some schedule that says it’s due – meanwhile other paths are in bits.
      Replacing street signs that were perfectly fine because they want to put in new ones that are not only incredibly hard to read but are more expensive!
      Spending thousands replanting roundabouts because they want them to look pretty.
      Installing barriers, kerbs etc when they know they are going to be ripped out in 6 months etc.

      AT/AC should concentrate on replacing things that most need replacement rather than wasting money replacing things that are perfectly adequate in the meantime.

      1. Fully agree.

        A lot of the problem is the use of contractors who do all this work and councils (and massive public organisations like AT) not appearing to know what their contractors are replacing, or when things are getting replaced which are not faulty or don’t need replacing. Because of the multi layers of structure and management between where the decisions are made and funding is sourced from through to the person actually doing the work, there seems to be little ability for those authorising the funding on behalf of those doing the paying, to keep tabs on what money is being spent on.

        There appears to be a huge rort with contractors exploiting this contracting out model which was largely introduced to NZ’s public sector by the National Government since the 1990s. Councils and the likes of AT are paying exorbitant premiums by contractors for just basic maintenance, let alone major projects. No wonder AT doesn’t have enough funding and Auckland Council is up to it’s eyeballs in debt and having to introduce new funding streams on top of rates increases.

        When councils, transport bodies, power boards, and all public sector organisations, owned all their assets and employed all their own staff to carry out nearly all functions, such as was the case up until the 1990s, there would have been much greater ability with the simplified direct mangement structures to better manage and be in control of what was being done or needed tobe done, and ratepayers and taxpayers would have been getting better value for money with their funding being spent on the actual true cost of work – not inflated contractor prices.

        There needs to be a major review of the way NZ’s public sector is structured and run. The current system is a huge rip off with unnecessary expense with expensive boards of directors when the CEO / MD / GM of public organisations should just report directly to the council or the minister as the case may be.

        Public organisations should own and operate and employ all their own staff which would help ensure all staff get fair pay and conditions (which would address the primary issues behind the current bus strikes and recent train staff disputes) and would ensure greater control and monitoring of what goes on and what money is being spent on.

        The way Auckland Transport is currently set up and is run is a classic example of a huge organisation which clearly doesn’t know what’s going on and is wasting money with poor management and contract systems, and worst of all they make poor decisions against the wishes of the majority of the public and are not directly accountable to the public who fund them or publicly-elected representatives.

        1. good call Robin +1
          I’m not sure if bus drivers should be brought in house as that probably increases the chances of them striking etc but for other contractors etc it would make more sense rather than paying a premium to outsource.

        2. Yes. Privatisation and outsourcing was inefficiency imposed for ideological reasons. But I must say the increasing complexity of bureaucracy seems to cut across many parts of life now. For example, when I started university, the organisations I had to deal with were my school, the university, and the Engineering Faculty. My son started university this year, and he had to deal with 10 different organisations. What’s with that?

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