In recent months we’ve become increasingly concerned about the performance of the NZTA. In particular that they appear to have come down with a case of organisational constipation. The NZTAs central role in the transport industry as both a builder but also a part funder of local government projects means it’s critical that they are operating well but more recently it appears there’s simply not much coming out. This view is the result of a number of observations, some of which I’ve tried to highlight below.

Key projects suffering from analysis paralysis

In Auckland we’re seeing little progress other than what was already under construction as the NZTA keep reassessing projects. Light Rail is meant to be one of the government’s flagship projects and despite already having been subject to significant investigation by Auckland Transport, was effectively started again by the NZTA. They’ve now essentially paused the project while they assess in more detail a bid from the NZ Superfund. Similarly, we’ve now seen that Skypath is being delayed as the NZTA investigate other options.

It’s not just NZTA projects either with many AT projects seeming to be subject to reviews and delays, especially cycling projects. It appears, and is backed up by come comments we’ve heard, that the NZTA are putting projects “through the ringer”. It’s unclear of the reason for this although some possible ones are further in the post.

Despite all of this, the NZTA have managed to find plenty of time to keep working on projects like Warkworth to Wellsford motorway  which even in the best case scenario which isn’t even due to start construction within the coming decade.

The construction companies are getting worried

In mid-February we saw a few articles and press releases about contractors being concerned that work was drying up once the current Roads of National Significance are completed. In some cases this concern seems to be more a worry that the current motorway building gravy train is ending as a result of the new government changing the priorities for transport. But while there was plenty of noise from some areas about these changes, there is still more planned to be spent on roads in the three years from 2018-21 than from 2015-18. What is changing is where those funds are directed. The new Government Policy Statement and subsequent National Land Transport Programme will see a little bit less spent on new state highways but that is more than made up for by spending a lot more on local road improvements and maintenance of both state highways and local roads. Essentially the change would see transport focused away from a few large roading projects into lots of small ones that will deliver much more benefit. This also doesn’t include all of the new funding for other projects, such as public transport, walking and cycling and rail.

Again, what we have been hearing is that the NZTA haven’t been releasing that funding. Like we’re seeing with the high profile cases we’ve seen in Auckland, the NZTA are putting projects all around the country under the microscope and it is meaning in some areas, there’s almost no work being approved.

What’s causing this disarray?

There are several possible ideas as to what is causing these issues. In all likelihood it could be a combination of many or even all of them.

Budgets are tight

While funding may have increased, so to have construction costs. There have been plenty of noises about the increased cost for the CRL, and while that’s not funded by the NZTA, it’s likely many projects they do fund are suffering a similar fate. This could mean the funding that is available is being more hotly contested and may explain why business cases are being reviewed again and again as the NZTA try to decide what to fund.

This is also backed up a bit by a Newsroom article last week suggesting the NZTA is struggling with pressure on transport funding, especially from public private partnerships.

Regulatory Review

The NZTAs regulatory functions are currently being independent assessed after it was found they weren’t managing compliance properly. That poor compliance resulted in at least one death. While this is a different part of the organisation the one that approves funding, it’s not hard to imagine that this is having a knock-on effect to other parts of the organisation. Perhaps they are finally coming to the realisation of the responsibility they have for safety, and that it means more than just putting out nice words and documents.

Management chaos

The regulatory issues above have already resulted in Fergus Gamie resigning as CEO and the chair has in the past said others may end up leaving too. Changing management is usually very disruptive to organisations. It isn’t just the management team being disrupted but the board too with news in January that three directors resigned within six-weeks. Notably, this was almost exactly the same thing that happened to Vector when the NZTA’s current chair took over there in 2006.

Government Policy Statement

On top of all of the above, the NZTA is likely still trying to come to terms with what the new Government Policy Statement actually means in reality. The 2018-28 GPS prioritises safety, accessibility, the environment and value for money and that has meant many of the projects they were working on simply aren’t a priority anymore.

Whatever the cause/s of the issues the NZTA are having, they’re going to need to get on top of them and quickly. Projects are rapidly falling behind and that’s not acceptable, especially in Auckland where there’s so much to do. As for Transport Minister Phil Twyford, we certainly know he can say the right things but he also can’t afford to sit by and let this situation carry on or else he’ll quickly find himself under attack, like he has been over Kiwibuild.

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101 comments

  1. NZTA looks like it is still operating under the old ideology. And has no interest in changing. (a problem common to much of our public service)

  2. I think the first thing is that NZTA should apply the “Objectives: a land transport system that…” diagram to itself. [e.g. “NZTA. A land transport organisation that…”]

    As far as I can tell if this was done, NZTA is completely failing on 3 out of 4 of the objectives (Safety, Environment, Value for money), and the 4th “Access” – only gets a bare pass mark if you look at roads/cars/trucks and completely ignore walking, cycling, rail and PT from the assessments of that objective.

    So, clearly, by its own metric, NZTA is almost completely failing us as an organisation.
    So how can it deliver a land transport system that does all the objectives required when it can’t even keep itself in order?

    If you have an errant computer one of the first things you’re told to do is turn it off and on again. as 9 times out of 10 that usually resets the underlying problem. Or at least, buys you enough time to fix the underlying issues.

    So really, NZTA needs to be either re-booted like a faulty Windows PC – or if that fails, booted completely out the door.

    1. Frequent restructures are also a contributing factor to their dysfunction. Which is not to say that they don’t need another one, just that it’s something anyone setting out to restructure NZTA should keep in mind.

      In a similar vein I’ve heard that AT regularly recruits staff who are enthusiastic about improving active modes, public transport and urban design. They get worn down by the bureaucracy, institutional conservatism and lack of progress and then leave. A successful restructure would remove the dinosaurs while retaining those that actually want progress.

      1. I’m not suggesting a simple restructure.

        I am talking about complete dis-establishment of NZTA, and a separation of regulatory from other functions. Safety is a core function, not a bolt on to other areas.

        With the regulatory functions moving to a completely separate organisation – either a completely new one altogether or added to an existing agency. But either way the safety side is considerably strengthened and given clout to hold other agencies to account.

        The rest of the NZTA functions can then be rebuilt in a new agency. Leaving the dinosaurs out in the cold as much as possible.

        And no, MBIE is not a solution here. Its part of the problem set too.

        1. The scale of public sector reorganisation you envisage would ensure that nothing meaningful occurs in transport for the next political term at least.

          With the number and scale of reviews coming into Parliament by May this year, large scale legislative change – and with it public sector reorganisation – is precisely what will happen.

          Guaranteed there will also be a fight both within Parliament and within the Wellington bureaucrats about ‘Auckland exceptionalism’, which will slow down structural change further.

          So what will occur for the remainder of the current term and for 2020-2023 is that nothing meaningful will occur. Other than the existing major projects, which under NZTA are motorways.

          Whether this government has the skill to prevent this from happening is … to be seen.

        2. Ad, do you see possibility in a less destructive but more substantive change such as back-checking where the barriers to implementing the GPS is occurring, and placing specific KPI’s or output requirements at those points?

        3. Heidi.
          There is no chance of decreasing the destruction that has gone through NZTA over the last two years until the reports come in to Parliament, a new Board is formed, and the staff get to believe that there is a clear direction. KRA’s will get re-formed once there is a new legislative framework.

          After that comes drafting new regulations.

          Of its 1400 staff, almost 700 have left in the last 2 years. All but 1 Tier 2 is leaving. Those reports mean bunches of restructures to come. The Acting CE is due to go in a month.

          Fresh KRA’s will not steady this ship.

          Stability is several quarters off.

        4. @Ad I can get behind a “rip the band-aid off” term with little delivered apart from lasting (and irreversible) transformation of NZTA toward modernised objectives.

          When Telecom was regulated, many of the rats thriving in that monopolist environment quickly deserted the sinking ship. A lot of them were highly intelligent, extremely dedicated and providing decades of experience and institutional knowledge, but were ultimately unwilling to adapt to structural change and had to go. Just sayin’

        5. Perhaps a review of the structure of KiwiRail and AT should be made as well?

          The infrastructure division of KiwiRail should definitely be separated from the rest of the business.

      2. The restructures I’ve seen in other organisations have been failures.
        a) they are not backed by analysis
        b) they shift & create new jobs and titles only
        c) they fail to map existing processes
        d) they fail to map the failures in existing processes
        e) they fail to set up & map the new processes at all, or if so don’t do it properly, (i.e there are still gaps & overlaps)
        f) they don’t provide or allow for the resourcing / funding necessary to implement the new structures.

        Given NZTA had a new structure recently and then should adopt new processes to align with the GPS, there would seem to be plenty of room for errors & thus shortfalls.

    2. “re-booted like a faulty Windows PC” …. continuing along with Greg’s Windoze analogy, perhaps it is that NZTA are still running Windows 95.

      or even “gasp!” version 3.1

        1. At the moment NZTA’s default setting is “pause”. This is most notable for non-road projects where the lack of true belief in moving forward with progressive policies have now resurfaced with the loss of key advocates. New blood, and energy is needed.

        1. Reckon windows 3.1 suits: fancy facade on MS-DOS, but without great network connectivity (that came in 3.11, IIRC).

          NZTA = fancy facade on National Roads Board (with a couple of other minor bits stuck on as afterthoughts)

        2. If they are running DOS they would probably be very productive right now instead of fiddling & playing Solitaire on their PC’s.

        3. Last couple of version of MS DOS came with a couple of games, one was “Gorillas” that involved two king kong sized gorillas creatures tossing explosive banana bombs at each other while hanging off nearby buildings ala King Kong. The explosions destroyed the buildings piece by piece until the other players gorilla fell down with the building.
          [at least thats how I recall it].

          Big timewaster. but kind of fun.

  3. “In mid-February we saw a few articles and press releases about contractors being concerned that work was drying up once the current Roads of National Significance are completed”

    I can understand the concern because it is livelihoods at risk, but maybe now is the time to adjust to a “new norm.” Many years ago NZ had a car building industry and now we don’t. The meat industry is a shadow of what it once was. The transition was tough, but it was manageable. Surely now is the time to recognise that we can not afford massive spending on roads and that to reduce carbon emissions we need to invest in electric rail options.

    1. Those contractors currently building the RONS projects are quite happy to build heavy rail lines, light rail lines, electrify existing lines etc. But aside from CRL C3 (which many of them did bid on) there aren’t any new projects coming up for tender. Can’t bid on ghost projects.

      1. Agree with logarithmicbear – The construction industry will bid on projects worth x amount of dollars, and will resource themselves accordingly.
        What ANY industry doesn’t like is un-certainty, and unfortunately PT infrastructure projects are always clouted in uncertainty due to either political see-sawing & NZTA and/or AT processes taking an eternity to decide what is indeed going to be constructed.
        The system is broken, or appears to be broken.
        Building a road to serve a new greenfield development appears to be easy. Building a rail/LR/Busway to serve existing OR greenfield appears to be nigh-impossible.

  4. Indicative of an ideologically partisan organisation that failed to plan for or anticipate the surprise change in government. NZTA clearly expected a quasi one party state to continue under Bill English.

    The issues this government has faced from those upset at the stopping of cosy transport gravy train and casually politicised senior echelons of the “civil” service (who now are part of that teflon class of revolving door senior managers who move from public to private and vice versa with ease) shows how important to suppressing full blown corruption regular changes of government actually are.

    Sadly, it seems the time has arrived for us to finally put to bed the myth our senior civil service is non-political and perhaps we need to adopt a US style clean out of senior managers on a change of government.

    1. “perhaps we need to adopt a US style clean out” – not sure that works so well for them. Current US government system seems to be in more disarray than even NZTA….

      but certainly, some heads should roll….

    2. Every “clean out” that you are seeking kills momentum.
      That’s why it’s at a standstill in many areas at the moment.

      And in NZTA, believe it or not, there remains exceedingly dedicated public servants, many of whom carry institutional knowledge of the New Zealand transport system of many decades.

  5. Wait till you hear about them refusing to build any walk/cycle facilities beside the ManawatĹ« Gorge replacement. Everybody (and every strategy) agrees it should be done including their own experts, but it’s been ruled ‘out of scope’ by some faceless Wellington bureaucrat and so that’s apparently the end of it.

  6. Also consider the disruption that has occurred within the NZTA with the government cancelling, disrupting or putting in limbo many projects they were working on, e.g. the East-West link, Tauranga-Waihi, Warkworth-Whangarei, Otaki-Levin, etc. Then directing them to work on a bunch of new projects. A lot of people. It’s inevitable that the work flow to construction companies would be disrupted.
    The CRL tender, LRT and other new project work will all start to be revealed soon. It all takes time. Nothing unusual.

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head there. This is the biggest shake up in transport we have had in a long time in NZ, usually a change of government means some small changes in what the priorities are but this change is much bigger.

      1. I’d like to see that all this disarray is happening as a natural consequence of the shift in direction. But if that is the case, then every major decision being made, or summary of projects going forward, etc needs to be scrutinised – is it meeting the GPS goals? If not, what BAU structures in the organisation prevented the new GPS goals from being effected.

        I don’t see that happening. I’m worried the shake up is not going to cut through the crap but just make people worried, disillusioned and defensive.

  7. I wonder if NZTA are just stalling for time and waiting for a new government to continuing roadbuilding ahead of everything else?

    1. They might be, but it’s a risky strategy given we don’t have much of a history with one term governments and all polling is suggesting that trend will continue.

  8. I’ve another theory as to why NZTA are so dysfunctional and incapable of proceeding.

    It is that NZTA is composed largely of people who want to build roads, who have been trained as transport engineers, who have only ever built roads all their lives, and to be honest, all they want to do is to build more roads. They’re good at it: NZTA are road builders.

    They’re confused and don’t know how to proceed at doing these other strange things, like build railways, and build cycle paths, and built pedestrian crossings, etc, because these are not roads. Well, not like real manly roads, for 4 wheel drives and trucks, they’re girly roads. Not something for a true transport engineer to be doing.

    I say this because I believe it to be true. When I was at Architecture School in Auckland, we got invaded one day by the Engineering School, who could not cope with the fact we had women in our classes, or that we did life drawing, or that we were designers with creativity. They rampaged around, yelling, bashing things, creating mess, having “fun”, just “being lads”. The boys from Engineering School (they were all male – there was not a single woman until the following year, when there was one), were essentially socially-backward, rugby loving, car-loving, engineers trained to think about numbers and not people. The cleverer engineers went on to do structural engineering. The less clever engineers became services engineers, or worse, at the very bottom of the pile, transport engineers. Those students then would be in their 50s now, and will be filling the halls of NZTA as middle-management.

    They can’t change. They don’t know how to.

    1. That’s racist. Shows how much you glorified art students know. The cleverer engineers went on to do Chemical Engineering.

        1. Which was previously called TAM – “Theoretical and Applied Mechanical”. I think they didn’t like the name because of the word “mechanical”, which as a discipline was only one above civil. Below electrical, even… oh, the limits we place on each other with hierarchies and pigeon-holing…

        2. Haha. As an electrical engineer I won’t mention that to my daughter who is a civil engineer. And a lot smarter than me BTW. Still, I’ve done some gas and also rail work (electrification) so maybe that counts for something.

        3. Pretty pictures are good for impressing people. If sufficiently pretty they can camouflage the meaning somewhat …

        4. Best of both worlds. Call yourself an engineer and a scientist while just pressing the start button on a fancy computer model…

    2. For the record, the first female Auckland engineering student was at Ardmore in the 60s, a Colombo Plan student. She resided at the Training College hall of residence (all women) rather than at the Engineering School barracks. A wise decision.

      1. I do agree with your sentiment regarding the road building. If you have time to waste having a read of NZTA economic manual would support your argument.
        You have to remember that standards for engineers are safe spaces. so if the de-facto governing body of design only does one thing… you get the expected results.
        On the last paragraph, I reckon you’d be surprised if you walked through Auckland and Canterbury engineering campuses, things have improved (not saying we still don’t have more room to improve, we have a lot of things to work on).

    3. “I’ve another theory…”

      What you go on to describe, Guy, is a hypothesis. A theory requires evidence of which you have provided none.

      “I say this because I believe it to be true”

      As yes, belief. Commonly used when evidence is lacking (refer religion).

      “they were all male – there was not a single woman until the following year”

      In 1975 there were 4 female students at AU Engineering School:

      http://www.engineering.auckland.ac.nz/en/for/auea/auea-members.html.html

      ..so can we assume that your “incident” took place prior to 1972 when Sue Scott first attended as a civil engineering student? That’s 47 years ago so if “Those students then would be in their 50s now” the oldest would have been 12 at the time.

      “were essentially socially-backward, rugby loving, car-loving…”
      All of them? How did you know? What was your sample size? The ones I knew at university were a varied bunch (a bit like people really). The majority seemed uninterested in rugby, more interested in motorcycles than cars (since they were more affordable than cars). Some were highly articulate and sociable, some were geeks and, with the benefit of hindsight, quite a few were undoubtedly on the autism spectrum. It’s a profession that has a relatively high proportion of autists…so if you want to criticise engineering students of the day for being “socially backwards” perhaps you should have a go at those on the spectrum since you seem fond of stereotypes.

      1. MFD – actually, the incident I spoke of occurred probably most years, but the particular year I was talking about was probably 1980 or 1981. So that would put an 18 year old then, at 55 or 56 now, which is, I presume, a reasonable age for a middle manager at NZTA? Numbers of women in engineering clearly were very low back then, and went up and down, until now when it is more normalised – and a good thing too. Yes, it is just one anecdote, with absolutely no statistics to back it up. My apologies – I didn’t have time to gather some peer-reviewed evidence – didn’t realise that was mandatory for a blog comment.

        And yes, I was having a prod, to get the conversation going – but my point is / was / still is:

        Asking a bunch of people who are good at what they do, but are not used to change, is not likely to succeed. They don’t know how to change. I experience this with most engineers on most projects I’ve been on – they are good at coming up with one idea, but then they say “that’s it, my work is done here”. Very difficult to get them to come up with different ideas – because they have not been trained to come up with different ideas.

        So – asking NZTA managers to design roads differently, to build railways instead of roads, to let pedestrians and cyclists have right-of-way over people in cars, to consider that a bus stop should be indented or not, to redesign Dominion Road with rail tracks down the middle, in a manner that does not conform to the AusRoads manual, is going to be mind-bindingly difficult for them, and more than likely, bound to fail.

    4. “It is that NZTA is composed largely of people who want to build roads, who have been trained as transport engineers, who have only ever built roads all their lives, and to be honest, all they want to do is to build more roads. They’re good at it: NZTA are road builders.”
      – you might want to have a look at the make-up of the Transport Agency these days; what you seem to be describing is the old Transit NZ (which hasn’t existed for 11 years) and even then wasn’t quite so black and white. Most of the Agency staff would NOT be engineers these days (because most of it is not about road-building); in fact they’re quite a diverse bunch of backgrounds. And to be honest, you’re casting unfair aspersions on the skills and views of many fine engineers too.

    5. Males aged between 17 and 22 tend to act like lads. Good rugby playing age too. I don’t think its just engineers. Good story though, they seem to have left an impression on you.

    6. This is merely alleged and anecdotal and smacks of an inferiority complex towards engineers.

      I expect that engineering students and architecture at the University of Auckland would’ve taken the same first year courses in maths and physics together (which would’ve had a few females even in 1975) and many could’ve played in the same sports teams or even known each other from secondary school.

      Most engineers in NZ have worked beyond NZ.

      Furthermore the NZTA is not entirely comprised of engineers.

  9. Come on Phil.
    The loss of a CEO, and extensive board resignations, and scathing enquiry reports, a rapidly increasing road death rate against international trends, and our own recent trends requires effective, and decisive ministerial leadership right now. Urgently. You cannot afford to be seen as part of the vacuum of NZTA leadership.

  10. Does this government just speak a big game in terms of transport reform but remain impotent to making the necessary organisational changes? Seems Treasury; MoT; NZTA and KiwiRail all need root and branch reform.

    1. Well, that is all she’s able to do, because that’s how the agencies were set up in 1989. Ultimately NZTA is not responsible to the ministers, but its CEO and board.

  11. Completely disheartened by the current Government on both Housing and Transport, both of which I had such high hopes for and both are intrinsic to real social reform. Not much point putting minimum wage up if you’ve got nowhere to live and no way to get to work..

    When are we going to stop looking at things such as sustainable transport with Business Cases and ‘bang for buck’…Climate change isn’t a Business, its an emergency.

    1. I’m not anti-Labour nor pro-National. There are plenty of good reasons to not vote National (Charter schools, private prisons, etc).

      But the previous Labour government were all talk and then completely different action on transport. Thus far I see no indication that this current government is any different.

      1. Which transport policies did the Clark Labour government not follow through on? My memory (admittedly a bit hazy 20 years later!) is that they largely followed through on what they campaigned on.

        1. I was frustrated by the caution of the previous Labour led govt on transport but they certainly began the transformation we now are seeing in Auckland, and in a much less sympathetic context. And did deliver.

          In particular, without Project Dart or the Northern Busway Auckland would be in a terrible state as the following administration tolerated continuing both (including electrification) but would never have initiated them.

          Additionally without amalgamation initiated by the Clark govt AKL Councils would be still squabbling among themselves about any region wide PT, while NZTA just rolls out mways… we may find fault with AT at times but by god are we glad it exists; yes. ARC was toothless and undermined from above (govt) and below (Councils).

        2. Cullen was the provincial-minded handbrake in that last Labour govt. Thank goodness Bob Harvey and others finally got through to him.

        3. ARC was far from toothless! It achieved more than Goff has as Mayor.

          Facts are it achieved funding for the revival of Auckland’s rail network, SA/SD’s, Onehunga railway line reopening, lobbied for DART and New Lynn trenching, lobbied for the Northern Busway. All that achieved in the last 8 years of ARC.

        4. “…would never have initiated them”

          It took Labour three years to initiate project DART. Why do you assume National would’ve been any worse?
          There used to be a video on YouTube (I wish I could find it) of Cullen opening the works for the new Lynn trench and he doesn’t even attempt to hide his lack of enthusiasm.

          And I cannot see how the Auckland regional council was “toothless” at all.

        5. What? There’s clear evidence the previous govt would never have initiated Dart or the Northern Busway in the fact that they deleted the NW Busway with the upgrade there, and that’s with the huge success of the the two previous RT projects in plain sight. They still nixed it.

          The idea that they would have begun introducing rapid transit to Auckland off their own bat is absurd, when they wouldn’t even do it after it was proven to work. If you still don’t believe this go back and read the statements in the house by Joyce and Brownlee.

        6. Partick R:
          Do you REALLY believe that public statements by politicians are some concrete evidence for true intent?

        7. They didn’t declare any actual policies. They just made hazy pro-PT talk while in practice they:
          * Allowed Toll Holdings to get their hands on Kiwirail.
          * Allowed the regional rail services to be ended without lifting a finger to neither halt them nor replace them.
          * Sat on project DART for three years.
          * And initiated the largest motorway/limited access road/highway construction building NZ has ever seen.

        8. In fairness they campaigned on increasing spending on transport across the board, which they certainly did. This was especially so for state highways, but also PT.

          I agree they were very begrudging with rail funding but they couldn’t be accused of promising stuff they didn’t deliver as they really didn’t promise much at all.

        9. The 5th Labour government of 1999-2008 invested in transport infrastructure, that cannot be denied.

          What’s also a fact (but which many seem to deny) is the very little of that funding was for anything except roading.

      2. @ Daniel Eyre: Your key words: “thus far”. The govt’s next term 2020-2023 (should they win it) will be the clincher, so cut them some slack now. I seem to remember National’s first term 2008-2011 was more talk than action. For instance not until their second term 2011-2014 did the RoNS policy get irreversibly locked in.

        1. And their prime 2008 policy of fibre broadband now only making it to some streets within view of Aucklands CBD, 11 years later.

        2. Why aren’t they initiating anything in the 2017-20 term again?

          I seem to recall the Nat’s initiating a lot between 2008-11.

        3. Even the Nats had to wait for the next 3-year National Land Trpt Programme to kick in from Sep 2009 (and that was only after they had adjusted the GPS first). Same this time around too; GPS got changed last year, new NLTP started in Sep 2018 – just half a year ago.

        4. What are you talking about?

          The national government inherited the road building from the previous labour government. Steven Joyce merely prioritised some of them as “roads of national significance”.

        5. Have a look at the 2008 GPS before the election; quite different. Labour was planning to ramp up walk/cycle programmes and PT; both got decimated with the rejigged GPS

    2. If I recall correctly this new government, which is a coalition with Greens & NZ First by the way, immediately almost started reinstatement of the Gisborne rail line & has kick started & cancelled a number of things for example the EW link & continuing RONZ. Paying for SkyPath for example (albeit apparently stallled, more an NZTA thing). Happy to be corrected on that.

      1. Yeah you “recall” that it’s a new government because right now it’s midway through its 3 year term! Not “new” anymore by any stretch.

        The rail line to Gisborne is NOT being reinstated, it’s merely going to Wairoa. And that’s more thanks to Shane Jones than anyone in Labour.

        1. Do you have any data to prove you’re not a dickhead?

          Or is that just mere speculation?

        2. So where’s gk to pontificate to this guy about the posting guidelines? Or his attitude?

          As for the irony of his comment (and behaviour): I’ll leave this here for everyone to (*cough*) see.

        3. Pontificating as requested:

          DV’s attitude appears to be being somewhat tired of your attitude.

          I won’t endorse the slight coarse terminology, but note it could be covered more politely by “having a poor attitude”.

        4. Here’s a story on NZTA staff turnover with some data:
          https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/100140851/upheaval-at-nzta-resulting-in-poor-quality-roading-upgrades

          Minister Twyford has requested a wide-ranging review of NZTA’s performance, I don’t think he’d do that without good reason. In terms of disarray have you been following the investigation into NZTA’s WoF/CoF saga?

          I worry that NZTA’s disarray is causing it to go into seige mentality, eg: this story about 42 NZTA staff involved in one single OIA request by Sam Warburton:
          https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2017/12/a_rotten_oia_story.html

          We need NZTA’s internal culture to be robust, transparent and empowered.

  12. This is the organisation that will take 2 years of construction to widen the boardwalk on the Orakei Basin section of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Shared Path. This work started in September 2017 and is still far from finished.

    7 years and counting for the path through the Pourewa Valley

    Where is the political oversight of this organisation ?

    1. I’m going to take an educated guess seeing what I am with NZTA is that this organisation, like all public service organisations in NZ suffered repeated “efficiencies” type initiatives aimed at keeping some so called real or more likely imagined fiscal excess not only under control but to trim it’s real overall budget. It was obvious that highways and motorways were largely all that mattered.

      Working in an organisation like that as I have under constant budget issues leads to staff disengagement, resignations, and that last one creates the perfect building storm because staff leaving are not replaced in a silent, unofficial but intentional sinking lid policy. Those left are expected to do more with less and on goes the vicious cycle. Add to that new staff, if by pure necessity had to be taken on, lasting a short time before thinking to hell with this and you cannot help but guarantee dysfunction from that kind of environment.

      Plenty of other examples of this in teaching, mental health, CYFS, the police, justice, the military etc, etc.

  13. Is it possible especially with light rail to leave NZTA out of the frame?

    It is a troubled organisation by the looks, the warrant of fitness portfolio certainly evidence of that and also from what I have read here, so much so it’s really holding things back.

    I can see Skypath is more difficult given it’s a clip on to SH1.

    And long term an enquiry into how this semi dysfunctional culture came to be to avoid repeats.

    1. Who instead would you have as the Requiring Authority,and who would be the network operator? AT? They were relieved of the project.

      Anything structural you change now leads to massive further delays later.

      1. Further delays are now par for the course be it a search for an alternative or sticking with NZTA, there is next to no difference. Look at Skypath, basically dead in the water deeply mired in as much bureaucracy as NZTA want there to be and it’s clear that’s what they want. It’s almost a “how dare an elected government tell us what to do” scenario.

        At least starting a fresh, long term, may work out better than this lot.

        1. That view is what the NZSuperfund light rail proposal is counting on: delay NZTA, frustrate the government, and appear on the horizon like a white knight.

          White knight says: do away with all existing procurement discipline.

          All they ask is a 100-year concession from the state in return.

  14. And how did this semi-dysfunctional culture come about?
    It was inevitable actually, given that a three term previous government had chosen the operating board and set the objectives. The board had chosen the CEO. The CEO had chosen the staff to meet it’s objectives. A Government that had improving motor vehicle amenity as core flagship objective including RONS without any serious cost benifit analysis. This government also had a firm ideological belief in self regulation for both industry and people. Hence reduced enforcement. In transport this reduduced enforced resulted in the MOT fiasco and less road policing resuled in reversing the gains in road death rates over the previous years. This same government, with few exceptions, actively resisted transport spending on any alternatives to big motor vehicle road enhancement projects.
    NZTA was structured and rewarded to give the Government what it wanted.
    And by in large it did.
    Then the Government changed with a large change in direction.
    It is no wonder that the NZTA found itself stranded, with the wrong outlook and skill set to meet very changed objectives and currently seems to be floundering and trying to cope with passive resistance to this change from within.

  15. I note the link provided above re the Vector Board resignations is a Brian Gaynor article where he writes…

    “Where there is smoke there is fire and Stiassny has admitted he is a black and white individual. He is a difficult person to get a straight answer from and his uncommunicative and autocratic style, which is a characteristic of his receivership background, is probably inappropriate for a large listed infrastructure company.”

  16. I have found this post and all the comments very informative. However is it all just pointless since NZTA seems to have little interest in what bloggers think?
    Should the focus not be on the ministers of transport since only they have the ability to prod NZTA into action and progress major projects such as LRT?

  17. Bogle, you are absolutely right and in a Westminster democracy it is the function of Question Time & Select Committees to hold the Minister to account over performance of entities like NZTA. However Simon, Jerry and co are never going to ask questions in the House that end up uncovering the principles under which they fostered the current NZTA culture and narrow.skill base. I’m equally sure that this is not high on select committee agendas. It’s really up to Phil & Julie-Anne to get in there and sort out the mess. It’s not what they want to do and probably not what they are skilled to do but guess what in very few jobs to get to do what you want to do and like to do. You have to do what needs to be done and that need is now being driven by NZTA’s inability to deliver on the promises given in the last election.

  18. Two observations I would make to the discussion:

    (1) the past year following the NZTA restructure has seen some mass resignations or retirements of staff within the agency; off the top of my head I can think of at least five in fairly key roles straight away. Not only is this a straight loss of workload resource until they are replaced (= reduced work completed) but in many cases that’s also a big loss in institutional memory.

    (2) Just yesterday at the NZ Trptn Conference in Wgtn, an NZTA speaker reported that about 20 major highway projects had been or were being reviewed in light of the new GPS objectives. This was to ensure that their rationale and focus made sense under the new policies, e.g. a roading project may be less about simple travel time efficiency now and more about safety or other outcomes. Where there is quite a fundamental shift in what is required, I would imagine that this could mean quite a bit of work to rejig designs to meet the new needs.

    It is for both of these reasons that I could understand why some projects and initiatives within NZTA may have appeared to have ‘stalled’. I’m inclined to believe those reasons more than any hint of “malice”…

    1. +1, before leaving New Zealand I was working on a project that was progressing towards detailed design. The design was almost ready to be lodged for NoR. The design was aligned to the old GPS, and not at all to the new one. It’s still worth doing something on the corridor, but it we have to be redesigned from scratch on a different alignment. This takes out 2 years worth of work.

      I imagine a lot of rural highway jobs are similar. The corridors still need $200m of work, but the existing designs are no use.

    2. “the past year following the NZTA restructure has seen some mass resignations or retirements of staff within the agency; off the top of my head I can think of at least five in fairly key roles straight away.”

      It’s taken this long for anyone to mention anything that indicates actual disarray within the NZTA.

      And if this is the case; who’s actually responsible or it? And doesn’t this indicate the the job they’re doing has thus far been pretty awful?

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