Take a Bow, Auckland Transport


If I could afford to shout Auckland Transport staff morning tea today, I would.

But with 958 staff, I I’ll toast them in words!

AT has proven the critics wrong.

It is highly professional and at times - on its clear decisions on issues like bus lanes and Dominion Rd,- makes the old Auckland City Council transport handling of such issues appear rather bumbling. That is not to say the Council did not do good things but Auckland suffered from a myriad of bodies involved in transport decisions. And that affected all local bodies trying to make good decisions for transport as a whole in Auckland. And there was far too much posturing, politics and factions in play.

Auckland Transport benefits from what the Government promised: one decision-making process and one that brings under its umbrella close associations with the essential bodies like NZTA, Veolia, NZ Bus and KiwiRail.

It showed it could act quickly and intelligently on issues like some immediate short term action at Tamaki Drive after a nasty cycling accident.

On its 8th month anniversary AT lists among its achievements:

  • The successful introduction and implementation of Auckland’s first public transport smartcard –HOP
  • Public transport usage up 8.5% on the previous financial year and rail patronage on track to reach a record 10 million passenger trips.
  • The lodgement of the first Notice of Requirement (NOR) for the AMETI project
  • Achieving a good outcome for Auckland from the  hearing on SH20 (Waterview)
  • New payment systems and cheaper evening and weekend rates for Auckland Transport’s carparks
  • Set up of a Joint Transport Operating Centre at Smales Farm with NZTA to manage Auckland’s roading network as one network
  • Establishment of a structured prioritisation system for the 2011/2012 capital programme
  • Completion of the City Rail Loop Business case
  • Good progress with our partner KiwiRail on the contract to supply electric trains for Auckland
  • Review of Dominion Road completed
  • A major redesign of bus routes in the Auckland CBD and inner suburbs will be rolled out in August. A high frequency bus linking Queen Street and K’Rd to Wynyard Quarter is one of two routes being added to Auckland’s popular LINK bus service.
  • Positive engagement with Local Boards

CEO David Warburton told this week’s Board meeting that  AT has  been a major part of one of the largest business reorganisations ever in this country.

“AT were given a solid foundation by the legacy organisations and the ATA. However, one cannot underestimate the work that  has been done to ensure a fully functioning and effective organisation.

“The transition of staff to new roles, and in many cases new locations, was not without its hiccups, but the most pleasing aspect was that it did not  cause any failure in the delivery of business as usual.

“The promise was for a seamless transition from a customer perspective and that has effectively been achieved. Customer service remains at the heart of AT’s culture.”


AT has also shown courage in highlighting what Auckland needs and instead of rolling over, telling the Government so.

It has taken leadership on issues like Auckland’s much-needed CBD Rail Link of National Significance.

Auckland Transport CEO: We're doing well

As the CEO sums up in his report: ”The organisation has come together to operate as a new and successful single Transport entity.  It has  followed through on the Mayor and Council’s expectations and is well placed to build  better transport solutions for Auckland in the year ahead.”

With Len Brown and Mike Lee also making major contributions, Auckland has a united voice on where it should be going on transport issues.

All we need if for the Government to wake up and smell the latest AT patronage figures and realise transport in Auckland is not just about motorways.

Oh, and thanks also to the AT’s Communications staff who have always been helpful and responsive to the often annoying AKT queries.




  1. KarlHansen says:

    I can’t be quite THAT laudatory. Some odd key individuals I have dealt with have been really problematic (though most, admittedly, range between OK and good - and even if not, it is more an issue of attitudes to cooperation than skill, generally), and several departments are in my experience still SEVERELY overworked (generally not the fault of the managers involved, but a big issue).

    Still, one cannot be but impressed that they managed taking over without major disruptions, especially seeing how many staff from old Councils left or were shuffled into totally new roles.

  2. Matt L says:

    I think they have done a pretty good job overall. While everyone will have thoughts on areas where they could have done things differently we do need to acknowledge what they achieved

  3. Matt says:

    When one considers the level of political interference being levelled at Auckland by certain ministers, AT has done pretty well. Will be interesting to see how they cope when the impact of the meddling with FARs becomes apparent.

  4. Giel says:

    Auckland PT has made massive gains over the last few years and every week it is getting better - the occasional hick up is to be expected in such a massive overhaul - so well done to AT but also ARTA before them.

    Only real concern I have is the expense / cost of building some things - but I believe they will get that right in due course. As they say to use an old tacky cliché “Rome wasn’t built in day”

  5. George D says:

    Praise where it’s due! Things are getting better, and AT deserves credit for it.

    Imagine what they could be doing if they didn’t have the Minister of Transport actively trying to stop their improvements…

  6. Christopher Dempsey says:

    Speaking as an elected representative (Waitemata Local Board) I have to say I am reasonably impressed with AT given the magnitude of challenges.

    What is noticeable is how well AT works without political interference - this was clearly seen in the Tamaki Drive incident when they removed carparks immediately following the tragic death of Jane Bishop.

    Under the previous Auckland City Council regime, this would have never happened as the then Chair, Ken Baguley, a definitive fan of the car, would have squelched any idea of removing carparks - instead probably sending the idea to be considered by the car dominated Eastern Bays Community Board which would have whined about the loss of car parking.

    Under AT, the car parks were simply removed, proving AT’s intelligence. Striking differences. The worry is that AT will act sometimes *against* community interests. They have not yet done so, but it will be interesting to see when it does happen.

    While I should point out that I’m not a fan of Rodney Hide for his inept handling of the super city amalgamation, I think here that even if the super city idea fell over, we would have over time seen agreement between all of the previous existing councils and ARC that transport functions should be merged into one ‘back office’ entity, removed from heavy political interference.

    The writing was clearly on the wall as a way to go given the success of the regional integration of the library services while still retaining their own ‘council’ colours.

    @Matt - there is a small amount of political interference by Rodney Hide in terms of appointing clearly political people to the AT Board e.g. Mark Ford. However, it’s clear that Rodney doesn’t understand local govt. Appointing people from outside local govt onto Boards was always going to end in tears; local govt, particularly the size of Auckland, is a immovable beast at times.

    I think we will see some real sucesses coming out of AT, but also some duds - nothing after all is ever perfect. But over time, the real sucesses will amount to a good deal, negating any negativity.

  7. James B says:

    Chris: This is a bit off topic. But I’d like to ask a question. A few months ago someone from the local board (it may have been you but my memory is hazy) mentioned that the lamp posts in Darby Street are temporary and will be replaces with better ones. This doesn’t appear to have happened yet. Do you have an update on this?

  8. Kurt says:

    Good on Auckland Transport working in difficult times with a recalcitrant government.

    And good on them for adding extra capacity to the trains as well.

    But good work like this is undone in a small way when I experienced a fairly crowded five car train to Papakura on Thursday evening 21/07/11 and two of the cars did not have train staff on board. My ticket wasnt clipped until just before Sylvia Park when almost half the passengers on that car alone had escaped without payment.

    Hopefully they can sort this out too!


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