The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is pleased that the impressive new Otahuhu Bus and Rail Transport Centre has opened. The Centre will be a major game changer, as frequent bus services will now feed into our rail network.
Jon Reeves, Co-ordinator of the PTUA says “the opening of the new Otahuhu Transport Centre today and the combined changes for the Southern bus network from tomorrow should deliver positive results for most passengers in South Auckland. We would hope that the rail fleet can cope with the growth that will naturally happen in a relatively short timeframe. Even with Auckland Transport (AT) proposing slight increases to the speed of rail services on the southern corridor, only three rail units will be freed up by March next year to service demand”.
The PTUA suggest that AT look at some interim stop gap solutions, either through the re-introduction of some of its refurbished diesel hauled carriages currently being stored in Taumarunui, or by utilising the five spare diesel railcars based in Westfield (near Otahuhu). “Ultimately, AT need to be ordering a second tranche of new Electric Multiple Units to also co-inside with the City Rail Link opening around 2021, but that will require significant Government support”, Reeves said.
The PTUA also understand there is some anguish among residents in Paerata, near Pukekohe, at AT’s removal of all bus services between Pukekohe and Papakura. While the PTUA understands the logic behind AT’s plans to focus on feeding into rail services, the removal of buses appears premature when no rail station has been planned nor built in Paerata. Effectively residents in this area will now have zero option for public transport, and will be required to drive instead.
There has been one significant development this week that the PTUA finds highly concerning. The removal of two democratically elected representatives off the Board of Auckland Transport by the new Mayor Phil Goff, is as Reeves says, “a direct attack on democracy and a huge concern given AT is a public organisation spending public money.”
The PTUA believes Goff has been ill-informed by whomever has advised him to remove elected officials from the Board. Goff has over-stepped his authority in this case, given it is the Council that makes decisions around the removal of elected officials to the Board, not the Mayor alone. “We certainly do not want to see any more unelected board members appointed, regardless of their perceived experience, as the current Board is stacked full with unelected members” Christine Rose, PTUA Chair said.
The PTUA supports the need for accountability to be restored to the board of Auckland Transport. Transport committees across New Zealand are staffed in their entirety by democratically elected members. The PTUA strongly believes Auckland should be no different.