21 Sep

Mike Lee the Legend of Auckland Public Transport

Mike Lee

As voters consider their choices in the upcoming local government elections, the Public Transport Users Association has decided it was time to highlight and thank Cr. Mike Lee for his excellent, unparalleled efforts to promote public transport across the Auckland region, regardless of the outcome of the election.

Christine Rose, Chair of the PTUA said “ I worked with Mike Lee when I was the Chair of the Regional Transport Committee in the mid to late 2000’s and found his incredible in-depth knowledge around all things related to transport as extremely beneficial. His long term vision for public transport is something others need to aspire to”.

Jon Reeves, Coordinator of the PTUA says, Mike Lee is often overlooked by other organisations rating candidates who have their own agendas to push. Unlike them, the PTUA looks at one thing, what has a candidate done and achieved for Aucklanders in the realms of public transport.

The list of achievements with Mike Lee is a mile long, but to just name a few:

  • – 1992 Helped save rail in Auckland by acquiring the ex-Perth diesel railcars. This small but significant action helped grow rail patronage and set the plan for Britomart 10 years later.
  • – Promoted, pushed and negotiated with Central and local Govt stakeholders to have the Onehunga railway line reopened. It successfully opened in 2010 after being closed to passengers in 1973 and was on the cusp of being removed forever.
  • – Lobbied for funding support of free City Link bus promoted by Heart of the City.
  • – As Chair of the old Auckland Regional Council Lee supported electrification of the Auckland rail network . He lobbied both the Labour and National Governments for support.
  • – City Rail Link, formulated by the ARC under Mike Lee’s stewardship and later championed by Mayor Len Brown.
  • “The PTUA is not aware of any other candidates with as such a strong track record in delivering solid public transport improvements and we wish Mike Lee all the best in his attempt to win his seat on the Waitemata and Gulf Ward in the current elections. Train, bus and ferry users of today and the future, owe Mike Lee a lot” says Mr Reeves

    “The PTUA is an independent organisation, not funded directly or indirectly by Auckland Transport, development organisations or property developers and the like. We purely exist to represent users of public transport”. “We remain politically neutral, but we must give credit where credit is due to the single person who has done so much for public transport in Auckland”. Reeves added “Mike Lee is also a founding member of the PTUA.”

    Mrs Rose says “Mike has been a consistent and dignified statesman of public transport in the Auckland region. He doesn’t take credit for the actions of many, as other candidates are inclined to do, but he has a long memory and a clear vision for transport justice across the whole Auckland land-mass, not just in a single electorate”. “Without Mike’s contribution through the decades, we would have made half the progress to date”. “The Public Transport Users Association commends his contributions through the years, with an ongoing legacy that others can only dream of and hope to build upon”.


    Scoop Article

27 Jun



Transport planners are letting down both residents and visitors to Auckland in the decision to abandon heavy rail to Auckland International Airport says the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“Transport authorities are foreclosing future options and compromising optimum long term solutions for airport access, just when they should be protecting the airport rail route and providing connections for heavy rail into the rest of the regional rail network” says PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves.

“Nearly every major airport in the world is served by rail. Dedicated, uncongested and seamless links between city hubs and airports are critical to provide certainty to travellers, but the New Zealand Transport Agency rejects this conventional wisdom in its current thinking”.

“NZTA and Auckland Transport(AT) are proposing busway and/or tram-light rail solutions to the airport. In doing so they are rejecting the strong arguments in support of rail – an existing railway line already reaches within a few kilometres of the airport, whereas light rail or dedicated bus corridors require significant land and infrastructure development costs. Political and public support for conventional rail services from the current Onehunga terminus is high. Extending the link through Mangere will improve that community’s access to the regional rail network and to the airport, while using existing infrastructure wisely”.

“Light rail/trams and a busway are a dream, while conventional rail is already a successful reality for Auckland, and offers travel and construction time savings, cost savings, and it’s imminently do-able”, says Mr Reeves.

“NZTA and Auckland Transport are overlooking obvious solutions while putting faith in uncosted, undeveloped plans that are in some undetermined future. The agency is foreclosing heavy rail solutions even while light rail options are hypothetical, certainly not guaranteed”.

“In the decision to abandon conventional rail which serves the region so well, and compromising future development by removing the Neilson Street overbridge, NZTA and AT are putting the cart before the horse” says Mr Reeves. “Yet this is just when planners need certainty as Auckland International Airport redevelops. NZTA are leading the process which is more rightfully an Auckland Transport role. But what we get as a result is a failure of leadership all round”.

“AT and NZTA seem to have talked themselves into a corner which delivers poor outcomes for Onehunga, Mangere, the airport, Aucklanders, and travellers to and from the airport gateway. Meanwhile they exhibit a failure of imagination and common sense in rejecting the most rational use of existing corridors and infrastructure provided by heavy rail”. “We suggest both NZTA and AT go back to the drawing board, or at least carry out an independent review of their arguments against existing wisdom and investment, in favour of an alternative which is really just a wish and a dream”.

The PTUA supports the Campaign for Better Transport and Cr. Mike Lee’s abhorrent disbelief at the decision not to progress with planning for Airport Rail. Public opinion is set to grow against this highly flawed decision by NZTA and AT.

Reeves said “These two agencies should be ready for a well deserved public backlash in the lead up to local body elections and the general election next year. It could well be a matter the Government will need to step in to sort out as it is clear NZTA and the Council Own Organisation (AT) are lacking competence and common sense.