Driving around Auckland the other day, I saw that one of the candidates for the Auckland mayoralty is promising to sack the board of Auckland Transport. He’s got my vote was my immediate reaction!
Of course, I know that the performance of Auckland Transport is not the only important issue in this local body election, but for me it is arguably the most important single issue. Why? Because it is an enormously large organisation, wielding a budget of billions of dollars, which gives every impression that it is intent on behaving in ways which show not the slightest interest in the wellbeing of most Aucklanders.
At the end of May, Andrew Bayly, the Member of Parliament for the Hunua electorate, had an article in the New Zealand Herald lambasting Auckland Transport for “playing havoc with our rural roads”, proposing to drastically reduce the speed limit on 251 roads in his electorate, narrowing roads in new subdivisions to the point where “emergency services dislike them because they can’t get fire trucks down them”, and refusing to allow him or even the Franklin Local Board to see the submissions commenting on the speed limit proposals.
On the same day that the Herald published Andrew Bayly’s letter, a group of us, led by well-known car safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, issued a public statement calling on the Government to institute a full public inquiry into the conduct and practices of Auckland Transport and the various organisations which interact with it, including NZTA, Auckland Council, MRGagney and lobby group Greater Auckland. The group went further and said that Auckland Transport’s current powers should be suspended immediately, and that an independent commissioner should be appointed to supervise Auckland Transport’s activities until the full public inquiry is concluded.
Four things prompted me to back this demand.
First was Auckland Transport’s quite extraordinary proposal to drastically reduce speed limits throughout the city – to 30 kph in the entire central business district and to 60 or 80 kph on most rural roads within Greater Auckland, much of it rural. Yes, I can see some grounds for reducing the speed