Friday, April 9, 2010
Minister's public transport cherry-picking proposal puts services at risk
His idea, supported by the bus owner-dominated Public Transport Leadership Forum, is to free up private PT operators to 'cherry-pick' profitable peak-hour/high volume services, leaving local authorities and ratepayers to fund the rest of the PT timetable.
This will inevitably lead to cutbacks in timetables and routes, as networks like Hamilton's lose the ability to cross-subsidise across different services. It is also likely to mean local authorities will lose control over the setting of fares.
Local authorities responsible for PT are increasingly turning to the 'gross contract' system, where private operators are contracted to run a route (covering all trips during the day), or a group of routes, and all the revenue from ticket sales goes to the local authority.
Waikato has run this system for many years, which has strongly contributed to the largest % growth in PT in the country.
Particularly in Auckland, private PT operators have had a history of jumping in to run profitable services and withdrawing from less profitable ones, leaving passengers in the lurch, causing major planning problems, and meaning ratepayers have to try and pick up the pieces.
The Minister's bright idea will be like Groundhog Day for all those who have worked to develop PT in New Zealand into a more planned, sustainable and fair system.