Alarm At Govt Plan To “Commercialise” Public Transport


Environment Waikato’s regional passenger transport committee has been told of an” initiative” by the Minister of Transport to “examine increased commercialisation of public transport/”

EW’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale said that plan would result in “subsidy support for only those routes that are non-profitable.”

Committee members raised a range of concerns about this, including a feeling that passenger bus services would never be fully commercial in New Zealand.

There was also concern from committee deputy chair Paula Southgate, of Environment Waikato , that greater commercialisation might let companies “cherry pick” easier to run peak routes, thereby reducing an effective cross-subsidy they might provide for other services.

The revelation came during a discussion about a nice problem to have – too many people want to use Hamilton buses, in particular the issue of overcrowding on the increasingly popular Orbiter bus service in Hamilton is worrying authorities.

The committee heard that growing school rolls - due to new students and more young people staying in education - and increased demand generally had all contributed to fuller buses on the clockwise and anti-clockwise Orbiter routes which circle Hamilton.

Overcrowding problems with frustrated passengers unable to be picked up were particularly evident on the morning anti-clockwise route, the committee heard.

Hamilton bus services are growing

Another example of the problems was that it was taking up to an hour for Orbiter buses to clear passengers from Hamilton Boys High School in the afternoon.

Bevan Dale told the committee that potential solutions included diverting buses from another route to take pressure off the Orbiter and using extra and bigger buses.

The committee has passed a resolution supporting EW’s efforts to find solutions, including the seeking of additional funding.

Mr Dale said it was possible EW’s CEO may need to make a special submission to the 2010-11 draft annual plan process if more funding was required.

Committee chairman Norm Barker, of EW, said afterwards he was keen to see urgent solutions worked out between the regional council, Hamilton City Council and other stakeholders.
“It’s not acceptable that people are having to wait too long for an available bus. We will be working as quickly as we can to fix things up.”

EARLIER: Figures show growth in use of Hamilton bus services




  1. joust says:

    Perhaps this kind of commercial thinking is what we might expect from any changes to the Public Transport Management Act.

  2. Matt L says:

    So we sell off the profitable routes and leave ourselves having to pay the full amount for the unprofitable ones instead of them being cross subsidised. What a really smart move that is. Just look at what a mess Auckland is with its mix of commercial and public funded services.

    If EW/HCC don’t sell the services it won’t worry the government, they will just be disbanded and a commisioner appointed.

  3. Jeremy Harris says:

    It is a disaster here and it is a ridiculous move that only increases rates… Remember since the PTMA amendments only England (outside of London) does not allow council control of routes, the reason for this is simple anything but central control does not work..!

  4. Cambennett says:

    Welcome to 1993 - just look at how well this approach worked in Auckland back then.

  5. Jon R says:

    Exactly Cam B, this is what the National Party Govt. in the early 90′s did. It killed public transport usage.

    Is this a master plan for any National Party lead Govt?

    Kill Rail
    Kill Public Transport usage
    Promote Trucks
    Promote Roads for private motorists

    Deja vu.

  6. rtc says:

    This is more or less what Joyce has already said will come out of the PTMA amendments, NZ Bus did a lot of lobbying for this. Perhaps Joyce needs to be played at his own game. If Auckland Transport established their own ‘private’ bus company that competed for all contracts in Auckland the whole issue would be solved…..

  7. Jeremy Harris says:

    I’ve thought about that before and wondered why they can’t do that as contracts come up for tender…

  8. rtc says:

    I think because the previous National government banned councils from owning buses etc, this was why the ARC sold off the yellow bus company. I think they’re still banned from doing so.

  9. rtc says:

    However, this was also why ARC established the ARTH or something, forget the name, which initially owned all the train stations, until legislation was passed to allow then to once again own PT infrastructure. So I think at present contrary to what I said above they could perhaps establish a new yellow bus company to compete against NZ Bus. Or alternatively they could buy NZ Bus when infratil sells it off as is rumoured.

  10. Jezza says:

    Yeah I’m pretty sure councils are allowed to own buses again, I think a few councils around do… ARTA might even own the NEX buses…

  11. Cambennett says:

    That was just ridiculous what happened in the 90s. What kind of head up the arse, blinkered ideologues would actually pass a law banning councils from owning buses or PT infrastrucutre? Unbeleivable.

  12. Jeremy Harris says:

    If you look at the UK in the 80s they knew it would decimate PT use, that is why Maggie Thatcher, the milk snatcher, exempted London from the privatisation plan…
    How freaking dumb is that, passing legislation you know will destroy PT use, explode subsidies and congest the very roads you want to build…
    If Joyce ever gets around to this PTMA reform, my submission will be a doozy, I encourage people to come to select committee hearing, I may well swear at some hard right MPs…

  13. jarbury says:

    I plan to scan about 12 pages of Paul Mees’s book Transport for Suburbia to include in my submission on the PTMA reforms - explaining exactly why the commercial/subsidised split is a stupid idea.


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