Mayor Takes Train & Car At Once?


Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer says the Mayor Len Brown has the Mayoral car following him by driving alongside the train route on the occasions he does take the train to work.

“The revelation that the mayoral car drives alongside the train completely defeats the purpose. Good on the mayor for promoting public transport, but given his huge commitments catching the train is just not practical or cost effective for the city,” he says..

Today he called on Len Brown to abandon his train trips “because they’re costing ratepayers more, adding to his carbon footprint, and wasting his and staff members’ valuable time.”

“I’ve worked in political leaders’ offices before and you’ve just got to be sensible with travel arrangements The reality is, in most cases, the car remains the most efficient way to get around the wider Auckland region. For better or worse, he just has to work with that.

Cameron Brewer using a train when CEO of Newmarket Business Assn

“His intentions are honourable, but it’s time to pull the pin. He’s made his point now and continuing the pretence will only make matters worse. No one’s impressed that while he’s in the train his driver’s following behind burning gas in a big empty V6 Holden Commodore on the southern motorway. Environmentally, economically and logistically it’s just nuts.

“It just hasn’t worked out and in fact it’s starting to send out all the wrong signals. It’s time to abandon this logistical nightmare for the sake of the mayor’s own time management, the ratepayer and the environment. Aucklanders want their mayor spending maximum time on the big issues that will advance the city, not wasting time and money on trying to fulfil an increasingly fraught election promise,”he says.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Oh great. Way to sell the train as a mode of travel only fit for unimportant people Mr Brewer.

    I for one see Len Brown’s train use as symbolic, and the car following because while we all want a world-class rail service, we have to acknowledge that we have a way to go. Giving up on it completely as Mr Brewer seems to be suggesting will not help us achieve a world class rail service.

  2. Luke says:

    I bet he gets to work quicker than his driver.
    also good to show Len the value of the CBD tunnel, no 10+ min walks required then.
    Also the environmental effect is the same regardless, both the train and the car run anyway.

    Another option could be to get a taxi from Lens place to the nearest station - Manurewa, but I guess frequencies are lower so more chance of being delayed.

  3. Jim C says:

    It seems that Len is caught between a rock and hard place. I think its a very good idea that he does take the train. He can talk to people on the train and get a total feel of public transport via rail. His car may travel as well as you never know when any emergency can crop up. He could be picked up and taken to wherever he needs to go. Give him a chance its a totally new council. I presume Mr Brewer may have a different political leaning to Len. My thought as a non Aucklander

  4. Jeremy says:

    Wow, Cam Brewers investigatory skills are too much, I could had told him from day one that the Mayor would be still using the car. I remember Sir Barry Curtis said that he had 390 something formal engagements a year which is more than the Governor general, Len Brown probably have a similar amount or more.

    Personally I’m insulted by his comments to think Auckland residents are so dumb. Alot of the things Brewer says is a given, most of the time when Brown speaks to the media there is a PR element to it. It seems to me Brewer is trying to increase his profile for some reason. I can’t believe he’s telling the mayor how to get to work.

  5. Sarah says:

    Cameron is on the button here.
    The mayor is getting very bad PR advice and threatens to lose his public support on the rail projects if he only pretends to use public transport.
    Goaded by critics on the right to use public transport if he believed in it, he staged a PR event in which he went by train surrounded by media and declared he would do so regularly.
    Then a few weeks later, he had to admit to the Herald he had not been taking the train.
    Now it’s revealed the next time he did use the train, his assistant drives to his home, they get driven to the Papatoetoe station by his chauffeur who also drives all the way to his Sth Auckland home and then his driver goes back into the Auck CBD while Len and assistant go by train.
    People understand he is a busy man and all over a large city and does not have to use the train just to satisfy his right wing critics that we need rail in Auckland. He should just say so.
    This bad publicity is just distracting from his cause for the rail projects because the media seize on it.
    So this disastrous PR exercise is making him a laughing stock, like the badly crafted 100 projects in100 days which was also not achievable in any substance. More bad PR advice.
    As one of the right critics on the use of public transport issue, Kiwiblog puts it this morning:
    “Len seems to not understand how most people use public transport. It sort of defeats the purpose to have your car follow the train to work. The idea of public transport is you walk to a bus stop, bus to the train station and then take the train to work, and do it in reverse in the evening. That way you leave the car at home.”

  6. mark says:

    I agree this looks bad on him, but if he gives this flak too much attention, it will be bad too. So he needs some way to get out gracefully.

    Can’t he go HOME by train every now and then? That way, he could send the driver home separately.

  7. Matt says:

    It’s tough. If the car has to follow, then there’s no point taking the train. Surely, though, Brown has “office days”, or at least “office mornings”, and the car could be left at the council carpark overnight.
    If he caught the train home, he and his entourage could catch the train to the office in the morning, car would be waiting, and the day could commence. No symbolism of being on the train with a trail car.

    Obviously that’s not always practical, and maximising Brown’s time utility is the highest priority, but it cannot be impossible for him to genuinely use PT on a regular basis. Just needs some planning.

    Hate to say it, but I think Brewer’s right about the message that gets sent if this gets publicity, though. And Brewer is at least a pro-PT councillor, unlike some of the others. Newmarket thrived because of its PT links, and he knows it.

  8. Matt L says:

    I think this is a pretty bad look as it indicates that even when taking PT you still need your car so is doing nothing to help congestion and just makes him a bit hypocritical.

    At the end of the day it is just a publicity stunt and everyone knows that but it is one that could easily backfire in a few years time.

  9. Doloras says:

    Cameron Brewer used to comment on this blog occasionally, but it seems clear here - and with his anti-Central City tunnel comments previously - that he’s just another small minded right-wing local body politician who hates PT because it’s for poor people.

  10. Mark says:

    The bigger issue here is what type of mayor len Brown is. That is the real risk for PT.

    So far there has been a lot of “pr/spin” such as this train trip / 100 projects/appointing CCO cronies etc etc.if he is seen as a light weight mayor more about pr than actual results - that will damage his credibility.

    And if he loses credibility, will he be able to pressure the Government funding re things like CBD rail loop etc?

  11. Doloras says:

    Mark: the spin doesn’t damage his credibility, the question of whether people like you fall for the spin and take it for substance is what damages it. Unless of course you’re a Cameron Brewer / CitRat / National Party / anti-PT troll yourself?

  12. mark says:

    Doloras, your posts are getting a bit angrier these days…

    “Mark: the spin doesn’t damage his credibility, the question of whether people like you fall for the spin ”

    In fact, it is well known that negative spin ALWAYS sticks, even if it is disproven. Basic psychological research has shown that reading negative stories, whether or not the person reading it looks only at the headline or delves deeper, leaves a little bit of a “stain”. That’s human nature - people remember embarassing or negative points more, probably because they are “juicier”.

  13. Mark says:

    Doloras - I’m talking about Len Brown’s own spin - and I don’t think he needs to do it.

    So far things like the 100 day projects haven’t helped him. I think people are cautious about the photo-op type stuff. They want to see results.

    I think he has some very good things coming up - and as long as he doesn’t fall into the 100 day project trap, and ackowledges previous Councils, he’ll earn people’s respect.

    He does need to create some “real” projects, that will progress through the 3 year term. And I think that’s part of the frustration - they’re facing major cost blowouts, and unfunded promises from previous Waitakere/Manukau councils, that reduces what he has for actual new projects.

    It’s tough on him, as he’s not just being judged as a “mayor” but in some ways he’s also judged as the “super city”.

    Looking at PT, things like integrated ticketing /electrification were all started under old council structures. what he and we all need is new projects where we see super city/ CCO model work. Things like eastern arterial / PT into pakuranga is maybe a good example - was hard to get Ak City and Manukau to fund, and then had ARTA as well - so how can this new be delivered in new model?

    That may be a good example for LB to champion as a project - as pretty messy when he inherited it - unfunded in part, and there are applangly low PT numbers in the southern part. just one example.

  14. Sam says:

    It does look bad having a mayoral car following him to work- especially as it makes it look like its impossible to actually rely on public transport independently.

    There are two advantages that I can see of what he’s doing though- firstly, he gets to engage with the public on both the train and Queen Street… most politicians seem just too detached from the day to day reality of life in NZ to know whats going on and therefore what we need. Secondly. it is probably quite a bit quicker for him- and time is pretty valuable for someone in his position.

    The car really doesnt have to follow like that though- his mayoral aide drives from east Auckland to his house, and they get driven together to the station… why cant Len just jump in his aides car and they can put it in the Park and Ride for the day? The Papatoetoe one has been recently expanded, and I haven’t seen it anywhere near full yet.

  15. AKT says:

    TV3 is the latest media to run a story about it and said they asked what other councillors took the train, bus or ferry and of 9 asked, not one does.
    Brown refused to be interviewed on camera.
    It’s proving to be a real distraction to the big issue as the media wont let it go thinking they have caught the Mayor out.
    Interestingly a security guard at Newmarket tried to stop TV3 filming.
    They did ask Brewer if he took the train and he said he did once or twice a week.
    It seems First Security is continuing to be over zealous .

  16. AKT says:

    Asked on Radio Live today by train enthusiast Marcus Lush why he needed the car to accompany his train trip, the Mayor snapped: “Yes, look Marcus there’s all sorts of discussions going on about that. I’m just getting on with the job.”
    The 3News story can be viewed here


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