Auckland Transport and the decision to increase train fares
I posted previously about the recent increase in train fares. The decision was something of a shock. The rationale appears to be that train services have increased and therefore cost more and the increase is therefore justified. But why should train fares be increased while bus fares remain the same? Why should they be treated differently? The logic used would mean that the element of public transport that is most successful and shows the greatest growth will have its fares increased and I believe that if we are serious about increasing public transport usage this is not what should happen.
I raised the issue with Auckland Transport in part to work out the process that Auckland Transport is using. Much of its role should be subject to local democratic oversight and consultation. Rodney Hide had promised the Council Controlled organisations would operate in a transparent way and to work closely with local boards. He said:
The Government expects all these controlled organisations to establish and foster a meaningful relationship with the new local boards for the Auckland region.
The need for transparency is reinforced by section 40(e) of the Loval Government Auckland Council Act 2009 which requires Auckland Transport to “ensure that it acts in a transparent manner in making decisions under this Act and the Land Transport Management Act 2003.”
It appears that the recent decision to increase train fares was made at the February 2011 board meeting. I had been checking the online agendas out and had seen no trace of a suggestion of train fare increases. The February agenda as published has 12 agenda items on it. The paper supplied to me was unhelpfully numbered 14. Its title was “2011 Annual PT fare review”. This title did not appear on the agenda and presumably was a late addition. Why something as important as an annual PT fare review would be a late addition is not explained.
Confidentiality has been claimed over aspects of the report and the copy I have been provided with has some of the turnover figures for ferry services was removed. Gross figures were given for all bus services. If the same had been given for ferries then the report could have been released publicly and the people of Auckland could have commented.
Auckland Transport must do better. If in the future significant items are added to the agenda at the last minute and have content that prevents the paper from being publicly released then there is very little important business that the people will be able to either comment on or be forewarned about.