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Auckland Regional Council Can't Take Over Rail

Comment from David Thornton
writer and commentator on local government matters

David Thornton is a former Member of the North Shore City Council and of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee

'Phone 09 443 5302 Fax 09 443 6771 email thornton@internet .co.nz
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Auckland Regional Council Does Not Have Legal Power To Take Over Rail Operation - Nor Should It Have.


The suggestion that the Auckland Regional Council should take over the local commuter rail services should alarm both rail users and ratepayers throughout the region.

The ARC does not have the legal power to own a transport operation. Nor should it have.

The Local Government Act specifically forbids regional councils from "having any interest whatever" in passenger transport operations.

The mess that the ARC has got itself into by agreeing to buy leases on part of the rail network for $65 million - without having the money to pay for it - should be a warning.

The ARC has been doing its real job of planning for an integrated public transport system for the region - and has produced a commendable Passenger Transport Action Plan.

The next step should be to establish a Passenger Transport Authority which would licence private operators to actually own and operate the services - bus, ferry and rail.

To put ownership and operation of public transport back under political control is a recipe for financial disaster.

The ARC could best play a useful part by re-negotiating its $65 million deal down to a more realistic price - and then giving every assistance to potential private sector operators to take ownership and run TranzRail commuter services.

This new situation also demands urgency from all local councils in setting up an independent Passenger Transport Authority to co-ordinate all public transport within the region.

ENDS
11 October 2000

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