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ARC: Public Transport Procurement

14 June 2006

ARC Seeks Greater Power Over Public Transport Procurement

The Auckland Regional Council is calling for changes to the Transport Services Licensing Act 1989 (TSLA) to provide greater control over new and existing commercial bus and ferry transport services.

A submission to the Ministry of Transport has been endorsed by the Council’s Transport Policy committee and presents a case for the establishment of a better operating environment in order to achieve an efficient, integrated passenger transport network for the region.

“It is essential that a legislative and regulatory framework is put in place to support network integration and ensure that public agencies receive value for money when it comes to contracting passenger transport services,” says Joel Cayford, ARC Transport Policy Chair.

“The ARC and subsequently the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) have faced continuing difficulties with the current legislative and regulatory framework, in particular the inability to introduce comprehensive integrated ticketing and the abandonment of commercial services where the resulting cost of replacement contracted services has fallen on ARTA and the ARC.”

Under the Act, passenger transport operators in Auckland may register the operation of commercial services with ARTA and operate that service for as long as they wish. They may, however, give only 21 days prior notice to withdraw the service. Generally speaking, regional councils have no powers to decline the deregistration of a commercial service.

“In 2005 ARTA and Land Transport NZ urgently needed to find an extra unbudgeted $6.7 million to maintain key passenger transport services in Auckland following the deregistration of a dozen commercial bus services and one ferry service, “ says Cr Cayford. “A change in legislation will give us the power to avoid situations such as this.”

The MoT review forms part of the Auckland Sustainable Cities Programme and is being undertaken by a joint working party, led by the MoT and includes representatives of Land Transport New Zealand, ARTA, the ARC, North Shore City Council (representing Auckland territorial local authorities), the Bus & Coach Association and Auckland public transport operators.

The resulting consultation document covers service achievements under the current TSLA regime, perceived problems with the current TSLA, and four options for change: Negotiation and cooperation within current legislation. Legislative controls over new commercial services. Legislative controls over new commercial services with a sunset clause on existing commercial services. Legislative controls over new and existing commercial services.

Cr Cayford says Option 4 would provide ARTA with the ability to specify in their Regional Passenger Transport Plans how passenger services would be delivered, the criteria for accepting and declining commercial services, and how existing commercial services are handled.

“These legislation changes would provide regional councils with the ability to deal effectively with existing commercial services, address the problems of the current system and help us achieve our passenger transport goals,” says Cr Cayford.

“Significant expansion of, and investment in, the Auckland bus and ferry network is underway and will continue over the next 10 years,” he says. “The ARC, together with Land Transport New Zealand, are expected to invest over $90 million in the bus and ferry sector in the coming year, rising to almost $200m by 2016. Bus and ferry services will need to play a vital role in meeting the region’s transport needs over the decade. An update of the TLSA is a necessary step along the way.”

Submissions to the MoT consultation document close on 23 June 2006.

ENDS

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