An Open Letter To His Worship The Mayor Phil Goff
AN OPEN LETTER TO HIS WORSHIP THE MAYOR PHIL GOFF
30 October 2016
His Worship the Mayor
Re: Councillor appointments to Auckland Transport
Congratulations on your recent election as mayor. We look forward to working with you on transport issues in our role as a voice for public transport users. Our role gives us a unique perspective on the needs and expectations of actual transit users, and there is no organisation with similar objectives or scope within the region.
Like many Aucklanders, we welcomed your pre-election commitments to improved accountability within Auckland Transport. As you know, AT has power over a huge budget as a proportion of the Council’s total expenditure, and a most significant role in shaping land-use, community form, and transport, environmental and economic outcomes. AT’s performance shapes the Council’s reputation. But reports show low public regard for AT. A survey this year showed only 38 percent of respondents rated AT as responsive and approachable, down from 47 percent a year ago. AT have failed to meet their patronage targets. There are other issues.
What AT needs is more political oversight, not less. SOIs and KPIs are never a substitute for the direct input that democratically elected, accountable, responsible political representation provides, if you’re trying to get accountability and balanced decision making from an otherwise unelected Board. Political representation has worked well – (there’s no evidence it hasn’t), politicians help make transport decisions everywhere else in the country. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t continue to do so in Auckland.
Some transport commentators ironically seem to think it’s a conflict of interest to be a political representative on a CCO Board. Yet the two most recent representatives have done more than most, to transform Auckland’s public transport in profoundly significant ways, to widespread regional benefit. Politicians are elected to ensure the voice of the public is heard in all its diverse forms – as ratepayers, citizens, users, and to act as stewards of inter-generational equity. To exclude these political voices is wrong, and can only lead to less informed decision-making. To remove political
representation on AT is to reduce accountability, not to improve it. We need more people with electoral accountability making decisions about transport, not less given how transport shapes our lives.
Please reconsider your decision to not have Councillors on the Auckland Transport CCO Board.
Christine Rose Jon Reeves