Last week the Waikato Times ran a worrying article about a review of public transport effectiveness that the government is currently running.
There aren’t many details of the review publicly available yet but I’ve obtained this briefing from officials to the Hamilton Regional Land Transport committee about it. The briefing states that the Minister’s primary purpose in the review is to give more power over our public transport services to private bus/ferry companies and less to local government.
In particular, it’s alleged he wants to make it easier for private bus/ferry companies to “cherry pick” the most profitable, peak hour bus services and run them as fully commercial routes. On those routes the private bus companies will take 100% of the profit. Meanwhile, the council (and ratepayers) will be left to subsidize the less profitable off-peak, late night, and weekend services.
I think encouraging further privatisation of our public transport system is a really bad idea and I’m planning to write a whole series of blogs about why. But before I get started – has anybody noticed a common theme in the government’s work lately?
This review, along with the sacking of ECan and the creation of the Auckland CCOs, all point to a common desire to increase the power of big business and limit the power of local government in NZ, particularly regional councils.
As an environmentalist, I find that frightening since regional councils so often act as the “environmental watchdog” for NZ. What do you think? Is this government attacking the powers of local government? And, if so, is that a bad thing?