26 Jun 2014

Shuttle could stay if it pays

9:52 am on 26 June 2014

Auckland Transport (AT) is standing by its decision to trial a private shuttle service for its staff, and says it may become permanent.

AT is responsible for the city's public transport but is running the shuttle between its Henderson and downtown offices - at a cost of $122,000 over six months - because public transport takes too long.

It is trying to cut the use of fleet vehicles between the offices but public transport advocates say the staff should be using the existing bus and train services between the two locations.

AT chief executive David Warburton said some of the public criticism was superficial, and he was not worried about public perceptions.

"Public perception is important but we have to have an efficient system of delivery, because public perceptions on wasting money is also a factor," said.

"At this stage most of the perceptions are not based on what the dollars are."

Dr Warburton maintained the 20-25 minute shuttle journey was up to 30 minutes quicker for staff than using public transport, and said their time was valuable. There were also savings in fewer fleet cars being used, and fewer $30 reimbursements for staff using their own cars for a return journey between the offices.

"It is on a rational basis. We could have gone public and explained the simple truths of it. We could have assumed people would work it out, but clearly they didn't."

A shuttle passenger has told Radio New Zealand that close to peak times the journey can take 30 and occasionally 40 minutes - similar to the journey times of the 080 bus.

The agency's chairperson Dr Lester Levy told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme it had been been a pragmatic operational decision by management to run the trial.

He said while management may make decisions which make others raise their eyebrows from time to time, it's not the board's role to tell them what to do.