19 Oct 2022

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown calls for Auckland Transport to change approach

8:30 pm on 19 October 2022
Wayne Brown

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown says Auckland Transport needs to listen to and follow the wishes of local communities. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown says Auckland Transport needs to completely change its approach to better serve its communities.

In a letter, released this afternoon, sent to AT acting chairperson Wayne Donnelly, Brown said the council-controlled organisation should seek to understand how Aucklanders live now and how they want to live in the future.

"AT must understand the families who are struggling to move around the region: Pick-up their children, do the groceries, get home safely after-dark, and juggle other commitments.

"You must understand the local businesses who rely on transport connections and their needs now and in the future. And you must recognise that the transport network materially impacts Aucklanders' safety - especially at night, for women, for young people, the elderly and for shift workers."

The agency needed to consider people did not always have the option of public transport and required roading and carparking networks, he said.

"AT needs to exercise better judgement, as well as listen to and follow the wishes of local communities.

"Through decisions that do not reflect the wishes of local communities, you have been making them [Aucklanders' lives] worse."

In response this evening, Auckland Transport said it agreed with Brown's insistence that a new approach was needed and promised it would pay greater attention to the impact of its operations and decisions on Aucklanders.

Brown said his message was based off feedback from campaign events, in which he claimed "the most consistent and strongest message" from Aucklanders was on fixing the transport network.

"I have heard the same messages from members of the new Governing Body and the Independent Māori Statutory Board."

He also set out "immediate priorities" for the transport agency in his letter, including a Clean Up Auckland programme to get rid of "unnecessary" road cones and lane closures, involving local boards more closely in decisions of smaller-scale capital projects, and provision of on-street and off-street parking.

Some other priorities called for any planned sale of council-owned car-parking buildings to cease and be referred to the local governing body or its committees, clarification on the rules governing the use of footpaths, cycle lanes, bus lanes and roads by all users.

For the latter, he asked for work on it to begin prior to Christmas, the summer holidays and the start of the new school year, if possible.

Brown expected to send a formal statement of intent to AT in the coming months.

AT aims to 'future-proof' transport system

AT interim chief executive Mark Lambert said the organisation agreed with the mayor that a new approach was needed to better understand the expectations of communities, and how its work affected people's daily lives.

Lambert said AT would review how it engaged with local boards to harness board members' strong local knowledge.

AT's leadership team and board would review the mayor's expectations and prepare a formal response addressing the priorities raised.

"It will take a concerted effort over the next three years from our teams at Auckland Transport, elected members, mana whenua, central government and our wide range of business and community stakeholders if we are to build a transport network which meets the needs of all Aucklanders and our growing city for decades to come.

"We are committed to giving Aucklanders genuine choices about how they travel across our city, and from here on in we must place a greater focus on Aucklanders' expectations of us as we work to future-proof our transport system."

Since being elected earlier this month, the mayor has asked Watercare and Auckland Council to stop all work on Three Waters, called for the whole board of development arm Eke Panuku to go, and announced a campaign which aims to eradicate mobile black spots across the city.

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