The Green Party has once again shown that bringing people together to demand change works, with the announcement today that the Government will give communities a greater say over how their local transport services are run.
“The Green Party has long campaigned for faster, cleaner, and more frequent buses, trains and ferries. Greater public ownership of public transport will make this easier to deliver. We are delighted the Government has finally taken note and agreed with what we have been calling for,” says Green Party spokesperson for transport, Julie Anne Genter.
The new Sustainable Public Transport Framework announced today by the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood will replace the Public Transport Operating Model put in place by the previous National Government.
“The reality is that the National Government’s model for contracting services mainly benefited the private companies. It did not deliver the excellent public transport outcomes the community deserves, and the pay and conditions of the people who work on public transport suffered - which has also contributed to a shortage of bus drivers.
“Public transport is an essential service that is fundamental to our quality of life, for cutting climate pollution, connecting our communities, and making our cities more liveable. After years of political pressure from the Greens, we are pleased that the Government is finally rebalancing our public transport system towards the needs of local communities.
“However, this is only the start of what needs to be done. To have any chance of meeting our climate change targets the Government needs to significantly increase investment in sustainable public transport infrastructure in every community, and we need fewer cars on our roads. It’s great the Government will prioritise cutting climate pollution as part of the new operating model, but this needs to be backed with significant new investments in public transport right across New Zealand.
“Last month, the Green Party published an open letter to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructure calling on the Government to stump up the cash to improve rail services in the lower north island. This is just one example of the type of investment we need.
“Along with public ownership and better wages and conditions for people working on public transport, if we can get the Government to focus nearly all transport investments on making it easier for people to walk, bike, or hop on a bus, train, or ferry we can create a world-class transport system that works for everyone. The best way to do that is to get more Green MPs into Parliament,” says Julie Anne Genter.
Green Party MP for Auckland Central, Chlöe Swarbrick added:
“The unreliable buses, infrequent train services, and the gridlock many of us experience in our towns and cities is the result of decades of political decisions that have made it really difficult for anyone to get around without their own private vehicle.
“That vein of decision making and neglect led to the exemption for Waiheke’s ferry route by the former National Government, contributing to it becoming among the most expensive comparable trip in the world.
“I have been working with community groups and local residents to get the current Labour Government to reverse the Waiheke exclusion that was completely and inexplicably decided by Steven Joyce when he was Minister of Transport in the early 2010s. Hon. Michael Wood has started that process and I am hoping that today’s rebalancing towards public ownership is a sign of his intent to put people over profit permanently in the operation of our integral, truly public transport services,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.