Workers’ $122,000 buses get to service centres quicker while ratepayers are stuck with slower options
First it was the mayor catching the train while being followed by his ratepayer-funded chauffeur-driven car.
Now, Len Brown's staff have been riding in special shuttles zipping around Auckland - apparently because it's faster than the public transport they provide to ratepayers.
Council-controlled Auckland Transport has started a shuttle bus service for its staff, surprising public transport watchers.
The Herald has discovered a second shuttle at Auckland Council and plans for a third in the works.
With Auckland Transport costing its shuttle at $122,000 for a six-month trial, it could set the bill for moving council staff around Auckland close to $700,000 a year.
Auckland Transport yesterday highlighted expected benefits in a statement - being able to cut down the size of its car fleet and improve "business efficiency".
But it also tried to justify the decision by saying the train took too long: "Public transport is also an option used by many staff to travel to meetings in the city but the timings of the trains don't always suit.
"The train takes 45 minutes whereas the shuttle door-to-door is 20 to 25 minutes."
The Auckland Transport shuttle runs from the council's Henderson offices - just metres from where the public bus and train leave - into Britomart in the city. The Herald was yesterday given its timetable, showing it leaves every 45 minutes and takes an estimated 42 minutes to make the journey.
Driver Liuneta Unasa said he frequently made the run in 20 minutes. Parked in the bus stop for buses to Henderson, he pointed up Albert St: "The bus that's already gone? I will catch him on the motorway - every single day."
In Takapuna, the Auckland Council shuttle runs from the civic centre to its offices next to Aotea Square in the city. The council confirmed another shuttle, to Manukau, was under consideration.
Councillor Chris Darby said he had used the Takapuna service and found it well patronised by staff, who relied less on pool cars. Although he used it, he said he would "tend to use the more frequent public service" leaving nearby.
The trip to the city by bus took about 15 minutes. With such a good public service, he said the need for the shuttle was "a good question".
"I can vouch for the very good public service out of Takapuna."
Mr Darby said Auckland Council had yet to develop a workplace transport plan, which it urged other businesses to do.
There was a "need for Auckland Council to do what it says others should do" by developing a plan which understood staff needs and found ways to meet those.
Former Waitakere City councillor Ewen Gilmour had advice for staff: "Use the trains - they're right there. It seems a bit rich they are the transport agency and they don't use their own transport because of inefficiency."
Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said Auckland Transport should lead by example and use public transport.
A briefing document from Auckland Council last year found it had 780 fleet vehicles for staff. Plans to phase out vehicles included "the council shuttle service, which provides inter-facility transport for staff".
Mr Brown has a $69,000 mayoral car which is used for official duties. He was embarrassed a few years back when it was revealed the mayoral car shadowed his journey to work.
A spokesman said the mayor still caught the train from Homai station in Manurewa to Britomart at least once a week.
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Brown said the issue of shuttles was an operational matter for Auckland Transport, but as a general point he would like to see council organisations encouraging their staff to use public transport to travel between offices where the option is available and practicable.
Mr Brown has asked Auckland Transport to brief him on what programmes they have in place to actively encourage their staff to make better use of public transport.