Public transport bosses in Auckland spent $356,000 to improve their public image - even as they lined up a special shuttle so staff don't have to travel on buses and trains.
The marketing campaign came with the introduction of the new electric trains and was also intended to encourage people to "give the trains a go".
It was revealed this week Auckland Transport has set up a regular private shuttle service to move staff between its Henderson headquarters and its central Auckland waterfront office.
The shuttle was intended as a time-saving measure for staff, but attracted criticism from public transport advocates because it leaves from and arrives at the same places used by the slower public transport options.
The $356,000 spending on the April campaign came as the shuttle service was being prepared for launch. The documents, released to the Taxpayers' Union, show the campaign was intended to "increase positive perceptions towards Auckland Transport and our breakthrough projects". It also sought to "create awareness, excitement and positive anticipation around the launch of the electric trains", which are being introduced in stages.
The documents say: "Nearly half a billion dollars has been spent on the introduction of electric trains and it is vitally important that the population of Auckland supports the launch and uses them."
The documents show travellers welcomed the trains, saying 97 per cent of people gave a "positive" rating.
Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams criticised the spending.
"Instead of throwing money at advertising, Auckland Transport would have a better reputation if it stopped running the private shuttle between offices and started following its own advice to use public transport."
Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton told Radio New Zealand criticism was "superficial".