ORC says proposed bus rules unworkable

New Zealand Transport Agency's latest procedures and rules, if adopted, will go against what the Otago Regional Council believes is good for Otago's public transport system.

The NZTA is consulting on changes to its policies and procurement rules required to implement the Government's new passenger transport operating model (PTOM).

''It's the NZTA telling us how to do our job,'' regional council policy and resource planning manager Fraser McRae said at a committee meeting recently.

The suggested changes were not good for Otago and exceeded the statutory powers of the NZTA.

''It is not the best place to be in. It's uncomfortable,'' Mr McRae said.

However, he believed the regional council needed to attempt to correct it by making a submission to the NZTA or ''be the master of our own misfortune''.

The council believed NZTA's written rules about how councils should implement PTOM would unnecessarily constrain it to the point where it hindered the effective and efficient implementation of the new model.

PTOM aimed to increase the commerciality of public transport and operators' incentive to invest and improve public transport services.

The regional council had been working towards that and NZTA's proposals were likely to cause tension between the council, NZTA and operators, as some parts were ''unworkable''.

''They go beyond how this council will be able to act when delivering on its statutory roles and responsibilities.''

One of the proposals gave NZTA the power to inquire into, approve or veto the way regional councils managed public transport.

''If the NZTA disagrees with council's intended approach, it can withhold funding, as it did recently with Dunedin bus contracts.''

The council had held many meetings with NZTA and the Ministry of Transport, to explain its concerns.

''We want to make sure we can still operate in Otago commercially focused public transport.''

Cr David Shepherd said the regional council had a proven track record with the commercialisation of services. Queenstown was an example of that, so it was imperative the council made a submission highlighting its achievements.

The policy and submissions committee agreed a submission should be made to the NZTA.

NZTA regional manager planning and investment southern - Dunedin, Bruce Richards said the new framework aimed to address concerns that significant increases in public transport investment were not seeing corresponding increases in public transport patronage.

''Building stronger partnerships and strengthening relationships between regional councils and operators is an integral part of this new framework.''

Submissions close on June 21.

''All feedback will help develop the NZTA's final policies,'' Mr Richards said.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz


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