Our initiatives are

To promote better public transport in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Public Transport Forum New Zealand promotes the following initiatives: Free public transport, Back to the future: regional passenger rail services, Open Access Rail infrastructure, and National Public Transport Agency.

Better regional transport and Free public transport for under 25s

Regions around Aotearoa New Zealand need better public transport and they’d like it in 2022. City and regional councillors around Aotearoa New Zealand have written a great open letter to the Minister of Transport in November 2021 asking for more funding for regional public transport. This would be funded by repurposing some of the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency highways funds. The costs need to be seen as funding for climate change mitigation The aim is more convenient and more frequent buses on more routes and cheaper fares or free for under 25s which is what the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport is campaigning for. The two groups got lots media coverage including regional transport on Q&A and Stuff and free public transport on Stuff and Newshub.

The petition for free public transport is here.

Back to the future: regional passenger rail services

The re-introduction of regional and inter-regional passenger train services to connect Aotearoa New Zealand's 6 main cities with 13 provincial cities, major towns and smaller semi-rural and rural communities across the 13 of the 16 regions that currently have rail connectivity.

Regional and inter-regional passenger rail services would be frequent (at least daily) services using environmentally friendly passenger train sets to reduce Aotearoa New Zealand emissions by using a clean renewable energy environmentally friendly national regional passenger train network.

Bus and coach services would complement regional passenger train services with connectivity to communities that don't have access to passenger train services.

Open Access Rail infrastructure

What is open access rail infrastructure

A national 'open' rail infrastructure network allows any domestic and international train operator whether it is heritage, freight, passenger or any combination to operate across some or all of the 13 regions in Aotearoa New Zealand that have rail connectivity. An analogy is our national highway network with multiple trucking firms, bus operators and shuttle companies. (Unlike highways, the equivalent of private cars wouldn’t get access) and like buses, passenger trains could be a mixture of scheduled services and charters.

Open access is very common globally in countries like Australia, United Kingdom, European Union, etc.

Who will operate it

A separate 'not for profit' national rail infrastructure and regulatory entity. It would own, maintain and run the track, tunnels, bridges, stations, signalling and train control. It would also control all rail regulations. The rail infrastructure entity would operate as a strategic national 'steel highway' similar to the national State Highway and Regional Road networks. The entity could operate under the New Zealand Railways Corporation or some other entity. All land that existing, mothballed or abandoned track sits on, will still be owned by the New Zealand Railways Corporation.

Why is this different

Currently Kiwirail Holdings Ltd is both the rail infrastructure owner and the train operator. The network is a closed network. Kiwirail is the gate keeper and gets to decide who will have access to its network, hence the network is underutilized.

Why is this a problem

Passenger commuter train services are managed regionally. The current ownership model makes it hard to established inter-regional or national services. Kiwirail has no incentive to do so. It is highly unlikely that re-establishing urban rail for Christchurch and regional and inter-regional passenger rail in the Canterbury region will happen under the current business model of Kiwirail Holdings Ltd.

Heritage rail museums have to battle with Kiwirail to get access to the network for heritage train excursions.

What would happen to Kiwrail

Kiwirail Holdings Ltd would become a train operator only, with the government holding at least 51% shareholding in the company. Most likely it would continue to focus on freight.

Who would run the Interislander ferry services

Good question. It could go with Kiwirail or become a strategic state asset as a state-owned enterprise as it is Cook Strait crossing link for the State Highway and national rail networks.

National Public Transport Agency

What is it

The National Public Transport Agency would be a 'not for profit' entity under the Ministry of Transport taking over all public transport planning and funding functions from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. It would provide national funding, planning, procurement and operational guidelines for subsidise urban, semi rural, rural, regional and inter-regional bus/coach, train, light rail and ferry services under one brand – Public Transport Aotearoa New Zealand. This would be done in association with the agency's city, district and regional council and transport services partners.

How is this different

Currently, public transport services in Aotearoa New Zealand is based on regionalised and commercialised procurement through the PTOM (Public Transport Operating Model). Each council develops and grows their own 'commercialised' public transport services using competitive tendering, to allow increased fare revenue whilst reducing reliance on rate and taxpayer subsidies.

Why is this a problem

This has lead to little or no inter-regional cooperation and planning, creating inequalities between regions. More densely populated regions have better public transport services and less populated regions have little or no public transport services.

What’s the aim

- to remove the current regionalisation and commercialism

- allowing city, district and regional councils to plan better public transport services with less bureaucratic procurement and funding processes

- operating such services with standardised operational guidelines, employment contracts and working conditions

- creating more connected public transport services between regions and greater utilisation of public transport assets such as buses and passenger trains

What else is needed

- Integrated ticketing: An open 'tap and travel' payment/ticketing system that is operative across all 16 regions in Aotearoa New Zealand

- A national information and timetable website and associated smart phone travel app that contains all 'turn up and travel' and 'book and travel' bus/coach, rail and ferry travel

Are there other public transport agencies

Yes there are. Here are a couple of examples:

Victoria, Australia - Public Transport Victoria
London, United Kingdom - Transport for London

Sounds great. How can I help?

If you want to become involved in these initiatives, please look at the various options on the Get involved page.