It hasn’t been a good month for the Regional Council, in its role as the guardian and administrator of Wellington’s public transport services.
First came the unprecedented fifteen days (and continuing) of bus disruptions – with scores of peak hour services cancelled every morning and every evening. And why? Because buses were failing safety checks, carried out by a little known unit of the police department, which had the power to pink stick buses off the road if they were unsafe.
The belated apology issued by the Regional Council was less than convincing, as the daily disruptions went on and on. Is anyone counting the total of buses that have been found to be unsafe?
Then came Monday’s derailment of a Ganz Mavag unit at Kaiwharawara, which raised more safety issues – allegations that servicing of the old trains was not all that it should have been. After the derailment, all 26 of the Ganz Mavags were taken out of service for urgent checks, according to the DomPost.
And we had thought that the arrival of the Matangis meant an end to Wellington’s rail problems?
It’s enough to remind us of the calls for abolishing the Regional Council. Kent Duston was one of the first to make this suggestion, when he challenged the council’s role in public transport:
Greater Wellington raises around $130 million in rates and other revenues from local families and businesses each year, and gets about $140 million in subsidies from central government. And around 70% of that income goes straight back out the door in public transport subsidies, a job that certainly doesn’t require a Chair, 12 Councillors and a matching bureaucracy to oversee.
Here’s his article in full, from January last year.
The Regional Council faced criticism on another front this week, when Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy complained about the process of ‘super city’ consultation that’s being driven by the council:
The line of questioning was misleading by not presenting all possible options, therefore manipulating people into selecting one of the two supercity models promoted by the alliance…The alliance (led by Greater Wellington Regional Council, including Porirua City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, and Wellington City Council) and the group within that are specifically pushing for a supercity, are unduly influencing the consultation process by preventing robust consultation and releasing misleading results.
Let’s not fog these results. Let the people of the Wellington region understand that if the Alliance is going to use these consultation results then they should be clear that they have been manipulated. The public were asked if they want a super city – a super city of one tier, or a super city with two. They received no choice about enhanced shared services across councils. no choice about the creation of multiple unitary authorities, no choice about the status quo!
The three Wairarapa mayors went further. Having agreed that they don’t want to be a part of any Wellington supercity that the Regional Council is promoting, they lodged an application with the Local Government Commission to merge their three administrations into a single council. The commission has acknowledged not only that they are officially the first out of the blocks but also that their application will trigger a process for examining reorganisation in the entire region. Does this mean that abolition of the Regional Council is on its agenda?