Opening NZ Bus’ brand new Onehunga depot – Saturday 29th October – (speech notes)

It’s an honour and a pleasure to be here this morning at the opening of NZ Bus’ new Onehunga depot.

To NZ Bus CEO Zane Fulljames, Central Business Unit manager Jon Calder, General Manager Shane McMahon and everyone involved in this project, my warm congratulations for this magnificent new facility. To NZ Bus staff, family and friends greetings.

 The new Onehunga Bus depot is one element of a major new investment programme roll-out by NZ Bus here in Auckland.

Another key element is fleet renewal and this year we have seen 100 new buses on Auckland streets. The newest buses have been deployed on the flagship City Link, Inner Link and Outer Link services which were launched two months ago.

 The Link services with their distinctively branded, distinctively coloured vehicles have resonated with the Auckland public. 

The early success of the Link services has underscored the strong partnership between NZ Bus and Auckland Transport.  And here I want to acknowledge Auckland Transport CEO David Warburton.  Auckland Transport is the planner and funder of public transport services and NZ Bus is the provider of those services.

NZ Bus Chief Executive and Mike Lee at the opening of the new NZ Bus Onehunga depot

The best of the rest of NZ buses’ new vehicles have been deployed on the popular B Line Dominion Road, Mt Eden Road services. 

It is very encouraging that this investment programme by NZ Bus and Auckland Transport is paying off in increased patronage.

 This year we achieved 67 million public transport trips in Auckland. 78% of these trips were by bus, 15% by rail and 7% by ferry.  So when it comes to public transport in Auckland, bus is by far the dominant mode. And if bus is the dominant mode, NZ Bus is the dominant player in the bus sector.  Of the 67 million public transport trips taken this year – half were taken on NZ Bus services!  This year (year ended 30 September) bus services increased by some 15%. About half of this increase is due to the Rugby World Cup – the other half 7.7% is due to very strong growth in our regular domestic market.

 In regard to the Rugby World Cup on behalf of the Mayor Len Brown and Auckland Council I want to thank NZ Bus for its outstanding effort during the cup.  The effort put in by the whole company, from Zane who sourced extra buses from as far away as Wellington to meet extra demand – to the bus drivers who worked long hours especially on match days.    The Rugby World Cup was not just a sporting event – it was also a major national economic initiative and you all played a key part in it.  We recognise especially the drivers as they have the crucial role as the customers first point of contact.  They drivers are also ambassadors, chauffeurs, and tour guides to the travelling public – whether they be overseas visitors or ordinary commuters.  And they do this job not just during major events but day in day out, week in week out.  So I salute you.

Behind the drivers are a whole team of mechanics, schedulers, bus allocators, cleaners and admin staff.   So my thanks to you all. 

So there is a lot to be proud of in regard to our recent achievements in public transport here in Auckland.  That being said we need to recognise that recent dramatic improvements have come off a very low base. Auckland still lags behind comparator cities, in NZ, Australia and North America. 

There is no ‘Silver Bullet’ solution or formula on how to achieve the further public transport improvements we need to make.  I guess like a successful rugby team – there is no one thing – not one answer but many.  But if there is no silver bullet – there is a golden principle – and that is ‘integration’.

We will soon have Integrated Ticketing, that will enable needed Integrated Fares, and we also need much better integration of services. Integration between bus and train, bus and ferry – integration between Rapid Transit and Quality Transit. 

As NZ Bus is the dominant public transport player in Auckland I make a special plea for your assistance in achieving this integration. 

If we work together there is no reason why Auckland cannot become the best public transport city in Australasia.

Once again – to Zane and the team – congratulations on the opening of this magnificent new bus depot.

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