“Minister of Transport Michael Wood’s policy of trying to take public transport accountability away from private companies is a sop to union bosses that could lead to fewer buses on the road,” says ACT’s Transport spokesperson Simon Court.

“If councils accept these changes it means they would have to act as both the purchaser and the provider, and that they’ll be in charge of managing capital.

“Taking responsibility away from private providers won’t create more bus drivers and train conductors, it will stretch councils’ limited capital further and lessen accountability on the provider. The result of this will be less buses on the road.

“Public transport services are being hammered by staff shortages that are reducing services, but this is symptomatic of a wider problem within the New Zealand economy and centralising the services won’t make any difference.

“Instead of going straight for centralisation, the Minister should be looking at practical ways to tackle the labour shortage and increase resourcing.

“As released in our cost of living document, ACT says we need to do this by dumping the labour market test, industry specific wage requirements, and transfer restrictions. Foreign workers should be able to work for accredited employers so long as they are employed consistent with New Zealand law.

“This announcement reeks of Michael Wood getting a tap on the shoulder from his union mates and creating ill-thought-out policy. He needs to remember that union organisers might make up 30 per cent of Labour’s caucus, but they only represent 0.026 percent of the general population.”

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