Levy makes a move to trans­port

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SCOTT MOR­GAN

Any­one in­volved in Auck­land’s trans­port cir­cles take note: ex­pec­ta­tions are about to rise.

New Auck­land Trans­port chair­man Lester Levy took up his post ear­lier this month and he ex­pects ev­ery­one in­volved to lift their game. That in­cludes any com­pany that holds a con­tract pro­vid­ing ser­vices to Auck­land Trans­port along with the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s own em­ploy­ees.

‘‘My mes­sage to ev­ery­body is ex­pec­ta­tions have just gone up. We need to de­liver more to ratepay­ers and cus­tomers.’’

Dr Levy, who’s also chair­man of the Auck­land and Waitem­ata Dis­trict Health Boards, says pro­vid­ing bet­ter pub­lic trans­port op­tions should en­cour­age com­muters to use the ser­vices.

‘‘It’s not just a mat­ter of hav­ing to change mind­sets. We need to have ser­vices that make chang­ing mind­sets at­trac­tive. Ser­vices have to be re­li­able, ac­cu­rate and fre­quent. If ser­vices are fre­quent enough, peo­ple want to use them.’’

But he ac­knowl­edges de­ci­sions made by pre­vi­ous au­thor­i­ties have held back progress on im­por­tant projects.

And it could be 2017 or 2018 be­fore real progress is seen by the pub­lic, he says.

‘‘Some of these things have a ges­ta­tion pe­riod longer than an ele­phant – it’s like preg­nancy. We need to be clear about how to trans­late that to the pub­lic.’’

In­no­va­tion is likely to be a key driver to speed up the process, he says.

Mov­ing with ur­gency on the up­grade of Do­min­ion Rd in Mt Eden is one ex­am­ple of how Auck­land Trans­port is al­ready do­ing this, he says.

‘‘We’ve got to change our ideas about how these things are done.’’

He points to a project com­pleted in Malaysia, which was di­vided up among seven dif­fer­ent con­trac­tors so it could be com­pleted more quickly, as an­other ex­am­ple of in­no­va­tive think­ing.

And im­prove­ments at North Shore Hospi­tal, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing wait­ing times of more than six hours by al­most half in just three years, shows his track record of push­ing change through.

Ide­ally Dr Levy would like to see many of the ser­vices Auck­land Trans­port funds run in-house rather than con­tracted out.

‘‘If I had my way, the best sit­u­a­tion is to run these things your­self so you’re in con­trol of the cul­ture and ser­vice.’’

But he knows that’s not the case and will work to make cus­tomer ser­vice lev­els as con­sis­tent as pos­si­ble across the group.

Some criticism has been lev­elled at his ap­point­ment, given his roles at the two health boards, as chief ex­ec­u­tive of Auck­land Univer­sity’s lead­er­ship in­sti­tute and pri­vate di­rec­tor­ships.

But he’s freed up his sched­ule, giv­ing up the univer­sity chief ex­ec­u­tive role.

New ex­ec­u­tive ap­point- ments at the Auck­land health board also means he has more time to com­mit to Auck­land Trans­port.

Auck­land Coun­cil trans­port com­mit­tee chair­man Mike Lee says Dr Levy’s ap­point­ment is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

‘‘Most im­por­tantly he is fo­cussed on per­for­mance and on ser­vice to the cus­tomer. So this is good news for long­suf­fer­ing pub­lic trans­port users.’’

The vi­sion: Dr Levy wants more peo­ple us­ing trains at sta­tions like Brit­o­mart.

Mind­set shift: Dr Lester Levy took up his new ap­point­ment as chair­man of Auck­land Trans­port ear­lier this month.

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