First published on Transport Safety Blog NZ
TSBNZ is a blog that covers a wide range of transport interests that help to contribute to a safer transport system. For example, TSBNZ supports public transport, including bus and rail services, partly because these services give a safer alternative to privately owned road transport modes of various types, and partly in order to promote safe journeys for people using public transport. In any space, it is obviously in everybody’s interests to collaborate, cooperate or coadvocate as much as possible to achieve an outcome. For example, TSBNZ supports cycleways, so that means joining existing cycle advocacy groups and get onboard with their campaigns. The intention of this post is to talk about some of the other organisations that are advocating for similar things as TSBNZ on Facebook. There is actually a lot of difficulty in getting some of these groups to work together because of different political interests. Although many transport safety related campaigns are generally aligned to the left of politics, there are at least several which are more aligned to the conservative end of the political spectrum or are run by individuals looking to drive their own agenda, and often these people will have only limited support for different strands of politics, causing unnecessary division.
So here we go, we’ll start with Auckland and work our way down (roughly):
Greater Auckland: This blog / FB started out of another blog called TransportBlog, and is generally focused mainly on Auckland City. People that write the posts are very knowledgable and do a great job of explaining the issues in a lot of detail. Unfortunately it is pretty well limited to Auckland City.Campaign for Better Transport NZ: A FB group that is open to all and allows a wide range of topics to be discussed. Well recommended. Although Auckland based it allows discussion from around the country. Loosely affiliated with the CBTNZ society, which these days has become nearly dormant. Used to have separate forums based off their website and was once a more effective public advocacy group.Public Transport Users Association – NZ: An offshoot of CBTNZ, it draws people from a range of backgrounds but is loosely aligned with the NZ First party’s rail policies. Prominent for a campaign calling for heavy rail to Auckland Airport. PTUA NZ has largely usurped the public campaign role of CBTNZ.A branch of PTUA was apparently set up in Wellington but can’t now be found.PTUA Canterbury: Set up by a local NZ First supporter, the group of people behind this campaign (similarly broad to PTUANZ) was soon disbanded. A Facebook page still exists but has not had any new posts for the past 3 years. PTUAC is therefore in a more or less dormant state, largely due to their lead operator deciding to go it alone instead of working with other interested parties such as the local bus drivers or rail staff unions.Bus Go Canterbury: This was set up as an offshoot of Bus Go Dunedin (see below). It mostly consists of a Facebook page with a small following and little else. The problem with Bus Go Canterbury is that its coordinator wears many hats, including ones that often conflict with public transport. Outside of BGC’s FB page, you are much more likely to see a statement that is opposing a public transport initiative than one supporting public transport from the BGC coordinator. Notable examples include BGC’s opposition to the opening of the Riccarton bus lounge in Christchurch (due to the coordinator’s involvement in Community Watch); opposing road speed limits around Christchurch (which only had a negligible impact on buses); and a recent statement opposing a BG Dunedin campaign against dangerous bus stops (due to the coordinator advocating on behalf of the disability community who would be disadvantaged by the temporary closure of bus stops, despite the obvious benefits to this community of bus stop improvements). BGC continues to function mainly with ongoing support from BG Dunedin but little real public support or interest and low scale of public engagement.There may have been a branch of BG in Wellington (see PTUA Wellington entry above) but no trace of it can now be located.Bus Users Support Group Ōtepoti-Dunedin, also known as Bus Go Dunedin. The original Bus Go branch and the most successful and best coordinated, due to its being run by professional bus drivers linked with the local branch of the bus drivers’ union. The Bus Users Support Group name is better than the original, “Bus Go”, which is just a reversal of “Go Bus”, a major commercial operator of bus services nationwide. There were hopes of having a network of BG branches throughout New Zealand but apart from BGC, this has not occurred.Chat Club Christchurch – started as a campaign for heavy rail suburban services in Christchurch for the 2019 local government elections and was at its best when public meetings were being held. Since the end of that campaign, the Facebook group has largely been quiet.
So that sums up what we have in New Zealand at present for public transport advocacy – we just have a few relatively small groups who mostly operate in one part of the country but not in others. The most effective ones are run by people in the industry. And we admit this page is run by amateur people. It cannot be ascertained if this blog will be more successful than others that are run by people unconnected with the transport industry. But there is certainly scope for a blog that can explain the issues well, and this is what TSBNZ hopes to do, to improve public knowledge of transport safety issues around the country.