A Council owned Uber service

Todd Niall at Stuff writes:

Why are ratepayers in Auckland’s poorest communities, and taxpayers, subsidising a council-owned Uber-style service for one of the city’s wealthier areas?

A great question.

’s (AT) latest innovation, called AT Local, is a 12-month trial using six electric vehicles that locals living within 3 kilometres of the terminal can order and pay for through an app for $3 a trip.

There’s quite a few companies who can provide this service.

The council-owned agency bought three new electric eight-seater vans at $100,000 each, and will add three of its own electric cars in the peak periods.

The Government’s transport agency NZTA will pick-up the running costs of $475,000 or more, to see whether it works.

They are spending a million dollars for something they could easily contract a private company to do.

The AT Local ride-share service can’t be paid for using the region’s electronic transport ticket ATHOP, and can’t be used by under-18s.

Would making the bus trip to the Devonport ferry free of charge, if connecting to the ferry, attract more users and cut drop-offs? No one knows.

Would offering discounts to users of existing services like Uber, be much cheaper? 

Yes it would.

If it reaches its ambitious target of 200 trips a day, is that relevant to how it might work in the city’s poorer, more transport-deprived areas?

AT will be hoping for more success than an earlier mini-bus innovation.

In 2014, when it’s main offices were located both in Henderson and the downtown, it decided that the buses and trains connecting the premises weren’t good enough for it’s own staff, and trialled a minibus, expecting to make big savings in reimbursed private car use, and use of fleet vehicles.

After six months, the minibus had reached an average of 2.5 staff per trip, had run over budget at $140,000, and was scrapped, having consumed the equivalent of 50 average residential rates bills.

You would think they’d learn.

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