Len’s most livable city needs dedicated train cops

Auckland is in need of dedicated transport police to stop the thugs from turning Len’s train set into an even whiter elephant.

An Auckland councillor is renewing calls to have a dedicated transit police force on Auckland’s trains.

Former police officer George Wood’s comments follow the release of a report into a brawl involving scores of youths at Britomart station.

The report says more police are needed on public transport for events like the coming Cricket World Cup.

Mr Wood has repeatedly warned scenes like the brawl are clear evidence there should be a dedicated transit police force.

“I don’t think it needs to be police on every single train, but I think there needs to be dedicated police to work on transport systems across Auckland.”

But the Auckland Transport report on December 13 notes police arrived at the scene within minutes, and security staff had the situation under control.

Auckland Transport group manager Mark Lambert says an independent security firm is currently contracted to provide that presence.

“We’re always looking at options. Is transit police right now the right option? [I’m] not really sure.”

All I can see is additional overheads on a service that is already heavily subsidised.  It’s going to continue to be a leaky tap on the Auckland rate payers.

Of course, the Government didn’t say it had to run efficiently before committing money.  All they asked for is a certain patronage.  So Len is doing all he can, including pretty much paying for people to travel on a train, to meet his target.

Luckily the Government hasn’t set a deadline on their commitment, and I suspect Auckland can forget about the money from the general tax payer until a Labour/Green government manages to squish in.

– Adrien Taylor, 3 News


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  • Tom

    Yup I reckon its a dam good idea. The ratepayers won’t mind paying for more employees of Auckland Council. Its not like they’re overloaded with staff now. Shouldn’t cost anymore than 10 mil a year.

  • Well, that raises an interesting question around policing. We operate a general policing model (there are simply NZ Police), but should we allow local authorities to raise their own police forces? On the one hand, you’d get extra costs and stupid enforcement decisions (such as with fireworks bans), but on the other, it might encourage voters to actually think who they’re voting in and what the consequences of their decisions are.

    • LabTested

      Prior to 1992 Auckland City had its own Traffic Police. I understand they were merged into the NZ Police at the same time as general traffic cops were also re-branded. So there is a precedent

      • Well, I wouldn’t mind taking traffic enforcement (at the very least) away from Police, and moving that back to councils. You could then decide a bit more democratically what you wanted. That said, I think general policing powers wouldn’t be a problem, as NZ Police should be concentrating on national problems, leaving local matters to local people.

        • StreuthCobber

          Auckland Council can barely run the responsibilities they have – cutting services, rising rates and a complete lack of transparency in their budgets. But already we are seeing them hiding new projects as they attempt to get into policing and social services, and education sectors, while neglecting their own responsibilities of infrastructure and community maintenance.

          • Yup, and voters (or lack thereof) vote for them. They can spend money, but have no real responsibilities that people care about (if you’re in charge of policing, education, and health, it’s amazing how voters tend to be far more interested). There is next to nothing they do at the moment, in fact, which can’t be contracted out…

          • StreuthCobber

            I care about what the council’s supposed to be doing. Sewerage , water, roads, community buildings , art galleries, libraries, mowing the berms (ooops scrap that), picking up rubbish (oops scrap that too – we’ll make people buy costed rubbish bags – out west at least) and the design and place making of our biggest city – all pretty important stuff. I agree there’s plent that can be contracted out. So privatise it like rubbish, let ratepayers purchase directly, and drop rates. But they don’t – they cut services and raise rates.

      • mike

        Wasn’t just Auckland, it was the whole country. There were the NZ Police who dealt with crime and the Traffic Safety Service who were part of MoT.

      • EX RNZN RM1

        ACC Traffic cops got rolled in to MOT Traffic Cops because they were out of control. Late 80’s or early 90’s they had a wee discipline problem with they way the physical treated offenders.
        Same problems with MOT Traffic cops. On the Shore, about the same time as an experiment they were issued with long battens for “protection”, one offender who upset a Traffic Cop was chased back to offenders house and had stuffing beat out of him with long batten.

  • Damon Mudgway

    Where are the transit Police going to come from, and what will be their powers?

    • OT Richter

      From your rates, and their powers will be minimal because they won’t want to breach people’s rights (to act feral).

  • LesleyNZ

    You know that AKLD Transport are trying to play down, bury and forget about this brawl involving scores of youth at Britomart. From what I gather George Wood is the only one who seems to be concerned about this incident. Even the police are playing it down which is disappointing (I am usually very supportive of the police). Have any of the youths been charged in relation to this brawl? I think the police have got enough on their plate and the last thing they would want to get involved with is policing train rides.

    • Well, those youths weren’t doing 1km/h over the speed limit (although maybe there’s a speed sign for pedestrians at Britomart now?), so they aren’t real criminals. It was just a scuffle, nothing to see here. I do kind of like the idea, though, of putting police on trains…and then charging the drivers with speeding if they go 1km/h over the posted speed limit…

  • StreuthCobber

    I’m pretty sure we’re already paying for the Maori Wardens for community policing on the trains, stations and shops out west, who do a good job – seen on late night trains and at the stations. Price unknown though. Auckland Council like to keep the bookwork pretty vague.

    • BenC75

      Are you serious?, my observations have been quite the opposite, passive to the point of endorsing

      • StreuthCobber

        Just seeing a group of wardens with jackets on patrolling has made me feel safer at night and at the station (rural one backing onto vacant lot) and i’ve seen them stop some kids at our local shops. But I couldn ‘t comment more than that or to their effectiveness. But yep the trains can have issues at certain times. Better than having drunken idiots in cars but need to have some form of security.

  • Davo42

    Could this be the real reason that Auckland Transport opted for their own private shuttles last year? They are basically drawing attention to the fact that the services they expect everybody else to use could be hazardous to your health!

  • G-Man

    my 19 y/o son and his girlfriend were on a train the night of the brawl heading back out west after xmas in the park and ‘just’ missed the mayhem at britomart. he said the atmosphere on the train was scary and he was waiting for it to explode. there were young families shielding their kids from opposing groups of wannabe street thugs who wanted nothing more than fight each other. the security guards were next to useless but then what security guard wants to get their head kicked in when you get paid minimum wage! apparently one HUGE Maori Warden had the right idea and was chucking trouble makers off the train….but he was only one guy on one train. Police with the power of arrest and an enforced zero tolerance on crap behaviour will be the only way

  • OT Richter

    The issue is that the ticketing system (or lack of) allows people to travel for free if they choose to. The ticket inspectors are few and far between, and people that get caught and get kicked off the train simply wait for the next one – knowing that the
    inspectors won’t be on it.

    This free travel means that kids with nothing better to do, ride the rail system and cause trouble. Out west it is mostly Maori and PI teens that are bunking off school or cruising between New Lynn and Henderson stations in the evening looking for/causing trouble. The language, attitude, lack of respect for others and general behaviour has to be seen to be believed. Drinking, tagging, fighting, shouting, and trashing the trains are apparently not only cool things to do, but compulsory. Simply feral.

    From my observation this behaviour has increased markedly since the on-board conductors no longer clip your ticket or accept cash. Back then people knew that every time they boarded the train they were going to get checked. IMO the solution is to sort out station access and ticketing – i.e as per other countries where you can’t get on to the platform without having paid. Kids don’t like to have to pay to cause
    trouble so will go elsewhere. This will also increase ticket revenue as there are still a large number of general commuters that run the gambit, ride for free and accept that once in a while they are going to get busted for not having paid.

  • DangerMice

    Last week I saw a mid-40s maori woman badly swearing and racially taunting the Indian conductor-type person because she had been told to get of the train as she hadn’t paid. The abuse continued until the next stop where the massive train driver was summoned and he kicked her off.

    Still the abuse continued and I was wondering what hope there was for kids when their parents acted like this when an early 20s maori woman got up and told her what a disgrace she was to maori and that she should be ashamed etc etc. This just gave the older woman a new target to hurl her abuse at.

    As the doors closed we could hear still swearing and saying “I’ll just get the next one you expletiving expletive expletives”

    • Tom

      Should’ve thrown her off while it was moving. It surprises me she was maori. Mostly Asians who think the world owes them. (insert tui ad here)

  • Graham Pilgrim

    Does the Wellington Suburban rail network suffer from unruly behaviour? Does it employ Public Transport police?

    • Dave_1924

      Its a bit unruly on late on a Friday night, or it use to a few years back. And the response was control gates at entrance to the platforms, no entry with out a ticket and the odd security guard riding on the trains. Fridays after 9 or 10 pm I think it was….. But rest of the time no problems…

  • andrew carrot

    MORE staff required to run Auckland’s museum-technology-on-rails!? Hasn’t anyone noticed that in addition to the one ticket collector at Britomart there are, at a minimum, twenty other staff members standing around with clipboards or ambling up and down the platforms with no obvious purpose? I asked one of the important functionaries on a platform for directions to my train (the electronic scheduling system was down), but he responded that it was not his role to provide such info and that I should ask at the info kiosk – back in the station foyer. And why does a so-called automated ticketing system still require stations, such as Newmarket, to have three or four staff manually selling tickets until all hours of the night? The Auckland rail system appears to be managed along the chaotic and hierarchical lines so favoured in India; and it seems that a very large portion of AT rail staff (at least those directly in contact with users) received their basic training in India too.

    • Hard1

      Any rail system that is done on the cheap by not fencing stations and letting riff-raff hang around on the platforms is doomed to be a loss making failure. What woman in her right mind would be found waiting at a platform surrounded by glue sniffing ferals with nothing better to do than to cause trouble.
      Platforms overseas even in safe countries have security staff, ticket staff , and most importantly NO ENTRY to non-ticket holders.
      Far better to replace the tracks with dedicated bus routes on non-freight lines.

      Unless the justice system gets up to speed with the damage caused to society by criminals and starts taking sentencing seriously, the current rail system is always going to be a magnet for the feral criminal element.
      Auckland has clusters of retail shops which have to close at 6pm due to crime elevating rapidly when there are less people around.

      Auckland’s rail system will never turn a profit.

    • Kevin

      I’m totally convinced that councillors and anyone working for them are either in it to feather their own nests or for the power trip. In the case of the AT rail staff you describe I’d say the power trip.

  • HSV325

    This is just brain dead stuff from the idiots who run AT. For the life of me why don’t they have the platforms as ticket only access? Would save the need for policing the system as I would bet the ferals are riding for free or hanginging out on the platform as unrestricted access. It annoys me my ever increasing rates are keeping AT numpties in a job.

    • Kevin

      They have it on the NY subway. The extra benefit is that turnstile jumpers are often wanted for much bigger crimes so it’s a bonus when the cops catch them.

    • Cowgirl

      You’re dead right – the platform in Henderson was always full of ferals pushing, shoving and yelling at each other, and Maori wardens standing there watching them. I’m sure 99% of them had neither ticket nor need for a train, but were using it to hang out. They need some sort of door with swipe card or ticket access only. I swiped my card at each end of the platform, but there’s nothing stopping anyone just walking on past and getting on the train anyway.

  • Teko Flaps

    A city of near 1.5 million not having dedicated transport police will fail us one day.
    Would be a great opportunity for useless Auck central Police staff to learn their trade when coming out of Police College as they generally don’t do real Policing like the South and West cops.