Government reviewing public transport contracting to alleviate bus driver shortage

Wellington bus drivers are welcoming a reform of the controversial public transport contracting process, which unions say saw wages plummet.

The Government will look at its method for contracting out services, the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM), to curb a driver shortage.

Tramways union Secretary Kevin O'Sullivan told Newshub the move was desperately needed.

"There's been huge problems in Wellington and we've always maintained that unless there's real change then nothing's going to improve."

Cabinet approved the PTOM framework in 2011, and it was established by the Ministry for Transport in 2013. The model allowed local councils to award public bus contracts to private operators offering the lowest fee.

Several new companies have since entered the industry, picking up Wellington and Auckland contracts during tendering in 2017.

FIRST Union representative Jared Abbott said in a statement the union is excited to participate in the review.

"We have witnessed the worst and lowest paying bus operators benefit big time from PTOM while bus companies with decent working conditions missed out. Ultimately it was a race to the bottom on wages and working conditions."

NZ Bus driver Phil Morgan said the review was a relief.

"So many drivers have left the industry since the introduction of PTOM we are now in a state of chronic understaffing, and the industry can’t attract new people."

O'Sullivan told Newshub options to fixing driver shortages have previously been scarce and changing the PTOM is seen as a real opportunity.

"We've come to realise that it's the only way to fix the problem, especially in Wellington."



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