The NZ Herald today reports that the Auckland Transition Agency is having a lot of trouble trying to find someone to be the interim CEO of the new Transport CCO.
A London Transport guru is believed to have turned down the top transport job in the Auckland Super City amid reports of senior council staff fleeing the new set-up because of poor pay and conditions.
With three months until the Super City comes into being, the agency setting it up has been unable to find an interim chief executive for Auckland Transport, a council-controlled organisation which will be responsible for spending about $680 million of Auckland ratepayers’ money.
Sources said that after long, drawn-out negotiations the preferred candidate from London Transport backed out about 10 days ago. An applicant from Perth is also believed to have been on the short-list, but withdrew.
Last night, the agency did not deny the reports that one, possibly two, candidates had turned down the job.
“Transport is a major strategic issue for Auckland and this is a significant role. It’s important to get the right candidate and the process is ongoing,” a spokesman said.
It’s both surprising, and somewhat unsurprising, that this role is proving very difficult to fill. I suppose that it’s surprising to the extent that it will probably pay somewhere around half a million dollars a year, and that it would be a pretty influential job: the best opportunity to change Auckland’s transport situation for many decades. But at the same time I can see why people might be turned off it – with the prospect of constant ugly battles with council, the Transport CCO directors and inevitably everything else that makes transport in Auckland such a horrific mess.
It’s a pity that the London Transport guru (whoever that might have been) has turned down the role. I do feel as though we need someone from outside New Zealand to becoming Auckland Transport’s CCO – someone who knows what other cities around the world are doing with their transport policies. Getting someone like New York City Department of Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan would be fantastic, although if I were her it’s probably the last job in the world that I’d want!