We’ve known since last year that Auckland Transport have looking at how they operate and their corporate accommodation. Both of these issues have been items on the closed session of the AT board meetings in the past, such as this one from December.
Corporate Accommodation – Long Term Strategy
Value for money review
I understand the value for money review was looking at how AT performed at a structural level and where, if any improvements could be made.
We know that AT are currently spread out in numerous locations around the region including having some staff in the city in the HSBC building, some in Henderson, some at Smales Farm on the North Shore and some in Manukau. We also know that AT have come under fire before for running private shuttles between the city and Henderson because they found the public transport options weren’t good enough – a practice that they’ve stopped.
Putting some of this together it comes as no surprise that AT want to consolidate their operations into a single building. After all the agglomeration benefits they talk about at a city scale from projects like the City Rail Link enabling more people to work close together also apply within organisations like AT.
We’ve also seen news recently that AT are looking at consolidating their operations and it appears they’re looking at the building Vodafone will be vacating near the Viaduct. Interestingly that move by Vodafone is partially into space AT currently occupy at Smales Farm.
Of course leasing a building and especially one in the city and in an election year is going to cause politicians from all stripes to jump up and down with Phil Goff the latest to do so.
AT seem to be fairly clear they’ll only move if there is a financial benefit from doing so
“The overriding factor for change is that it will be cheaper/less expensive than current disbursed arrangements. Quite simply, if it is not financially beneficial it will not happen.”
Auckland Transport has claimed the savings will be largely driven by reducing its overall office space requirements by about 2000sq m – from about 18,700sq m down to about 16,000sq m.
On top of the financial savings there are probably quite a lot of other benefits of them being in the city too. For one they seem to work a lot with the Council, NZTA and MoT who are all based in the city. In addition most of the consultancies they use are based in and around the city and you can bet they’ll be charging AT for every trip they have to make out to places like Henderson. And who knows, perhaps being closer to the city might even help some of their road focused engineers learn that the city is about people and not just a place for moving individual boxes of tin.
It seems to me that just rejecting the idea because an office looks flash without considering the benefits – of which there are probably way more than I’ve listed, is probably a good idea.
But one area I was a little surprised by was this statement
Today, general manager of communications and corporate relations Wally Thomas would not say if Auckland Transport planned to explain the benefits to council and ratepayers before proceeding with a lease on the Vodafone building.
If the benefits stack up then why wouldn’t they explain them? Given so many of their projects and the projects of the council are about enabling the city to perform better it seems like the perfect opportunity to live what they preach.
What do you think, should they move to the city?