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The watchman of Auckland’s trains

Published: 5 November 2018
Lance Lochner and Kamal Singh watch surveillance footage

This month, OurAuckland is meeting some of the people who work 'behind the scenes' to make Tāmaki Makaurau a great place to live.

Lance Lochner is helping Aucklanders get from A to B safely as leader of Auckland Transport’s Operation Centre’s (ATOC) public transport surveillance team.

Monitoring over 1500 cameras 24/7 from their city centre headquarters, the seven-person team keeps an eagle eye over our main public transport hubs.

In the month of August, the team monitored 9130 public transport journeys by rail, bus or ferry covering 88 transport hubs.

A lot of the time this means watching the humdrum happenings of commuter life – travellers flagging down buses, kisses goodbye on the way to work, helpful hands looking out for older residents, and accidental naps on train platforms.

But the real job is to proactively manage the public transport network by spotting the clues that may disrupt services or public safety, and acting on them quickly.

People often don’t understand that someone is always watching, says Lance, but the cameras are there only to keep people safe.

“Whenever we can, we’re watching in real time for activity that may require action to keep operations running smoothly," he says.

The team mainly deals with a range of incidents involving disorderly behaviour and people taking unnecessary risks.

Incidents such as underage drinking, playing chicken with trains, throwing stones at drivers, graffiti attacks on trains while still in the station and organised fights are increasing occurrences and threaten services. Lance and his team are experts at knowing where to look for this disruptive behaviour, and how to deal with it.

Working closely with the police and security partners they proactively monitor public transport for these incidents, to ensure our everyday journeys are safe and on time.

“People don’t realise that if an incident forces a train to stop on the Eastern line it also stops trains on the Western Line. Whatever the reason, it’s going to affect a lot of people across Auckland," says Lance.

“As the city continues to experience unprecedented growth, AT and Auckland Council are increasing public transport networks and services to keep the city moving. We’re at the centre of keeping those services rolling while maintaining public safety."