Sustainable healthcare case study: Public transport cards for new employees

Saturday 30 September 2023

Te Whatu Ora is the public healthcare provider throughout New Zealand. Counties Manukau (CM) is in New Zealand’s north, and covers the country’s most populous city, Auckland. CM delivers care across 20 sites with approximately 9,880 employees.

This case study is based at Middlemore Hospital in Otahuhu, Auckland which is a large in-patient facility with 900 beds and 7,560 staff. The hospital has a train station at its door making it one of the easiest places for staff to reach by train.

The problem

The commute to and from work is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly if this is done in a car by a single driver. At times a single driver commute is unavoidable but there are solutions that can be found for the majority of staff. At all CM sites parking is scarce, both for staff & visitors. Parking should be prioritised for those who need to drive.


  • Reduce pressure on parking
  • Reduce travel emissions
  • Increase awareness and use of public transport

The process

Like many cities, Auckland commuters use an electronic card (ATHOP) to swipe on and off public transport. There is a promotion "Give it a Go" ATHOP card available, which allows passengers to travel for free for a fortnight or for 20 journeys.

This case study looks at utilising the promotion as an incentive for new employees to change their travel habits when they start a new job. All new employees were offered the free Give it a Go ATHOP card. Newly employed staff members got issued with a free ATHOP card to use for two weeks, or for 20 journeys, whichever occurred first. Once the free period was completed, the employee could add money to the ATHOP card. Each ATHOP card is identifiable via a serial number so it's easy to ascertain if they are topped up after the initial free period.

The outcome

  • During the pilot program, 81 cards were given out to new staff and 71 cards were given out to existing staff
  • Of these, 48% were topped up which meant they continued to be used after the free period
  • These cards accounted for 575 trips in the two-week free period and 1,595 trips thereafter. The carbon saved by using public transport instead of driving equates to 3,190 Tco2e


This full case study is available to GGHH members via GGHH Connect.

Congratulations Te Whatu Ora Counties Manakau! Thank you for your sustainable healthcare leadership!