Wellington consultation as bus network woes continue

Published: Tue 9 Jul 2019 10:49 AM
Wellington regional council seeks more consultation as bus network woes continue
Jonathan Mitchell, Reporter
A year after a revamp of Wellington's bus network threw routes and services into disarray, the regional council is consulting with the public to try and fix it.
Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown last year. Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton
Greater Wellington Regional Council and Metlink are launching an online forum on Friday along with a series of public meetings and drop-in sessions for people to voice their opinions and come up with solutions.
They will start in the eastern suburbs of Strathmore Park, Kilbirnie, Lyall Bay, Hataitai and Miramar.
Wellington's bus woes began a year ago with operators NZ Bus and Tranzurban taking over the contracts just as a new timetable and new routes were brought in.
Since then, there have been reports of buses turning up late, not showing up at all, with services cancelled or regularly overcrowded. To make matters worse, there's still a driver shortage.
One bus user on Lambton Quay along the city's "Golden Mile", Christine, said it started out bad and got better over time, but there were still some bottlenecks.
"Last Sunday night for the Matariki fireworks I decided to catch the bus home into town and it took an hour and a half to get home again," she said.
Another commuter, Alan, said a lot could be learned from systems in Asia.
"I believe we could have more bus - or like more bus lanes ... compared to my home town (in Asia) there is a lot of bus - more bus and the bus there is a lot cheaper," he said.
Simon said his run to the northern suburbs was fairly smooth.
"I've heard some of the routes on the southern and other - yeah I think a hub model could be a bit of an issue - more buses just to help with that," he said.
Metlink's Facebook post about its review also featured several negative comments:
"Metlink and its world class services in recent past has improved my health significantly. I have taken up biking to office instead."
"It's the worst service since changeover. Especially for us in Strathmore. Nothing has improved! Should have kept it the way it was!"
"The constant cancellations / lack of the 7 in the morning is terrible and the buses are chock full by the time they reach the bottom of the hill. And the evening is not much better from the railway station. So now I just walk to and from work, or sometimes Scooter."
"A year of terrible decisions and not listening to feedback, just thankful I got a job in Lower Hutt so don't have to use the trains and buses anymore!"
Local city councillor Sarah Free lives in the eastern suburbs and said she would not give the bus service a pass mark.
"To be honest it would probably be very middling, probably even a little bit less than five - maybe a four," she said.
She said it was just limping along.
"I never thought that we would actually have to wait so long for improvements - when it was so clearly not working," she said.
Tramways and Public Transport Union secretary Kevin O'Sullivan said he would be front and centre giving his view about the network problems.
"I did say to them - when they rang me only just a month ago - I said 'I've been waiting 12 months for this call'."
He said central government would need to get around the table at some stage too.
"At the end of the day there'll be more funding required - but that's an issue that so far central government have been reluctant to address directly," he said.
Regional councillor Daran Ponter accepted many frustrated bus passengers had already stated their dislike of the current system, but said the consultation was important.
"So, there are people and there are particular communities that have not been well served in the last 12 months and we really want to make sure that we can get past that," he said.
Mr Ponter said there could be new designs and routes in place by December, as well as more buses and drivers to meet demand and ease pressure on the network.
New Zealand's public broadcaster, providing comprehensive NZ news and current affairs, specialist audio features and documentaries.
Radio New Zealand is a Crown entity established under the Radio New Zealand Act 1995. Radio New Zealand News are vital elements in our programming, providing impartial news and information to New Zealanders every day. Radio New Zealand (RNZ) provides listeners with exciting and independent radio programmes in accordance with the Radio New Zealand Charter.

Next in Comment

U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President
By: Eric Zuesse
Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme
By: Binoy Kampmark
COVID-19: Just Recovery
By: Betsan Martin and Michael Pringle
Are New Zealand's New COVID-19 Laws And Powers Really A Step Towards A Police State?
By: The Conversation
Universal Versus Targeted Assistance, A Muddled Dichotomy
By: Keith Rankin
Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office
By: Binoy Kampmark
Do You Consent To The New Cold War?
By: Caitlin Johnstone
Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation
By: Binoy Kampmark
On The Ethics (and Some Of The Economics) Of Lifting The Lockdown
By: Gordon Campbell
Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal
By: Binoy Kampmark
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media