Wellington Scoop

The bus saga: job losses, and cancellations


by Lindsay Shelton
On the same day that Wellington bus drivers are going to Parliament to tell MPs about threats to our public transport system, MetLink sent out an apology for cancelling bus services – but has failed to give an explanation for the cancellations.

Wellington’s new bus contracting system takes over at the end of July. Bus drivers continue to be concerned by the changes – they’re meeting MPs at Parliament to tell them that their terms and conditions of employment are under threat from the new service.

They want a law change to give them protection, and they say

The request follows the Wellington Regional Council’s decision to tender its bus services without protecting bus drivers’ jobs, wages, or conditions.

The threat to employment became specific after the meeting had been announced, with a report from RNZ that NZ Bus has confirmed 226 bus drivers’ jobs will go when Tranzit takes over. Chief executive Zane Fulljames says the company is working through the redundancy process.

Meantime there are conflicting reports about the fate of the city’s sixty ditched trolley buses. There’s no longer any expectation that they might reappear with Wrightspeed engines. But a DomPost report yesterday said that one of the old trolleys is being trialled with a fully electric engine from China. The report says that NZ Bus

has partnered with China-based Times Electric Group (TEG), which is the same company providing the engines for Tranzit’s new fully-electric double-decker buses that will hit Wellington’s streets in July.

Will we benefit if the trial is successful? Regional Councillor Daran Ponter says the rest of the former trolley buses could be rolled out by the end of the year. But there’s no guarantee they would be in Wellington, with the possibility NZ Bus could take them elsewhere.

“So that’s a real challenge for us, to grab hold of them. We want to retain these electric buses in Wellington.”


  1. Roy Kutel, 16. May 2018, 10:07

    What a shambles! Time to replace GWRC with a Public Transport Authority with people who know about buses and trains making decisions.

  2. luke, 16. May 2018, 14:37

    yup, gwrc have wrecked public transport in the region but their answer is, now you can bring animals on trains. they need to be shown the door come election time for whats happened under their watch.

  3. Farmer John, 16. May 2018, 16:15

    @Luke – Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas! The same old will get voted in and the same old will result. The axe must be wielded by Central Government. Shane Jones and Ron Mark have the look of willing axe-men.

  4. City Lad, 17. May 2018, 0:45

    Daran, our trolleys were 100% pure electric and not requiring the planet’s precious irreplaceable metals for batteries. GWRC is responsible for exposing residents to carcinogenic diesel exhaust fumes. Shameful!!

  5. Keith Flinders, 18. May 2018, 2:19

    Any responsible local authority would have ensured that the replacements for the pollution free trolley buses would have been available first, not kill one system and hope for the best. Certainly battery buses are better than the diesel option, but battery technology is still far from being inexpensive and durable for public transport vehicles that need to operate 16 plus hours per day. What the GWRC is inflicting on the residents of the eastern and western suburbs now, and into the foreseeable future, are predominantly old Euro 3 diesel buses that ought not to be on the road. These buses will also run through the CBD, continuing to endanger the health of all who work and shop there too.

    Should the 56 or so old trolley buses be converted to battery operation, if the trial of the sole trial one is successful, then we can only hope that these, and perhaps more older diesel buses converted to battery operation will see the Euro 3 buses eliminated in quick time.

    The primary objective of any local authority is to protect the health and well-being of its citizens. The GWRC is failing in the health aspect especially. They don’t even monitor the pollution levels in the CBD.

    City Lad: I share your concerns about the use of batteries and had the GWRC done a proper study they would have investigated fully the modern trolley bus system that runs on and off wire, thus requiring smaller battery banks, and uses in-motion charging. The sudden addition of a large number of battery buses requiring rapid charging during the working day has implications for the Wellington electrical supply grid.

    There are some in the GWRC who believe Wellington’s terrain is of benefit to battery buses as the regenerative power gained going downhill will offset the energy used to get up the hill in the first place. As far as I am aware, perpetual motion has yet to be discovered, but I may well have missed that announcement.

  6. Steven Molotsky, 19. May 2018, 8:35

    Metlink’s responses to these service declines are as effective as the USA’s responses to on-going mass shootings. Thoughts and prayers, apologies and nothing done. Drivers deserve earnings protection but have been negligently overlooked in the process. It should have been simple to work through —here is what you earned for these shifts before and after. From start to finish mishandled by GWRC and related. Attending meetings, lodging complaints, making calls are futile. Can’t find anyone accountable. Airport service?

  7. luke, 19. May 2018, 13:18

    oh wait, bring animals on the bus, that will fix everything.

  8. Gillybee, 25. May 2018, 15:57

    The situation with the drivers is symptomatic of a much bigger problem.

    Pollution will double on the new No.2 Seatoun to Karori route with bus movements every 5-10 minutes (on/off-peak). Eastern suburbs aren’t happy about this and the prospect of old diesel buses servicing the route for the next 10 years.

    Come to our community meeting.

    @ Seatoun Village Hall
    7.30PM Wednesday 13th June

    Visit our facebook page