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The bus saga: job losses, and cancellations

go-bus-2 [1]

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 [2] – 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 [3]

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 [4] 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 [5] 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.”