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  1. greenwelly, 26. May 2018, 8:17

    Why has the promised Johnsonville bus hub now become dependant on the commercial redevelopment of the Mall, that currently has no timeline. The reorganisation of the Northern Suburb routes was predicated on a warm and dry bus hub… but no more. Has it been widely circulated that city bound bus commuters will be only provided with some seats under a shop veranda, absolutely no wind protection at all? See:

  2. Gillybee, 26. May 2018, 9:59

    “About 80% of the fleet will be purpose built low emission buses”

    What planet is Ms Donaldson on? Ten electric buses and the rest diesel.

    GWRC spin.

  3. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 26. May 2018, 15:08

    We know quite a few of the Go Wellington bus drivers and the general consensus amongst them is expect chaos when the new transport system is implemented. To follow Gillybee’s example, we’ll quote a few lines from Barbara Donaldson and respond:

    “Signing up to MyMetlink is one of the best ways you can keep up to date”
    It’s also a great way for GWRC to collect data on citizens.

    “you’ll get the best value from day one because you’ll have your Snapper card organised”
    The snapper card is another method used to dataprofile citizens. The withdrawal of the standard Go Wellington beneficiaries’ permit and the requirement for disabled citizens to use smart ticketing in order to obtain the discount amounts to obligatory opting in to be dataprofiled. This is unacceptable and most citizens we know who are designated as disabled are unhappy about it.

    “Snapper will be accepted on all Metlink buses and is the best value way to pay. Cash fares will be at least 25% more”
    A better way of spinning the alleged virtues of the snapper card would have been to say ‘Fares paid via the snapper card will be discounted by at least 25%’.

  4. Katie, 26. May 2018, 15:49

    And another reminder that all the current direct routes from he Eastern suburbs, Karori, Mairangi and Khandallah to the hospital, will vanish except for the peak hour services. So for the elderly or anyone with mobility problems, a minimum of 2 buses (including a walk between bus stops) to get to hospital appointments will be the new norm, and there are many people worried about how they are going to physically manage this.

    Way to go GWRC, may you become elderly/disabled and totally dependent on your new “efficient” network yourselves.

  5. Jonny Utzone, 26. May 2018, 17:48

    GWRC could have accepted Snapper five years ago but thought they could do better and so tried to stymie Snapper! Indeed, GRWC appointed an electronic ticketing ‘expert’ ($90k a year?). And what happened. Nothing, except for ratepayers paying for more GWRC integrated blah and spin. Time to abolish the GWRC and replace with a PTA.

  6. Keith Flinders, 27. May 2018, 15:35

    Gillybee: Last week I received a reply to my request to the GWRC as to how many Euro 3 buses will be operating after the end of this year. Current contractor NZ Bus will be permitted to use, on the routes it will retain, its Euro 1, 2, 3 buses until the end of 2018, but only Euro 3 ones after. Presently 45% of the NZ Bus fleet is Euro 3, most of which I expect will be running into the foreseeable future. NZ Bus are getting a small number of new double decker buses but, as these are not suitable for the Karori and Seatoun tunnels, residents in those suburbs and the routes between will be subject to pollution levels not permitted in many other countries. We are being driven backwards, air quality wise, by the GWRC who are paying scant regard to reducing carbon emissions.

    The GWRC stated several times 2015 – 2017 that Wellington was to get a new bus fleet, and that was one trade off for axing the non polluting trolley buses. Overall emissions would be lower, they stated. Wellington City, as opposed to the greater Wellington region, emissions of carbon dioxide will be a lot higher with an almost 100% diesel fleet, and the NOX emissions will remain almost as bad as they have been since the trolley buses went.

    Wellington City residents have been misled by the GWRC. The majority of us will need to use old Euro 3 buses and pay nearly three times as much per km as users of the Matangi units do. This based on the 4.7 km route from Karori to the CBD, compared to Wellington Railway Station to Petone.

    Mega millions are being poured into the suburban rail network which carries 11 million passenger per annum. Buses carrying 24 million in the same period are seeing reduced services, old vehicles in Wellington City, and higher fares. The GWRC could have saved ratepayers a fortune by doing what they did to the trolley bus system. That is to pull out the rail electrical infrastructure and use the redundant diesel units ex Auckland now sitting idle in Taumaranui.

  7. Casey, 27. May 2018, 15:49

    Katie, but according to one GWRC councillor residents of Newlands are going to be better off by having a direct service to Wellington Hospital. Some trade off for those who elected to live where the buses served them well! Currently I endure the noisy polluting diesel buses to and from the hospital, but come 15 July I, and I expect others, will drive instead saving about 50% of the travel time taking two buses each way will take.

    New routes ignore Karori resident hospital and other shift workers travelling to/from Newtown, who will have to change buses and be exposed to the undesirable elements who frequent the CBD at night. I don’t mean just the weather.

  8. Concerned Wellingtonian, 28. May 2018, 6:52

    Am shocked to hear from Keith Flinders that “the majority of us will need to …. pay nearly three times as much per km as users of the Matangi units …. based on the 4.7 km route from Karori to the CBD.” Especially since we pay most of the rates to support the railways.
    Since it will be much harder to get to the hospital, couldn’t Rymans use its influence on the WCC to get our old time-table back? Who else is trying to help Wellingtonians?

  9. Katie, 28. May 2018, 10:04

    @Casey- well that’s ok then!
    New routes also ignore the entire Eastern Suburbs. Only the bus from Lyall Bay will continue to Newtown, everyone else will be forced to transfer at Kilbirnie at what looks like a 1-2 min walk in the elements (for fit and healthy people, we’ve yet to see the finished hub) to get to the hospital. Currently there’s direct buses from Miramar, Seatoun and Strathmore Park. I can’t drive on medical grounds so very familiar with all those buses and there’s a lot of elderly in particular, and people with mobility issues and also prams, who will be forced to transfer and most of us don’t have the option of driving. This should be fun.

    Any GWRC Councillors care to put in an appearance here to defend this? We know you read these comments, would love to hear how this is going to work.

  10. Trish, 28. May 2018, 14:49

    From Hataitai bus numbers are being halved and the change to the route means it will take 30 minutes to get to town instead of 20!! Secondary students will have to change buses to get to and from the school they are in zone for and we can’t even get to Kilbirnie without changing buses. And for all this we still get charged more than 3 zone train users!!!!!

  11. greenwelly, 28. May 2018, 16:41

    What baffles me, is that less than 6 weeks out from the change no timetable exists for people to plan this change around, all we have are platitudes like
    “Bus frequency (in minutes)”
    *Please note: bus frequencies are indicative only and may change.”

    The longer timetables are withheld, the more carnage there is going to be in July.

  12. Cr Daran Ponter, 28. May 2018, 23:14

    @ Greenwelly. The bus hub is under construction on Moorfield Rd. No, it isn’t in the main Mall carpark. Yes, that’s unfortunate. But neither the WCC or GWRC own that land. The Mall Owners have been promising redevelopment for years – if they had followed through we would have had a better chance of integrating with their proposal. As it is, they are simply land banking.

    @ Gillybee. There are ten electric buses to start with, and another 22 within two years. There is also the possibility that the 57 trolley buses will be re-converted to full electric battery operation (not Wrightspeed) – I can’t describe this as any more than a possibility because this is an NZ Bus Project. Electric buses are expensive. Note that Auckland has only acquired two electric buses that I am aware of. If we were making this decision in three years time I dare say it would be a 100% electric purchase decision.

    @ Sekhmet Bast Ra. Where to start? If you are concerned about Metlink spying on your every move then pay by cash and wear a balaclava (that’s right there are cameras on all new buses and monitored CCTV at the bus hubs).

    @ Katie. Yes, some people will need to change buses, and some already do. Others will have access to main facilities that were not previously possible on a single ride. In some instances the altered bus routes are a consequence of the move to double deckers, in others they reflect a community preference during consultation, and in other instances the removal of duplicated services on core routes.

    @ Casey. If you are coming from Karori to the hospital and return, then you can connect between your buses (both core routes) anywhere on the golden mile. If you are travelling in the peak, perhaps the 18x is an option – this is a service that I am keen to see put back to how it is now, but only if there is demonstrated demand.

    @ Concerned Wellingtonian. The further you travel, the cheaper the KM cost – happens with airfares too. This applies particularly to rail where the journeys are considerably longer than bus. But it’s not 3 times the cost for an equivalent length journey (e.g. Petone Railway Station to Wellington Railway Station (approx 11 km) = $4.80 per adult if using a ten trip ticket vs Seatoun to Wellington Railway Station (approx 9.9km) = $3.63 per adult using Snapper; or ride from Churton Park to the CBD for $3.63 with Snapper or on the train from Johnsonville to the CBD for $3.60 using ten trip ticket. The prices will be a bit cheaper for monthly pass users if they travel every working day by train).

    @ Katie. Yes, the Hospital is important. But actually in the peak period most people are travelling to the CBD and expressed a preference to go via the bus tunnel rather than via Newtown.

    @ Trish. All journeys are different. Can you clarify why your journey is 10 minutes longer?

    @ Greenwelly. Bus timetables are a few weeks away. Appreciate that this is frustrating for people eager to plan their journeys, but it is also a huge undertaking between Metlink and the bus operators.

    And, as a general comment, there will be teething issues and there will be frustration. The changeover is happening in the school holidays and Metlink will be looking to minimise issues by having Ambusadors (I kid you not!) out and about during the transition period.

    Additional matters to note (not mentioned above):
    – no advertising on bus windows from 15 July – one of the biggest sources of complaints I receive.
    – 30 Day bus pass for 3 Zone travel (Wellington only) replaces the former Go Wellington 30 day pass.
    – there are changes to school bus routes and timetables as well – so it will pay for parents and kids to keep a look out for these on the On Our Way website – https://www.metlink.org.nz/on-our-way/

  13. Roy Kutel, 29. May 2018, 9:23

    @Keith – excellent stuff but two wrongs don’t make a right! The problem for both our (now ex) trolley bus and electric train systems is that no one has done that mundane task of asset maintenance. Lots of analysis and blah from lots of GWRC and WCC analysts and underemployed councillors but no hard working engineers keeping the infrastructure maintained for the long-haul.

    Cost recovery? Businesses have to earn enough to cover long-term depreciation of assets using current cost of replacement (not historic). Otherwise we end up with GWRC doing a ‘Pontius Pilot’ and saying its ‘too costly to maintain so we have to scrap it’ as was the case of our unique 100% electric trolley buses.

    For rail, GWRC blames the Crown (aka Central Govt) for not maintaining the track and overheads etc. Its never blame themselves.

    So my solution? Create a Public Transport Authority responsible for the whole thing and get rid of the GWRC which seeks only to do the glamour bits (timetables, fares, bus and train liveries and staff uniforms) but none of the dirty fingernail stuff. And put an engineer in charge, not a money shuffling accountant.

  14. Katie, 29. May 2018, 10:48

    Greenwelly – not easy to find, it’s hidden away in very small print here then click on ‘how will this change my journey’ and feel yourself getting more and more angry. If that link doesn’t work https://www.metlink.org.nz/on-our-way/ and the links to all the changes are on the left side of the page.

  15. Katie, 29. May 2018, 13:40

    @Cr Ponter. “Yes, the Hospital is important. But in the peak period most people are travelling to the CBD and expressed a preference to go via the bus tunnel rather than via Newtown.”

    We’re not talking peak period, we’re talking people from Northern, Western and Eastern suburbs who go to hospital appointments which are frequently OFF PEAK. Many are elderly, have mobility problems, or travelling with young children. And they don’t have the option of driving or a taxi. Your brilliant “planners” have obviously never experienced the joys of having to get to a bus stop in a polar blast just for a direct route as someone with mobility issues. Having to change will be too much for some. Sure, some people currently have to change, they always have, but you’re now forcing the vast majority to. And no one’s stopping the CBD commuters from taking the bus through the tunnel. They do already.

  16. greenwelly, 29. May 2018, 16:24

    @Daran, Thanks for that, good to know they are not far away…

    I’ve found the Hutt ones now which roll out next month.

    They are listed as “Service Updates” but do not appear in the “news” section of the Website.

  17. Keith Flinders, 30. May 2018, 19:04

    @Daran. In your response to Casey’s concerns you write as a male in the prime of his life, well able to look after himself. Female, in particular, shift workers standing in the open at bus stops late at night needing to wait for their second bus are placed at physical risk. The CBD isn’t an exactly safe place to be at night on one’s own. I expect that this is a point not obvious to those sitting in an office planning new bus routes on a computer system.

    As a 70 year old male I have at times felt intimidated by the anti social behavior late at night when in the CBD waiting for my bus. And yes, I know, that at my age I’m expected to be in bed by 8 with my cocoa.

  18. Cr Daran Ponter, 31. May 2018, 20:04

    @ Keith Flinders I acknowledge the issues that you raised and my response was not intended to sound callous or uncaring. Metlink has endeavored to respond to these issues with timed services, good lighting and CCTV at bus hubs, and a continued commitment to 100% fleet of kneeling buses. The amount of hubbing that is anticipated under the new network (approx 5% of daily commuters) is considerably less than was originally planned. Wellingtonians reacted to the original proposals and the amount of hubbing was scaled back.

    Inevitably though, if we are to get more efficiency into the network and remove a lot of the route duplication and bus congestion in the Golden Mile, then some hubbing is still required – noting that quite a few people already hub for bus journeys across the City. Light Rail might have provided an alternative fix, but light rail is likely to result in more people having to hub – i.e. it is a transport culture that we are likely to have to embrace more strongly in the future.

    Metlink has committed to monitor the situation as the new Network beds in. I dare say there will be tweaks “down the road” to address some of the concerns raised.

  19. Roy Kutel, 1. June 2018, 8:31

    @Daran – Hubbing at Wellington Rail Station (WRS) is different to hubbing out in the suburbs. WRS has decent facilities (could be better) and a range of services that transfer ‘stops’ out in the suburbs won’t have. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, the philosophy was start/terminate/transfer at WRS and the system worked fine. As I recall the transport planning manager of GWRC had a PhD in bus operations research so he knew what he was doing.

    Today’s philosophy of running most services through the CBD results in bus congestion and lots of empty seats. Tomorrow’s planned system of adding in transfers at suburban hubs will add further confusion and inconvenience.

    I wonder what the transport planning qualifications are of GWRC’s many headed planning team that came up with this new philosophy?

  20. Cr Daran Ponter, 1. June 2018, 23:38

    Hi Roy, the current network is unchanged in more than 30 years, save for a few additions here and there. In that time our population has grown and patronage has increased. Bus congestion along the Golden Mile is a very real issue and is only set to get worse. The new network and the adoption of higher capacity buses will reduce us from approx 130 bus movements an hour to approx 90. International best practice is 60 buses an hour but Wellingtonians rejected more radical network and hubbing proposals during consultation.

    Transfers at hubs were inevitable at some stage. We have multiple route duplication in many areas of the city. This can lead to buses with with two or three people on them – even a subsidised public transport system has its limits as to what is sustainable.

    Hubbing is by no means a new concept. It is used in many cities around the World. However, if you have been used to one bus getting you to where you want to go to, and will now have to take two, there will of course be some inconvenience. Having said this, hubbing is estimated to affect about 5% of commuters.

    The new network was informed by a set of independent studies undertaken around 2008-10 and then revised following public consultation. The funding environment, including the new PTOM model, is quite different to what we had 30 years ago. We have had to adapt, recognising that approx 50% of the transport subsidy comes from NZTA. (I.e we have to satisfy their efficiency demands, as well as those of ratepayers).

  21. Roy Kutel, 2. June 2018, 9:33

    Hi Daran, so our new bus services are based on data and analysis done TEN years ago. Really?

  22. Cr Daran Ponter, 3. June 2018, 8:14

    @ Roy Kutel. Approx ten years ago is certainly when the main network proposals were first prepared. Since then GWRC has had increasing access to Snapper data and has continued to do on-bus survey counts, resulting in further amendments to proposals. GWRC also received significant community feedback on the proposals, which led to big revisions.

  23. Gillybee, 3. June 2018, 16:20

    “There are ten electric buses to start with, and another 22 within two years. There is also the possibility that the 57 trolley buses will be re-converted to full electric battery operation … I can’t describe this as any more than a possibility because this is an NZ Bus Project. Electric buses are expensive. Auckland has only acquired two electric buses that I am aware of. If we were making this decision in three years time I dare say it would be a 100% electric purchase decision.”

    So…a grand total of 9% of the Tranzit fleet will be electric in 3 years time. I’m slightly underwhelmed, sorry Daran! Stuff has reported that the electric battery ex-trolley buses being tested by NZ Bus are likely to go to Tauranga, where they’ve won new contracts. The expense of electric buses should have been more carefully considered before the trolleys were decommissioned.

    Most Wellingtonians – particularly those living along the east-west corridor – are as yet oblivious to the fact that the noisy, polluting, diesel-dominated buses we’ve been saddled with will take a DECADE to phase out, with pollution and noise set to DOUBLE when the new timetable starts in July.

  24. Peter Kerr, 3. June 2018, 18:46

    All the communication from GWRC carefully omits the word “passenger”. You’re a customer now; every time you jump on a bus you’re entering a commercial relationship with bus operator, council, card owner.
    The sense that you, the passenger, are as much the owner of these services as any other entity has been subtly bleached away. If any of us experiences a diminished service as a result of these immanent changes, we need to complain hard with persistence, and demand a return to what suits us.
    We are the passengers, the most vital part of the bus service. The purpose of the council is to satisfy us in every possible way.

  25. Prattlesnake, 3. June 2018, 20:15

    Consultation on the change was abysmal. Many regular users didn’t know the services they use were proposed to be altered. Ponter & co have made some wishful calls on how commuters are going to feel about having to make transfers (at poorly sheltered places) on short bus trips – it’s a recipe for greater car use.

  26. Cr Daran Ponter, 3. June 2018, 21:36

    @Gillybee – terminating the trolleys was certainly an active decision of the previous council. A number of Wellington GWRC councillors (Ponter, Kedgley and Blakeley) attempted to have the trolleys extended until 2018. However, Wellington Electricity advised that they wouldn’t allow a time extension without significant investment in the substations – which was going to be in the many $Millions. And so the bid to extend the trolleys was lost.

    Yes, there is a small possibility of the trolleys going north. GWRC and NZ Bus are still finalising the NZ Bus contract, which includes the future of the ex-trolley buses. The first converted trolley bus is currently in operation on the Airport Flyer route, so things are looking up.

  27. Roy Kutel, 4. June 2018, 12:11

    @Daran and how many millions of dollars more (billions in fact) would one electric mass transit system with steel wheels from the rail station to the airport cost?

    A modern trolley bus system was ideal for Wellington but has been wrecked by ill-informed ‘out of town’ regional councillors (plus Chris Laidlaw). Had WCC run the buses in Wellington as they did pre 1990, this stupid decision would never have happened. Time to axe GWRC.

  28. Cr Daran Ponter, 4. June 2018, 23:37

    @ Roy Kutel we will get an indication of the estimated cost of light rail when the decision on the direction of Let’s Get Welly Moving is made in July.

    To be fair to my regional councillor colleagues, they were well informed of the issues and consequences of terminating the trolley buses. This was an active decision, but not one which all councillors agreed with.

    WCC may have come to a different decision but they would still have to have had the agreement of the New Zealand Transport Agency and been prepared to foot the $18-40 Miliion cost of upgrading the substations (as determined by Wellington Electricity, who owned the substations).

  29. Roy Kutel, 5. June 2018, 9:00

    Daran, the $1 million dollar plus Spine Study commissioned by your very own GWRC came up with a cost of $1 billion to get Light Rail from WRS to Kilbirnie. So unless you think consultants Aecom did not provide ‘well informed’ results to GWRC (for $1 million!) then that is your cost estimate.

    Comparing $1.5 billion (to get to all the way to the terminal side of the airport rather than stopping at Kilbirnie and allowing for some inflation since 2012) with the $40 million top estimate you give for upgrading the trolley bus electricity supply makes me think you and your fellow GWRC Councillors were verging on insane for not plumping to upgrade our unique trolley bus system!

  30. greenwelly, 5. June 2018, 12:16

    @Cr Ponter: LGWM have already said the difference between Bus and LRT mass transit is $350 – $500 million
    Are they now saying this costing is not correct, or is there some other reason they are redoing work they only did 6 months ago?

  31. Dave B, 5. June 2018, 16:05

    @ Roy Kutel, I seem to remember elements within the WCC in the late 1980s were itching to get rid of the trolleybuses even then. That they survived the 1990s was a miracle. That they survived, only to be then scrapped in 2017 was a travesty.
    You can register your displeasure at the next GWRC elections!

  32. Roy Kutel, 5. June 2018, 18:05

    Dave B – how can you register a vote if you want to abolish GWRC? Any vote gives GWRC Councillors the wrong message that they are useful when in fact they are useless. So the only strategy is not to vote for any of the GWRC councillors wanting $60k plus a year for attending (or not) a dozen or so meetings a year. That is how I’ll be registering my ‘displeasure’. The other tactic of not paying your ever increasing regional rates bill may not be such a bright idea (see link). That’s if you don’t want GWRC selling your house in a decade’s time.

  33. Cr Daran Ponter, 5. June 2018, 18:37

    @GreenWelly at this stage in the process the costings cannot be accurate. Even the estimates that come out in July will then be subject to more detailed cost estimates that factor in the specific costs of preparing the route, moving horizontal infrastructure, tunneling, accomodating other modes etc etc.

    Basically the costs are likely to be revised several times as the project progresses.

  34. Cr Daran Ponter, 5. June 2018, 18:50

    @ Roy Kutel you are comparing two different things. I agree with the retention of the trolleys, but the trolleys were not a mass rapid transit system. Light Rail is an entirely different proposition that has the potential to move many more people per hour along a core route, than our current bus system.

    I don’t place much store in the Spine Study at all. Total jack up. Only good thing to come from it was the definition of the bifurcated spine.

    Costs for LRT will likely be well in excess of the AECOM estimate, based solely on inflation and a different proposed route. We will only get a true sense of the costs once the route is confirmed and we know what elements of work will be required.

  35. Roy Kutel, 5. June 2018, 22:29

    Daran, GWRC (i.e. you and your fellow councillors) will always make a decision on cost estimate. You’ve spent $1 million of our money already on the ‘Spine Study’ and Aecom came up with $1 billion. That got LRT 3/4s of the way to the Airport. How much of Wellington ratepayers’ money needs to be spent to get a better estimate? Would you say yes to Light Rail if it cost $1.5 billion to the Airport and NZTA paid half? If your answer is ‘no,’ what cost would you be prepared to vote for?

  36. Roy Kutel, 6. June 2018, 9:33

    Daran, a bus certainly does provide mass transport and our trolley buses were bigger than the new buses GWRC has specified for the next ten years. Trolleys would have done just fine for 22 hours of the day. You’d just have to run a few more trolleys in the peak hour. Re speed, a trolley would run as fast as Light Rail given the same junction priority etc.

    Re the Spine Study? Calling the $1 million study a ‘jack-up’ is a big call. Who ‘jacked’ it up and if they are still there, won’t they ‘jack up’ the next study too?

  37. John Rankin, 6. June 2018, 11:41

    @RoyKutel: I’d have thought that the relevant cost and benefit comparison is between a light rail rapid transit line (including road improvements such as grade separation where LRT crosses SH1), a heavy rail extension (such as @DaveB’s proposal), and extending and widening the motorway.

    Why do we spend large sums on road projects, which encourage the least efficient form of urban mobility, without batting an eyelid, but begrudge spending on the most efficient forms of urban mobility, like rail?

    Have we asked people who currently drive to work why they don’t take public transport? Can we then create a rapid mass transit network that will attract lots of these people out of their cars?

  38. Roy Kutel, 6. June 2018, 22:18

    John R – a trolley bus is the same as Light Rail except that the wheels are rubber. Paint the trolley buse different, but some decent stops in, market it and see what happens. Like Light Rail, trolleys delay the cars behind them and if you put in priority, the trolleys can leave the cars for dead at the junctions too.

    But its all too late, GWRC killed the trolley bus. And Light Rail won’t happen for another ten years if then. You’ve been sold a dummy just like everyone else.

    Abolish the GWRC for eco vandalism!

  39. Boaz, 7. June 2018, 14:46

    The destruction of the trolleybus infrastructure was an unforgivable act of vandalism committed by politicians and intended to prevent competition to the GWRC’s new diesel bus operator. Whilst we lament the loss of so green and clean a system as trolley bus, what is not often told is how ratepayers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars through the writing off of the trolleybus asset.