Wellington Scoop

The shocking bus service

The continuing bus problems continue to be the central topic of Wellington conversations.

As Dave Armstrong writes this morning:

It’s nearly a month now, guys, and your service is shocking. If you were a bank I would be changing, if you were a tradesperson I’d be warning people not to use you, if you were on a 90-day contract I would fire you. But I can’t because you are the bustastrophe, the balls-up, the clusterbus known as the New Wellington Bus System. We are now in our fourth week of “Not in Service”.

Brooklyn residents lament the cancellation of their number 8 bus, saying the connecting service from Brooklyn Library seems never to coincide.

Newtown residents regret that they no longer have a direct bus to the university after 9am.

Zoo customers ask why they have to change buses when they want to get to the zoo.

Hamish Rutherford writes this morning: A lot of people in Hataitai are now having to resort to the Airport bus (approx twice the price of others) as the other services are already overcrowded when they get there in the morning.

And Ross Teppett: Met a friend this morning who lives in Kingston… 3 buses cancelled today – hopeless.

Karori resident Andrew Freuan wrote: I plead with you to address the issues of overcrowding with buses to Karori. The system was fine before the changes … Why did you guys have to ruin it all?

Mike Lee wrote a similar plea in his open letter to regional councillors.

Adi wrote: Myself and many others waited for over 35 mins for the #1 bus… (9:45 to 10:20). I certainly categorize this as a major delay, as did your customer support staff.

Chris Hipkins was late for a meeting because his bus was twenty minutes late and when it arrived it was full. He gave up and took his car, giving a ride to other stranded passengers.

Jeanie McCaffety wrote: As far as I’m concerned I’m not going to bother catching the bus into town anymore I might as well walk or take the car. Too much faffing around now.

City councillor Diane Calvert has stated that the issues are systemic rather than “teething.”

And regional councillor Roger Blakeley has accepted the complaints.

But Jenny Kay reports a different view from inside the regional council:

Words aren’t enough … I’ve heard from Greater Wellington and MetLink staff who say the system will be fine in time when teething issues are resolved. I’m not holding my breath nor seeing any hope of compensation to people who’ve lost money & jobs over this.

Dave Armstrong’s verdict:

It seems we have a structural problem based on badly planned routes, badly written contracts and ridiculous timetables that make passengers feel as though services have been slashed.

The people directly responsible are the regional council’s “sustainable transport committee,” who are meeting tomorrow. Their most important topic will be the buses. But less than 12 hours before the meeting was due to start, the agenda on line failed to include a report on the problems.

Citizens, not waiting for council excuses, are organising their own meetings, where their dissatisfaction will be expressed:

Public meeting about the buses:
Sunday 12 August, 5pm,
Newtown Community Centre in Colombo Street

Public meeting about the buses:
Sunday August 26 at 2pm
St. Patrick’s College, Wellington

Public meeting about the buses:
Thursday 6th September, 7.30 pm
Miramar Gateway Baptist

Let’s Talk Buses – Hutt Valley
Tuesday 11 September at 7pm
Petone Rugby Football Club · Lower Hutt

No doubt those attending will remember Chris Laidlaw’s statement, almost three weeks ago, that their patience has been “very much appreciated.” And his expectation:

“Each day sees more services running to schedule and I’m confident that when we all get used to the new network we’ll feel that the early discomfort was worth it.”

Does anyone agree?


  1. Citizen Joe, 7. August 2018, 13:18

    ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. GWRC is already working on the next bus plan so it’ll be all sorted in 2028.

  2. Diane Calvert, 7. August 2018, 15:49

    I, along with Simon Woolf, will be presenting to GWRC’s transport committee tomorrow, to provide an overview of residents’ concerns we’ve received on the new bus services. [via twitter]

  3. Sarah Free, 7. August 2018, 15:51

    After seeing some of the realities of the bus services in Hataitai, I’m hoping to give some useful suggestions to the GWRC at their meeting tomorrow morning. [via twitter]

  4. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 7. August 2018, 16:35

    And I will also be there.[via twitter]

  5. Ian Apperley, 7. August 2018, 16:36

    I’ve got some useful suggestions for them. Bit rude mind. [via twitter]

  6. Roy Kutel, 7. August 2018, 17:18

    Amazing how we have two bunches of Councillors and two sets of officers contracting three bus companies to run a small town’s bus operations with Central Government overseeing the process. No wonder its a mess! Its time for WEXIT to rid us of one layer of government.

  7. Gary.tram, 7. August 2018, 20:04

    And no one consulted with the bus drivers, the very people who have to deliver the services and weather the complaints.

  8. Serge Peeters, 7. August 2018, 20:25

    WCC & LGWM have been very busy trying to get people on bicycles. The last three weeks have demonstrated that a reliable and user-friendly bus service is a far more important issue for commuters. Bicycle commuting is not a realistic solution for the hilly suburbs.

  9. Sarah Free, 7. August 2018, 22:12

    Justin Lester and I will be at Hataitai bus stops tomorrow to talk to bus users there.

  10. Jonny Utzone, 8. August 2018, 10:50

    Sarah and Justin – how are you getting there? By bus? If so, plan ahead and take a packed lunch from one of Justin’s food outlets – just in case!

  11. Traveller, 13. August 2018, 10:24

    It’s now the fifth week of the new timetables and for Kowhai Park there’s been no improvement. There were three 7.40am bus cancellations last week, and another this morning – each time, stranding school pupils who were depending on the bus to get them to school on time. The pupils were left waiting till 8am – when two buses arrived together. Does Chris Laidlaw still believe that this “early discomfort” is acceptable?