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The shocking bus service

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

As Dave Armstrong writes [1] 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 [2] 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 [4] 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.” [9] 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?