Wellington Scoop

Councillors admit bus problems, ask for more direct services and bigger buses

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
Increasing the number of direct services on one of the city’s key bus routes is one of the options being considered by Metlink to improve the performance of Wellington’s new bus network.

Members of the Regional Council’s Sustainable Transport Committee yesterday expressed support for a community suggestion for extra services on route 18 between Miramar and Karori.

This would be of particular benefit to university students, many of whom could use the service to travel to lectures outside of peak times.

Councillors acknowledged that the introduction of the network had caused considerable discomfort for many bus customers, and that there are still problems to be dealt with.

“This is the biggest change to the Wellington public transport system in decades, and while there was always going to be an element of disruption resulting from it, we understand the inconvenience and frustration it has caused,” said council chair Chris Laidlaw.

“Change of this nature is never an enjoyable experience, and we regret that this has been such a negative experience for so many.”

Councillors felt that reinstating off-peak services on route 18 would deliver a material improvement to a large number of travellers. The route 14 service in Kilbirnie has also been identified as one where a beneficial change could be relatively easy to introduce.

Overcrowding and insufficient capacity on some key routes, together with the inaccuracy of the real-time information system at bus stops, have been identified as the major frustrations still being experienced by bus customers.

While the council expressed its apologies to customers affected by the disruption, it also highlighted the ongoing efforts to identify causes of the problems and the progress being made with fixing them. For example, changes to staff and route allocations had resulted in a marked improvement in punctuality on route 1.

Analysis had shown that smaller-capacity buses are sometimes being deployed at peak times, and as one solution to overcrowding the council is working with the operator concerned to introduce depot management practices that would ensure only larger capacity buses are used at peak.

“We are working systematically through remaining problems and we are seeing steady improvement in the number of buses tracking accurately on the real-time information system, as well as with the overcrowding and capacity issues.”

Mr Laidlaw said that as the implementation process continued, any problems associated with the design of the network itself would become more visible, and steps could then be taken within a defined timeframe to make corrections to the design where necessary.

Read also:
Councillors told bus problems are “regrettable”

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  1. Ross Teppett, 9. August 2018, 8:25

    Didn’t have to be like this if greaterwgtn had only listened & done things properly from the very start. It’s disgraceful there’s a driver shortage. Needs urgent fixing. [via twitter]

  2. Elaine Hampton, 9. August 2018, 9:06

    So, chaos and more buses, diesel I expect. Law change necessary if the Council was bound to take the lowest bid for a transport system. Was it? Shortage of drivers is due to inadequate pay rates. A regrettable episode in Wellington’s transport history. Incompetence and ‘interests’ at work I suspect.

  3. luke, 9. August 2018, 9:42

    the 14 needs to go to airport retail park again, sending the #3 there is too indirect.

  4. Peter, 9. August 2018, 10:03

    NZBus efficiently operated the Wgtn bus network for years. Network ‘redesigned’ and now they can’t seem to operate the east west spine – surely this implies the ‘design’ is more the cause of the problems than the operators. Never mind, just fine them out of existence. [via twitter]

  5. David Mackenzie, 9. August 2018, 10:03

    It would be great if added, off-peak times for no. 18 route included the weekends. Who ever thought that students confine their studies just to the working week was really naif, — especially as many students need to work to cover costs and study when they can. The library and other university facilities are vital to support that.

  6. Michael Gibson, 9. August 2018, 15:35

    An important question in this day and age concerns “consultation”. I have just managed to get a list of the “key stakeholders” who were circulated with the latest planning proposals (thank you, Frank!).
    There were 80 such organisations including 6 Maori, 7 cycling and 5 students’ organisations.
    What is sadly missing is any mention of Wellington’s general public – for instance there is no mention of our local Residents’ Associations in Creswick Valley or Karori.
    When officers report to our elected reprentatives about consulting “key stakeholders” (as they did yesterday) does anyone bother to ask if the consultees include these residents’ associations? Or do councillors simply ask when the next ratepayer-funded overseas freeby is up-for-grabs? Will they be happy to say that the good people of Karori can expect an apology in three or four years’ time?
    When officers report that there has been “consultation” what are the details?

  7. Roy Kutel, 9. August 2018, 19:43

    The Regional Councillors should be fined for incompetence!

  8. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. August 2018, 23:14

    Hi Elaine, GWRC is in the final stage of commercial negotiations for the conversion of 50 ex trolley buses as 100% battery electrics. Will primarily run on Route 2.

  9. Ross Clark, 10. August 2018, 0:45

    What this also indicates is how much travellers do not want to transfer in their journeys. Does this genuine traveller preference have implications for any LRT system proposed for Wellington, which would need to rely on a significant proportion of its trips transferring somewhere in the middle of the journey?

  10. luke, 10. August 2018, 9:14

    you cant run direct buses from everywhere to everywhere, some people are always going to have to transfer.

  11. Maire Smith, 10. August 2018, 9:29

    Please please ask for reinstatement of the bus between Roseneath and Kilbirnie? Changing buses at Hataitai is no good for kids, anyone frail, or anyone managing lots of baggage (such as supermarket shopping). [via twitter]

  12. John Edwards, 10. August 2018, 9:32

    Number 3 bus drives right past, full. I guess I’ll just go back to driving. [via twitter]

  13. NigelTwo, 10. August 2018, 9:55

    @Luke. I understand that everyone can’t have a personnel bus. That’s called a taxi or Uber.
    The issue here is that the historical public transport routes actually formed the shape of this city. Good public transport was necessary to allow the suburbs of Island Bay, Karori, and Miramar etc to develop. Cars were a luxury item then!
    Many people buy houses, establish businesses, choose schools and workplaces etc based on the public transport links. They don’t expect them to change! After all they were formative and gradually refined to meet demand.
    Transfer pricing could just as easily been introduced into the pre 15th July network. The public reaction to that would have been wholly different to today’s disbelief and anger.

  14. Elaine Hampton, 10. August 2018, 10:41

    Hi Daran, when are these 50 electric conversion buses to be put on routes? Particulate pollution from traffic kills more people than car accidents (NZTA website). Why are the people most affected – residents – left out of consultation again. Consultation should be inclusive but it rarely is. Taxi driver yes, residents no! People back in cars is hugely counterproductive, the present Regional Council may not live to have to cope with climate change but out children and grandchildren will.

  15. Chris Horne, 10. August 2018, 11:16

    Transferring between bus services: The no. 22 evening services from Wgton Station to Mairangi, and the no. 21 evening services from Courtenay Place to Wrights Hill, are supposed to arrive at Victoria University at the same time, to enable people to transfer between buses. Yesterday, I caught the 7.30 p.m. no. 22 bus from Wellington Station to Mairangi. It failed to wait at Victoria University for the no. 21 bus to Wrights Hill because that bus was running 8 minutes late. The driver of the no. 22 bus said that he had a schedule to stick to. So much for people coming from Courtenay Place who wanted to transfer to the bus to Mairangi.

  16. greenwelly, 10. August 2018, 12:04

    @Chris Horne, What was Metlink’s response? They certainly advertise the service as a Connection, the question is what level of “guarantee” is there?

  17. Traveller, 10. August 2018, 13:14

    When did the council express its apologies (as mentioned in their news release)?

  18. Cr Roger Blakeley, 10. August 2018, 17:25

    You may have read in the papers that at the Sustainable Transport Committee (STC) on Wednesday, the Chair and Councillors acknowledged and apologised for the serious and distressing problems that bus commuters have suffered in the last four weeks. This was confirmed in a media release (above) by Chair Chris Laidlaw on behalf of GWRC that day. The following actions were agreed:

    1. enforce provisions in the PTOM operating contracts with the bus companies relating to the reliability KPI, including ensuring right size buses are being used.

    2. extend the current #18E service to 7 days per week, from Miramar North to Karori South including direct connections to the Hospital and Massey and VUW Kelburn campuses.

    3. improve timed transfer work, especially at Hutchison Rd #23 interchange which has been particularly problematic for Vogeltown and Mornington commuters.

    4. request CE to report back to October 2018 meeting of STC on options to extend the #14 route from Hataitai to Kilbirnie town centre.

    5. request CE to report back to September 2018 meeting of STC on actions to address whether further additional buses are needed on core routes, and adjustments of timetables.

    6. request CE to report back to September 2018 meeting of STC on details of programme and timetable for the post-implementation review of the new network.

    GWRC Cr Roger Blakeley

  19. lindsay, 10. August 2018, 17:39

    Roger – many thanks. There’s much more specific information in your brief comment than in the lengthy Regional Council news release.

  20. Benny, 10. August 2018, 19:55

    I am yet to see a precise, and solid commitment for transforming the entire fleet to electric. We need it to fight climate change, protect our health and enhance our lifestyle. It has to be a commitment, and we need guarantee it will happen, with a strong willed plan clearly communicated. Only this will restore the trust.

  21. Jonny Utzone, 10. August 2018, 23:16

    Just go back to the old timetable!

  22. Roy Kutel, 10. August 2018, 23:54

    Final stages of negotiation with NZ Bus re converting the buses to battery ops? Now the WrightSpeed has been certified dead, will ratepayers be paying any more money for converting the 100% electric trolley buses back to 100% electric buses via less efficient batteries?

  23. Victor Davie, 11. August 2018, 0:54

    Until this year we had a perfect “pure electric bus system”. Our Wellington City Council, who owned all of the overhead cables, turned a blind eye and allowed the destruction of the trolley bus cable network. From Island Bay to the railway station, from Seatoun/Miramar to the railway station, from Lyall Bay to Karori, from Kingston/Brooklyn to the railway station, from Aro Valley to the railway station etc. (All with return journeys of course and without requiring any transfers enroute whatsoever). Converting the now disused trolleys to battery power as suggested by GWRC is nonsense. Buses powered by batteries are a waste of the planet’s precious metals and these resources are unsustainable. It’s time for the Government to intervene. Those responsible for changing the former trolley network must be held accountable. Bring back the 100% pure electric trolleys.

  24. Andrew Bartlett, 11. August 2018, 7:23

    Cr Roger, Am I correct to read that the plan is to have a plan to be approved next month? When can we expect implementation, particularly for the 18, which may go some way to addressing the issues seen in connecting the eastern suburbs with Newtown?

  25. Concerned Wellingtonian, 11. August 2018, 8:31

    Just go back to the old timetable AND routes!
    And what about having the new, much-vaunted Optare buses in the Western suburbs instead of the even more smelly and noisy purple buses from Auckland. In other words, why are there two separate bus companies operating in Wellington?

  26. Rumpole, 11. August 2018, 12:40

    Hilda and I are keen to travel on an electric double decker bus. We’ve yet to find any operating in Wellington and it would be a pity if they’ve been withdrawn from service. Could Cr Blakeley or Cr Ponter please advise which routes these are supposed to be operating on.

  27. Chris Horne, 11. August 2018, 14:03

    We bus users in Mairangi and Northland have been thoroughly short-changed by the new system. Our long-familiar travel patterns have been disrupted.

    1. We used to have no. 22 and no. 23 bus services taking us to and from the GOLDEN MILE, Basin Reserve, hospital and Newtown, then either Houghton Bay, or Island Bay’s shops via Southgate. Wonderful, practical and usually reliable.
    Now to get beyond Wellington Station, we have to transfer there to another service. Coming home on weekday evenings, and all day at weekends, we face transferring from one service at Wellington Station to a no. 22, or a service from Courtenay Place on a no. 21 Wrights Hill bus to an unreliable (my experience three times) connection at Victoria University with a no. 22 Mairangi bus.

    2. Our Sunday services are now hourly. Formerly they were half-hourly – perfectly satisfactory. Weekend services now require us to transfer at Wellington Station to get to the Golden Mile, the Basin Reserve, hospital, Newtown and beyond.

    3. Weekday no. 22 services which start at, or go to Johnsonville, and travel via Mairangi and Northland, are often standing-room only. It is pleasing to see buses well used, but over-crowding is not satisfactory.

  28. Peter Kerr, 11. August 2018, 15:30

    I second Chris Horne’s dissatisfaction with Western Suburb bus services.
    Last evening’s No. 2 Karori bus, (around 17:35 downtown) took on the appearance of a dystopian film as passengers were herded on board and pressed cheek by jowl by armpit for the journey home.
    We found no cause for complaint prior to July 15 (a date that will forever stand in infamy) with our bus service.
    The simple principle remains that if the service is to be altered, then it must be equal to any that presently exists, or better. This isn’t the case now.
    The Regional Council needs do nothing less than reinstating the previous system, and that means back to the original Mairangi, Wright’s Hill, Vogeltown and Karori-Lyall Bay arrangements.

  29. H. M. Stanley, 11. August 2018, 23:17

    Rumpole – they are the heffalumps with single rear axles. They are extremely rare and spend most of their time at home sucking power out of the electricity grid or having their faulty innards seen to. If you have a week or so to spare you could creep up on one at the Island Bay electrical oasis for heffalumps (presuming it is not one of those deceptive Laidlaw mirages).

  30. Denny Paoa, 12. August 2018, 10:26

    Just a thing to sort out too. Try and get the buses not to turn up all at the same time at the bus stop ay!

  31. City Lad, 12. August 2018, 10:31

    Rumpole and Hilda: There’s a black bus plying carefully selected routes. Looks like it’s a former trolley bus with huge batteries strapped to its rooftop. Has the distinct appearance of a “Ghost Buster” but is not an electric double decker. Good luck with your search for it.

  32. Keith Flinders, 12. August 2018, 11:56

    City Lad: The black bus is former trolley 361 and was last week plying the Airport Flyer route 91. It was in previous weeks seen in Karori and Seatoun, amongst other areas. If the statements of last week are to be believed, then 361 will be joined by 50 other presently redundant trolley buses, also converted to battery power.

    The move away from old diesel buses – some dating back to 2002 and a few even earlier – will go some way to reduce the elevated pollution levels being experienced in the CBD and elsewhere. According to the GWRC’s own measurements, 2.5 particulate matter (soot) has increased from this time last year when a substantial number of trolley buses were still in service. We don’t want the GWRC to stop at the 50 converted trolley buses, and the anticipated 32 double-decker battery ones by 2022, but move more swiftly to a 100% non air and noise polluting public transport fleet.

  33. City Lad, 12. August 2018, 18:43

    Keith: Thanks for your comprehensive information. Do you know if any electric double-deckers are currently in use in Wellington?

  34. Keith Flinders, 12. August 2018, 21:36

    City Lad: Last I heard was that three battery double decker buses have been delivered and are in service on the No 1 route. I have yet to see one gliding along Lambton Quay. As H M Stanley reports they can be identified by their single rear axle. The diesel double deckers have dual rear axles, and oddly many imagine them to be battery powered.