Wellington Scoop

Drivers and their union tell Regional Council how to fix bus problems

News from NZCTU
Bus drivers, their union, and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions addressed Greater Wellington Regional Council this morning with the request it makes good on its promise to fix the region’s bus problems.

The Council can take three simple steps that will help facilitate a fair collective agreement for drivers, end the driver shortage, and get Wellington’s bus service back on track:

1) Publicly acknowledge Tranzit has failed to negotiate with the Tramways Union and instruct Tranzit to begin meaningful negotiation immediately.

2) Provide a space for negotiations and set a firm date for drivers and the company to meet.

3) Show a willingness to be flexible in its contracting arrangement with Tranzit if this is required for Tranzit to meet the terms of a fair collective employment agreement.

CTU Secretary Sam Huggard says the steps show how the GWRC can meet its promise to sort out the bus fiasco.

“We’ve already had the Council acknowledge that they got this transition wrong and want to improve it. To do that they need to fix the employment issues at the core of Wellington’s bus problem.”

“The Regional Council has said lots of nice words about being concerned and wanting to ‘investigate’ the very predictable problems since their contract changeover. But if they don’t start taking the advice of the people actually driving the buses and concrete actions to fix their employment mess, their words ring hollow.”

“The ongoing shortage of bus drivers will not be fixed until a collective agreement with fair rates and reasonable conditions, such as hours of work, is negotiated and agreed.

“And until that happens there is zero chance of the Council getting the bus system back on track.

“Drivers and their union have been trying to negotiate this for a year and a half and so far Tranzit has refused to participate reasonably in that process. Wellington’s bus drivers and commuters are paying for that negligence. If the Council is actually serious about wanting improvement, rather than just finger-pointing, it’s time for them to step in and take these three simple steps now.”


  1. Gary.tram, 16. August 2018, 15:10

    Tranzit should never have been given the contract to run a third of Wellington’s public transport. They just don’t have the expertise, facilities and staff to handle such a large contract. Their anti staff attitude is unbelievable.

  2. Jonny Utzone, 16. August 2018, 16:59

    Gary – the fault lies squarely with the GWRC. They must have seen a cheap bid from Tranzit but never thought ‘can they do really do this’? Going cheap outweighed any business assessment and then an aggrieved NZ Bus thought ‘I’ll stuff ’em” and gave their drivers a handy redundancy payout and they’ve said “Toe feiloa’i”.

    Surely, any governing authority with brains would have sought hand-over terms for existing bus drivers i.e. no worse pay/conditions for at least one year especially if the new operator doesn’t have anywhere near the number of drivers to meet the contracts. Doh!

    Seriously – a public inquiry is warranted and ‘heads must roll’ for hoisting an appalling bus service on the travelling public.

  3. Dave Armstrong, 16. August 2018, 17:01

    Pays to remember that GRWC didn’t give a toss about drivers’ conditions in new contracts when they could have, as they did with the train contract. Was the train changeover a disaster? No. Go figure.

  4. Graham Atkinson, 16. August 2018, 17:20

    One question you haven’t addressed; why were there so many services cancelled each morning during the years leading up to this recent changeover? NZ Bus were advertising for drivers continuously right up until June so the wonderful contract conditions weren’t obviously attractive enough to retain or attract sufficient drivers.

    The train contract was different because Transdev didn’t have to pay one cent for the capital component, while incoming bus operators have to purchase all new fleets meeting the highest European emissions standards (existing operators only had to have 50% of the fleet new and have an extension that doesn’t require these buses in service until next February).

  5. Jonny Utzone, 16. August 2018, 18:28

    Graham – buying the buses is the relatively easy bit. It’s the drivers and the depots that are harder. Tranzit had neither.

  6. Chris Horne, 16. August 2018, 19:03

    NZ Bus, including GoWellington and Valley Flyer, served Wellington and Hutt Valley bus passengers very well for years.

    The requirement to put bus services out to tender has led to the present crisis of some cancelled services, some inadequately trained drivers, often over-crowded buses, and timetabled connections between services failing to materialise. Transit, a company experienced in running mainly rural services, won 70% of the contracts by undercutting the experienced and competent operator, NZ Bus.

    Transit’s drivers do not receive penal rates for work at weekends, and during the week may have several hours to twiddle their thumbs between split shifts. This is plainly unfair, being hard on the drivers and on their families.

  7. Graham Atkinson, 17. August 2018, 12:31

    Chris – NZ Bus drivers also have gaps in their broken shifts (as does virtually every bus company in the world) and to claim that Tranzit winning 40% of the services in Wellington City has resulted in overcrowded buses and a crisis of cancelled services fails to acknowledge that (a) NZ Bus is cancelling more trips than Tranzurban most days and (b) overcrowding is mainly occurring on the routes 2 & 3 as larger buses are being used on the other key routes.

    A check of the relative experience of managers in both NZ Bus and Tranzit would show a far greater proportion of experience in urban bus operation in the latter.

    Yes Tranzurban drivers do not receive penal rates but neither do most drivers working in the transport industry across New Zealand including many who were working in the Wellington region prior to the PTOM changes.

  8. pjclutterbuck, 17. August 2018, 16:58

    Chris: The requirement to tender services is not new to most regions; it dates back to 1991 and has been done successfully everywhere but in Wellington. The main reason it hasn’t been done in Wellington before was that the Council simply rolled over contracts whenever they came up for renewal. PTOM didn’t introduce competitive tendering, which was first introduced some 27 years ago in the local government reforms under the Bolger government.