Wellington Scoop

Fewer seats in buses – “the new normal,” says Barbara Donaldson

The New Zealand Herald today quotes the regional council’s transport committee chairman Barbara Donaldson as saying the removal of seats from Wellington buses “is part of the new normal.”

Regional Councillor Daran Ponter told the Herald he had travelled on buses with up to eight seats removed. He said it was ridiculous and potentially unsafe.

The Herald said that commuter Callum Taylor had emailed Barbara Donaldson voicing his concerns about seats being removed and questioning whether standing on buses was “now the norm”.

Donaldson replied, according to the Herald, and explained that passengers standing was part of the new design. “We intend that standing on buses will become more normal and does not necessarily mean that more passengers cannot board. This is part of the ‘new normal’ to provide capacity without the cost of having to provide more and more buses.”

She said she was confident improvements in services would continue as each issue was addressed and apologised for the inconvenience in the meantime.


  1. Traveller, 4. September 2018, 22:52

    Has Barbara Donaldson attended any of the suburban meetings to hear the unhappy commuters? She hasn’t been mentioned in any of the reports.

  2. Lim Leong, 5. September 2018, 7:12

    It is important to note that the old point to point network while was not perfect by any measure, there was never any need to resort to removing seats to increase capacity. It is ludicrous/illogical to claim that a 21st (or is it 22nd) century future-proof network has to resort to removing seats to augment capacity.

    The current symptoms are all classic signs of a failed network design and the clueless Metlink/GWRC are frantically trying to randomly patch a failed network. One needs to know that a Hub and Spoke network does not take kindly to piecemeal changes. GWRC is at great risk of making the network even worse by making piecemeal changes. The only logical/sensible solution is a rollback.

    Meanwhile public anger is growing by the day and GWRC is digging a bigger hole for themselves.

  3. Lim Leong, 5. September 2018, 9:12

    @Traveller. I believe she attended only one of the four public meetings to date and she did not address the public. She was not at the Karori meeting which I attended. The Karori meeting was robust – that’s probably the best way to put it. If anyone is interested, I have captured salient comments from the Karori meeting and posted them on Neighbourly:

  4. Peter Kerr, 5. September 2018, 9:19

    The bumptiousness of councillors like Donaldson, defining how things will be, beats me. If the “new normal” solution is to have more passengers standing, then God help us from these people. I didn’t realise that social engineering was another of the disciplines required for transport planning.
    The train scene from “1984” lurks in the background as a warning…

  5. Greenwelly, 5. September 2018, 9:51

    I’m fairly sure that taking out seats to make more passengers stand was never part of any public consultation documents that I saw. I look forward to the Council pointing out where this was proposed….

  6. Keith Flinders, 5. September 2018, 9:56

    Thus far Donaldson has attended only the Kilbirnie meeting but she did not address the audience. She was not present at the well attended Khandallah meeting last night.

    I suggest that at the next Sustainable Transport Committee meeting the she as chairperson be required to stand rather than sit. The could be another “new norm” to focus attention and speed up proceedings.

  7. Marion Leader, 5. September 2018, 10:01

    Has Cr Donaldson applied her standing-therefore-more-passengers policy to Lower Hutt where she comes from? Or is the policy only being applied to hilly places with many bends like Wellington?

  8. Roy Kutel, 5. September 2018, 10:02

    Councillors get more than $60k each for 12 meetings, with Donaldson and Laidlaw ($150k+) getting even more for making truly atrocious decisions. GWRC needs axing forthwith, to be replaced by a Public Transport Authority with professionals running it.

  9. greenwelly, 5. September 2018, 10:15

    @Marion, Last time I looked Cr Donaldson was elected from and lives in Porirua, not the Hutt.

  10. Marion Leader, 5. September 2018, 10:43

    Thank you greenwelly. My mistake. I had been wondering why the new set-up is damaging Porirua less than it is damaging Wellington but it does not explain why Wellington City Councillors are not doing anything about it and why they are letting our bus services be wrecked by people from out of Wellington.

  11. Marion Leader, 5. September 2018, 10:47

    “Donaldson and Laidlaw 150k+)”!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jacinda has set a good example for their next pay review! Please remember this and go one step further i.e. downwards.

  12. Lim Leong, 5. September 2018, 12:57

    @Marion Leader. Your comments around why WCC Councillors are not doing anything is not correct. I personally know of at least 3 WCC Councillors who are actively championing the woes of the commuters: Cr Simon Woolf, Cr Dianne Calvert and Cr Sarah Free.

  13. greenwelly, 5. September 2018, 13:28

    @Lim, I think Marion was referring to the Regional Councillors elected from the Wellington City region, who are Sue Kedgley, Chris Laidlaw , Daran Ponter, Roger Blakeley, Ian McKinnon. Cr Ponter has been very active, the others not so much….

  14. Reg Varney, 5. September 2018, 14:07

    So where’s Chris Calvi-Freeman who looks after WCC’s public transport portfolio?

  15. Andy Mellon, 5. September 2018, 14:45

    Hopefully unemployment is the new normal for Cr Donaldson come the next election. Staggering hubris.

  16. TrevorH, 7. September 2018, 8:33

    What next, cattle-wagons?

  17. Chris Horne, 8. September 2018, 22:01

    Removing seats from buses is a diabolical attempt to pack more passengers on board, rather than putting on more buses, the 21st-century humane solution. If taken to its limit, all seats could be removed, and with all passengers standing, a single-decker bus could hold up to 100 happy strap-hangers, and stanchion-clutchers.

    Apparently many Wellington-area bus users are expected to go to work, and come home from work, in the peak hours, standing, just like cattle standing in cattle trucks on their trip to the works, their final trip on Earth.

    GWRC’s councillors responsible for Metlink deserve a STANDING ovation for scrapping a reasonably satisfactory bus network, in operation since 1992. It wasn’t broken, so it did not need radical overhaul. The disaster will be a blot on their CVs.

  18. Concerned Wellingtonian, 9. September 2018, 11:26

    Do they even supply overhead straps? I haven’t noticed any.