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Buses too small – council report identifies reason for overcrowded services

Report from RNZ
Nearly half of buses arriving during peak periods on one of Wellington’s busiest routes are too small, figures for the regional council show.

Figures from a Greater Wellington Regional Council meeting agenda show out of the almost 1400 trips done on route 3 – one of the busiest – 49 percent of the time the bus that turned up was too small. Route 3 runs through Lyall Bay, Rongotai, Kilbirne and Newtown.

Customers not being able to catch a bus at their chosen time has also been a key issue, the agenda said. It said the primary cause has been a high number of services being delivered with smaller buses than are contractually and practicably required to meet the network design.

“Ensuring that the correct bus size is used is a key focus of Metlink and operators. However, in the meantime additional buses have been deployed to key areas to ensure there is sufficient capacity to meet peak demand.”

NZ Bus, which runs route 3, did not respond to a message left by RNZ.

Commuters have vented frustrations about overloaded buses and buses not stopping because they were too full, since the network changed its routes in July.

Former Wellington deputy mayor Paul Eagle, now Labour MP for Rongotai, told Morning Report the new network was a shambles.

New Zealand transport
1:44 pm today
Wellington passengers left behind due to small buses
1:44 pm today
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Emma Hatton
Emma Hatton, Journalist
emma.hatton@radionz.co.nz

Nearly half of buses arriving during peak periods on one of Wellington’s busiest routes are too small, figures for the regional council show.
Wellington Go Bus bus.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Figures from a Greater Wellington Regional Council meeting agenda show out of the almost 1400 trips done on route 3 – one of the busiest – 49 percent of the time, the bus that turned up was too small.

Route 3 runs through Lyall Bay, Rongotai, Kilbirne and Newtown.

Customers not being able to catch a bus at their chosen time has also been a key issue, the agenda said. It said the primary cause has been a high number of services being delivered with smaller buses than are contractually and practicably required to meet the network design.

“Ensuring that the correct bus size is used is a key focus of Metlink and operators. However, in the meantime additional buses have been deployed to key areas to ensure there is sufficient capacity to meet peak demand.”

NZ Bus, which runs route 3, did not respond to a message left by RNZ.

Commuters have vented frustrations about overloaded buses and buses not stopping because they were too full, since the network changed its routes in July.

Former Wellington deputy mayor Paul Eagle, now Labour MP for Rongotai, told Morning Report the new network was a shambles.

“[The bus network] is a shambles but it sounds like the regional council is trying at last to sort it out,” Mr Eagle said.

“For starters if you drive around the parts of Wellington where I’m from, that’s south Wellington, you will see loads of people standing on the street at most times of the day.

“This isn’t just a peak hour issue.

“So that’s unacceptable. That tells me that there’s something wrong with timetabling.”

Mr Eagle said the council should crack down on contractors running buses that were too small on certain routes.

“They do need to wrestle their contractors, those three bus companies, and [say] to them ‘look you need to put the right size buses on the right routes,” he said.

“What I’m told is that one company hasn’t got the number of required buses. They sign the contract with the council later … and that meant they couldn’t goto the bus builder and buy they buses to fit.

“They’re using what they have, where they can, to deliver the service.”
More seating

In an attempt to fit more people on the buses some had their front seats removed but the council said due to negative feedback from commuters they would be put back in.

“Some seating has been removed on some buses to provide a short-term increase in passenger capacity as an interim measure until double decker buses are running on those services as planned,” the agenda report stated.

“We acknowledge that removing seats has not been well received and that some of these buses have been used on other routes. As a result of feedback, Metlink will be reinstating seating in affected buses over coming months.”

Wellington resident Kara Lipski, who organised a community meeting last month for users to vent their frustrations, said it was common for full buses to bypass stops.

“It’s the route 2 that has a big problem, especially in the afternoon peak from the city to Karori, and in the morning peak it’s in Karori, where people are seeing full buses that are going through.”

She said she had also complained to the council many times about the seats being removed.

“Usually you find that the number of people standing anyway could have been sitting on those seats,” Ms Lipski said. “It’s weird. Very weird.”

A spokesperson for GWRC said they would not discuss the items in the agenda until after Wednesday’s meeting.

12 comments:

  1. greenwelly, 18. September 2018, 16:09

    And now they are finally coming clean on their claims that patronage is up:
    “Wellington’s bus patronage was up 17,000 trips this August compared to August 2017. “Continuing patronage growth defies the commentators,” Greater Wellington Regional Council said. But after sending out figures on Monday, on Tuesday a council spokesman conceded those figures included transfers people had to take under the new system. “We expect that some of the growth is attributable to more transfers; probably between 8000 to 10,000 trips.”
    “Probably 8-10,000 trips”, so basically they don’t know and just picked a number….

     
  2. Tami Simon, 18. September 2018, 16:48

    Buses too small my ass! I see double decker diesel buses with two or three people in them, then buses so full they do not stop! It’s obviously the people scheduling buses that is problematic.

     
  3. Lim Leong, 18. September 2018, 16:55

    @greenwelly. Good catch as I did strongly suspect double counting on the patronage numbers. Another important thing to note is a proper statistical investigation for differences before and after a major change would compare the month before the change with the month after the change.
    Comparing the month of Aug-17 with Aug-18 is a flawed comparison method as general population increase could easily account for the differences in patronage. This sort of flawed comparison could easily fail NCEA statistics paper. Another PR Spin which only serve to destroy GWRC’s own reputation. Nothing like scoring own goal, I guess.

     
  4. Michael Gibson, 18. September 2018, 17:03

    The self-congratulating Order Paper for tomorrow’s GW Meeting doesn’t begin to answer the questions “What was wrong in the first place?”, “Why aren’t we telling people our system is useless?” and “If there’s a problem on Lambton Quay why are we letting buses from Porirua and Upper Hutt clog things up when they only have one exit-door?” Thank you to greenwelly.

     
  5. Michael Lee, 18. September 2018, 19:44

    Buses too small is utter rubbish… I have surveyed the buses on the number 2/Karori/Seatoun route and they are all “large” and carry up to 80 people. I challenge the Regional Council to tell us which are the “small” buses. The facts are that the old number 600s and 700s ( small?) are in storage in Kilbirnie (NZ Bus), and are about to be sold to another operator. The newish ADL 4000 series are NOT being used in Karori/Seatoun. In fact the larger buses lumber up on the South and West Karori narrow and sometimes steep routes and are cumbersome and squeeze past cars parked on both sides of the road. Give us the numbers of the buses allegedly “too small” . How ugly the double deckers are and how much longer it takes to unload them. And they call it progress?
    Stop reeling out false information about the size of the buses.

     
  6. loan smith, 18. September 2018, 20:17

    During early hours and afternoons, even double decker buses are moving empty; at peak hours, the buses are so full that they don’t stop at bus stops due to over crowding. To get rid of this problem, there has to be an increase in the supply of buses during peak hours of the day.

     
  7. Newtown, 18. September 2018, 21:03

    Here’s an idea GWRC, how about standing only buses? Get rid of every single seat to make room for more commuters. I think I’m onto something here… 😛

     
  8. Small fry, 18. September 2018, 23:33

    Better still: how about GWRC paying people to walk…By the way, how many regional councillors, city councillors, and CEOs and Transport Managers and overseas consultants (and NZ ones), and local MPs does it take to change a light bulb? Could they? Or it is just too complex? This is just farcical – if it weren’t so serious…

     
  9. Tami Simon, 19. September 2018, 7:32

    Ioan Yes it’s obvious they have to schedule more buses for the rush hours., It’s a scheduling problem simple really and weird that local govt hasn’t fixed it.

     
  10. banana, 19. September 2018, 8:22

    Speaking of bus size – 30 minutes ago there were two bendy buses on Brooklyn Road just below the tennis centre?

     
  11. Andrew, 19. September 2018, 8:47

    Bendy buses in Brooklyn?? Or in Wellington at all? Crazy.

     
  12. michael, 19. September 2018, 9:25

    Maybe every member of the GWRC should have to get up early and spend all day waiting for buses at various points around the city? Then lets see them defend the fiasco they have created.