Wellington Scoop

MPs told: bus services are more reliable and ‘on time more often’

Left to right: Barbara Donaldson, Chris Laidlaw, Greg Campbell, Wayne Hastie. Photo: NZ Parliament.

Media release from Wellington Regional Council
Bus services are now becoming more reliable and arriving on time more often as service levels improve, Wellington Regional Council Chief Executive Greg Campbell told the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee at an update at Parliament today.

Invited to address the Committee on activity since the introduction of Wellington’s new bus network, Campbell said that each route and customers’ feedback was being reviewed in detail to identify issues and opportunities to improve.

“That data shows that as many people are taking the bus now as they did prior to the new network beginning. We are committed to growing passenger numbers further.

Campbell said that work was well underway to complete construction on the remaining bus ‘hubs’ which were essential to make connections between services more comfortable. The digital Real Time Information service at bus stops was also operating more effectively.

“There is no doubt the new network had a more than challenging and disappointing start,” said Campbell. “But we’re constantly monitoring, putting fixes in place and, what we do know from the data is that the network is able to operate effectively under the current design.”

Campbell was presenting the update alongside GWRC chair Cr Chris Laidlaw, transport committee chair Cr Barbara Donaldson, and General Manager Public Transport Wayne Hastie.

“Commuters were disappointed and inconvenienced with cancelled and late services, issues with bus size and capacity, and were not happy with transferring on some routes. I have taken personal responsibility for overseeing the performance and improvement programme, increasing the dedicated team, and boosting resources from across the organisation to fix problems.”

“Constant management of the performance of the network with our operators means that we are able to understand where the problems are and to resolve issues which were affecting our customers.

“We appreciate that there are some things customers don’t like. We hope to minimise these.

“Meanwhile, we’ve worked hard to achieve fewer bus cancellations and a marked improvement in punctuality of services.

“We want to provide the standard of service that Wellingtonians expect and deserve. My focus right now is to embed this new network fully, resolve outstanding problems, and then look at further network improvements to meet customer expectations,” Campbell said.

GRWC submission can be found at: https://www.metlink.org.nz/gwrc-presentation-to-the-transport-and-infrastructure-select-committee

Read also:
Bus drivers astounded by Regional Council’s claim


  1. Chris Horne, 27. September 2018, 14:19

    It is a relief that GWRC now acknowledges that the revamped bus network is failing many of us passengers, and is trying to solve the problems.

    Please can we people in Mairangi and Northland have our no. 22 service visit Wellington Station every day of the week, then proceed along the Golden Mile where many of us work, shop and eat, then pass the Basin Reserve, the three nearby schools, Wellington Hospital and Newtown, then terminate at Wellington Zoo. The present termination of the no. 22 service at Wellington Station is a gross inconvenience – it wastes our valuable time, by forcing us to cross the road to wait for another bus to arrive to take us where we want to go.

    This proposal is what I presented to GWRC’s Sustainable Transport Committee on 19 September. I await its implementation.

  2. Nicola Willis, 27. September 2018, 16:01

    At the Select Committee, the Regional Council CE says the planning process for the Wellington bus changes went “exceptionally well”. Good luck finding a Wellington bus user who agrees with that. [via twitter]

  3. Christopher Bishop, 27. September 2018, 16:03

    Nicola Willis to Regional Council Chair Chris Laidlaw: “The new bus system is a disaster. What would you do differently?” Laidlaw: “I can’t think of anything in particular”. Unbelievable. [via twitter]

  4. Lindsay, 27. September 2018, 16:16

    Though it’s not mentioned in the Regional Council’s version of what happened at Parliament, RNZ reports that Chris Laidlaw and Greg Campbell said they were sorry. But after a grilling from MPs about what they might have done differently, Mr Campbell said he could not think of much.

  5. Gillybee, 27. September 2018, 16:25

    More GWRC spin. Their claims that services are more reliable and arriving on time were met with disbelieving laughter! Their admission that they did no real-world testing of the network changes and their inability to answer why changes to bus contracts were implemented all at the same time, was telling. Also telling were Chris Laidlaw’s three reasons for change: network inefficiencies, the introduction of new services and future-proofing the network. Didn’t mention the people once.

  6. Benny, 27. September 2018, 17:29

    I think the catch here is “the network is running to design”. A design that was and is rejected by Wellingtonians. So a success to GWRC, a failure to us!

    Also, only 5 little lines in the 37-page report to talk about electric buses, where we find that, unlike what Daran Ponter said at the Kilbirnie meeting, the trolley buses’ conversion is not a done deal “… if the trolley negotiations are successful”

  7. Lim Leong, 27. September 2018, 20:01

    This is the version which should have been said at the select committee hearing in response to the question “What would you do differently”

    – We would have done some robust and real world quantitative research on customers’ view as input into the planning phase.
    – We would have listened and acted upon customers’ feedback and concerns during the network design phase
    – We would have benchmarked the network design against a real world city with a similar topography and network design
    – We would do some robust real world testing and refinement of the time schedule
    – We would have been more careful with the procurement process with regards to the bus operators (quality vs quantity vs price)
    – We would have ensured proper consultation and the buy in of the bus drivers as they are key to to making the new network a success.
    – We would have a more flexible and friendly commercial contract with operators instead of a win-lose contract
    – We would have a contingency and rollback plan in place in case things went horribly pear shape unexpectedly
    – We would do a pilot and get feedback from customers, then refine the design before the eventual full roll out
    – The roll out would be incremental instead of a big bang.

  8. Cecil Roads, 27. September 2018, 21:29

    @Chris Horne – I would have thought that you would have been extolling the virtues of bus hubs and offering to set an example by walking along Lambton Quay for the sake of CO2 emission reduction. Surely indolent bus passengers are another example of why the world’s climate is going to custard.

  9. Michael Gibson, 28. September 2018, 6:33

    Cecil Rhodes – your comment is funny but unkind.

  10. Peter Kerr, 28. September 2018, 9:07

    @Cecil Roads. Implying that Chris is associated with the indolent of Wellington is so far from the truth. Not funny, and most unkind.

  11. David Mackenzie, 28. September 2018, 9:58

    Figures relating to the number of trips will be distorted by the fact that many people intending to transfer to another service (thus continuing a trip and therefore making more than one journey counted as one trip) are missing their connection and taking a bus outside the transfer deadline, causing their journey to appear as more than one trip. In the past their journey would have been one stress-free trip. Even if there really are more trips, public sentiment shows that the system is still failing to deliver convenient and appropriate services to customers.

  12. greenwelly, 28. September 2018, 10:42

    @David , Yeah the council have already aheep-ishly admitted after their last transport meeting “we expect that some of the growth is attributable to more transfers; probably between 8000 to 10,000 trips.” But they provide no data on where that figure comes from.

  13. Cecil Roads, 28. September 2018, 11:18

    The golden mile has lost its luster for me and many others. Why? It’s not the cars, it’s all the diesel buses picking up people at bus stops every 20 metres. Why so many bus stops? Because bus passengers aren’t forced to walk 250 metres to Wellington Bus Station, Manners or C.Place! Rail passengers are forced to, and as we all know (or should know): a short walk a day keeps the doctor away (both individually and collectively)!

    Wellington’s bus problems would go away overnight with some commonsense and central directives.
    (1) End the Johnsonville bus services and force all passengers on to the expensive train service that costs millions to provide.
    (2) Put back the trolley buses and articulate them. Remove half the bus stops from the rail station to C.Place and force bus passengers to walk 250 metres.
    (3) Give revenue and passenger management back to the bus companies, slash the GWRC to 100 staff, watch CO2 emissions drop like a lead balloon and let me have a rate reduction.

  14. Alex, 28. September 2018, 12:12

    Bus 24, taking kids to Onslow College, arrives at Burma 8:40, when on time. School starts at 8:45. Could someone from the council check the bus historical records in terms of arrival time at Burma? And, if the bus arrives on time, try to imagine a mad dash to Onslow classrooms from the Burma bus stop. Our kids hardly ever had this issue with the old 43 line. Amending the bus time table for that bus would provide the same service we had before – allowing our kids to get to school on time.

  15. Paul Ross, 28. September 2018, 12:49

    Ripping out electric buses, now this. What a disaster.

  16. CPH, 28. September 2018, 13:31

    Greg Campbell’s statement that “he could not think of much” that he would do differently is the shortest political suicide note in the history of the country. If the mess is still the same in 30 days time, I predict commissioners at GWRC.

  17. Graham Atkinson, 28. September 2018, 15:07

    Alex the Route 24 bus that you refer to has been rescheduled and will be running to the new timings from 15 October – pupils should have been informed today.

    And anyone who had studied the procurement process would know that it was a two stage process with the operational proposals being considered and reviewed first and assessed (by a combination of internal and external expert assessors) and once these had been completed and ranked then the financial submissions were opened (by a separate group).

  18. luke, 28. September 2018, 16:49

    why does steven joyce and his ptom get so little criticism? he had a huge role in it.

  19. Casey, 28. September 2018, 19:07

    If you had money to invest in a private business would you place it in one that had a board of directors with the acumen of the present GWRC councillors, collectively, and the displayed engineering/planning/management experience of its officers ? The GWRC is a multi million dollar a year business and needs to operate efficiently and effectively. We have had apology after apology re the bus fiasco, but after 10 weeks this is wearing thin. A resignation, or two, is what the ratepaying public who are financing this folly might be more satisfied with.

    Luke: The PTOM needs revisiting, and Labour have promised to do just that, but the way the GWRC applied the present PTOM for the bus tender process needs questioning also.

  20. Gary Froggatt, 29. September 2018, 12:12

    Previous to this debacle, all Kilbirnie buses traveled through the shopping precinct where there was shelter for passengers. From the new ‘hub’ that is being built, passengers have to walk in the rain to get to the shops. Not much improvement there GWRC.

  21. B Kenworthy, 29. September 2018, 13:52

    Make a good note of these faces – these are the people you should not be voting for in the next Council elections!

  22. Roy Kutel, 29. September 2018, 20:17

    B Kenworthy – you can only vote for two of the ‘Gang of Four’. Laidlaw and Donaldson are the two we elected. Hastie and Campbell are permanently employed (on very good salaries) by us ratepayers.

  23. Andrew Bartlett, 30. September 2018, 8:23

    Gary Froggatt: I know it goes against the flow to suggest that the regional council consulted and listened to the consultation, but on the physical form of the bus hub at Kilbirnie that is what they did. Three options were put to the community, and they actually got a good amount of feedback (400 submissions combined on Kilbirnie and Johnsonville).



    What wasn’t practical (for cost reasons I’m told) was taking out the KFC and building something really good on that site. When Wellington Water finishes digging it up, it should actually make things a little nicer for everyone through that shopping strip.

  24. Roy Kutel, 30. September 2018, 9:54

    Andrew – asking for views from the public can be considered as consultation. But actually listening and changing your plan in response is real consultation. Given the negative response of the public to hubbing, GWRC either did not listen or did not understand the views of their bus passengers about having to transfer once if not twice rather than catch a direct 30 minute bus into town.

  25. Kerry, 30. September 2018, 11:13

    Andrew. The problem is lack of money, with the result that no good choices were offered at either Johnsonville or Kilbirnie.
    Johnsonville was and is appalling, because they didn’t buy land and there is no space for anything but a very poor solution. There isn’t even space for a second railway platform, which is standard practice at a terminus. Passengers are stuck with walking several hundred metres in places, when the whole objective of a hub should be to make it as convenient as possible.

  26. michael, 30. September 2018, 13:11

    @ Cecil: I absolutely agree with you. I live on the Golden Mile and the increase in noise and soot since the trolley buses went is really noticeable. I am sick of rows of buses belching fumes lined along the road every afternoon polluting the streets and the buildings along the way.

  27. Traveller, 30. September 2018, 13:16

    The narrow space of Willis Street has become particularly awful. So many diesel buses which are not only noisy but which also, as Michael observes, belch out fumes at the unfortunate pedestrians. If these are the latest Euro standard, then something is terribly wrong. Regional councillors should try standing on the bus stop outside Unity Books for a while, to experience the noise and the smells.

  28. Reg Varney, 30. September 2018, 14:26

    Hear hear Traveller and what’s more the noise along Willis St from diesel buses is wrecking my hearing! I wouldn’t want to sit outside Pravda where your coffee cup gets shaken off the table! I guess GWRC never factored in the air and noise pollution and vibration when they executed our Trolley Buses. We are certainly not Resting In Peace!

  29. Casey, 30. September 2018, 14:43

    Why haven’t we been advised of when the 50 former trolley buses will be converted to battery operation and placed in service. One reason is that the GWRC hasn’t yet concluded the negotiations with NZ Bus. Meanwhile the health of those in the CBD is impacted by the increase in pollution, noise and air, since the trolley buses were withdrawn 12 months ago.

    I was in Lambton Quay at lunch time last Thursday and did not see one of the battery double decker buses pass where I was seated. Do they stop for lunch too ?

  30. Eddy M, 30. September 2018, 16:47

    Casey – the bus was probably having its battery charged as I doubt GWRC has got its recharge stations up and running yet! GWRC needs some electric shock treatment too to bring the 500+ staff and councillors up to speed.

  31. Concerned Wellingtonian, 30. September 2018, 17:28

    Casey, I think we have been advised (just as we were advised that the new bus system would be OK).
    The Select Committee might come up with something with any luck.

  32. Chris Baxter, 30. September 2018, 18:06

    Eddy M – I am sure it is not the GWRC who is responsible for the recharge station/s. These I believe are at the cost of the bus companies.
    With regard to shock treatment – an interesting article to read is by Jarrett Walker (Public Transport Consultant) humantransit.org
    If you don’t wish to read about (Auckland: The New Bus Network Is Complete September 29 2018) scroll down to – Why Your Bus Network May Never Improve.

  33. greenwelly, 1. October 2018, 9:24

    There is an “extraordinary council meeting” of the Regional Council on Wednesday 3 October, to consider “GWRC contracts with public transport operators.”
    But it’s all public excluded, so anyone attending should expect to get booted out 🙁

  34. Roy Kutel, 1. October 2018, 9:52

    @Greenwelly: are bus operators invited?

  35. greenwelly, 1. October 2018, 10:14

    @Roy, I don’t think so. The agenda item is classified as “Oral” and described as
    “Certain information to be considered under this agenda item relates to GWRC contracts with public transport operators in the Wellington Region. Release of this information would be likely to prejudice the maintenance of legal professional privilege as a legal briefing will be provided on this matter. GWRC has not been able to identify a public interest favouring disclosure of this particular information in public proceedings of the meeting that would override the need to withhold the information”
    I find it laughable that they say “GWRC has not been able to identify a public interest favouring disclosure of this particular information in public proceedings.” What do they think the untold public meetings and submissions on the bus changes are? Public indifference??

  36. Jeanie McCafferty, 1. October 2018, 22:11

    This Wednesday it would be great if you can pop along at 9am to 15 Walter St outside the Wellington Regional Council meeting that the public are excluded from. [via twitter]

  37. Concerned Wellingtonian, 2. October 2018, 7:31

    The third item on the Agenda is “Public Participation”. Anyone can apply to speak and, unlike Councillors, will not get paid for turning up. But I do not think they can stop everybody who wants to give them a piece of your mind. The meeting starts at 9.30 a.m. (Well done to the person who found out about that, and to Scoop for telling us about it.)

  38. michael, 3. October 2018, 9:47

    Why hasn’t someone started monitoring the air outside Unity Books every afternoon when fumes are belching from back to back buses lined up. I bet it would not reach acceptable levels and thousands of people are being exposed to that daily on the footpath, in businesses and apartments.

  39. Gillybee, 3. October 2018, 16:27

    @ michael: NIWA do just that and prepare reports for the GWRC. Are they publicly available? Of course not, because they demonstrate that since the end of the trolley era, nitrous oxide emissions have risen in the city. A document from Metlink released via an OIA request to ReVolt Wellington a couple of months ago confirmed it.

    Of course CO2 emissions weren’t measured.