Wellington Scoop

Nicola Willis wants government to intervene in bus “fiasco”

News from NZ National Party
It’s time for the Government to intervene in the Wellington bus fiasco by using its powers under the Local Government Act, says local National List MP Nicola Willis.

“Wellingtonians are rapidly losing confidence in the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s (GWRC) ability to resolve the ongoing problems with the bus service.

“It’s now been 11 weeks since the new bus network was launched but I am still hearing daily from constituents whose lives have been disrupted by illogical routes, overcrowded buses and ‘ghost buses’ that never appear.

“The Government must step in and appoint a Crown Observer to support the Council.

“The previous National Government introduced new powers to ensure the Government can act where a significant problem exists with the performance of a local authority.

“A Crown Observer would have the power to monitor the Council’s progress in addressing the problems, assist the Council to resolve the problems and make recommendations to the Minister on whether further intervention is required.

“At a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing last week, elected Councillors and appointed officials seemed to be in denial about the extent of these issues.

“They said a review of the overall network design wouldn’t happen until next year. The Council Chair Chris Laidlaw struggled to identify what went wrong and officials expressed satisfaction in their planning processes.

“This is next-level denial and it’s not good enough. The Government needs to stop sitting on its hands while this fiasco unfolds.

“The Government provides millions of taxpayer dollars to support public transport in Wellington. Wellington’s quality public transport systems are a key part of what makes this a great city to live in. All that has been put at risk by the GWRC’s botched changes to the bus network.

“This fiasco has gone on long enough. The Government must act urgently and appoint a Crown Observer to the Council.”


  1. Michael Gibson, 1. October 2018, 12:59

    This is an excellent suggestion. I agree entirely that an eye must be kept on what is going on. A report by an independent Crown Observer on broken undertakings, GW’s relationship with the unions and the operation of the various bus contracts is badly needed.
    Confidence needs to be restored – all we get is P.R. spin and photos of those responsible travelling on a bus.

  2. Roy Kutel, 1. October 2018, 18:36

    Just abolish GWRC and put some professionals in who know how to run a bus company and save $40 million on GWRC staff and $20 million on lawyers. Stop faffing about!

  3. Gillybee, 1. October 2018, 19:03

    As someone who’s had to endure pretty much non-stop noise and pollution outside (and inside) my house since the trolley buses went off the road last November and now relies on sleeping pills to get through the night to get any semblance of sleep, an investigation into the GWRC’s changes to the bus network would be a welcome step – providing the terms of reference are broad.

    I’d like to see an independent commissioner appointed to drive the inquiry
    with good management skills, strong character to make the necessary hard calls – and integrity. He/she will need the authority to dig as deep as needed into the financial and management affairs of the GWRC and contractors. Legislation may need to be passed in parliament.

    The bus drivers are also in favour of an independent inquiry.

  4. Glen Smith, 1. October 2018, 21:10

    It is hypocritical of the National Party to complain about the bus debacle when the route cause was their failure to properly fund the required solution, which is a regional step change in PT function and capacity. This is something which the new government is actively addressing after only a short time in office (although a definitive solution will take some time to implement).

  5. Chris Baxter, 1. October 2018, 21:23

    Gillybee – If the trolley buses were recommissioned, would that enable you to sleep better without sleeping pills and help you to forget about the GWRC management, the contractors, legislation and and an independent inquiry for bus drivers?

  6. Gillybee, 1. October 2018, 23:37

    @ Chris Baxter: the short answer is no, but feel free to explore our website which will answer your question in full. There’s a link to our petition for an independent inquiry, which has been signed by 660+ people so far. You’re welcome to sign it!


  7. Cecil Roads, 2. October 2018, 6:23

    I guess GWRC’s highly paid accountants never factored in the trolley buses’ benefit to citizens of getting a decent nights sleep, the general noise reductions, the pollution savings, the CO2 emission reductions – because these savings did not show up in their contract costs with NZ Bus! I must add that the trolleys weren’t totally silent however, as they did have a habit of letting out a loud shhhhhhhhh at bus stops (must have been their air brakes?). But I’d certainly have the wonderful and quirky trolleys back on roads tomorrow. Such appropriate technology for our narrow winding and hilly roads.

  8. Keith Flinders, 2. October 2018, 11:08

    Cecil: The GWRC bean counters worked on the basis that the costs to the environment, and the health services, are paid for by others and hence do not impact their budgets. They went ahead with removing the entire trolley bus system without, seemingly, doing an environmental impact report. Wellington should have added to the trolley fleet with new technology electric buses that get charged from the overhead wires whilst in motion, and run considerable distances off the wires on batteries. To put the wires back up will cost $1 million per km, but as ideology driven councillors dream of a battery bus future, that is never going to happen.

    Ten more years, at least, of a noisy, polluting, aging, diesel fleet impacting the health of thousands. It’s ironic that some of the older diesel buses are quieter than the new Euro 6 ones.

    The only bit of respite we can hope for is that the GRWC and NZ Bus reach an agreement for the former 50 trolley buses to be converted to battery operation, and back on the road by January as originally indicated by GWRC councillors in August.

  9. Dave B, 2. October 2018, 12:26

    @ Glen Smith: The “route cause” of the bus problem. Very punny. I like it.

  10. Manny, 2. October 2018, 15:00

    Instead of doing PR, the regional council should be using the time and energy getting bus scheduling and operations right. The best PR is a working bus transport.

  11. Chris Baxter, 2. October 2018, 19:50

    I firmly believe there is no going back. There are not going to be any more trolley buses in Wellington. The wires have been dismantled. (I happily grew up here and so fondly remember catching the Red Buses, the Trams and the Trolleys from Karori to Seatoun). And yes I will apply next week for NZ National Super but that’s another story.
    The old buses/trams have gone. No going back. They are finished. We have all the reasons why, as has been commented on from so many social media sites, not to mention the negativity from the journalists at Dominion Post, Media Experts, Transport Experts, Armchair Consultants, Grandstanding officials and we know who they are, angry people and not always about buses – they are just angry people who want to be heard. Then there are the Unions – they also have a voice – not sure everything they have to say is how it is. Have some (driver thought) doubts here. Academic views don’t always align with how the the general public feel. Get our favourite city back “On The Road.”

  12. Gillybee, 3. October 2018, 11:00

    Chris, the purpose of setting up ReVolt Wellington was not to bring the trolley buses back, because sadly you’re right, they’re gone – probably for good.

    We have been campaigning since May to raise awareness amongst Wellingtonians that GWRC’s promised “electric future” was going to fall a long way short of the spin – and to reintroduce electric vehicles to our streets at a faster rate than was planned. Again I refer you to our website to follow the paper trail – from the GWRC’s own publications in many cases.

    The conversion of NZ Bus’ 60 ex-trolley buses to battery buses, if all goes well with negotiations between the GWRC and NZ Bus, will significantly increase the number of electric buses on our streets, providing they stay in Wellington. This is precisely what we have campaigned for and continue to do so, despite the conversation having largely moved on to the network disruptions and driver contracts.

    Ultimately, we would like to have legislation passed in Parliament to introduce emissions controls in NZ, which we currently don’t have. PEMs (portable emissions measuring systems) and possibly a star rating for public transport, like we have for cars, are other possible measures to incentivise and speed up the introduction of non-polluting and quieter vehicles on our streets.

    The noise and fumes generated by diesel buses idling outside homes day and night is hard to describe to people unaffected by it. At times it’s unbearable (despite sympathy from and mitigating efforts by drivers who have no option but to operate substandard equipment and are under the gun with their own difficult-to-meet performance targets) We have been contacted by people affected across the city who feel “wrecked” in the words of one, or have had to sell up and take a financial hit.

    Getting “our favourite city back on the road”, is only possible if we can identify and fix the cause of the dysfunction, which is ongoing. We believe an independent inquiry is the only way to go forward.