Wellington Scoop

Greg Campbell “happy” about 91% of buses leaving on time, aiming for 95%

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
Greg Campbell, Chief Executive of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, says that as the bus transition continues “our focus is on making sure buses arrive on time and have the capacity to meet demand. I am happy to report that performance of buses leaving point of origin on time on core city routes, has now lifted to 91%. We are aiming to lift this further to 95%.

“Cancellations are generally tracking at historic low levels (below 1%), although last week has seen some hiccups due to driver sickness levels.

“Another major software upgrade was successfully completed last week to the Real Time Information system. This fixes another of the frustrating glitches which surfaced during transition.

Customer complaints have trended down to less than 80 per day.

“To meet fluctuations in customer demand, extra capacity is provided through “banker” buses to supplement existing services on key routes. Extra buses can now be deployed at short notice. This has gone a long way to remove the issue of buses being too full to pick up more passengers, leaving people to wait for the next bus.

“Operator performance on matching the right size bus to meet demand has lifted substantially. We recognise significant improvement at NZ Bus.”

Listening deeply to customer feedback

Metlink have established a “Customer Experience” team to analyse all the customer feedback and complaints, to practically experience the network operation through the customer’s eyes and actively recommend adjustments and further improvements to Council. They are riding on the buses every day, talking to customers and drivers.

Route options for 14 Hataitai-Kilbirnie were being discussed with local representatives last week and, following earlier discussions with schools in the region, the Fourth Term began with timetable adjustments aligning better with this term’s activities, making bus travel easier for teachers, students and parents.

Bus operator/employer and union industrial update

Tranzurban and Uzabus, have received notification of possible strike action on Tuesday.

Bus operator Mana is not affected by proposed industrial action.

Metlink is preparing for all possible disruption scenarios to the network and resulting effects on the travelling public, with passenger updates running from today. Up-to-date information will continue to run in both our own direct and social media communication channels and as public information on radio networks and in the Dominion Post. Key message to our customers: please check before you travel. Use Metlink’s app or website to check for any cancelled services.

Snapper proves popular

Snapper is proving popular with 1,605,000 passenger trips in September (79%) paid electronically, with just 425,500 passengers paying with cash. School students get a 50% discount and tertiary students a 25% discount on standard fares. There were just under 584,000 student trips in September, accounting for nearly 29% of total trips during the month, with another 4,700 free trips by under-5s. Meanwhile holders of the SuperGold card – who travel free during off-peak periods – made just over 187,000 trips during September, accounting for 9% of all journeys on the network.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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  1. Joanne Perkins, 22. October 2018, 7:06

    Trending down to 80 complaints a day, and they think this is acceptable? Four months after the system was introduced, you can see they’re planning on the December report being a litany of unaccountable stats which will ‘prove’ it’s all sunny in the land of public transport in Welly. I see no mention of the numbers of people who have simply given up and now walk or have purchased a bike or scooter, or take their cars.

  2. Jane, 22. October 2018, 8:08

    It is interesting that snapper is proving popular yet on commercially run operations that are not part of metlink’s network for very unclear reasons snapper has been removed, making it more difficult for commuters to catch these buses as an alternative.

  3. Lim Leong, 22. October 2018, 8:32

    This is a disappointing press release from GWRC. We are now heading in to the 4th month since going live and commuters’ problems posted on social media have not diminished.
    Fundamental network design issues remain unresolved such as no bus priority lanes/dedicated bus lanes, need for more direct routes for shorter journeys, need for weather resistant purpose built hubs, RTI accuracy etc. Where is the real world benchmark comparison (old network vs new) of customers’ journey times from A to B for the daily commute with transfers? Anecdotal evidence has suggested that journey time is doubling or in some cases tripling when transfers are required that is assuming you don’t miss the connections.
    There is five years worth of planning and design consultation/feedbacks from customers/commuters since 2013. There is also four months of real world feedbacks through various channels (public meetings, select committee, social media ). Is it not time to focus on the real network issues instead of spinning numbers and PR releases?

  4. Nick, 22. October 2018, 9:58

    As a transport advocate, having read this article I don’t believe a word that comes out of GWRC or Metlink anymore. Of course they are going to say that complaint levels are trending down. Simply because people have found other ways to get to their destinations that by using the now-crappy bus network that is in place in Wellington. Three months have gone by and seats have been taken out of buses to (in their words) increase loading capacity. The delayed roll out of the so called electric double deckers has caused a lot of problems and then it became public the other day that the charger for Island Bay is not available for service because the company that built it – built it on the wrong frequency so it’s having to be modified. The GWRC need to be sacked for their meltdown on Wellington Transport and replaced with a independent consultant who will actually listen to the travelling public. Once that happens, Wellington might again be considered able to lead the world in having a world class transport system

  5. Rebekah Callen, 22. October 2018, 10:49

    I find this extremely frustrating and frankly, insulting to the daily commuters’ intelligence. There is absolutely no way they are reaching 90% on time. I catch between 16 and 18 buses a week (now!) And still the number 3 riddled with late and cancelled services. Plus incorrect and unreliable real time info. I fail to see how 80 complaints a day is a ‘win’ in any way, and as quite rightly pointed out by Joanne Perkins, most people have simply given up complaining to metlink as it seems pointless. And I also know personally of at least 4 people who no longer use buses, 2 now back to their cars. The transfer system is a shambles and what was one reliable bus and 18 minutes now takes two unreliable buses and s minimum of 35 to 40 minutes. Great result? What a bloody joke!

  6. Roy Kutel, 22. October 2018, 10:49

    Trending down! People are sick of complaining and seeing nothing done about it so have just given up ‘complaining’. GWRC needs the axe asap.

  7. Jonny Utzone, 22. October 2018, 10:52

    Our $420k a year bean counter fails to mention that the definition of late is so lax (10 minutes leaving the depot) that it’s a condemnation that any bus leaves late (not 9%).

  8. Ching, 22. October 2018, 10:58

    GWRC’s incompetence continues to shine through nearly 4 months into what has been nothing short of a disaster. The hubbing model just does not work when you don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure buses turn up on time. E.g bus lanes. Being on time is crucial to ensure that connections are fast (and not the current 20-25min wait) but more importantly to ensure commuters have confidence in the service. I personally have been trying to get the 19e home and in the last week the 5:20 was either 10-15 minutes late or didn’t show up at all. I assume the driver had an impossible task trying to make it on time from wherever he/she was coming from due to the poor network design. It is simply not good enough that buses are so unreliable. 91% on time Greg you’re in lala land.

  9. Sam Somers, 22. October 2018, 12:36

    There are so many things they could be working on to improve things. At the moment a bus could leave on time at one end, pick up no one and end up running ahead with no stops along the way to regulate the bus back into its schedule. How often do you hear that the connecting hub bus departs before the feeder service arrives – number 18 with number 2 is very common. And when you are late at night, the next bus isn’t 10 minutes away but 30 minutes plus, depending on the bus route.

    Also the cost neutral approach is a contributing cause to whats happening, you can’t improve services without actually spending more money.

  10. Michael Gibson, 22. October 2018, 15:20

    Forgive me for being cynical about GW’s spin but in view of the critical importance which now affects Wellingtonians because of the introduction of hubs I have just made this request:
    “Please let me know the criterion for ‘leaving on time’ – when I last asked, some three or four years ago, the Council’s answer was ‘within ten minutes of schedule.’ I refer to Mr Campbell’s announcement today: ‘I am happy to report that performance of buses leaving point of origin on time on core city routes, has now lifted to 91%’. I request URGENCY under the Official Information procedures so that I can make representations to MPs ahead of the Select Committee Meeting to be addressed by bus operators at 9.30 a.m. this Thursday, 25th October.”

  11. Glen Smith, 22. October 2018, 15:31

    The percentage of trips that run to time (even if it was 100%) doesn’t detract from the fact that the whole system is fundamentally flawed (and fundamentally stupid). We now have a system where not only do rail commuters have to endure a truncated PT service (at the station) but so do a large number of bus commuters (at hubs away from the CBD). To appreciate how stupid this is, let’s imagine we do the same for cars. That is car users have to stop in Thorndon (or Kilbirnie, Newtown etc), get out of their cars, wait 10 minutes then get into a different car to continue their journey to the CBD. The outcry from the car fraternity would be deafening. And even if this ran 100% on time it would still be fundamentally stupid. Yet we are supposed to accept it as PT users. The reason that all services can’t continue to the CBD (or indeed across the city) is lack of across town PT capacity. Our planners have finally admitted this and yet have produced no plans to remedy this basic flaw. That is they have neither produced or even considered any plans to add a second across town PT corridor in the past 1-2 decades of planning. And we are supposed to regard them as competent.

  12. Thomas, 22. October 2018, 16:02

    I’m sorry but I know a number of people who now don’t take the bus. Taking the 3 in the morning is less crowded then before. Not because they have removed seats or put more buses on, but there are less people on the bus.
    And if you need to go down Cambridge and not via Wallace then you have to change in Newtown. Try doing that at 8:00am!

    One of the reasons for hubs we are told, is to reduce the numbers of buses on the golden mile. Well this afternoon there were about 4 buses one after the other, then a gap of a few minutes and then another 4 or 5 buses. If the hub was at the station and then another hub at Kent and Cambridge, then this might reduce the numbers of buses going through the city especially if there was a bus departing every couple of minutes to take you through the CBD. Personally the only time I have used hubs where they have worked well has been in places like Portland. They at least tell you when to change and what colour line etc to change to. Here if you don’t know the routes, you don’t even know when to change, let alone what to change to! As for accessibility for older persons or those of us with a disability, then hubbing makes the trip that much harder.

  13. Mike Mellor, 22. October 2018, 18:37

    Michael Gibson: in the bus operating contracts, on time means leaving the initial departure point less than one minute early and no more than five minutes late, and passing intermediate timing points less than one minute early. That’s not a bad definition from a contract point of view, since operators have no control over en-route delays such as traffic congestion.

    But from a passenger point of view this is necessary (though there should be zero tolerance for early running) but not sufficient, particularly where there are connections to be made. As well as reporting on the performance required of the operators, GWRC should also be reporting on en-route punctuality to the same criteria, and on whether timetabled connections are made. GWRC has promised to focus on these connections, but as far as I’m aware no relevant reports or data have been released.

    Thomas: it is deficient that at stops there is no information as to where to change if there are no through services at the time, or which particular buses make connections in the suburbs; and there is no information on any bus as to what connections that particular bus will make. These need fixing!

  14. Michael Gibson, 22. October 2018, 19:06

    Thank you, Michael – it will be interesting to check if the five minutes in the contracts coincides with the figure used for GW’s Press Release.

  15. Jonny Utzone, 22. October 2018, 19:42

    MM – If it’s 5 minutes, then GWRC should update their website because I see late described as “leaving the bus depot 10 mins late”.

  16. Mike Mellor, 22. October 2018, 21:17

    JU: that page actually says “when they depart the terminus [not the bus depot] at the scheduled time or up to 10 minutes after”, and it refers to the contracts in place before the big change in July. The precise wording in the current contracts, on p8 of Schedule 6 is:

    5.6 The Operator shall ensure that each Scheduled Service shall:
    5.6.1 depart from its Origin between 59 seconds before to 4 minutes 59 seconds after the scheduled time for such departure in the Bus Unit Timetable; and
    5.6.2 depart from all Intermediate Timing Points no more than 59 seconds before the scheduled time for such departure in the Bus Unit Timetable.

  17. Jonny Utzone, 23. October 2018, 7:21

    How does GWRC compare performance before and after the restructuring? Is every bus operator reporting to the new contracts i.e. including NZ Bus who operate some old routes? I bet there is some confusion in the self-reported figures to GWRC! Bring in the lawyers!

  18. Wendy Parsons, 23. October 2018, 8:39

    Hey my bus was 23 minutes late and only one passenger complained. I gave her detailed information about why and urged her to complain to Metlink, and her daughter too who had been on the phone with her mum because she was worried about her safety waiting in the dark by herself. None of the other passengers complained to me.

    I guess passengers’ expectations are lowered by the bus fiasco, and just grateful we turn up at all.

  19. Hmmm, 23. October 2018, 10:35

    This is certainly not my experience although I have given up complaining. The 91% needs to be looked at alongside recent timetable changes. Does anyone know if they’ve just extended the running times of the buses that are regularly late, making them look better on paper but making journeys even longer in practice.

  20. ana, 23. October 2018, 10:45

    this does not explain how the 91% ‘on-time’figure is arrived at. For example, does it include the (late) cancellations when I have already left home? Does it relate only to the start of the run? even if a bus starts on time, it can get later and later throughout the run.

    I, for one, have given up complaining because the only response I got was “we will pass this to the operator” and then never heard anything. I would really like to use buses but have been let down so often lately that I cannot rely on them as I used to. quite often lately I have had to pay because, say the scheduled 3.50 bus does not arrive until after 3pm. if it had arrived before 3 I could use my Gold Card.

  21. Benny, 23. October 2018, 11:53

    “Snapper is proven to be popular” …. as if people had the choice. With only one alternative (paying by cash), it’s no wonder. Get people to experience Snapper support (chasing an undue debit, for example), and then ask how “popular” they find Snapper!

  22. mpledger, 24. October 2018, 12:14

    I catch the 30x bus. It used to be so full before it got to Caledonia Street that we could not pick up any more people.
    Now the buses go down Hobart Street into Miramar and they often leave Miramar with maybe 1 or 2 standing. The extra time that’s been added to the journey has put so many people off catching it.

    A friend who lives in Karori looked at the RTI over her phone and saw the next bus was due in 17 minutes so she thought she might as well take her car because she’d be at work in 17 minutes. That was after two days of waiting 40 minutes and 25 minutes for a bus that would let them on + the travel time + the inconvenience of standing going home from Lambton Quay.

    It’s really noticeable how many people are walking or biking to work.

  23. Concerned Wellingtonian, 24. October 2018, 15:36

    Yes, lots of “people are walking or biking to work.” WCC has been in cahoots with GW over the buses (which is why there has been no criticism or other action from WCC). The reason for this has been to get people onto bikes, of course.