Wellington Scoop

After initial failures, our bus are services getting better – according to consultants

Media release from Wellington Regional Council
Improvements in Wellington’s new bus services are “ongoing and sustained,” an independent review into implementation challenges of the Wellington City and Hutt Valley network has found.

The review, prepared by Australia-based consultants L.E.K. and commissioned by the Regional Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency, describes the introduction of the new network as a complex undertaking, creating a “substantial challenge.”

The simultaneous implementation of new operators with new fleets, drivers, KPIs and reporting regimes, and a new network with new routes and timetables, new fares and ticketing system resulted in a number of failures which amplified their effect on customers.

The report found that the Regional Council had a robust governance structure and processes in place and that a significant proportion of the programme was delivered successfully and on time. However, the collective capability of the programme delivery team at the time was “insufficient for the transformational nature of the changes required”.

Aspects of the implementation, such as bus hubs, a complete new bus fleet, achieving an acceptable standard of real time information, and a sufficient number of adequately-trained drivers, were delivered late or insufficiently. The Regional Council also relied on operators to be forthcoming, timely and transparent about their true state of readiness for go-live.

Read the review in full

Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw said progress against the report’s findings was well under way. The council had identified many of the issues through its own systems which include performance data analysis, working closely with operators, and ongoing dialogue with community groups.

Cr Laidlaw also acknowledged his council had fallen short on some of the required areas when implementing the new network, and this had caused regrettable disruption for Wellington City and Hutt Valley bus customers.

“Since July we have been listening and working closely with community groups and operators to increase services, adjust timetables, ensure the right size bus turns up, provide better data and information to the public, and put things right.”

Despite initial issues, the report acknowledged that key performance metrics demonstrate ongoing and sustained improvement. Punctuality improved from 86% to 93%, reliability increased from 94% to 99%, and correct bus size performance rose from 66% to 80%.

Other areas of attention included initial resourcing and capability. The review found that, while the programme team identified skills gaps, essential members of the team were appointed later than required which hampered on-time delivery.

“This combination of factors created significant challenge for operators and Greater Wellington to respond to. The decision to go-live in winter also exacerbated the impact on customers.”

The review, commissioned by the Regional Council and the Transport Agency, looked at the implementation of the new network, and not the inherent design and philosophy behind it, or the limitations of the PTOM provisions. Chris Laidlaw said these aspects will be covered in a later stage of the review.


  1. Traveller, 19. December 2018, 16:40

    It’s hardly an “independent review” if it was commissioned (and paid for) by the Regional Council and the NZTA?

  2. James, 19. December 2018, 17:44

    I found it very difficult to find on their website. [Here’s the review in full.]

  3. Mandy R. Davis, 19. December 2018, 18:22

    Well they would say that wouldn’t they.

  4. lindsay, 20. December 2018, 9:41

    The Regional Council has been somewhat selective in its release (above) about the report on its own performance which it commissioned. As the DomPost reported yesterday, the report says councillors underestimated the impact of the changes. “Councillors who signed off the changes did not have sufficient information to make the right decisions.” The councillors “did not fully appreciate programme risks” because the information they were working with was at an “aggregate” level, rather than a local level.

  5. Ayn Randy, 20. December 2018, 10:22

    Imagine my complete and utter lack of shock – this is what I and hundreds (if not thousands) have been saying (and serially complaining about ha ha) since July 15… Team responsible for launching Wellington’s new bus network not up to the job – report. [via twitter]

  6. Michael Gibson, 20. December 2018, 11:43

    FYI – I am complaining to the Ombudsman about GWRC’s decision last week to discuss the bus report in Public-Excluded.
    Being elected members of a public body the Councillors have a duty to discuss this sort of thing in public. They are NOT entitled to kick out the public and spend their time discussing how to phrase their spin in a Media release. The Local Government and Official Information Act gives us a right to hear what Councillors are saying at their meetings and it is the last straw that we were not allowed to hear how they debated this one.

  7. Chris Horne, 20. December 2018, 12:13

    Bus users in Mairangi and Northland demand two changes to our service for swift implementation:

    1. Run our no. 22 bus service from Mairangi/Northland to the present terminus at the Wellington Station ‘hub’, then along the Golden Mile to the Basin Reserve, Wellington Hospital, Newtown and Wellington Zoo. It is grossly inconvenient for us to have to change buses at Wellington Station, when going into town, and when coming home;

    2. The alleged ‘connection’ between our no. 22 service, and the no. 21 Courtenay Place – Wrights Hill service at Victoria University on Kelburn Parade is a figment of someone’s imagination, because the buses on each route do not wait for each other on Kelburn Parade. Thus passengers wanting to change buses usually have to wait up to half an hour for a ‘connecting service’.

  8. Mostly OK, 20. December 2018, 17:55

    How can a review of the Wellington Bus Network for passengers leave them out of the Stakeholders list? Direct service users are most important stakeholder there is! [via twitter]

  9. helen, 21. December 2018, 10:00

    I complained about the 21/22 connection at Victoria University on the Metlink website & asked some questions. They treated my questions as an OIA.

    * Their definition of a “successful” connection was one where the bus you want to be on left the bus stop no more than a minute before the bus you are currently on arrives. This is not the same as commuters definition of a successful connection (which I think it’s safe to say would generally involve actually being able to catch the bus you want to be on)

    *Using their definition of success. The transfer from the 21 to the 22 was “successful” for about 25% of the scheduled weekday evening connections between the start of the new system & mid-November

    *Again, using their definition of success The transfer from the 21 to the 22 was “successful” for about 50% of the scheduled weekend connections between the start of the new system & mid-Novemeber

  10. Gillybee, 22. December 2018, 9:31

    So the GWRC weren’t up to the job and ignored warnings that there were too many changes in one go? Surprise surprise. Getting shot of some of those technocrats responsible won’t be easy, but we can have a go at some of the councillors responsible for signing off on it via the ballot-box come September 2019.

    @ Mostly OK: The GWRC’s lack of public consultation was noted by the select committee, who have yet to report back. Given that the public fund 80% of the costs of public transport through our rates and fares, it’s a glaring oversight and one that should be fixed through legislation at the central government level.