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Strange behaviour

by Lindsay Shelton
Our “greater” regional council is behaving strangely. It’s asking us to tell it what we think about its new bus service, though it’s already had 12 months of being told – every day – about the problems.

It not only wants to be told what we think about the buses. As RNZ reported this week [1], it also wants us to offer solutions.

Hard to believe that the regional council doesn’t already know what Wellingtonians think of the buses. Its Metlink staff have been diligently responding to complaints every day since the new bus systems were introduced a year ago. On twitter they have been consistently asking for details – where was the problem … what time … what was the bus number. But perhaps they haven’t been maintaining a database of all the information about their bustastrophe.

How else to explain the need to ask commuters to tell them what’s going on.

“Help us to fine tune your local bus service,” states the regional council introducing its list of drop-in sessions [2] where commuters are invited to talk about their experiences on the buses.

And its online forum [3] tries to imply (“it’s usual”) that everything is normal.

As with any project of this size, it’s usual to review outcomes to check how we did against key objectives, what we learned and what still needs to happen.

Slow learners, that’s for sure.

None of the people sending complaints to the online forum are getting any reaction to what they are complaining about. Instead, they are mystifying told: “It’s just the type of input we need.” One of the early complainants got this response:

We want to know the good and the bad so we don’t change anything that is working well with the design of the bus network.

Wellington.Scoop readers have also been saying what they think of the regional council’s request for more information.

Local: I think the public should be paid to be consulted again and again. Take the hubs and transfers out, go back to the previous system, give the drivers decent wages and working conditions and stop asking us over and over what is wrong with the system.

Commuter: Have they had a computer meltdown? Have they lost 12 months of data? Or didn’t they bother to keep records of all the complaints …

Ruth: Unbelievable. Have they been under a rock for a year? They’ve been told. They know. Just fix it.

Kara Lipski: Why does GWRC/MetLink think they need to “consult” with us again. We have already given that organisation plenty to work on during the past 12 months or more. But given their record of repeated use of consultants on the bus issue, I have little faith in this latest effort to give us back a decent bus service. Marks for effort by Metlink: 2/10.

Lim Leong: GWRC has run so many consultation sessions, surveys and public meetings since 2012 that I have lost count. For the record, here is the initial 2012 consultation …
• 57% of the respondents strongly dislike the proposed network change. 17% dislike the proposed change so a total of 74% viewed the change negatively.
• Transfers, change of routes, timing and frequency are major issues for respondents.

Customers were clear what they wanted from Day 1, but GWRC pretty much ignored feedback from that study and pretty much all subsequent consultation sessions, public meetings and surveys. So the question is: what is GWRC trying to achieve by asking the same questions over and over again but expecting a different result every time? Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

Without commenting on that last sentence, consider the message on the regional council’s website today:

consultation [4]