Wellington Scoop

Metlink suspending some peak-hour bus services, with “inconvenience” for travellers

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
Metlink has released details on a range of temporary peak bus changes as part of measures to provide customers with certainty over the next six months, while Tranzurban addresses its driver shortage.

Starting August 25, 10 routes will see some trips suspended in the morning and afternoon peak with customers given advanced warning through the Metlink website and app detailing the trips affected, alternate travel times and alternate services where available.

Barbara Donaldson, chair of the regional council’s Sustainable Transport Committee, says the temporary suspensions will enable Tranzurban to deliver the best possible service to customers with the drivers they currently have.

“The past few weeks have been an uncertain time for customers across the network not being sure if their trip will happen or not. This was not acceptable so we have worked with Tranzurban to identify routes across the city that could be temporarily suspended or replaced with the least amount of impact on customers,” Cr Donaldson says.

Metlink expects that customers travelling at alternate times and on alternate services during the morning and afternoon peak will result in fuller buses with customers having to stand more.

“We know this will impact on the level of comfort for customers, however we aim to mitigate the impact to our customers by ensuring the subsequent services are not cancelled and that the buses being utilised have sufficient carrying capacity.

“This inconvenience to some customers will bring increased certainty to the 18,000 peak bus users travelling on Tranzurban services across the Wellington region,” Cr Donaldson says.

While the temporary suspensions will provide increased certainty, Greater Wellington is also working with Tranzurban to increase its driver numbers, ensuring network performance is up to the standard customers expect.

Metlink advises customers to check the website and app before they travel and plan their journey.

DomPost: The regional council’s public transport general manager Greg Pollock said a recent recruitment drive with Tranzurban attracted a “huge” response, but most applicants were ruled out because they did not have a full driver’s licence or had drink-driving convictions.


  1. Traveller, 12. August 2019, 17:25

    Unbelievable! A decision that results in more passengers standing, and more passengers inconvenienced. Is there anyone left who wants to re-elect Barbara Donaldson?

  2. Dave Armstrong, 12. August 2019, 18:18

    Bustastrophe heavy rain winter edition. According to Donaldson’s logic if we cancelled more and more services our remaining services would become more and more efficient. Simple. [via twitter]

  3. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 12. August 2019, 18:20

    Meanwhile, there are about 2000 Uber/Zoomy/etc SPSVs clogging Wgtn’s streets. Plus struggling taxis. Why would you wait for a crowded, late, ancient, uncomfortable or cancelled bus with an under-trained & overworked driver when you want to go home? You’d take an Uber instead. [via twitter]

  4. Brian Dawson, 12. August 2019, 18:22

    What you’re seeing is Tranzurban discovering that driver retention is a real issue. Recruitment is only part of the problem. [via twitter]

  5. Mains, 12. August 2019, 18:23

    “The past few weeks have been an uncertain time for customers across the network not being sure if their trip will happen or not.“ Seriously, have you not heard any of the feedback about your stupid “improvements” that the public have been experiencing for well over a year?

  6. Cr Daran Ponter, 12. August 2019, 18:35

    Hang on folks. Before you all pile in gratuitously once again! Some services on Tranzurban routes are being temporarily suspended due to driver shortages. This is an issue that has previously affected NZ Bus, but now seems to have caught up with Tranzit.

    No one likes cancellations – no one! But far better to remove some services on a temporary basis than give people just 2-3 minutes notice of cancellations (if they are lucky).

    Temporarily removing cancellations at least provides users with an opportunity to reorganise their travel, which short notice cancellations don’t.

    There is now an active bus driver recruitment and training programme at both NZ Bus and Tranzurban. This is already yielding good results in relation to NZ Bus, where cancellations of services are dropping and the temporarily suspended services (20 a day) should soon start to be lifted.

    In the meantime, I continue to call for the government to get on with the PTOM review, to bring in national fair pay agreements for bus drivers and to pump up the standard wage to north of $25 an hour – something that can only be done with agreement between the Government, Councils, Unions and operators.

  7. Michael Gibson, 12. August 2019, 18:46

    The people from Porirua used the same logic when they reduced the number of Karori’s morning peak-hour services from eighteen to ten last July 15th, a day which shall live in infamy.
    Time for another report from the Audit Office!

  8. Lim Leong, 12. August 2019, 19:13

    This latest development confirms my thinking from day 1 that the new network design is fundamentally flawed. The new hub and spoke network design called for a lot more drivers to make the design work. However, GWRC cannot source that many drivers even with a massive recruitment campaign, because the working and conditions and pay are unattractive and the operators’ contractual framework is adversarial.

    A good designer would have carefully thought through all the design assumptions and whether the risk factors could be mitigated or not. If the risk factor is difficult to mitigate, then GWRC is being callous to be pushing this new network design. In a resource-constrained environment, a much better design alternative is incremental improvements.

    This announcement adds to the cynicism of people going through the latest round of “consultation”. Think about it. Even if GWRC accepts commuters’ input this time and changes some of the design to more convenient point to point routes, are there enough drivers to make it work? By the way, it has been over a year and the new network is far from stabilised.

  9. Disgusted, 12. August 2019, 19:29

    Chooks coming home to roost then?
    No disrespect Daran, but tell us please – when you were referenced in an earlier Scoop article about NZ Bus not having enough drivers:
    “Greater Wellington Regional councillor Daran Ponter said he would “love” to get rid of NZ Bus” and Paul Eagle joined in too, saying that NZ Bus contracts should be given to Tranzurban. Are we going to hear you and Paul saying that Tranzurban should go instead?
    This whole thing has been a shocking affair. And Barb now wants to lead the team that slaughtered the system in the first place. Don’t go blaming PTOM – GWRC are just as culpable (and deaf to the public).

  10. Corinna Connor, 12. August 2019, 19:32

    Unbelievable, because it’s been over a year since the Wonderful, World-Changing New System was introduced, and things are still getting WORSE for bus users. Meanwhile, councillors utter platitudes and euphemisms through holes in their hats. [via twitter]

  11. Iona Pannett, 12. August 2019, 21:28

    You have got to be kidding, commuters deserve better! [via twitter]

  12. Alison Welch, 12. August 2019, 21:45

    Daran: So you think we’re all commenting “gratuitously once again”, do you? The definition of “gratuitous” is “without good reason; unjustifiably”.
    After 13 months of Bustastrophe, everybody who has commented has every good reason to do so and is absolutely justified in continuing to raise their concerns. Your comment is patronising and just goes to show how little GWRC cares about its customers’ feedback.

  13. Andy Foster, 12. August 2019, 22:51

    Very disappointing. I thought progress was being made on driver numbers. Sounds like there is a lot way to go yet. Could we have some clear information from GWRC about the numbers of drivers short, what the penalties are on operators for dropping services (ie are the incentives strong enough – because if they were then wouldn’t they look to employ more people, and maybe pay more if they had to?). And because peak times are the problem – any reason why not seek part time drivers to cover those periods?

  14. Nikki Macdonald, 13. August 2019, 9:24

    Remember how Wayne Hastie said the new bus network would be “simpler, easier and more reliable?” He forgot to mention simplification meant just axing buses. [via twitter]

  15. Peter Kerr, 13. August 2019, 9:33

    Councillor Ponter – We could do without the finger wagging. This situation is pitiful thirteen months out from its inception. Your blaming PTOM for the situation doesn’t wash either; it was the status quo before you got started.

    I’ve gone back to the car to get across town now. It’s faster, one journey instead of two, and decidedly more reliable.

  16. Benny, 13. August 2019, 10:46

    Driving your car to and from town gives you point to point transport, reliable, comfortable, and on time if you aren’t caught in traffic because now, everyone is doing it. The road is long, very long until PT will match the level of service the car provides.

    Of course, cars’ side effects are terrible on our health and wellbeing. That is why, until public bodies can come up with a better solution (not before a decade, by the look of it), it’ll be down to civil society (all of us) to transition to EVs. At least we fix the environmental issue and we don’t rely on local government which is showing its ineptitude day after day. With the dawn of autonomous vehicles, we might find PT is redundant anyway.

  17. DonP, 13. August 2019, 10:50

    Let’s not allow the various diversions to distract us – the shortage of bus drivers is the concern of the bus contractors not the GWRC.
    GWRC contracted bus companies to run their timetables. What are the penalties imposed if conditions are not met? How much has been charged and how much has been received? If the contractor continually fails then why is the contract not cancelled and re-let? Why doesn’t GWRC simply enforce their contract?

  18. Sarah Free, 13. August 2019, 11:04

    Not good news from GWRC (Metlink). Driver shortages have been going on too long now, and there’s obviously a need for some new thinking on the issue. [via twitter]

  19. greenwelly, 13. August 2019, 12:06

    Meanwhile, less than 3 weeks ago in their presentation to the Parliamentary Transport and Infrastructure Select committee the GWRC CEO was saying the recruitment of new drivers “feels very positive” and the “numbers coming through are looking very positive”

    Either something has changed in less than a month, or the council has a very different view of “positive” than most people..

  20. Dave B, 13. August 2019, 12:39

    @ Benny, meanwhile, as you sit waiting for autonomous vehicles to come along and solve everything, rail patronage on Wellington’s Metro network continues to climb. Not everyone is determined to shun public transport.

  21. JH, 13. August 2019, 13:22

    @Daran. I chose to live on a bus route with easy access to my work. Now I no longer do. I and others helped with the consultations over some years including the current round. We said the same thing consistently. We explained why in detail. Yet here we are.
    Commenting gratuitously is all I have left. It helps with the deep sense of anger and betrayal I feel. I’d love to cancel my job seeing as how it’s now so hard to get to. Unfortunately my employer will cancel my pay.

  22. Eddie Clark, 13. August 2019, 14:43

    I don’t buy “there’s a driver shortage” as an all encompassing excuse for yet more Wellington bus incompetence. *Why* is there a driver shortage? Could that be due to generally poor pay & conditions, made worse when GWRC let the new contractor make conditions & pay worse? [via twitter]