Wellington Scoop

“I can and I will:” Diane Calvert promises to fix the buses


by Diane Calvert
Yes, I’m campaigning for Mayor of Wellington city. There’s a twist however: I’m not promising lots of bright shiny stuff, or things that give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or that I’ll save the world or give you a fantastic long list to make me look like Superwoman. What I am promising you is that I will deliver you a functioning bus system. Hah impossible!, you won’t get in or you can’t do it, you might say.

Well let me tell you, I can, and I will. I will do it without a big political machine behind me or a major benevolent sponsor or a crown observer. I will do it because the people of Wellington have backed me and said this is the Number 1 thing the Mayor must do for Wellington now.

So how will I fix the buses, when everyone has failed, I hear you ask? Well I will do what others before me have failed to do. It’s not rocket science, just plain hard work, working with others, and listening; all wrapped up in robust project governance. I will do the following.

I will lead on this matter. I will stand up as Mayor and take responsibility for what is happening to Wellington and I will speak up on the matter at every opportunity I get;

I will re-prioritise Wellington City Council resources to do what it takes;

I will ask GWRC and NZTA to work with WCC and we will share the accountability and responsibility, and also the decision making;

I will stop the issue by issue review of the Bus system. I will take a systems approach making sure all key components (management, technology, data, vehicles, drivers, routes, timetables, providers, contracts and funding) are considered for improvement in a cohesive way;

I will take a long-term view of the use of the public bus service, knowing it’s going to be our main mass transit for at least 5-10 years;

I will be open and honest with you about problems and how they will be solved;

I will really listen to what you have to say, and I won’t sugar-coat the feedback.

What about the civic centre, our economy, climate change, housing, roads, rates and more I hear you ask? I will deliver on these too with more information to follow, but the buses are my first priority.

If people can’t get to work on time by bus, kids can’t get to school on time by bus, or people can’t catch a bus into the CBD and leave their car behind; then our roads and parking spaces are going to be more congested, emissions will continue to increase, business will continue to suffer, areas that are serviced by buses become less attractive and rates and tax funding will continue to haemorrhage money.

Wellington’s current bus network shambles is the real emergency.

You can check out more about me and my plans at www.dianecalvert.nz

Diane Calvert is a Wellington city councillor.


  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 21. August 2019, 11:12

    The biggest change will be having someone to stand up for us rather than following a party line dictated in Auckland or the Beehive or both.

  2. Ralf, 21. August 2019, 12:02

    Well, the bus system is not really under control of the WCC but under the GWRC. Maybe stand for GWRC then?
    Also I do not understand this:
    “I will take a long-term view of the use of the public bus service, knowing it’s going to be our main mass transit for at least 5-10 years.” Are you one of those’Automated Uber Vehicles will replace PT’ people (which will not work, because there is not enough road space)? Or is this alluding to Light Rail coming sometime in the 2030s to 2040s? Even if that comes, it will be only one line, and the rest of Wellington will still be covered by buses probably until the end of time.

    I would like to see some aspirations on what growth rate we expect for our PT. I saw some press release from GWRC where the expected growth was 2% per annum, which is ridiculously low. We should target to grow PT plus other non-car modes (cycling…) by 5%-10%, which would mean a (slow) shift from cars to other modes. With 2% growth rate, which is just population increase, car usage will also increase and congestion will rise (unless we waste money on more roads).

  3. Goofy, 21. August 2019, 12:50

    As a councillor “you could’ve but you didn’t”.
    Concerned Wellingtonian: you can’t get change doing the same things over and over (ie voting for the council and its political candidates).

  4. Guy M, 21. August 2019, 13:03

    Diane, the issue is that the Mayor of the WCC has zero power over the bus issue. It is solely under the control of the GWRC – so you are promising to do something on which you have no power to do anything. Asking GWRC and NZTA to play nicely together is not the same as having the power to kick their butts unless they perform. I’m not 100% certain, but I don’t think you even have control over the bus stops within WCC boundaries. So, if you plan to lead on this issue, then you are destined to fail, as you cannot control the very issue you plan to run on.

  5. Lim Leong, 21. August 2019, 15:07

    While public transport is under the purview of GWRC, anyone who is / will be Mayor of Wellington needs to take an active role in facilitating a solution. Sure, WCC can’t own the public transport problems because it does not have statutory responsibility for public transport but it has a moral obligation to the Wellington community.

    Public transport is a key enabler to productivity and the wellbeing of the Wellington community. I for one would like to see WCC as a whole take a far more active role than the current state of “not my problems, someone else can fix it” mentality.

  6. John Rankin, 21. August 2019, 15:38

    @GuyM: that’s almost true, but not quite. The one area over which the WCC has control, but the candidate does not mention, is the roads the buses run on. Something like: “I will re-prioritise Wellington City Council resources to do what it takes [so far, so good]; I will give buses the dedicated road space and priority over other traffic they need to operate effectively; where appropriate I will reallocate our scarce road space from private cars to public transport.”
    Shall I hold my breath?

  7. Rowan, 21. August 2019, 15:56

    Calvert is a current city councillor. Personally I think that we need new blood on our council and not the same old crew who have had their chance. And as others have noted it is the Regional Council that is responsible overall for public transport in the region and not the WCC.

  8. Mike Mellor, 21. August 2019, 15:59

    As has been pointed out, currently WCC can take only as active a role as GWRC permits. As we know all too well, that has created significant problems, since it is the responsibility of WCC (and the other cities/districts in the region) to provide the necessary infrastructure – roads, stops, shelters, bus lanes and other priority (and in those halcyon days, overhead wires for the trolleybuses). But it can’t do it off its own bat, and so we have the major (non-)communication issues of GWRC not requesting the bus priority it suddenly dawned that it was necessary, and asking for the bus hubs far too late for them to be completed on time (they still aren’t complete!).

    But there is a way that the Mayor and WCC can have proper input, and that’s by adopting the Hamilton model of having a joint region/cities/district Public Transport Committee as the governing body for public transport in the region. Similar to Wellington Water, all affected local bodies share in the PT decision-making process. What’s not to like?

  9. Nora, 21. August 2019, 16:13

    Diane is one of the few councillors who listens to the ratepayers at council meetings and is very aware of so many crazy plans…she is top of my list.

  10. Hel, 21. August 2019, 20:25

    Primary responsibility for buses rests with GWRC; Diane are you auditioning for the wrong job? While trying to avoid the superwoman shopping list of promises, we have the Herculean promise to fix the buses. This will take more than goodwill and hope which seems to be what’s on offer.

  11. Gary Froggatt, 22. August 2019, 5:53

    Diane, you should be campaigning to have a Wellington Regional Council that combines all WCC, water, Local Boards and public transport functions etc and eliminates the wasteful duplication of current organisations and services.

  12. Diane Calvert, 22. August 2019, 23:44

    Ralf- I’m standing to be Mayor of Wellington as we need leadership from WCC on buses. Yes I do think autonomous vehicles will be an alternative form of travel. Light rail/trackless trams have still to go through a full business case assessment plus the city has to find 40% of the cost let alone the govt providing its share (NB the announcement today of Govt delaying funding for Akl light rail projects). Yes I agree we should put in higher targets for PT but we need to ensure that we have the PT system in place.
    Guy – The seven points I outlined is what the Mayor can do. It will make a positive difference.
    John Rankin – yes didn’t specially mention “roads” but they were implicit in “routes”.
    Rowan – I have been on the Council for 3 years and have been one of a few councillors strongly advocating for bus improvements. WCC can do more to help GWRC with the buses but they need to relinquish some of the decision making.
    Mike Mellor – yes agree the Hamilton/Waikato model is an ideal system (and quick to implement) for a combined governance model. They also have a well laid bus improvement plan.
    Hel – my list includes more than goodwill, it contains real actions and delivering what is currently not in place.
    Gary – Now that’s an interesting topic but in the meantime local councils can work more closely- “Think regionally, act locally”

  13. Ian, 23. August 2019, 15:35

    Great to see you supporting the removal of all car parking along the Golden Mile and transport spines Diana. Need to start immediately you are elected so that the bus lanes get absolute priority for the road space allocation.