Wellington Scoop

A stand-in … for how long?


by Helene Ritchie
“I am a stand-in until the new bus arrives”
Oh really? When will that be?

Stand-in as in ‘I am a smelly old Auckland diesel bus’?

Standing in for what? A promised electric bus? Maybe a trolley bus? Light rail? (not a bus!)

Or just stand-in as in standin’ in a crowded bus because they cancelled the other one and then took the seats out?

Still standing at the bus stop waiting for the new(?) bus to arrive?


  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 30. November 2019, 13:33

    The signing of the bus contract must lie at the heart of the problem. Tragic that Ms Ritchie missed being elected (very narrowly) and that she cannot sort things out at the regional council.

  2. Alan, 30. November 2019, 15:36

    These messages (there are several variants all suggesting the same outcome ) have been on the side of the NZ Bus fleet not being “Metlinked” since July 2017. Metlink should take some responsibility in putting something meaningful there, not such nonsense as the new bus being “23% downloaded”. If the new bus is only “downloaded” that much in 16 months it would appear we have a long wait until any new bus actually arrives.

  3. Alan, 30. November 2019, 18:22

    Trawling through my photographs I have found an example of the “I’m a stand-in until the new bus arrives” going back to 7 June 2018 – 17 months ago!!
    As Helene says “Oh really, when will that be?”
    If Metlink was upfront with the public it would change the message to perhaps read: “Thanks for your patience – continue to smell the fumes for the foreseeable future”

  4. GrahamCA, 1. December 2019, 11:01

    There’s no secret that NZ Bus dragged out the replacement negotiation provisions of the PTOM process and GWRC has been the loser. Under the DUA provisions of PTOM, NZ Bus were allowed to retain 50% of their existing fleet and proposed that their “new” Wrightspeed buses would be considered part of the 50% new vehicle fleet [existing operators were given this advantage across the country not just Wellington while incoming operators had to provide a 100% new fleet).

    The Wrightspeed option was eventually discarded and then NZ Bus proposed a second option of repowering the old trolley fleet in the same way the single Airport Flyer had been. Although nothing has appeared officially, rumours were that NZ Bus wanted to receive the same level of capital recovery as would apply for a brand new bus.

    One of the very first decisions by the new owners of NZ Bus was to scrap that proposal and go with a new fleet (a decision made two years after both Tranzit and Uzabus had placed their order for their all-new fleets. Now of course NZ Bus has to (a) determine what their new fleet should consist of, (b) obtain sign off by GWRC on the vehicle specifications and then (c) place orders, remembering the normal lead time for an order of 50+ large vehicles is likely to be 8 – 9 months for a diesel fleet and probably longer for electric vehicles.

    No doubt there will be official updates in the new year.

  5. Concerned Wellingtonian, 1. December 2019, 13:54

    “There’s no secret!” Well done, GrahamCA for letting us know. I haven’t seen anything released from the Regional Council. Did they have to agree to this in the terms of the contract? Have they secured proper compensation?

  6. michael, 1. December 2019, 18:46

    Since the removal of the trolley buses and addition of the 2nd-hand diesel buses in the city, my apartment balcony and my car are constantly covered with black greasy soot. So what will this be doing to the health of apartment dwellers and people in the shops and offices close to the street? Why aren’t those responsible for the quality of our air and/or environment checking this out?

  7. Henry Filth, 1. December 2019, 22:22

    Out of idle curiosity, GrahamCA, are the Wrightspeed buses anything to do with the crowd in Northern Ireland who have just “run into difficulties”?

  8. Roy Kutel, 2. December 2019, 8:04

    Abolish GWRC asap and get some professionals to run a Public Transport Authority with statutory patronage and environmental targets and profitability constraints. One to two councillors from each city/district on the governance board.

  9. Roger Blakeley, 2. December 2019, 8:35

    Watch out for the Bus Network Review report coming to GWRC on Thurs 12 December. There has been a lot of engagement with Wellington commuters on improvements to the network. [via twitter]

  10. greenwelly, 2. December 2019, 9:05

    Many will be here until at least until mid-2021… maybe longer. The Sustainable Transport committee meeting on 18th September contained the following snippet relating to bike racks on the “interim fleet”

    “Eighteen of the 84 buses are planned to become a permanent part of the NZ Bus fleet (as previously agreed by Council see Report RPE 19.188). These 18 buses will be fitted with bike racks as part of the conversion to permanent fleet at no cost to GWRC…The remaining 66 interim buses could be fitted with bike racks. It is expected that all of these 66 buses will be in service for at least 18 months to allow for the procurement of the new fleet.

  11. GrahamCA, 2. December 2019, 10:15

    Henry no – Wrightspeed and Wright Bus are two very different animals. Wright Bus buses are in service in Kapiti and that company has been bought out of receivership I believe.

    Wrightspeed was founded by the Kiwi Tesla co-founder Ian Wright and is really a form of range extended electric vehicle (the vehicles have an auxiliary diesel or gas powered motor to recharge the batteries while in service – the proposal for Wellington was that these would be geofenced so they only activated outside the CBD).

  12. Concerned Wellingtonian, 2. December 2019, 11:00

    Thanks, greenwelly. Can I ask again for the terms of the contract? Has GW secured proper compensation for any breaches?

  13. D.W., 2. December 2019, 13:19

    Remember Infratil sold NZ Bus in September, so a new bunch is in charge of making money out of Wellington’s buses.
    ‘The sale concludes a 14-year investment period for Infratil in public transport and provides the opportunity for …. for NZ Bus … to continue to grow its business and people under new ownership’.

  14. Kirk, 2. December 2019, 13:43

    What exactly is the hold up with procuring Electric buses? China is pumping out hundreds of fully electric buses a week without issue and we have to wait how many years to get less than a hundred electric buses on Wellington roads? and not even fully electric at that?

  15. michael, 2. December 2019, 13:54

    But . . . what about the pollution? What if anything is being done about this? It is a real concern, but it doesn’t seem to be a consideration at all.

  16. Ms Green, 2. December 2019, 16:46

    Michael you are so right. GWRC is supposed to be responsible for waste, environmental hazards, the quality of our air and our environment generally. It seems GWRC is breaching its existing statutory and RMA responsibilities by willfully pumping pollution into our lungs and streets.
    GWRC exists to protect us from this. Is anyone prepared to challenge them (in a Court?), their management, chair and councillors?

  17. Dan Tosfery, 2. December 2019, 17:21

    Can’t wait Roger B. for another 100+ page bus review that’s ‘coming soon’ with lashings of customer engagement.

  18. Keith Flinders, 2. December 2019, 17:30

    Zero consideration was paid by either Metlink or most of the GWRC councillors to the increase in pollution levels when the trolley buses were to be withdrawn. They failed in their statutory duty to protect the health and welfare of ratepayers then, and continue to do so. Only Crs Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley made vocal their opposition to the loss of the trolley buses and the added pollution resulting.

    We were led to believe that Wellington was to get a new bus fleet, instead we got tired old polluting Euro 3 buses ex Auckland that do not have to be maintained to the condition that they were in when new. Much was made about the 10 electric double decker buses, but how many are still in operation, and for how many hours each day? In the past few weeks I have only observed one of them on its route.

  19. Dave B, 2. December 2019, 19:55

    These days, just about anything can be made cheaply and easily by 3-D printing. So how about this GWRC: Get a 3-D printer to cheaply and easily replace all the trolleybus infrastructure you misguidedly ripped out two-and-a-half years ago. And then write out 150,000,000 times by-hand (no printer allowed), “What I did was utterly stupid and I promise never to do anything like that again”.

  20. Cr Daran Ponter, 2. December 2019, 21:01

    These buses (ex Auckland) could be replaced by later model diesel buses, but Wellingtonians have given notice that they expect better….and GWRC agrees.

    So GWRC are in the final stages of agreeing with operators for new EV buses (additional in the case of Tranzit) to replace these old diesel buses, and to also accommodate increased patronage demand. This process has has been slowed by the NZ Bus sale process, but that is behind us now and discussions are progressing well (yes, yes, I hear your incredulity from here!).

    I expect orders to be placed in the New Year … and I am sure that you will all hold me to it.

  21. Andrew, 3. December 2019, 6:19

    If only Dave B. Or do you mean little toy trolley buses?

  22. Alan, 3. December 2019, 6:47

    Let’s hope Daran’s comment regarding the “new year” means January or close by and not somewhere between January and December.

  23. Marion Leader, 3. December 2019, 6:55

    Will they be painted yellow as promised at the very beginning? And will they have seats near the front?
    What does the contract stipulate and are ratepayers getting penalties for non-performance?

  24. Roy Kutel, 3. December 2019, 7:49

    GWRC’s actions have worsened air quality in Wellington and as such they are responsible for the adverse health consequences. This 2018 Auckland CBD air pollution study is one example. No wonder Auckland sent their oldest diesel buses to Wellington after GWRC got rid off its wonderful trolley buses.

  25. Marion Leader, 3. December 2019, 9:19

    Roy, I wonder if GW have any obligation concerning air quality? Surely the contract had a clause about our not being given such old smelly buses. Would a complaint to the Ombudsman be worthwhile?

  26. Keith Flinders, 3. December 2019, 11:25

    Marion: What the GWRC will tell you is that they have lowered total tailpipe emissions (although they fail to include C02 in their calculations) from pre July 2018 levels. Whilst this is true, the figures include the entire region where previously some very ancient diesel buses ran until July last year, and some even up until the end of 2018.

    What was not factored into what they told the public was that tailpipe emissions in Wellington City increased due to an all diesel fleet after the trolley buses were withdrawn in 2017, and even after the introduction of bustastrophe in July last year the pollution levels including the few double decker electric buses were higher than pre October 2017. http://www.revoltwellington.co.nz has the graphs compiled from data then available from the GWRC’s web site.

    The the Auckland report (from Roy) shows how the channeling of diesel powered vehicles through narrow corridors such as Willis/Lambton Quay with shop verandas trapping particulate matter (fine soot) is a serious health issue.

  27. michael, 3. December 2019, 11:55

    Those of us living and working in close proximity to the main transport routes are experiencing a huge increase in noise and pollution. I am genuinely horrified by the very noticeable increase in noise and oily soot settling in and around my apartment, so much so, I am thinking of moving out of the city.

    I challenge GWRC to go stand in Willis Street (opposite New World Metro) for half an hour at peak hour (4.30 – 5pm). And, while they are there take noise recordings and a damp cloth to wipe down the doorways etc of the shops, and then try and tell us they are not putting the health of Wellingtonians in danger.

    And where is the government in all of this? Surely this is in breach of the United Nations Sustainable Cities and Communities contract that aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, and which the government signed up to in 2015.

  28. Scott W, 3. December 2019, 13:09

    Helene Ritchie, being as ever constructive as she has always been in Wellington local body politics.

  29. Local, 3. December 2019, 13:22

    Michael I know people who have shifted because of the increased noise and pollution especially but not only around Metro New World in Willis St. And I wonder what cyclists think who are directly sucking up particulates and pollution behind a bus.
    And before LGWM or Andy Foster jumps in with the “bus priority lane” mantra, Willis St is already that but at peak times the polluting noisy smelly buses can only move forward as a bunch.

  30. michael, 3. December 2019, 14:29

    Local, I am not surprised you know people who have moved, so do I. Given this, I do not hold out any hope for GWRC and WCC’s ability to provide sustainable living environments in the city. I guess we will slowly slide into 3rd world standards long before they wake up to the mess they are creating. It is so disheartening.

  31. steve doole, 4. December 2019, 3:03

    Which public bodies can be trusted about pollution? Reminds me of the justification for SH20 motorway between Onehunga and Mt Albert that used average air quality for all Auckland. authorities to indicate little increase pollution, disregarding residents and several schools the motorway passes. Unfortunately a panel of planning comissioners did not take up objections from the likes of a university professor.

  32. Ron Oliver, 4. December 2019, 16:28

    A short answer to Helen (in the form of a question).
    How long is a piece of string?

  33. Helene, 4. December 2019, 17:45

    Ron it depends on who is holding the other end of the piece of string…..the regional council or the voters.