Wellington Scoop

80 more electric buses: MPs told about roadmap for better buses, trains and ferries

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
A roadmap for the region’s bus, rail and ferry network was shared with the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee at Parliament during an update from the Regional Council and the NZ Transport Agency today.

Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter outlined a program of works to bring customers more services across the network, including: results from its city-wide network review, further investment in electric vehicles across its bus, rail, and ferry operations, bus priority measures, and progress against the nation-wide bus driver shortage.

“Only a couple of hours ago, Council agreed an aggressive schedule of activity starting in January 2020 which will see a reduction in forced transfers, more direct services, reinstatement of suspended services and more reliability through additional peak and shoulder peak services. These actions are built on feedback from 1756 Wellingtonians that took part in our Wellington City bus network review,” said Cr Ponter.

The council also gave key network statistics to the committee. In an important September milestone it carried 40 million passengers across rail, bus and ferry services during the year – a first for the Wellington region. Bus patronage was up by 5 per cent year-on-year with reliability at 99.3 per cent and punctuality at 93.9 per cent for October. There were significant increases in its rail network too, with a new annual patronage high of 14.3 million passengers, an increase of 800,000 passengers on the previous year. Peak patronage rates were even higher, with the two busiest lines Hutt Valley and Kapiti rising by 12 per cent.

“The significant increase in train passengers shows an urgent need to fund a modern electric or hybrid fleet so we can avoid commuters being “packed in like sardines” on a daily basis, on long journeys across the region,” said Chair Ponter.

The council is also in final negotiations with bus operators to get more than 80 new electric vehicles on the network and Wellington will welcome the Southern Hemisphere’s first electric ferry early in the new year.

The Transport Agency andthe council also detailed an agreed action plan with the Wellington City Council on bus priority measures throughout the city.

“In the short-term we are focusing on eight congestion corridors across the city. Simple solutions like traffic light priority for buses, road layout changes, better kerbside access for buses, removal of obstacles and how we space our bus stops, will give customers greater consistency day-to-day. Longer-term we’ll see more reliability through the dedicated bus priority lanes planned under Let’s Get Wellington Moving,” said Chair Ponter.

Chair Ponter said that the council was taking a pragmatic approach to the network and that very real constraints such as driver shortages would be considered and factored into its initiatives.

“Bus operators have been working hard to recruit in a tight labour market and the numbers of drivers have steadily improved with three of our four operators at full contingent now. We have also been working in the background with unions, operators, other councils and the Government to ensure that drivers get the rest and meal breaks they need,” added Chair Ponter.

Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight said: “The Agency recognised the significant work that Greater Wellington has put into addressing the issues it has faced. We will continue to work with the Council as it progresses its immediate and long-term improvements to Wellington’s public transport network”.

The Transport Agency, the Ministry of Transport and the Regional Council were at today’s Select Committee meeting, Council chair Daran Ponter presented the update alongside Chief Executive Greg Campbell and Metlink General Manager Greg Pollock.

Bus network review decisions

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  1. Traveller, 12. December 2019, 14:55

    What’s the timetable for delivering the eighty new electric buses?

  2. KB, 12. December 2019, 15:16

    All the bus trips that are now two trips with a transfer instead of one previously, are they counted as one trip or two in these “record bus trip” numbers?

  3. Keith Flinders, 12. December 2019, 15:39

    First one/s to be in operation in nine months, apparently. Seeing will be believing.

  4. Patrick Morgan, 12. December 2019, 16:32

    Daran Ponter at the Transport Select Committee today: 160,000 passengers per day, 4% rise in bus use, 7% rise in rail at peak times. 80 e-buses on their way. [via twitter]

  5. Marion Leader, 12. December 2019, 17:02

    Patrick, we like having more bikes on the road but the snarl-up with traffic jams means that lots of other people have also deserted public transport. Did anyone say anything about this? Did anyone say what they are going to do about it?

  6. Dave B, 13. December 2019, 1:09

    Marion Leader, are you saying that cyclists are causing traffic jams, and causing such delay to buses that “lots of people have deserted public transport”? – Or is this something of an exaggeration?

    This is the first time I have heard cyclists blamed as a significant cause of the problems of buses. Can you or anyone give more details of this? Like – where is it happening? What are the circumstances? How long are the delays?

  7. Marion Leader, 13. December 2019, 9:53

    Dave B, what I said was “… the snarl-up with traffic jams means that lots of other people have deserted public transport. Did anyone say anything about this? Did anyone say what they are going to do about it?”

  8. Benolt, 13. December 2019, 10:49

    I’ve looked for “electric” through each single document available on the GWRC’s “Bus Network Review” page (and there are a lot): none of these documents remotely acknowledge a timeframe. Yes, they’ll have electric buses, 80 of them, but when is a big mystery. [via twitter]

  9. GrahamCA, 13. December 2019, 11:34

    Benolt: NZ Bus are still to place their order for new buses (around 50 I believe) and I understand these will be electric, plus Tranzurban are scheduled to add 10 EVs in 2020/21 with a further 12 in 2021/22

  10. Dave B, 13. December 2019, 17:51

    @ Marion Leader. My apologies, I mis-read your earlier comment and mis-replied accordingly. My mis-take!

  11. Northland, 13. December 2019, 18:37

    The first thing they should do is fix the real time bus scheduling system.

    No more SCHEDs or ghost buses. If it’s 5 minutes late, give those 5 minutes back to us and don’t waste it. If it’s cancelled, tell us so we can make alternate arrangements (walk or scooter or a different bus…).

    No more wasting our time GWRC !! It’s not rocket science

  12. Cr Daran Ponter, 15. December 2019, 22:49

    @ Traveller: GWRC has authorised its CEO to undertake final negotiations with both NZ Bus and Tranzit for the purchase of 80+ 100% electric buses. Once concluded, orders will be placed by the two companies. Expect the first of these buses to delivered by late 2020.

    @ KB: GWRC now measures by boardings. So every time you get on a ferry, train or bus is counted as a boarding. The number of boardings has increased year on year, by 5% for the bus network.

    @ Marion Leader: Yes, I communicated to the Select Committee that WCC and GWRC are now well advanced in planning for bus priority on core bus routes across the city. Expect public consultation on proposals in Q1/Q2 2020 – I expect a lot of debate on the removal of carparks from suburban streets.

    @ Benolt: The “when” is subject to the final negotiations with the bus operators. They ultimately buy and and own the buses.

    @ Northland: Let me know where you are having a problem with RTI (a particular stop perhaps) as I travel the Network most days and haven’t experienced any issues with the RTI for quite a while.

  13. Kara Lipski, 17. December 2019, 9:00

    Here’s hoping that Strathmore Park residents will once again have a bus service that serves them well and goes where it used to prior to 2018.

  14. Dave B, 17. December 2019, 13:49

    @ Kara Lipski. I would like to see the Strathmore bus service reconnected with Ngaio-Khandallah as it used to be. From a northern suburbs perspective, single-ride access to Newtown, Kilbirnie, Miramar, and the airport (via a short walk) is far more useful than to Aro Valley and Highbury which is where the Ngaio-Khandallah bus goes now.

  15. Mike Mellor, 17. December 2019, 15:34

    Kara L/Dave B: the Bus Network Review recommendations endorsed by GWRC at its meeting last week include:
    Recommendation B for Strathmore Park [and Mairangi, not covered here], to add a new bus route between Strathmore Park and Mairangi (via the Golden Mile) to re-establish direct all-day links with Newtown and the central city, with the following timeline:
    January 2020, extend route 12 to Newtown (John St via Hospital): 60 min frequency [currently 30 min], Monday to Friday inter-peak only;
    October 2020, extend direct to city off-peak: 60 min frequency, Monday to Friday;
    From October 2021: extend direct to city all day: 30 min frequency, 7 days a week; investigate option for linking the proposed Strathmore to city and Mairangi to Golden Mile services as a single route via the hospital.

    The recommendations affecting Khandallah and Ngaio are:
    Recommendation H, from October 2021 add separate targeted campus connection services between…Johnsonville and Victoria University Kelburn (currently served by route 22);
    Recommendation T, from 2021 replace route 24 with two separate routes between Johnsonville/Broadmeadows (possibly through-routed to Houghton Bay) and between Miramar Heights and the central city to address concerns about the length of the current route 24 while maintaining access through the central city.

    There’s a wealth of information here : and this report is particularly worth reading.

    Cr Daran P: thanks for continuing to engage!