by Mike Mellor
Metlink describes several of its bus routes as “high frequency”, commonly defined as a bus every 15 minutes or better from first bus to last bus, every day of the week. With frequency like that, people don’t need a timetable: it’s turn up and go.
Until now these Metlink routes have met this criterion during the day, but in the evenings buses are only every half hour, meaning a long wait if you don’t happen to be at the stop at the right time.
This weekend that will be changing for route 2, the second-busiest bus route.
As Metlink has announced  and as reported on Wellington Scoop,  that route is being split at the Miramar shops into two branches, one to northern Miramar (still described confusingly as just Miramar, rather than Miramar Terminus, Darlington Rd, or Miramar North) and one to Seatoun, with increased off-peak weekday daytime frequency on the core Karori-Miramar shops section – but there’s been no mention of what happens in the evenings and weekends. That is surprising, because clearly the new route structure means that they have to change.
Some digging in a different part of the Metlink website , and looking at the hyperlinked route 2 timetable, shows that frequency on the core section will increase dramatically at all off-peak times, with alternate buses going to/from each branch:
* weekday daytime by 33%, from every 10 minutes to every 7/8
* weekends by 50%, from every 15 minutes to every 10
* evenings by 100%, from every 30 minutes to every 15.
Overall this is a major step forward for public transport in the eastern and western suburbs, and should be celebrated!
(Except in the evenings, when there’s a reduction in the Seatoun service from every 10 or 15 minutes to every 15 or 20 minutes).
Also to be celebrated is the near-disappearance of forced changes at hubs.
Nearly all suburbs that lost their through off-peak service in 2018 have had it reinstated, albeit with the unfortunate consequence of frequency being halved to hourly.
The sole exception is Strathmore Park, where changing at Kilbirnie is still required except for alternate daytime weekday off-peak services, which run to/from the city.
So congratulations to Metlink for listening to feedback and making progress – and it would help if it was made clearer what is actually happening.
The author, a member of GWRC’s Public Transport Advisory Group, has written this article in a personal capacity and he accepts full responsibility for any errors.