Wellington Scoop

Twenty bus runs cancelled after 28 unsafe buses ordered off the roads

Twenty scheduled bus services were cancelled today as a result of 28 buses being ordered off the road after a police check.

The full list is in the last comment at the end of this column.

News from NZ Police – August 29
A joint Transport Agency/Police operation aimed at ensuring the safety of
passengers using buses in Wellington has ended with 28 buses ‘pink-stickered’ and removed from service for significant fluid leak faults.

The Police Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit (CVIU) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) today completed a two-day operation to assess the safety of the region’s buses, to ensure that a range of serious faults previously discovered on 14 buses in an operation conducted in May had been addressed.

A total of 104 buses were stopped during the operation in the Hutt Valley, Wellington and its suburbs.

Kate Styles, Transport Agency Regional Manager, Access and Use, said: “While it is encouraging that a number of the safety faults identified by our operation in May have been addressed, it’s disappointing that so many buses were found on the road with serious oil leaks which had not been fixed.

“Our focus is squarely on the safety of passengers using Wellington buses,
and while it’s pleasing that many improvements have been made, the best
result would be to find that every bus on the road was up to the standard
that we expect and that passengers are entitled to expect. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. The purpose of these inspections is not to order buses off of the road – it’s to ensure that the buses that people in the region use every day are safe.

“The Transport Agency is pleased that NZ Bus will be working with us in the
weeks ahead to ensure that the issues identified in this week’s operation are addressed.”

Senior Sergeant Willie Roy, of Police CVIU, said the common theme among all 28 of the vehicles ordered off the road was serious oil leaks – an obvious
fire hazard. Other significant faults detected on a number of buses included
insecure fuel tanks and battery boxes, as well as faulty lighting. Vehicles
that receive pink stickers must immediately be removed from service.

Mr Roy said the buses pink stickered represented about 30% of the vehicles
checked. When combined with a range of other safety faults detected, 47% of the buses stopped and checked had some kind of fault, he said.

“The responsibility now lies squarely with the operator to fix these
problems, so the public can be assured these services are safe and we will be working alongside NZTA to ensure this happens.”

The Regional Council’s Metlink website is continuing to be evasive about bus cancellations caused by the withdrawal from service of so many buses. Its “latest news” section has nothing on the cancellations. Travellers have to enter the number of their bus stop to find out which services are running and which are cancelled. This makes it impossible to gauge the extent of the disruptions.

Go Wellington is also in denial – without a mention that 28 buses were unsafe.

Wellington.Scoop – August 28
Wellington police today began a new series of checks on the safety of the city’s buses. The results were not good. By the end of the afternoon, 18 buses had been ordered off the roads because they were unsafe.

The bus operator and its supervisor were slow to advise travellers that commuter services may be affected tonight. At 5.30pm there was no information on the websites of Go Wellington (which provides the city’s bus services) or MetLink (which promises to tell “all you need to know” about getting round Wellington on buses). The Regional Council, sounding foolish, said it didn’t know what services would be cancelled, and referred travellers to the MetLink website.

Four months later – who’s responsible?

News from NZ Police
Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency will from today be conducting follow up safety checks on Wellington region buses to ensure that a range of serious faults discovered during previous inspections have been addressed. Today’s joint operation follows inspections carried out in May, which resulted in 11 buses being removed from service due to a number of significant safety faults. These included oil leaks in the engine area – a potential fire risk – as well as carbon monoxide fumes entering buses and faults with emergency exits.

The operation will be conducted outside peak times and on vehicles not carrying passengers, so as to minimise any possible disruption to commuters.

“The purpose of these checks is to ensure the safety of the travelling public,” said Kate Styles, NZTA Regional Manager, Access and Use. “Bus companies have the ultimate responsibility to ensure their vehicles remain in a roadworthy and safe condition at all times, and Police and the Transport Agency will be following up over the next 48 hours to ensure this is the case.”

The Transport Agency and Police have been working extensively with bus companies, including those in Wellington, to improve their compliance.

“Police and its road safety partner agencies have been working closely with bus operators, including New Zealand Bus which runs most of the services in the Wellington region, to ensure they understand what is required of them if they want to continue to operate,” she said. “They in turn have given assurances that the serious problems identified earlier in year have been rectified and Police Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit (CVIU) and Transport Agency inspectors will be checking to make sure this has happened.”

Senior Sergeant Willie Roy of the CVIU said it was hoped there would be as little disruption as possible to normal bus services – but this would ultimately depend on the action taken by the operators to fix the problems previously identified.

“To ensure as little disruption to the public as possible, the operation is being run outside of peak hours, targeting buses not carrying passengers. However, bus operators should be on notice that if serious safety faults are detected, then action will be taken, as ensuring public safety is our top priority.”

Mr Roy said inspectors would be carrying out the spot checks of buses throughout the region today and tomorrow to ensure compliance – with a particular focus on fumes, fire hazards and emergency exits.


  1. The City is Ours Inc., 28. August 2013, 9:31

    The Police and NZTA out in force checking safety of buses? How about checking the narrow bus lanes in Willis and Manners Streets. People are still being subjected to close calls just waiting on the footpath for the green man. The gutter, recognized as part of the footpath by the Local Government Act 1974, is frequently being used by buses, allowing the body of the bus to enter pedestrian space.

  2. pax, 28. August 2013, 13:44

    The NZ Herald [1] references a report on the inspections earlier this year [2] [3] [4] having been released on the NZTA [5] website following an OIA request.

    I haven’t been able to find it, does anyone have a lnk ?

    [1] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11115631
    [2] http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=55210
    [3] http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=55370
    [4] http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=55394
    [5] http://nzta.govt.nz

  3. pax, 28. August 2013, 21:04

    Flashback to June 6th:
    Wellington bus company promises world-class transport network
    NZ Bus has today welcomed the passing of legislation introducing a new Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM). NZ Bus CEO Zane Fulljames says the changes incentivise local authorities and operators to form strong partnerships and work together on long-term strategies to plan the shape of New Zealand’s public transport networks.
    “We have been involved in developing this new model from the start because it is a vital component in enabling cities to plan for their future transport needs. As the largest bus operator in Wellington, we are committed to meeting the growing dependence on reliable public transport services.
    “The new PTOM is squarely focused on ensuring local authorities and operators work together to invest in growing their public transport networks and improving customer service. It’s about performance, which means getting people to use the network because it’s reliable.


  4. pax, 29. August 2013, 14:39

    Metlink have changed the way they advise of cancelled bus services.

    During the first round of disruptions cancelled services were listed twice daily on their website http://metlink.org.nz/ -> Service Updates -> List of Cancelled Services. The lists of afternoon cancellations were posted during the day so they were difficult to access while travelling.

    Now they have a new system which buries the cancellation information under layers of obfuscation. They invite you to enter your bus stop number and then present you with a list of services due at that stop, including those which are cancelled. While I have no difficulty in remembering the bus stop codes for every stop in the region, and know which stop I will be using while I have access to the internet, it may be that a small minority of bus users will be unable to do this.

    It also means that it’s impossible to gauge the extent of disruptions caused by the bus company’s failure to maintain a roadworthy fleet.

    This has the smell of a conspiracy: Instead of Metlink (aka the Greater Wellington Regional Council) holding the bus company to acceptable standards, they appear to have spent money developing systems to hide their malfeasance.

  5. Metlink, 30. August 2013, 9:33

    Route120 departing Lower Hutt at 09.40 will not run.
    Route120 departing Stokes Valley at 09.10 will not run
    Route170 departing Lower Hutt at 1428 is not running
    Route170 departing Lower Hutt at 1456 will not run
    Route 179 departing Lower Hutt at 1510 will not run
    route30 departing Naenae at 1515 will not wunr
    route160 departing Wainui at 1515 will not run
    route1 departing Island Bay at 1507 will not run
    Route170 departing Lower Hutt at 1510 will not run
    route84 departing Gracefield at 1605 will not run
    route130 departing Petone at 1605 will not run
    route84 departing Gracefield at 1605 will not run
    Route120 departing Stokes Valley at 1620 will not run
    Route120 departing Lower Hutt at 1700 will not run
    Route80 departing Courtenay Place at 1700 will not run
    Route170 departing Wainui at 1701 will not run
    Route160 departing Lower Hutt at 1752 will not run
    Route160 departing Wainui at 1825 will not run
    route160 departing Lower Hutt at 1854 will not run
    route 120 departing Stokes Valley at 1855 will not run
    #route120 departing Lower Hutt at 20.25 is cancelled.

  6. Mike, 1. September 2013, 21:32

    Pax: go to http://www.nzta.govt.nz/site-resources/content/about/docs/media/oia/oia-1129-keijser.pdf for the NZTA OIA response re Go Wellington safety failures.