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Four months later – who’s responsible for the unsafe buses?

GO-Wellington-Roof [1]

by Lindsay Shelton
Who’s to blame for the Wellington buses? Responsibility is shared by four organisations – Go Wellington, its parent company NZ Bus, the Regional Council and its offshoot MetLink. In May they all apologised for weeks of disruptions which followed the discovery that some of their buses were unsafe. And this week it it started again [2].

“Given all the work we have done with the bus company, we would have hoped things would have improved,” said police spokesman Ross Henderson [3] after yesterday’s checks by the police and the Transport Agency resulted in 18 unsafe buses being ordered off the roads. Hope was evidently not enough.

The bus operators had assured the police and the Transport Agency that problems found in checks in May had been fixed, said Agency spokeswoman Kate Styles. Such assurances were evidently of no value.

“We feel for those commuters who face potential disruption because of the failure by the bus operators to address significant safety issues, which they have been aware of for several months,’’ said Senior Sergeant Willie Roy of the police commercial vehicle investigation unit. He said the buses ordered off the roads had serious oil leaks – a fire hazard.

Disruptions as a result of the checks in May led to chaotic four weeks of cancelled services. [4] As many as 45 services in one day were cancelled. It was a dismal record for the four organisations who were supposed to be responsible for public transport.

What can they have been doing since then?

They haven’t been thinking about communicating with commuters, that’s for sure. Last night the Regional Council was advising travellers to go to the MetLink website for news of cancelled bus services. But they forgot to tell MetLink. Its “latest news” was from last month, with not a mention of the consequences of 18 buses being pulled out of service. The Go Wellington website was similarly out of the loop. Its latest news, dated 6 August, promised smoother rides. On unsafe buses?

in June, when the number of disruptions was slowly reducing, there was a strange promise [5] from the boss of NZ Bus, Zane Fulljames. He said: “NZ Bus has worked closely with the Regional Council and will continue to do so to deliver the world-class bus network that Wellington deserves and can be relied on.” But in terms of public safety, his world-class bus network is not being delivered.

August 28/29: 28 unsafe buses ordered off the roads [2]