More than sixty bus services were cancelled in Wellington today. Though MetLink and Go Wellington are offering no explanation, the cancellations follow last week’s safety checks which ordered 28 unsafe buses off the roads.
Thirty of the cancellations were this morning. By early this evening, 30 more cancellations had been announced via the MetLink twitter feed, including the 1410, 1430, 15.30, 17.00, 17.20 and 18.20 Airport Flyers from Wellington Airport.
The CEO of NZ Bus has issued a lengthy apology about the second discovery of so many unsafe buses. “We are not perfect,” he said. Here’s the full text of what Zane Fulljames said on Friday:
It is important to reassure you that we take the safety of our customers and staff seriously. Accordingly I thought it might be helpful if I told you what happened, why it happened but most importantly what we are doing about it.
So what happened?
There has been coverage in the last week where a number of the fleet (28 vehicles out of a total approaching 400) were deemed by CVIU to be in need of immediate repair. The primary cause identified was oil or material accumulation that could potentially result with a certain set of conditions in a hazard.
This followed on from inspections in April and May where a series of issues were identified requiring remedy. It is important to note that the majority of these issues with the exception of the most recent one were addressed to the satisfaction of the agency.
So why was the oil or material accumulation issue not fixed?
NZ Bus has undertaken an examination of the faults with the assistance of independent expertise over the last 48 hours and identified a gap in our steam cleaning process that allowed these issues to manifest. What this means is that the engine bays were being steam cleaned but not the undersides of the vehicles.
So what have we done about it?
We have taken immediate action to close this process gap and have commenced a program to steam clean the undersides of vehicles.
Buses that were pink stickered will return to service as soon as the fault has been rectified and they have been through a thorough internal testing process and then issued with a Certificate of Fitness.
Safety of our passengers and staff is absolutely paramount which is why when NZTA/CVIU alerted us to the fact there were a number of areas that we needed to address in April/May of this year we took immediate steps which included:
Purchasing 60 new ADL’S at a cost of $24million to allow us to replace older fleet.
Secured all available resources internal and external
Retrained the entire workforce in completion of pre-departure bus checks – These occur every time a bus is scheduled to leave a depot and if the driver identifies any issue it is taken to maintenance
Reviewed our preventative maintenance program and employed additional resources over and above industry standards.
Purchased equipment , engaged contractors and put in place a steam cleaning process
Engaged NZTA/CVIU in education workshops with our maintenance staff to ensure all were up to speed with requirements.
Accelerated the implementation of our new telematics system at a cost of $3m designed to allow us to monitor engine performance , and performance of our drivers who will receive feedback in real time on their driving behaviour:
In locations we have already implemented this system we have seen a major reduction in harsh acceleration, harsh cornering, harsh braking and speed all resulting in a significant improvement to the experience for our customers.
All of our buses have fire suppression systems installed and fire extinguishers on board and customers should have confidence that we do not knowingly allow buses to leave our yards unless they are deemed safe
Lastly, it is important to acknowledge that we are not perfect, but I am proud to lead an organisation of people who are on the journey with me to deliver a positive safety culture, excellence in service to our customers, become a trusted partner, construct a great environment full of opportunities for themselves and their colleagues and deliver sustainable reliable returns to our shareholders.