Wellington Scoop

Two councils trying to make Wellington buses faster … but not till next year

Press Release – Joint Press Release
The Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Wellington City Council are working together to bring more bus priority to the city from next year in a bid to make public transport faster for its users.

A joint paper from officers at the two councils documents policies and practices and signals the development of a joint action plan for further bus priority through the city to increase reliability and reduce journey times on key bus routes.

Regional Council Chair Chris Laidlaw says while there has been genuine good will from both councils in the past, there has not been the level of shared commitment to city-wide bus priority that there is now.

“Getting our buses moving through the city faster, in dedicated bus lanes and using limited road space in a smarter way will be good for all Wellingtonians. Let’s Get Wellington Moving will eventually deliver a mass transit spine, but we’ve also recognised the need to deliver better bus priority now. Our shared ratepayers want a reliable and efficient bus system and bus priority is pivotal to achieving that. Both councils need to work together on this to be able to deliver successfully,” says Chair Laidlaw.

Wellington City Mayor Justin Lester says the move is necessary and that growing traffic volumes will detract from the city’s amenity and liveability, eroding the things that make Wellington a great place.

“As we grow, we need to ensure we can move more people with fewer vehicles. At the moment many people drive into the city because it is quicker and more reliable than public transport. Those people will only make a shift to public transport if travel speeds, journey times and consistency of service are in place and bus priority will help achieve that.” says Mayor Lester.

There’s strong public support for bus priority too. Metlink’s customer satisfaction survey reported just 61 percent of Wellington City respondents were satisfied with bus travel times – something that bus priority can do something about.

If the paper is agreed, a clear evidence-based and prioritised programme of work will be developed by September. Both councils have been in early discussions with the NZ Transport Agency who will be a key partner in the proposed programme.

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  1. Meredith, 11. June 2019, 17:06

    Was “faster” ever an issue? I thought most of the issues were reliability, availability, enough well paid and rested drivers, pollution.
    Having a bus drive fast past me full as I wait is no use. Having a fast bus with no driver is no use either. Having a fast bus come to a shuddering halt at a hub that never used to slow the journey down is no use either.
    I need a reliable timetable and journey, not a “fast” diesel bus between hubs and on a longer route and slower journey to my destination than before.

  2. Kelly McGonagal, 11. June 2019, 17:07

    Ha! I really doubt 61% of bus users were satisfied. Many years after they spent a fortune working on it (and still managed to totally munt it) they say they’ll have another “prioritized programme of work” for next year and this is a so-called bus priority. It’s like groundhog day.

  3. Greenwelly, 11. June 2019, 17:28

    None of this actually addresses the current bus problems that have still NOT BEEN FIXED …Cancelled and over crowded services and ancient buses on a number of routes. How about they solve the existing problems before moving on to finding new projects, because if the current services and buses on Routes 2, 21, 22 are what we are stuck with until 2028, then heaven help us…..
    And so much for “by early 2019, all our buses will be in the same colours”. These routes look more like licorice allsorts than Limes.

  4. Ms Green, 11. June 2019, 18:55

    I get the impression that the people quoted in the press statement – the politicians and the bureaucrats – just don’t use the buses or even understand the needs of those who do (or did) and the drivers.
    As for all the buses the same colour – I prefer the red buses that we used to have, owned by the ratepayers…whose sole goal was to provide a reliable well used service.

  5. CC, 11. June 2019, 18:59

    Well said Ms Green. Didn’t the Council also build the Big Reds?

  6. Curtis Antony Nixon, 11. June 2019, 22:22

    This story highlights what a stupid, inefficient system we have with a city council and a regional council working at cross-purposes. The best answer would be to disband GWRC and split its functions and authority up amongst the territorial councils. They then could form public transport alliances and multi-council businesses when and if they chose to, while retaining the power and authority over the individual cities or districts.

    One almost thinks that the current dysfunctional structure was created to produce inefficiency and mayhem.

  7. Ruth, 12. June 2019, 5:28

    You know I genuinely don’t mind sitting on a bus a bit longer. I just want a bus to sit on. And preferably one that isn’t belching diesel. Fix the existing problems first.

  8. Marion Leader, 12. June 2019, 7:56

    Yes, Ms Green, we used to call them “Big Reds”. We used to say this affectionately and with a sense of pride. They were working for us in those days, not just to reduce the rates of people in Porirua.

  9. michael, 12. June 2019, 9:51

    “people will only make a shift to public transport if travel speeds, journey times and consistency of service are in place” = isn’t that what the new system was supposed to do?? Isn’t that what Wellington has been going on about for years!
    It’s like a nursery school “here we go round the Mulberry Bush” at the council. For goodness sake stop producing report after report, painting pretty pictures, and telling us how wonderful and clever you all are. Just do it!

  10. Kara Lipski, 14. June 2019, 11:08

    What have GWRC and the Mayor of Wellington City not heard over the last few months? It’s not the speed of the bus system that is the problem. It is the lack of bus services in the peripheral suburbs and direct services to the CBD and hospital from suburbs such as Karori, Mt Victoria and Strathmore Park just to name a few.

    We just want our pre-July 2018 bus service returned to us.

  11. John Rankin, 14. June 2019, 15:29

    @KaraLipski: speed and lack of service are related. According to today’s DomPost, the average speed on some routes is under 10kph, compared to international best practice of 22 kph. If we double our average speed to 20 kph (still below best practice), we can offer twice as much service for the same cost.

    In the absence of additional funding (eg through higher fares or higher rates), the way to pay for additional services is to speed up the existing service. Kara’s right that lack of service is the problem, not speed, but speed is a big part of the solution.

  12. greenwelly, 14. June 2019, 16:16

    @John, yes, but none of this is new,
    “The overall average travel speed in the northbound direction ranges from a low of 9.2 km/h during the PM period to a high of 11.5 km/h during the interpeak.”
    “Average travel speeds for the southbound direction are slightly lower than for the northbound direction.”

    That was from OPUS to the regional council in 2009.
    The Regional Council appear to have NO IDEA how to solve it. New routes and fewer bigger buses (double decker) were the solution 2 years ago, now it’s less private traffic (which is pretty minimal on the route).
    Eventually they are going to finally come out and say the solution is Mass transit and fewer buses.

  13. James S, 14. June 2019, 16:28

    GWRC could also improve speed by simplifying the fare structure and putting information about key fares up at bus stops so at least some people have the correct money available when they board. Even more effective would be to make buses Snapper-only, and to eliminate tapping off except where it’s essential to get a cheaper fare (e.g. journeys in the outer zones only). Drivers should also be reminded to let buses pull out rather than overtaking them when they try.

  14. John Rankin, 14. June 2019, 17:33

    @greenwelly: the Regional Council cannot solve it alone. Bus performance starts with the configuration of the streets the buses run on, which is under WCC’s control. I notice that WCC folk usually point the finger at GW whenever someone asks about the buses. This is not good enough. The two councils need to be working together to figure out how to reconfigure the road space so buses can do their job.

    @JamesS: +1, although I’d go further; with a simpler fare structure there is no reason drivers should have to make change. Exact fare or a transit card only, please. I would also look at a single city-wide bus fare, tap on only, priced so people have an incentive to buy an “all you can eat” monthly subscription.

  15. Dave B, 14. June 2019, 21:01

    Cash-fare, $2 anywhere in the city. Just chuck the coin into a receptical. $1.50 snapper fare anywhere, no tag-off needed. Couldn’t be simpler. Would hurry things up a lot.

  16. Helen, 14. June 2019, 23:05

    Just tell the rotund people that it helps to have their snapper card or whatever payment system they will use ready at hand. You can’t get past them as they fumble around trying to find their card on boarding buses. What do these people think about when they are getting ready to board a bus?

  17. John Rankin, 15. June 2019, 16:37

    @DaveB: and $60 per month buys an “all you can eat” subscription, $30 per month for students and seniors.

  18. Kara Lipski, 16. June 2019, 9:28

    Patience is a good virtue. I often see people pushing past customers who are paying fares. What for?

    As far as bus speed is concerned – there are speed limits on all roads and even buses must adhere to these.

    Slower and smoother rather than faster which results in pulling g’s which send passengers in all directions.

  19. Russel C., 16. June 2019, 11:07

    Walking is a good virtue too Kara. Buses are so slow, so unreliable I just walk. CBD? Just make it free like Melbourne and Adelaide. Easy really. And lots of the buses are so empty going through the golden mile they might as well carry the lethargics for nothing.

  20. Alan, 18. June 2019, 8:30

    With nineteen sets of traffic lights plus seven bus stops between the Interchange and Courtenay Place, and approximately half of the roadway being single carriageway between these two points, how on earth do these people propose to speed up buses. It’s a joke!
    Is it any surprise that on a good day it takes 15 minutes to complete the journey – off peak.