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What can we afford?

by Lindsay Shelton
I was out of town last week, up in the Coromandel hoping to take a break from Wellington issues. I chose the wrong week – almost every day of the holiday was interrupted by surprising or even disturbing headlines from the capital.

It began with the Regional Council (which had earlier said it was planning for “safer, greener transport”) announcing a new bus service to the airport, but then confessing it won’t be starting the service until April. Till then, we remain a capital city with no public transport from our airport.

And the week ended with Andy Foster amazing us by saying that LGWM was not set up to deliver what the city needs, comments which he made after a report (weirdly titled a ‘health report’) which said that LGWM is at risk of failure because of capability gaps and under resourcing and a need to address affordability and delivery constraints. The report said there was “little evidence of detailed design, operationalisation (there’s a word) or implementation.”

Neither RNZ nor the DomPost explained where the report had come from, but the mayor thanked his CEO and the LGWM board for commissioning it. Is the board now accepting responsibility for the failures outlined in the health report?

A few weeks earlier, the DomPost’s Damian George had reported (and not for the first time) on some of the LGWM failures to deliver, including the fact that work on a new long-awaited pedestrian crossing on Cobham Drive was supposed to have started last year; instead, all we’re getting is more public consultation sometime this year.

Early last week, the Regional Council asked us to tell it what we think of the bus and train services provided by its Metlink company. But on the same day as it appealed for this information, it told us it had completed a survey in which customer satisfaction had risen to 94 per cent. How much more satisfaction does it need to be told about? Is it suspicious of its survey? Or are there different departments inside the council, working separately from each other?

Then there were the rates. In a wordy press release, the city council said its long term plan had two pillars – resilience and infrastructure – and needed capital investment “the largest the city had ever made.” Then a thousand words later it revealed that councillors have been told they must increase the rates by 14 per cent or 17 per cent or 23 per cent. In the words of an old popular song: which will they choose? None of the increases sounded acceptable, especially for ratepayers (so many of them) on fixed incomes, even if they recognise that the breaking pipes need fixing.

Mayor Andy, never at a loss for words, qualified this open-ended forecast by saying the council must ensure “we do not spend more than we can afford.” A wise statement no doubt, but challengeable at a time when work on the unpopular convention centre and its empty exhibition spaces (are they really affordable?) continues unabated.

He also said the city council has had to make some hard decisions, but he didn’t share any of these with us, leaving us to guess what the council has decided it can’t afford to pay for – whatever new level of rates is being considered. Affordable or unaffordable.

35 comments:

  1. Alan, 15. February 2021, 10:54

    April for a new Airport Flyer? You have been away too long Lindsay. The latest is the middle of NEXT year.

     
  2. Local, 15. February 2021, 11:54

    Alan you are correct. A Regional Council statement (one of many rather unhelpful statements on transport over the last week or so) said we will have an airport bus after July 2022 after tenders have been called and considered and more and more consultation with us! July 22 is just before next year’s local body election, as it happens.
    Unfortunately this does not marry up with a GraemeCA comment which said that tenders had been called by WIAL (the mayor is a Board member) and one awarded to Tranzit. Does that mean that ratepayers (through a lesser dividend) will be liable for a cancelled contract?

    Why did the mayor in a Feb 9 GWRC statement say he was delighted to “be part of the conversation”…and presumably welcome another calling of a further tenders this time by GWRC. Do we really need or want more and more “conversation”.

    How many politicians does it take to get a bus to go to the airport? I for one (of many) need a bus to and from the airport of the Capital City of NZ well before the local body election … actually I need it in five days’ time.
    This is all just irresponsible and plain ridiculous.

     
  3. Concerned Wellingtonian, 15. February 2021, 12:22

    A most worrying point is the statement from Mayor Foster saying “the city council has had to make some hard decisions.” When and how did it make these “hard decisions”? What resolutions were passed and which of our lavishly inclined councillors voted to spend so much?
    Will somebody please ask for this “official” information and let us know the answers?

     
  4. David Mackenzie, 15. February 2021, 13:12

    “Operationalisation” is a gem of a word. Does it mean “putting to work”, or something like that? Working or operating is not what anything emerging from the recondite decision-making factory of the council has achieved in living memory.

    Movement to the airport, a vital transport hub should merely cover costs, not be a money-making venture. In fact the whole air-port should exist to facilitate movements not to add costs to them.

     
  5. Mike Mellor, 15. February 2021, 14:20

    Local, apparently while Wellington Airport had selected Tranzit to operate the Airport Flyer replacement bus, no contract had in fact been signed.

    One factor that makes the airport service different from every other bus service in the region is that Wellington Airport controls access to its site, and charges commercial operators to use it, with NZ Bus paying about $250,000 a year for the right to operate the Flyer. When both were majority owned by Infratil it could be seen as just a paper transaction, but when Infratil sold NZ Bus it became real money.

    It’s unclear to me why GWRC is consulting about providing an airport bus route, since the Regional Public Transport Plan dating from 2014 already allows for such a service to be provided from Wellington Station if NZ Bus gives notice to withdraw the Flyer, as it did last November.

     
  6. bsmith, 15. February 2021, 15:47

    I will tell you what we cant afford..any more cycle paths.

     
  7. Gwynneth Jansen, 15. February 2021, 17:08

    Today we hear that work on the Central Library renewal project may be put off until 2024 or 2025. Is that one of the ‘hard decisions’?

    I find it more and more difficult to have any trust in the WCC and its officers who continue to work on projects that I don’t think are important (the Convention Centre), outsource consulting on matters that don’t matter (Coolest little Capital or Wellington … it’s a little bit sh^!), use public consultation as a way to bypass action and generally spend a lot of time on the “look over there’ school of local government.

    It is critical that we focus on the three waters, housing and transport and stop marking time.

     
  8. Local, 15. February 2021, 17:26

    Mike Mellor: I quote here GrahamCA on this site, just 12 days ago. He is one who knows:

    “The “background” ignores the facts that the NZ Bus contract was due to expire and the Airport Company had called for tenders for a new service. Several operators, including NZ Bus, reportedly expressed interest and, according to media reports at the time, two companies were invited to submit formal tenders after which WIAL announced they had awarded the contract to Tranzit. NZ Bus immediately announced the termination of the current operation.

    So for the past four or five months Tranzit have been working on acquiring new vehicles for the defined service only to discover, apparently, that the officers of the GWRC had been working diligently to replace a commercial service with a ratepayer/taxpayer funded operation”

    So who and what to believe? Quite frankly, I just do not believe that there needs to be all these shenanigans.

    In reality we are talking about one busstop.We have the buses-they came from Auckland, dirty smelly diesels, and apparently Tranzit has sought some new ones.

    It’s no wonder Wellington’s pipes can’t be fixed, LGWM is going nowhere, the future housing needs for Wellington are based on inaccurate perpetually changing population projections, and half of civic centre is going to be demolished.
    What exactly are our rates for? Paying for procrastination, consultation and conversations over and over.

    One more busstop is all we want and a bus to stop there.

     
  9. Pseudopanax, 15. February 2021, 17:36

    The simple reason why there is no bus service to the airport is because WIAL do not want public transport taking away potential parking revenue..their biggest earner! The WCC as a minority shareholder has a glaring conflict of interest… it’s the dosh or the bus!

     
  10. Helene Ritchie, 15. February 2021, 17:47

    Really? The Central Library could have been fixed and opened 8 years ago when engineers commissioned by the staff recommended thid in a report which I happened to “come upon” which was never presented to Council. It was never damaged by an earthquake (according to one of original architects who stated this at a public meeting 2019), contrary to a the myth perpetuated by the Council in the recent consultations over what to do with it after Council suddenly closed it.
    It could still be fixed and opened for about a quarter of the cost of the ‘nice to have new build’ library project voted by the Council, if that is no longer affordable. (What has changed in the few months since that vote? The fiscal challenges must have been known by the Council then.)
    But because the library has been deliberately left derelict for so long now, the interior is likely in much worse shape, and with most of the books etc. have been carted away to some warehouse in the back of Johnsonville. I despair at such civic vandalism. Dereliction comes to mind….

     
  11. Andrew, 15. February 2021, 17:49

    As much as I dislike the convention centre and those that pushed it through… the horse has bolted.

    Move on to other projects or events that we think the council should be delaying or cancelling.

     
  12. Michael Gibson, 15. February 2021, 18:46

    If only Helene was still on the Council!
    Her contribution above just shows how useless the present lot are.

     
  13. Cr Daran Ponter, 15. February 2021, 19:17

    @ Local. Let me try and shed some light on the Airport bus service. To date this has been a commercial service – nothing to do with Metlink. It was operated by NZ Bus on contract to the Airport – a contract formed at a time when the Airport Company and NZ Bus were both owned by Infratil.

    In mid 2018 NZ Bus “revamped” the Flyer Service – this involved ripping out the Snapper machines, removing the RTI capability and jacking up the price. Consequence = patronage fell through the floor way before Covid appeared on our shores. In fact, by my estimate NZ Bus could not have done a better job to kill off the service. The Airport Company meantime sat idly by….because they get their clip of the ticket regardless of patronage. In the end NZ Bus made the only decision they could – they exited at about the time when their contract fell due. They must surely have been bleeding money to this point – in fact the only bright spot is likely to have been the $$$ received from advertising revenue.

    In anticipation that the contract was coming to an end, the Airport Company tendered for a new service provider – result was that Tranzit were selected as preferred provider but no contract was formed. Why? Well air travel has flat lined to a new level and does not look likely to move from that level for six months or more – perhaps not too compelling a commercial case if you also have to order new buses and take all the risk.

    Under the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) GWRC is discouraged from running subsidised services if there is already a commercial service in place. I.e. as long as NZ Bus operated the Airport Flyer it would have been difficult (read nigh on impossible) to get NZTA to commit to a service – I.e. to pay their share.

    GWRC supports the need for a reliable airport service that is properly bolted into the Metlink network. While we are not looking to step in whenever a commercial service falls over we need to prepare for when air service patronage takes off again (yes, I know – a pun). Turns out it’s not quite as simple as whipping down to the bus depot and directing a set of buses to start running between the Airport and the Rail station. Here are some of the processes we need to work through:

    A) if we want to tender a route it needs to be part of a PTOM unit …. and there is no unit between these two points – so first off a PTOM unit has to be created and there is a prescribed process for doing this – a process that the government has prescribed in the Public Transport Operating Model (remember that if we deviate from the model we are unlikely to get the appropriate government contribution for the service). So, last week we started the process to confirm the PTOM unit and you now have the opportunity to make your thoughts known on this in your feedback on the draft Wellington Regional Public Transport Plan – www://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/public-transport-plan-2021

    B) before we embark on the PTOM unit process, we need to confirm arrangements with the Airport Company – this is their property and we have no rights over their facilities so we have to negotiate access for Metlink buses…. and wouldn’t you know it, the Airport Company will be looking to clip the ticket – so this is a negotiation process with GWRC looking for the best deal for users and ratepayers and the Airport Company looking for the best deal for its shareholders (which ironically includes WCC).

    C) once the PTOM unit is confirmed we are then obligated to tender for the service – the same as for all other subsidised bus services. That process will take several months to allow operators to organise to put tenders forward, and then a few more months to evaluate the tenders – which often involves quite a lot of fact checking etc.

    D) once a contract is formed with a preferred provider, the provider then has to turn around and order new buses for the route – remember that we are not accepting any more diesels into the fleet so these will be new electric which are speced for this route (luggage racks etc).

    E) Order time for new electrics is at least 6 months, based on the two orders totalling 98 electric buses recently made for Metlink buses.

    Once you have done all of this…. roll on mid-2022. In the meantime patronage remains very low.

    Alternative? Wait around for a commercial operator to form an agreement with the Airport Company and trust that it will be a lasting agreement providing an appropriate level of frequency and price.

    Some additional points:
    a) new service will have snapper and RTI
    b) GWRC would look to find a price point that attracts more people onto the Airport Service… but it is unlikely to be the same $5 cash fare as per the No 2 Route (the Airport Company will make sure of this).

    Mike Mellor makes a valid point. We are consulting on the proposed service because we are now in the very real situation of having to commit ratepayer funds. In the light of many other priorities the question to people from the Wellington Region is how much do you value this service?

    Hope this clarifies some issues, as well as introducing you to the complications of the NZ Public Transport Operating Model (which we have asked to be reviewed!).

     
  14. Toni, 15. February 2021, 23:32

    Forget the hard decisions – there is one very easy solution, and that is to immediately withdraw the rest of the WCC $1.3 billion going to LGWM, especially when our Mayor has said it is not up to delivering what the city needs. So why are we wasting anymore money on something that is not delivering when the city is in a funding crisis.

     
  15. Local, 16. February 2021, 9:29

    Gosh Daran. Patronage is actually non existent. No bus. No patronage. Please do not ask me to submit anything on this. It is plainly ridiculous to consult “because it is ratepayer’s money…” every time. I just need a bus not another explanation:

    Step one: Get bus from bus shed
    Step two: Put up sign that says “Busstop”
    Step three: Pay a small amount to WIAL for the busstop (or ask them to be a good Wellington citizen for free – this is not a major source of their income.
    Step four: Allow Gold card (Govt subsidised)
    Step five: Agree to take cash or eftpos on the bus. Forget about Snapper complications – passengers from outside Wellington don’t have Snapper.
    Step six: Put up plastic covered timetables so that people know when the bus is coming and going.

    OR:

    Just amend the Number 2 route by one extra stop.

    Go on I dare you to take action. By tomorrow or maybe the next day. After all it’s only a busstop. Can the council organise a bus stop?

     
  16. Daran Ponter, 16. February 2021, 11:01

    @ Local Good luck with that. Welcome to PTOM and the bureaucracy of public transport administration. And don’t forget that at the end of the day your proposal involves using ratepayer and taxpayer funds (which is not a reason for not acting, but it is a reason to be cautious).

    Regarding amending the Route 2 – negotiation required with Wellington Airport to put Metlink buses on their premises (again they will clip the ticket). This is their land – we have no rights on their premises. I’ll leave it for you to explain to No 2 users why their journeys will now take 10 minutes longer.

    At this stage the No 2 to/from Broadway will remain the primary public bus service to and from the Airport. The Airport now have an enhanced shuttle service (Co-op taxis) which is offering competitive fares to the City.

     
  17. Ruth, 16. February 2021, 12:00

    Well here’s yet another problem with having given WIAL Stewart Duff Drive which was previously a public road. If we had kept it as it was, a bus could have driven along it and stopped for free.

     
  18. greenwelly, 16. February 2021, 13:12

    @Ruth, According to this, WIAL were never given Stewart Duff Drive, it’s not (and never was?) a legal road in any sense public or private.

     
  19. Dave B, 16. February 2021, 17:14

    Does the No2[S] Seatoun bus have to run to Broadway via Miramar shops? The No2[M] Miramar bus already services the Miramar shops. Can the No2[S] not run via Calabar Road and have an airport stop just as it turns into Broadway? This is as close it can get to the airport without encroaching on WIAL’s sacred turf and incurring their ridiculous penalty. True, this would halve the frequency of service at Miramar shops, but it would significantly speed up the Seatoun service.

    And can’t WCC (as a significant WIAL shareholder) put pressure on WIAL’s miserly management to stop penalizing public transport access to a major public-transport facility? Or perhaps the government should step in and nationalize the airport.

     
  20. Hugh Rennie QC, 16. February 2021, 17:30

    An airport bus service does not require subsidy or other public funds. The previous one did not. It need not be “bolted into” the Metlink network. It does not much matter whether it takes Snapper, which has had its day. Paywave cards will soon replace it and similar “one use only” cards, as is already happening overseas. I used the old service regularly on business and also some vacation travel until it was collapsed in 2018. Once it was removed from Metlink’s “sometimes it works” sign system, you did not know when it would arrive. Both Wellington and Regional Councils have allowed WIAL (one third owned by WCC) to capture stealthily all control of the airport area then charge monopoly prices. The current District Plan has as an airport objective: “10.2.4.4 Strengthen the identity of the Broadway area as an important gateway to the airport and to the residential suburbs of Strathmore and Seatoun.” Instead the Council surrendered the public road (Stewart Duff Drive) to WIAL and did nothing to preserve that gateway for our use, including for bus transport. Was that road ever legally closed, or the land paid for by WIAL?The non-airfare cost of using the airport has risen and risen. WCC would do better to sell its ineffective shareholding, use its powers to recover the gateway area for public use, celebrate the unsubsidised bus service which would undoubtedly start within days, and start holding WIAL to account for its monopoly charging.

     
  21. NigelTwo, 16. February 2021, 20:35

    @Local, I totally agree with your comments re “a bus and a busstop”. Seems we need a dedicated Transport Authority and leave the Regional Council to count eels and riparian plantings.

     
  22. Mike Mellor, 16. February 2021, 22:04

    Thanks for that clarification, Daran.

    A further clarification on the history of the Flyer: as has been said, if we don’t understand history we’re condemned to repeat it.

    Until 2018 GWRC advertised the Flyer as a Metlink service, including RTI and Snapper. With the 2018 changes GWRC decided that commercial services like the Flyer should no longer be part of the Metlink network (and so not have access to RTI and Snapper): it was this decision that resulted in the NZ Bus changes, with the consequences that you describe. (By contrast, in Auckland the similarly commercial Skybus continues to accept AT’s Hop card and appear on RTI.)

    So the proposed airport bus changes can be seen as part of the welcome roll back, under new GWRC leadership and new Metlink management, of the parts of the 2018 changes that were poorly designed, implemented and communicated.

    But I still don’t understand why there has to be consultation about the creation of an airport PTOM unit. The units specified in current Regional Public Transport Plan include one called Airport, with the comment “In the event that NZ Bus ceases operating the existing service, a service from Wellington Station to Wellington Airport would be provided under contract to GWRC”. The former has happened, so why not proceed direct to the latter?

    Dave B, Local, NigelTwo: thanks for suggesting/supporting major reductions in service to residential areas of the eastern suburbs. Which of your local routes would you like slashed to support a much fewer number of long-distance passengers?

    Hugh R: Bank cards/paywave will eventually supplement (soon, I hope) and perhaps replace (later) Snapper cards, but provision will have to be made for those without bank accounts, such as children. And there will still need a back office function to ensure that things like transfers, discounts (e.g. off-peak, children, SuperGold) and ultimately daily/weekly capping are included, something that bank cards on their own cannot handle. There’s much more to a fare system than the card used for payment!

    According to WCC, Stewart Duff Drive was never a public road (see greenwelly’s reply above), so it was never surrendered or closed, and it could not have been preserved as a gateway.

     
  23. Ross Clark, 17. February 2021, 0:12

    Some additional thoughts:

    * Airports do not make a lot of money off their runway asset, as this charge tends to be subject in most jurisdictions to price regulation.

    * Airports do make a lot of money off parking and terminal retail – the famous quip about Heathrow Airport was that it was the UK’s biggest shopping mall, just with two runways added on.

    * The biggest barrier to more use of the airport bus, is luggage. That’s why people drive, or take a taxi or shuttle. This principle applies to rail as well.

    * To make the bus service work better, the frequency needs to be hiked, and significantly – at least every ten minutes and right through the day as well; as airport demand is nowhere near as peaked as most bus demand. People don’t like waiting, ever. It also needs to be run as an express, and not used for ‘local’ journeys.

     
  24. Hugh Rennie QC, 17. February 2021, 8:19

    Before the rebuild of Wellington Airport, completed in 1958, there was no road from Calobar Road to Moa Point. The new airport changed then from a mainly east-west airport along Lyall Bay, to a North-South airport, and the road came into existence on land owned by the Council and Central Government. As was not uncommon, it was public road on public land not dedicated as a street. The Council retained surplus land to the west and leased and then sold it (now the Retail Centre). The road was renamed Stewart Duff Drive in 1977 to honour the Councillor. In 1989 the airport assets came under the control of the Wellington Airport Authority (set up to take over the trading operation of WCC) and in 1990 this was corporatised by the Wellington Airport Act 1990. The council transferred its land to the new company, as did the government; but WCC failed to legalise the road as part of that. In 1998 the government sold its majority stake in the company to Infratil. Again the Council failed to act, so when WIAL in 2012 started to take control (there were protests at the time) public access to the terminal was lost and WIAL’s current charging regime (and exclusion of transport services) became possible. The Council (and/or NZTA in relation to SH1, which stops illogically at the roundabout) did nothing. It would still be possible for the Council to take the required land for a transport gateway. The Council’s 2013 letter, as usual, tells only part of the story.

    As for payment cards, current Pay Wave card technology can already deliver to consumers all the requirements cited by Mr Mellor as needed.

     
  25. GK, 17. February 2021, 10:45

    @ Mike M, Snapper & the Airport Flyer:
    Removal of Snapper was entirely an NZBUS decision . They chose not to replace the old Snapper fare computers with new Snapper fare computers required for the upgraded system. As bus real time info is integrated with the fare computer, that disappeared too. Snapper is still used on the commercial (i.e. non-Metlink) Wellington Cable Car.

     
  26. Helene Ritchie, 17. February 2021, 10:55

    I was Chair of the Wellington Airport Authority for eight years from 1980-88, and Chair of all the Airports in New Zealand when Minister Prebble of the then labour Government endeavoured to privatise and sell off all airports, including Wellington as one of the first proposed privatisation and sale of public assets.
    I and we resisted that on the grounds that the airport is a strategic asset for Wellington and should remain in public hands.
    We were partially successful then and stalled the corporatizing and sale of the airport. The inevitable progression of change since has been ably outlined by Hugh Rennie QC.

    The primary role of an airport should be to provide landing and parking for planes as part of a transport service for the public, not to exploit its monopoly position. This has been often argued before the Commerce Commission.

    An airport bus is an extension of that transport service-to be provided by either the Airport company (WIAL) of which Wellington City Council is a one third shareholder, or GWRC (Metlink) and its public transport provision.

    The objective, a simple one, is to ensure that there is a bus to take passengers reliably and regularly from the Airport busstop to Wellington City (and maybe the Hutt).

    I have followed closely the discussion about the loss of the Airport bus and now comment and summarise:

    It’s good that the chair of GWRC has explained the difficulty he sees his organisation is facing. But (until/if they change their approach),
    Metlink and GWRC appear to be the problem not the solution,

    From the various Wellington.Scoop contributions a coherent solution has emerged. I summarise:
    That WIAL had advertised for tenders and was on the cusp of awarding of (or did?) a tender to Tranzit.
    That Tranzit say they may have buses soon
    That GWRC/Metlink also have buses
    That GWRC has already identified an airport bus route in Transport Plan(s)
    That there is no need to consult further with the public.
    That WIAL can readily provide a busstop (In fact an identified busstop is already there at the airport-even with seats!).
    That WIAL should consider not charging the airport bus for its busstop, as a public service.
    That Goldcard (already subsidised by Government) needs to be able to be used.
    That Snapper card does not need to be used.
    That passengers could use eftpost or cash.
    That a passenger timetable could be easily be made visible at all places where the bus would stop.

    In other words, there are buses, there is a busstop (s), there is way of passengers paying. All we need is a decision.

    Finally, this is not the most important issue facing us today, but it is an issue. I have a certain impatience with elected and appointed bodies wasting precious time and resources when they are tasked with providing public services and should do so.

     
  27. Ruth, 17. February 2021, 16:38

    Thank you for that full explanation of Stewart Duff Drive Hugh. That was also my understanding- that it was originally a public road but WCC failed to legalise it. I didn’t realise they had had so many opportunities to correct this and still could. This decision means that there is only one exit off the Peninsula and it is far too busy. This busyness has now been compounded by the bus debacle and of course the possibly upcoming effects of the Shelly Bay development have made getting off the Peninsula quite difficult.

     
  28. Mike Mellor, 17. February 2021, 17:35

    Hugh R: paywave can do those things, but it needs a supporting third-party back-office function. So, for example in London (a leader in paywave transport ticketing) the transactions are processed by TfL’s Oyster system before going through to the paywave supplier(s) for invoicing.

    On its own, all paywave can do is process individual transactions according to the vendor’s product-specific instructions. In general it has no customer-specific information except about the overall validity of the card, so it can’t take into account such things as the status of individual passengers or their travel history, and transfers, passes, discounts etc that are an essential feature of transport smartcard ticketing systems like Snapper are not possible.

    GK: removing Snapper was certainly an NZ Bus decision, but the context was GWRC’s decision for the Flyer to no longer be a Metlink service. The February 2019 item from GWRC that you link to says “Although the Airport Flyer is not a Metlink service it had been using Snapper which meant Metlink were able to provide tracking information on behalf of the operator NZ Bus”, but it omits to say that the Flyer had been using Snapper because until the previous July GWRC was describing and treating it as a Metlink service.

     
  29. Cr Daran Ponter, 17. February 2021, 20:07

    @ Helene Ritchie. Good to know that GWRC is the problem Helene – – early declaration of your intentions for 2022 Council elections?

    No contract between the Airport and Tranzit Helene, and it seems that there was unlikely to be one in the current COVID environment. Nothing stopping them proceeding. The big winner here regardless of what solution arises is the Airport company … they clip the ticket on anything. In the meantime the Airport company has formed an agreement with Co-op taxis for more shuttles (which seem quite competitive). I welcome your comments on the draft Public Transport Plan.

    @ Hugh Rennie. In later years the Airport Flyer Service was poorly used … because the price had been jacked up and Snapper removed (which is linked to RTI). We were already seeing a patronage uplift on the No 2, despite it being less convenient (though much cheaper).

    Low patronage through the Hutt at least is the main reason that the Airport tender only specified Railway Station to Airport (where the previous service had run to Queensgate).

     
  30. NigelTwo, 17. February 2021, 20:13

    @Mike Mellor. What is the Transport Planning 101 response to a “major reductions in service” threat? Bigger buses, more frequent buses, removal of busstops, or introduce an Express service maybe? Does an Express service on an existing route need all this PTOM palaver? I don’t know, I’m just a bus user.

     
  31. Ray Chung, 17. February 2021, 20:19

    Some really interesting and informative comments here, primarily on the airport bus service and thank you for these. Helene, would you please consider running for Council or GWRC next year! I like your common sense and ability to prioritise issues.

    It seems to me that this council is continuing digging itself into a real muddle and reinforcing the earlier comments, failing to come up with a coherent strategy. None of these issues seem to query whether the council has the right people? What is the CEO doing about trying to reduce costs and increase efficiency? I’d advocate an immediate freeze on salaries and headcount in the council until they can write a reduced budget to obviate any of these ridiculous increases. First of all, did the mayor and any of the councillors consider the cost of introducing Maori wards before voting to proceed with this? Here’s an idea, let’s freeze all projects that the councillors come up with until the election next year and they can tell the public what they’ll push for if re-elected and see how many ratepayers vote for them. It should be mandatory that they identify what these projects before we vote.

     
  32. Trish, 18. February 2021, 9:39

    I was thinking that sorting out the airport bus should be put to one side until all of the Get Wellington Moving proposals are finalised and implemented. But I’ll be dead by then.

     
  33. Dave B, 18. February 2021, 14:13

    So is there anything to stop Metlink introducing NOW, an airport bus that doesn’t quite make it to the airport (until sense prevails at WIAL), but loops around via Caledonia St, Hobart St, Broadway and Calabar Road, with a new close-as-possible, “airport” stop and shelter outside Burger King? 5-6 mins walk from there to the airport terminal with a reasonably smooth route for wheeling luggage. Not ideal but better than no airport bus at all for at least another year, and faster and closer than the existing No2. Would also provide a useful express service linking the railway station, southern CBD and eastern suburbs. As soon as the iniquitous ‘ticket-clipping’ issue is fixed at WAIL (misspelling intended), then it could run into the airport as it should.

     
  34. Hugh Rennie QC, 18. February 2021, 16:30

    MM: After 23 years on the boards of payment systems providers (major bank, card issuer) in NZ, I have some understanding of what paywave (and Apple Pay etc) can do. In Sydney, paywave already works for adult fares using payment systems provided by CBA, across multiple transport types, multiple providers, and varied fares. There are other examples in Asia especially Korea and Singapore, some cities in the USA. It takes a transition process, to get from ‘one off” cards like Snapper to the major paywave systems. Those card providers meet vendor requirements by offering a smorgasbord of features. They hold credit, address, age, and much other information – instantly accessible if needed when a card is used. Existing systems manage transfers, capping, etc. However as has been a repeat pattern over the years, it seems we will wait and wait for some public transport agency to build its own system … We must not wait for another example of the NZ weakness of trying to custom-design what is already available.

    Dave B: Lets do it!

    By the way, if it’s a nice sunny day and you have only carry-on baggage, it’s a fun stroll from the terminal, then under the airport, to catch a bus in Kilbirnie (apart from the difficulty in finding the tunnel entrance).

     
  35. Ruth, 18. February 2021, 16:44

    @Dave B. A great idea. They could even add an undercover walkway through to where the airport starts. I’d catch it.