Wellington Scoop

Metlink’s new timetable has fewer peak buses and fewer cancellations

News from Metlink
We’re launching new timetables from 25 July to give customers a more reliable service during the driver shortage. To reduce the number of cancellations some peak services will be less frequent, but there’ll be more off-peak options to choose from.

This also helps us look after our drivers by reducing split shifts, and provides the Metlink community with more certainty and options to get them where they need to be.

Why are we making these changes?

Some of our Metlink Operators are dealing with multiple issues which have significantly impacted on their ability to service our bus network and, as a consequence, over the last 8 months they have had to cancel an increasing amount of peak services on some of our routes, often with very little notice.

Issues impacting some of our Operators include the global pandemic, people who are sick needing to stay home which impacts on driver numbers; the border is still closed due to COVID-19, and our Operators are being hit by labour shortages during the peaks. All of this means we need to reallocate resources across our peak service timetables to better meet demand and provide our communities and customers far greater certainty that timetables can be reliable.

Our Metlink community has told us that current levels of bus cancellations are unacceptable and action needs to be taken.

Therefore Metlink has taken the lead, and we have been working with our Operators to rationalise and redesign the timetables. By doing this, we have been able to reallocate buses and drivers to service runs, which brings more stability right across our network.


  1. Mikaela, 13. July 2021, 22:37

    Wellington cancels buses permanently to prevent buses cancelled temporarily? [via twitter]

  2. TrevorH, 14. July 2021, 8:31

    Mikaela: welcome to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party that is Wellington. “Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards”.

  3. Wellington Commuter, 14. July 2021, 8:56

    As the three year anniversary of our new “improved” bus service approaches on Thursday, it is worth remembering the promise of the regional council: “Wellington’s new bus network promises to be simpler and more reliable” – DomPost 30 May 2018. [via twitter]

  4. Peter Steven, 14. July 2021, 10:02

    Is this satire?

  5. Toni, 14. July 2021, 12:07

    Donald Duck and Goofy could have done a better job. Mind you this statement sounds like something they may have written.

  6. Mike Mellor, 14. July 2021, 17:24

    Given the shortage of drivers, this actually makes sense. Metlink and the operators know that they won’t be able to operate all services at peak times, so instead of random, unpredictable cancellations they are making predictable ones that people can plan around.

    Details are here, including reductions during the peaks when the need for drivers, and hence the shortage, is greatest, but also some additional services off-peak when drivers are available. Additions include a new express service, route HX, running from Wellington station to the hospital in the morning peak and back in the afternoon peak, with just one intermediate stop, at Jervois Quay a.m. and Wakefield St p.m.; and doubling off-peak daytime service on routes 17, 23, 24 and 29, reinstating service cuts made last year.

    It’s easy to make snarky remarks, much more difficult to run a transport service – and fortunately GW/Metlink leadership and management are not the same as they were three years ago.

  7. Cr Daran Ponter, 14. July 2021, 18:28

    Thanks for your independent view Mike. More changes will be coming for the NZ Bus portion of the network in a few weeks.

  8. Mikaela, 15. July 2021, 23:04

    We shouldn’t need to say this, but more buses at the times fewer people want does not make up for fewer buses at the times more people want. [via twitter]

  9. Graham Atkinson, 19. July 2021, 18:57

    It may come as a surprise but at the moment loadings on Peak Hour buses are well below preCovid levels even allowing for the high number of cancellations so the tweaking of timetables will probably not lead to passengers not being accommodated (and preCovid many buses ran late due to traffic congestion which is much reduced these days)

  10. Christopher John Calvi-Freeman, 25. July 2021, 13:24

    @Mikaela: “We shouldn’t need to say this, but more buses at the times fewer people want does not make up for fewer buses at the times more people want.”

    In fact travel patterns have changed. As Graham Atkinson has said, there are now fewer peak-hour commuters. More people nowadays work from home, or come into work at different times, perhaps just for a meeting or a half-day. Bus planning used to revolve around a very “peaked” demand pattern – just about everyone used to commute to town 7-9am and come home 4-6pm, and there were relatively few services provided for anyone else. This meant lots of buses and drivers underutilised outside of peak hours. The new timetables address this by “right-sizing” the service pattern.

    I was disappointed, however, to see that the promised doubling of “daytime off peak” frequencies on routes 17, 23, 24, 29 has been limited to weekdays only. I guessed this would be the case, as it’s sensible to utilise drivers that would otherwise be underutilised between the peaks, but I was also hoping for a doubling of the daytime weekend services. Metlink: please use the correct terminology in future: i.e. “weekday interpeak” or if that’s confusing, “weekday daytime off-peak”.

    And Mike, I agree with you – designing and operating a bus service as complex as Wellington’s is no easy task. After the bustastrophe of 2018, GWRC/Metlink are slowly but surely making amends.

  11. bsmith, 26. July 2021, 7:48

    Cutting services, when they preach everybody should use public transport. What a joke.

  12. Traveller, 26. July 2021, 8:47

    No complaints about cutting number 7 morning peak services from 7/8 minutes to ten minutes – every ten minutes is fine. Specially if they deliver on their “no more cancellations” promise.

  13. Mickey mouse, 26. July 2021, 12:18

    But yesterday was the date when “fewer cancellations” came in. I went to catch the bus and the real time thing said “CAN.” Does that mean cancelled? It seemed to, as no bus came and none was scheduled for 45 minutes. Does SCHED mean it’s scheduled but it might (or might not) come? NIS is definite – it’s not in service whatever that means (though the bus is on the road).

    And about that airport bus. Is it completely CAN and/or SCHED and/or NIS?