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Safety first as Wellington buses go digital

Safety first as Wellington buses go digital

Wellington’s bus fleet is set to complete its digital makeover as analogue radios become a relic of history under a $1.3m communications upgrade to boost passenger and driver safety.

All Valley Flyer buses have now transitioned to cutting edge digital radio technology developed with New Zealand firm TeamTalk, with the Go Wellington fleet on track to be completed this month. NZ Bus is the only public transport operator in New Zealand to be equipped with the new technology.

NZ Bus Chief Executive Zane Fulljames says the upgrade of the Wellington fleet of 382 buses has been undertaken without interruption to services.

“Our continued investment in fleet reflects our focus on delivering the reliable, quality and safe public transport services that Wellington deserves. The digital system we have employed is highly advanced, with superior geographical reach, GPS and a range of automated capabilities including voice record and playback,” says Mr Fulljames.

Drivers also now have access to two individual emergency buttons. These can be activated in conjunction with a live microphone enabling drivers to seek urgent help for themselves and passengers in exceptional circumstances.

All buses are connected to a central radio control room, with NZ Bus staff responding to driver calls with relevant advice and guidance. Drivers have four priority buttons available to them – P1 being an emergency, down to P4 being low priority. The radio control room deals with calls according to these priority settings.

The new capabilities also mean that, theoretically, an Auckland control room could manage all vehicles operating on Wellington routes, and vice versa, in the event of a natural disaster.

Mr Fulljames says the transition to digital radio is just one initiative NZ Bus has undertaken to ensure its safety procedures are industry best practice.

“Earlier this year we completed a full review of our fleet and maintenance programme, and made a number of improvements as a result, to make sure we weren’t just meeting the regulatory requirements, but exceeding them.”

All drivers have also been trained in pre-departure checks so they feel equipped to assess the condition of the bus they are driving every day and report faults that require attention.

“Our buses each do 100,000kms a year, so it is to be expected that mechanical faults will and do eventuate. Our focus is on ensuring any faults can be identified and rectified immediately,” Mr Fulljames says.

“We host 20 million passenger trips every year and our track record attests that safety is an absolute priority. The adjustments we have made to our maintenance programme, increased staff training and the addition of the new digital radio system, ensure we are operating under the highest industry standards.”

ENDS

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