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New bus network a “substantial challenge” but improving

New bus network a “substantial challenge” but improving – independent review

Improvements in Wellington’s new bus services are "ongoing and sustained," an independent review into implementation challenges of the Wellington City and Hutt Valley network has found.

The review, prepared by Australia-based consultants L.E.K. and released today by Greater Wellington Regional Council and The New Zealand Transport Agency, describes the introduction of the new network as a complex undertaking, creating a “substantial challenge.”

The simultaneous implementation of new operators with new fleets, drivers, KPIs and reporting regimes, and a new network with new routes and timetables, new fares and ticketing system resulted in a number of failures which amplified their effect on customers.

The report found that Greater Wellington had a robust governance structure and processes in place and that a significant proportion of the programme was delivered successfully and on time. However, the collective capability of the programme delivery team at the time was “insufficient for the transformational nature of the changes required”.

Aspects of the implementation, such as bus hubs, a complete new bus fleet, achieving an acceptable standard of real time information, and a sufficient number of adequately-trained drivers were delivered late or insufficiently. Greater Wellington also relied on operators to be forthcoming, timely and transparent about their true state of readiness for go-live.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw said progress against the report’s findings was well under way. The council had already identified many of the issues through its own systems which include performance data analysis, working closely with operators, and ongoing dialogue with community groups.
Cr Laidlaw also acknowledged Greater Wellington had fallen short on some of the required areas when implementing the new network, and this had caused regrettable disruption for Wellington City and Hutt Valley bus customers.

“Since July we have been listening and working closely with community groups and operators to increase services, adjust timetables, ensure the right size bus turns up, provide better data and information to the public, and put things right.”
Despite initial issues, the report acknowledged that key performance metrics demonstrate ongoing and sustained improvement. Punctuality improved from 86% to 93%, reliability increased from 94% to 99%, and correct bus size performance rose from 66% to 80%.

Other areas of attention included initial resourcing and capability. The review found that, while the programme team identified skills gaps, essential members of the team were appointed later than required which hampered on-time delivery.

“This combination of factors created significant challenge for operators and Greater Wellington to respond to. The decision to go-live in winter also exacerbated the impact on customers.”

The review, commissioned by Greater Wellington and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), looked at the implementation of the new network, and not the inherent design and philosophy behind it, or the limitations of the PTOM provisions.

Chris Laidlaw said these aspects will be covered in a later stage of the review.


Note for editors:
Progress since 15 July, 2018
Consultation with the community has led to a range of changes since July 15 designed to meet customer needs:
Better performance against timetables
• Improvements to the network performance through timetable adjustments to a number of Tranzurban Wellington city bus routes: 1, 7, 17, 17e, 19, 19e, 23, 23e, 24, 29, 29e, 30x and 32x. Lifting on-time performance to a range of 90.2% to 97.6%.
More bus capacity
• Banker buses deployed.
• Better matching of bus sizes to customer demand
Better targeting of routes
• Route 3: services before 8am now start from Lyall Bay instead of Rongotai, some buses in that area will run more often.
• Route 18e: Introduced off-peak and weekend services between Miramar and Karori to make it easier for many to get to and from the university and hospital.
• Route 2: Deployed extra peak time buses on route 2 between Courtenay Place and Karori and Lambton Quay and Seatoun.
And planned for 2019:
• Route 14: Consultation with Hataitai residents on three direction options and extension to Kilbirnie.
• Introduction of city services to and from Vogeltown, following public consultation.
• Consideration of a trial service to and from Wellington Zoo.
• Improvements, planned for introduction in February, to the network performance of NZ Bus Wellington City bus routes: 2, 3, 12, 12e, 18, 18e, 21, 22, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37.
• Further Tranzurban improvements to Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wellington services planned for New Year.
More effective customer and performance data
• Introduction of Customer Experience team, who travel the length of the network each day observing and speaking to customers, drivers, community groups and reviewing complaint and performance data to help improve service.
• A bus-by-bus review undertaken to ensure GPS signals and the Real-Time Information equipment was installed and functioning correctly.
• Introduction of online reporting. Patronage, reliability and punctuality data for most used routes published weekly on Metlink website.

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