Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Wellington bus network troubles blamed on city's challenges

Michael Cropp , Reporter

Wellington's Regional Council is blaming a perfect storm of new operators, buses, routes, driver shortages and design failures for the shambolic introduction of new bus services a year ago.

Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

While reliability has since improved to 92.5 percent of services leaving on time, it is still just 89.2 percent in the east and west of the city.

The regional council's chief executive, Greg Campbell, told Parliament's Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee this morning the national bus driver shortage and a lack of bus lanes in Wellington were the two biggest road blocks to fixing the capital's bus system.

He said there was nobody to replace drivers who called in sick.

"This leads to cancelled services, often in the peak morning commute and it always seems to be - not on a day like today - but on a wet and windy day," Mr Campbell said.

"While not large in absolute numbers, any cancelled service is not just frustrating for commuters, they can cause subsequent services to be overcrowded or too full to pick up passengers."

Metlink had a joint recruitment campaign underway with bus companies to deal with the shortages, he said.

The challenges around bus priority and dedicated lanes would be addressed as part of the early delivery of the Let's Get Wellington Moving programme, but that work was complicated due to Wellington's hilly geography and constrained layout, he said.

National list MP Nicola Willis said she wanted to know who was accountable for the problems, when around 30 bus services are cancelled each day.

"What accountability measures have you had on your management for failing to deliver on [previously agreed] targets [of 95 percent reliability]? 'Cause let me be very clear it has had a significant impact not only on Wellingtonians everyday, but on the reputation of the bus service and the reliability of it," Ms Willis said.

The regional council's acting chair, Barbara Donaldson, said "that's part of their performance but what we expect them to do is to be working very hard, reporting to us and we're monitoring that all the time".

"We're working with all our partners, so that includes the bus operators, to help them overcome issues in driver recruitment... and we're working with Wellington City Council on bus priority measures, so we're all accountable but we certainly are just working as hard as we can," she said.

While the focus was on fixing the problems rather than attributing blame, "staff are in no doubt that this is part of their performance," Ms Donaldson said.

If everyone was accountable, that meant nobody was actually accountable, said Ms Willis.

Mr Campbell told Ms Willis he rejected that the region was still in the situation that she described.

"You've told a story several times today already about the state of the bus network. I'm afraid you can create a story, I don't have that luxury as chief executive. I have to work within the facts, and I've presented the facts today," Mr Campbell said.

"I do accept dismay at particular circumstances customers experience, and if you really focus it, it comes down to driver shortages and congestion."

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has rejected the Opposition's call for a Crown Observer to help solve Wellington's bus woes.

"At this stage, I have no intention to put in an observer. This thing is fixable and GWRC need to do their job," Mr Twyford said.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Betraying The Kurds

The Americans have now callously thrown the Kurds under the bus and created the ideal conditions for Islamic State to mount a comeback – all done so that Donald Trump can brag on the 2020 campaign trail that he brought the US troops home. How is the current fighting likely to proceed? More>>


Expert Comment: Online Voting Won’t Mean More Engagement

“Overseas experience is that online voting tends to be popular with those who are already likely to vote and who have high levels of digital literacy. It does little to help add new people to the voter pool, and this holds even for young voters.”More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Saudis (Not) Getting Away With Murder

On October 2nd last year, the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, by a hit squad of assassins acting on the orders of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman. More>>

Ellen Rykers on The Dig: Community Conservation – The Solution To The Biodiversity Crisis?

It’s increasingly clear that a government agency alone cannot combat the biodiversity crisis successfully. These grass-roots initiatives are a growing resource in the conservation toolbox. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Saudi Oil Refinery Crisis

So the US and the Saudis claim to have credible evidence that those Weapons of Oil Destruction came from Iran, their current bogey now that Saddam Hussein is no longer available. Evidently, the world has learned nothing from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when dodgy US intel was wheeled out to justify the invasion of Iraq, thereby giving birth to ISIS and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. More>>