20 Jul 2012

Bus company director hit by Wellington bus

4:50 pm on 20 July 2012

A Wellington councillor says the central city has to be made safer for pedestrians after a director of the city's bus company became the latest to be struck by a bus.

NZ Bus director Tim Brown is in a serious condition in intensive care in Wellington Hospital with severe head injuries and a collapsed lung after being hit near the corner of Willis and Mercer Streets about 1pm on Thursday.

It is the 10th time a bus has struck a pedestrian since the council removed a long-established pedestrian mall and changed bus routes last year to try to make public transport more efficient.

In one case, a 40-year-old woman died of her injuries. Venessa Green was hit by a bus on Willis Street, close to where Mr Brown was struck, in June last year, and died in hospital.

Former councillor Rob Goulden says it appears most of the accidents are happening in a concentrated area between Manners Street and Willis Street.

Councillor to intensify barrier efforts

Councillor Leonie Gill says she will make further efforts to get the council to try out barriers to prevent pedestrians jay-walking in Manners Mall.

"It gives me impetus to go back into council and say 'would trialling this actually help and what have we got to lose by trialling it'."

Acting mayor Ian McKinnon says as with each of the accidents, an investigation is now underway.

He has visited the site of the latest accident with traffic engineers, to try to work out why it happened.

Mr McKinnon says it happened across the road from where barriers had been placed over repaving work, so the construction work mentioned by some witnesses is not thought to have been a factor.

He says two reports on pedestrian safety will come before the council next month.

He says the council is also waiting for the results of the inquest into Ms Green's death.

Union says central city too dangerous

The Wellington Tramways Union has raised questions about the safety of inner-city Wellington streets, describing the central bus routes as occupational hazards for drivers.

Vice-President Chris Morley says the area is becoming like a shopping mall and is too dangerous for both buses and pedestrians.

He says the area is becoming a shopping mall and is too dangerous to accommodate both buses and pedestrians.

Mr Morley extends his sympathies to Mr Brown and his family, and would be talking on Friday afternoon with the bus driver.

'Prayers with injured man'

Infratil and NZ Bus have issued statements saying their thoughts and prayers are with Mr Brown and his family.

Mr Brown is also a director of the Wellington Airport company and is head of capital markets and economic regulation at infrastructure company Infratil, owner of NZ Bus.

NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames says the company is also supporting the driver concerned and his colleagues.

In a statement, he says NZ Bus has onsite counselling services available to all staff.

The company is beginning an investigation into the cause of the accident, the statement says.