16 Jul 2018

Wellington bus network changes cause lengthy delays for some

8:31 pm on 16 July 2018

Radical changes to the capital's bus network have prompted some commuters to vent their frustration at the delays.

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown this morning Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

Wairarapa bus company Transit took over the contract for half of Wellington city's bus routes on Sunday but its first real test was during this morning's commute.

And there were a few issues. Buses ran late, others didn't show up at all.

Real-time tracking also wasn't working as expected. Bus network company Metlink said it was dealing with teething issues.

Commuter Dion McKenna, was waiting at his usual Berhampore bus stop, wasn't impressed.

"I'm late for work already, there were no buses for about half an hour even though it said four minutes on the sign, so they're not doing too well so far on the number en route," he said.

"Maybe it's buses getting stuck in traffic or not enough drivers, who knows."

Mr McKenna said about 15 people were waiting at a stop in Berhampore and the bus had to pass a number of stops between there and Newtown as it was too full to pick up anyone else.

"A bus used to come past every 10 minutes, but every half an hour a bit of a change, so might be leaving for work a little bit earlier now."

Another commuter from Brooklyn said she had to wait, but was glad to get a seat.

"It took a long time for the bus to come, there was a lot of us waiting, but then we all actually fit on it for once," she said.

"Usually they just drive past here because there's no space, but there was actually room on the double decker."

A new double decker bus

One of the new new double decker buses brought into service on Sunday. Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

Meanwhile, Sarah from Mount Victoria said the new route meant the bus no longer went past her house so she would be unlikely to take it anymore.

"I think I'll be less inclined, it's not convenient anymore. There might be another one I can take but it might just be quicker for me to walk now."

Some were happy

But others had no complaints.

A commuter from Newtown said the new route was now closer to her house and she had no issues this morning.

She said services were worse in the lead up to the change over, when up to 30 services a day were being cancelled.

"There was definitely a lot of queues and lines, I think that was because they had less bus drivers when they were ending their contracts but it was really busy all the time I ended up walking most days.

"Hopefully it will be better now."

Metlink's social media feed also showed mixed feedback.

Some people posted they were excited to ride the new double deckers, while others vented frustration on Twitter about a number of delays.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council said it expected to have up to 60 double decker buses in service this year, including up to 10 electric ones.

Biggest ever bus network change in Wgtn - regional councillor

The Greater Wellington Regional Council is defending the way the wholesale changes to the capital's bus services have been rolled out.

Wellington councillor Daran Ponter told Afternoons it was the biggest change to Wellington's bus network ever and he was generally pleased with how things were going.

"We were giving people cast iron guarantees that there would be issues.

"There have been issues ... with capacity, buses running late, buses bunching together, and one or two instances where buses haven't turned up or the driver has turned left rather than right.

"Those things will be ironed out in the next few weeks."

Mr Ponter said no route or timetable was the same as it was on Friday afternoon, and this afternoon things should calm down with the drivers getting used to the routes.

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