7 Aug 2018

Wellington council to hold meetings for fed-up bus commuters

10:38 am on 7 August 2018

Three weeks on from the launch of Wellington's new bus network, some frustrated passengers have given up and reverted back to driving or catching a taxi instead.

One of the new buses being rolled out in Wellington.

One of the new buses being rolled out in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The Wellington Regional Council has been forced to hold a series of public meetings for residents in the city's eastern and western suburbs sick of overcrowded buses, missed connections and buses that fail to show.

In the first two weeks of the new bus service there were 1300 complaints.

A spokesperson for the Wellington Regional Council said the numbers were now declining as problems were ironed out.

But they are still holding at least three public meetings later this month for people who are unhappy with bus services.

Student Celeste Fontein is one of them.

She used to catch the bus right outside her home in Houghton Bay and be at university within 30 minutes but now the trip takes three times as long.

"We've had quite a few problems getting into uni, we have to take about three buses and often the connections are late and coming back the connections sometimes don't even show up.

"I've been left stranded in Newtown in the dark, which isn't very good with recent events regarding assaults around Wellington," she said.

Ms Fontein said she has often had to resort to taking Ubers which is not sustainable on a student budget.

Strathmore local Pat Holden regularly travels to the hospital in Newtown.

What used to take her a single 20-minute bus ride is now a 40-minute journey with at least two changes.

If she wants to go into the central city, she has to take four buses or walk part of the way.

"I use a walking stick, I've got a bad hip, I can't always walk long distances [and] this is ridiculous.

"Whereas before I would have been there [in] 20 to 25 minutes by bus," she said.

Ms Holden has given up on the buses and now takes her car.

She will be making her feelings known at one of the public meetings later this month.

City councillors and local MPs have been getting involved as the complaints continue.

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson has been pulled into discussions and National's Nicola Willis has set up a petition for fed-up Karori residents.

City councillor Simon Woolf wants the regional council to step up.

"Many of our community and our constituents are not getting the responses back from Greater Wellington Regional Council, the communications right through this have not been great and therefore they're coming to their local city councillors, to help advocate and lobby for them."

Mr Woolf said that should not be happening.

He wants the overcrowded buses to be urgently addressed as it is a health and safety problem.

Congestion in Karori is the worst he's ever seen with traffic on Monday morning backed up to the mall, which Mr Woolf puts that down to more people taking their cars.

The new bus service is top of the agenda when the regional council's sustainable transport committee meets tomorrow.

Public meetings about the bus service will be held:

  • 12 August - 5.00pm Newtown Community Centre (Paul Eagle MP, councillor Daran Ponter)
  • 26 August - 3.00pm St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie (councillor Daran Ponter)
  • 30 August - 7.30-9.30pm Karori Community Centre (Nicola Willis MP, Grant Robertson MP, councillor Daran Ponter)

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