11 Aug 2018

Wellington new bus services to change following complaints

2:36 pm on 11 August 2018

Greater Wellington Regional Council has today voted to change its new bus service, just weeks after implementation.

A new double decker bus

A new double decker bus Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

Today's Sustainable Transport Committee meeting was filled with residents and city councillors expressing their frustration with the service and demanding change.

It follows the release of a new report, which measured how successful the new service has been and recommended adjustments be made.

One of the routes which received the most complaints today was the number 18 Miramar bus.

City councillor Simon Woolf told the committee small businesses have been suffering with the changes.

"One cafe in town was 130 coffees down on Thursday of last week and that cafe believes that it's the public transport.

Mr Woolf said in Miramar, buses are so full people are taking the airport flyer to have a more comfortable experience."

Bill Guest of the Karori Association said during public consultation passengers gave feedback on the route, but part of the service was still removed.

"Many felt aggrieved they have been ignored and we can't say whether restoring the number 18 is the best solution, but at least that takes us back to the status quo," he said.

City councillor Diane Calvert said there had been an overall lack of public consultation.

"The last formal consultation that they did was back in 2014, 2015 and there were a number of concerns expressed.

"Since then I understand they made changes to their intended routes, but they never came back out and talked to the people who would be using it," she said.

An extension of the number 18 route to a seven-day service from Miramar North to Karori South was among the recommendations passed today.

Improving capacity of the buses was also a priority, as smaller buses were being used instead of the larger buses contracted.

Wellington city councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman was pleased the regional council had fronted on the problems.

"The regional councillors have acknowledged there are urgent issues they need to fix and we in the city will support them on that, but this is a watershed that there is an admission things aren't working well and need to be fixed," he said.

Regional councillor Sue Kedgley said the regional council needed to apologise to commuters and make changes swiftly.

"I won't be happy until there are not 60 people in Hataitai standing waiting for buses, that are flying past them.

"We just have to fix the problem immediately or people are really losing confidence in the entire network," she said.

But chair of the Regional Council, Chris Laidlaw, said it would be no easy fix.

"We're taking it all on board and we're going to be instituting some changes, but it's not easy to do that because we don't own the buses and have to re-write the contracts with the bus companies, which can't be done tomorrow," he said.

Mr Laidlaw said among the obstacles would be a lack of bus drivers and a shortage of the right buses to improve capacity.

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