7 Sep 2018

Wellington bus network has become a joke - Labour MP

2:47 pm on 7 September 2018

The government may have to step in to fix Wellington's troubled bus network, says Labour MP Paul Eagle.

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown

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

The Rongotai MP hosted a meeting of 200 disgruntled bus users in Miramar on Thursday night and said people remained angry with the malfunctioning system.

Hours before the meeting started, Greater Wellington announced that chief executive Greg Campbell would be stepping in to take direct leadership of the implementation of the new system.

While that pleased Mr Eagle, he said Mr Campbell needed to act fast.

"If he's committed to being dedicated to it, then that's good news," Mr Eagle said.

"What we need, though, is pace in terms of saying, 'these are the options to change'. They've only got a small window now to get this right.

"[If they don't], my fear is that central government will be pressured to act."

Mr Campbell will be working with Greater Wellington's general manager for public transport, Wayne Hastie, in fixing the new system.

Passengers have faced long delays under the new system. Buses often run late and some don't turn up at all. When buses do arrive, they're often full and passengers have to wait for the next service.

Last week,it was revealed that Greater Wellington had forked out for a number of Uber rides for disgruntled passengers who were in for long delays while using the bus network.

Mr Campbell said his move into a more direct role with the transport issues shows the importance the network has to the council.,

"While it has been a difficult process on some routes, we will solve the problems," Mr Campbell said.

On Thursday night, the meeting held by Mr Eagle and Greater Wellington regional councillor Daran Ponter saw a number of angry customers speak.

Mr Eagle said some passengers were sick of rides taking six times longer than they would in a car.

"People are still angry. They are still wanting answers from the regional council around, 'why did you do this?'," Mr Eagle said.

"We heard examples of people living in Strathmore Park, where they were having to transfer three times, it was taking an hour-and-a-half and they were paying more money.

"That's unacceptable. They can hop in a car or get a ride with someone and it takes 15 minutes."

He said the bus network had become the subject of jokes at parliament.

"If a meeting started at nine, my colleagues will say, 'when did you catch [the bus]? 6am?'

"It is becoming a joke. I don't want that to continue."

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