25 Oct 2018

NZ Bus chief takes swipe at council over troubled bus network

5:22 pm on 25 October 2018

Greater Wellington Regional Council's chairman is "breathtakingly arrogant" in his assessment of the new bus network, NZ Bus' chief executive says.

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown

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

Zane Fulljames spoke at a transport and infrastructure select committee meeting in Wellington today, and was critical of the council.

He saved his harshest words for chairman Chris Laidlaw, who last month told lawmakers he "can't think of anything in particular" he would do differently in rolling out the new network.

Green MP Gareth Hughes asked Mr Fulljames about those comments.

"I was just thinking of my actual response at the time, and I probably can't comment," Mr Fulljames said.

"I think it was breathtakingly arrogant."

His comments come after it was revealed NZ Bus had urged Greater Wellington to delay the rollout of the new network.

He also claimed NZ Bus was not given updated data during the transition, hampering their services in the opening months.

"Our punctuality and performance, our reliability and performance, you'll see is within the expected ranges at this stage of the contract," Mr Fulljames said.

"Despite [this], our operational responses initially were hindered by a couple of different factors.

"Lack of... access to data from GWRC, so that we could manage our operations. It took quite some time for GWRC to provide us with access... to that operational data."

Chris Laidlaw

Chris Laidlaw Photo: Supplied

Mr Fulljames said issues with the realtime data also hindered the service.

He said other bus companies were provided with Greater Wellington's data, which referred to loading figures among other things.

Despite the issues the network has experienced, Mr Fulljames said the network was starting to improve, and showed confidence it would be back to normal in November.

"I think all parties have learnt some very painful and valuable lessons, unfortunately at the expense of the Wellington public, over the past few months," he said.

"We're working very closely with Greater Wellington Regional Council... and performances seem to be improving."

A spokesperson for Greater Wellington has defended Mr Laidlaw.

"The chair's statement that there was not much he would change about the implementation of the new bus network was his honest view. The reality was that due to the prescriptive nature of the PTOM process we did not have the ability to make changes."

The spokesperson also said the realtime data was not witheld or forgotten.

"All operators had access to the same data, including ticketing and real-time information, including NZ Bus. It would not make sense to withhold data from any operator, and it was certainly not 'forgotten'."

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