29 May 2019

Wellington commuters question cancelled services as empty school buses running

5:15 pm on 29 May 2019

Bemused Wellington commuters are querying why school buses - which continued their routes today despite schools being shut due to the teachers strike - were not used to replace cancelled passenger services.

A new bus poised for the morning commute.

A new bus poised for the morning commute. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

After weeks of random cancellations, Metlink announced last week it was temporarily suspending some morning peak bus services on 12 routes operated by NZ bus due to driver shortages.

Karori resident Felix Marwick posted on Twitter after watching empty school buses ply their usual routes while commuters waited at crowded bus stops.

However, Metlink said cancelling a school bus service to run a commuter service with a different route and time span would cause "significant rostering challenges".

"This would have to be done at short notice, yet we can't guarantee that the strike wouldn't be called off at short notice - if it had been we wouldn't have been able to react and reinstate the school services in time," a spokesperson said.

Furthermore, some schools were still open and offering care for students whose parents were not able to take time off to look after them.

"So it's not as simple as providing empty buses for crowded routes, despite appearances."

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