16 Jun 2021

Wellington council wants government to put buses back in public ownership

10:06 am on 16 June 2021

Greater Wellington Regional Council is pushing the government to return buses and bus infrastructure back into public ownership.

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A bus in Wellington (file image). Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The capital's bus system continues to struggle with driver shortages - which have led to cancelled buses and changes in timetables - a as yet unknown number of rush-hour bus services are to be temporarily cut from the end of July.

A deal has now been struck between NZ Bus, that runs many of the city's bus routes, and drivers. The regional council played a part in the deal being struck.

The regional council's chairman Daran Ponter told Nine to Noon the deal was "significantly important".

"This time six weeks ago we had the prospect that we were going to have four weeks of lockout and strike action, that was just going to lock up Wellington city as a whole. To have this announcement yesterday that something positive is going to go drivers next week is really exciting."

The government is currently reviewing the Public Transport Operating Model, which was introduced in 2013 to encourage competition between companies for long-term council contracts for bus services.

Submissions close on Friday, and RNZ understands the Wellington Regional Council will be pushing for a return to public ownership.

"From a regional council perspective, we're probably at the forefront of thinking about these things and responding to them," Ponter told Nine to Noon.