Councils debate joint approach to bus priority for city

Projects & Partnerships

Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council are working together to bring more bus priority to the city from next year in a bid make public transport faster for its users.

A joint paper from officers at the two councils documents existing policies and practices and signals the development of a joint action plan for further bus priority  through the city to increase reliability and reduce journey times on key bus routes.

Greater Wellington Chair Chris Laidlaw says while there has been genuine good will from both councils in the past there has not been the level of  shared commitment to city-wide bus priority that there is  now.

“Getting our buses moving through the city faster, in dedicated bus lanes and using limited road space in a smarter way will be good for all Wellingtonians. Let’s Get Wellington Moving will eventually deliver a mass transit spine, but we’ve also recognised the need to deliver better bus priority now.  Our shared ratepayers want a reliable and efficient bus system and bus priority is pivotal to achieving that. Both councils need to work together on this to be able to deliver successfully,” says Chair Laidlaw.

Wellington City Mayor Justin Lester says the move is necessary and that growing traffic volumes will only detract from the city’s amenity and liveability, eroding the things that make Wellington a great place to be.

 “As we grow, we need to ensure we can move more people with fewer vehicles.  At the moment many people drive into the city because it is quicker and more reliable than public transport. Those people will only make a shift to public transport if travel speeds, journey times and consistency of service are in place and bus priority will help achieve that.” says Mayor Lester.

There’s strong public support for bus priority too. Metlink’s customer satisfaction survey reported just 61 percent of Wellington City respondents were satisfied with bus travel times – something that bus priority can do something about.

If the paper is agreed, a clear evidence-based and prioritised programme of work will be developed by September. Both councils have been in early discussions with the NZ Transport Agency who will be a key partner in the proposed programme.