Valid from: 09/12/2019 12:00am

Greater Wellington Councillors will consider an action plan of key fixes to the bus network on the back of the results of its comprehensive city-wide community engagement process which will be put to Council on Thursday 12 December.

More than 1,700 Wellingtonians took part in workshops and online submissions to give their thoughts on the city’s network and Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter says the resulting action plan is an ambitious yet realistic blueprint for short, medium and long-term improvements.

“We won’t be changing everything at once, we’ve certainly learnt that lesson. Over time, customers will see fewer transfers, access to key destinations, and an improved network that grows to meet current and future passenger growth,” says Chair Ponter.

Overall there has been a 4% growth in bus boardings in the region from 2017/18 to 2018/19, with 3.8% of that growth being within Wellington City where boardings have grown by 5%.

Benefits of the July 2018 changes and subsequent improvements have included 45% more services at weekends, more regular off-peak services in 26 suburbs, more services earlier in the morning and later into evenings, free transfers making travel cheaper and easier, fare concessions for students and disabled customers, many brand new buses including double-deckers and electric vehicles, bike racks on buses and better facilities and protection from weather at key transfer points.

“There’s no doubt that many bus customers experienced positive outcomes from the bus changes in Wellington City, with customers traveling through the Northern corridor reporting good levels of satisfaction.  We now have the opportunity to improve services for communities in the Eastern and Southern suburbs through these proposals,” says Chair Ponter.

Wellington City Council Deputy Mayor Sarah Free, a champion for communities throughout the engagement process, says it was important to see the Eastern and Southern suburbs prioritised in the early improvements planned for January and May 2020.

“It will be great to see action for people in these communities, who rely on public transport with no real alternatives,” says Deputy Mayor Free.

“I know many people took part in the consultation and it’s great to see their feedback accurately reflected in the recommendations that Greater Wellington is looking to take forward,” adds Deputy Mayor Free.

Chair Ponter says that while the recommendations were not constrained by funding considerations, there were other very real constraints, such as driver shortage, bus availability and implementation of the new meal break legislation, and that fairness and equitable access to services was a driving factor.

“There’s no right or wrong answer in public transport, for every recommendation there’s always a compromise or trade off. Some recommendations will require further due diligence or consultation but others will be able to be actioned relatively quickly, as soon as January.  The action plan has been developed taking into account the resources expected to be available over the next three years,” adds Chair Ponter.

The paper to council includes provisional costs for the proposed improvements with $0.8m expected in 2019/20, $1.34m in 2020/21 and $3.4m in 2021/22.

The bus network review results, council discussion paper, and recommended action plan can all be found at: metlink.org.nz/on-our-way/bus-network-review/ (external link)

Posted on 9 December 2019