Council considers community proposal for bus service improvement
Increasing the number of direct services on one of the city’s key bus routes is one of the options being considered by Metlink to improve the performance of Wellington’s new bus network.
Members of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Sustainable Transport Committee expressed support for a community suggestion for extra services on route 18 between Miramar and Karori.
This would be of particular benefit to university students, many of whom could use the service to travel to lectures outside of peak times.
Councillors acknowledged that the introduction of the network had caused considerable discomfort for many bus customers and that there are still problems to be dealt with.
“This is the biggest change to the Wellington public transport system in decades, and while there was always going to be an element of disruption resulting from it, we understand the inconvenience and frustration it has caused, said council chair Chris Laidlaw.
“Change of this nature is never an enjoyable experience, and we regret that this has been such a negative experience for so many.”
Councillors felt that reinstating off-peak services on route 18 would deliver a material improvement to a large number of travellers. The route 14 service in Kilbirnie has also been identified as one where a beneficial change could be relatively easy to introduce.
Overcrowding and insufficient capacity on some key routes, together with the inaccuracy of the real-time information system at bus stops have been identified as the major frustrations still being experienced by bus customers.
While the council expressed its apologies to customers affected by the disruption, it also highlighted the ongoing efforts to identify causes of the problems and the progress being made with fixing them. For example, changes to staff and route allocations had resulted in a marked improvement in punctuality on route 1.
Analysis had shown that smaller-capacity buses are sometimes being deployed at peak times, and as one solution to overcrowding, the council is working with the operator concerned to introduce depot management practices that would ensure only larger capacity buses are used at peak.
“We are working systematically through remaining problems and we are seeing steady improvement in the number of buses tracking accurately on the real-time information system, as well as with the overcrowding and capacity issues.”
Mr Laidlaw said that as the implementation process continued, any problems associated with the design of the network itself would become more visible, and steps could then be taken within a defined timeframe to make corrections to the design where necessary.