New bus network a “substantial challenge” but improving – independent review
Improvements in Wellington’s new bus services are "ongoing and sustained," an independent review into implementation challenges of the Wellington City and Hutt Valley network has found.
The review, prepared by Australia-based consultants L.E.K. and released today by Greater Wellington Regional Council and The New Zealand Transport Agency, describes the introduction of the new network as a complex undertaking, creating a “substantial challenge.”
The simultaneous implementation of new operators with new fleets, drivers, KPIs and reporting regimes, and a new network with new routes and timetables, new fares and ticketing system resulted in a number of failures which amplified their effect on customers.
The report found that Greater Wellington had a robust governance structure and processes in place and that a significant proportion of the programme was delivered successfully and on time. However, the collective capability of the programme delivery team at the time was “insufficient for the transformational nature of the changes required”.
Aspects of the implementation, such as bus hubs, a complete new bus fleet, achieving an acceptable standard of real time information, and a sufficient number of adequately-trained drivers were delivered late or insufficiently. Greater Wellington also relied on operators to be forthcoming, timely and transparent about their true state of readiness for go-live.
Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw said progress against the report’s findings was well under way. The council had already identified many of the issues through its own systems which include performance data analysis, working closely with operators, and ongoing dialogue with community groups.
Cr Laidlaw also acknowledged Greater Wellington had fallen short on some of the required areas when implementing the new network, and this had caused regrettable disruption for Wellington City and Hutt Valley bus customers.
“Since July we have been listening and working closely with community groups and operators to increase services, adjust timetables, ensure the right size bus turns up, provide better data and information to the public, and put things right.”
Despite initial issues, the report acknowledged that key performance metrics demonstrate ongoing and sustained improvement. Punctuality improved from 86% to 93%, reliability increased from 94% to 99%, and correct bus size performance rose from 66% to 80%.
Other areas of attention included initial resourcing and capability. The review found that, while the programme team identified skills gaps, essential members of the team were appointed later than required which hampered on-time delivery.
“This combination of factors created significant challenge for operators and Greater Wellington to respond to. The decision to go-live in winter also exacerbated the impact on customers.”
The review, commissioned by Greater Wellington and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), looked at the implementation of the new network, and not the inherent design and philosophy behind it, or the limitations of the PTOM provisions.
Chris Laidlaw said these aspects will be covered in a later stage of the review.