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Wellington bus debacle deeply damaging to Govt’s transport policy

Written By: - Date published: 12:28 pm, September 24th, 2018 - 66 comments
Categories: boycott, Environment, public transport, transport, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

The government needs to intervene in the Wellington bus fiasco if doesn’t want its bold metropolitan public transport policy to end in tatters.

Of all cities in Aotearoa, Wellington had by far the best public transport system, with a high percentage of commuters using trains and buses. The chaos that has followed the introduction of the hated hub-based bus system is sufficient for the coalition government to lose the overall argument of public transport versus cars.

The pro-public transport stance is central to its $28 billion programme in Auckland and $1.9 billion programme in Wellington to transform our major cities.

Greater Wellington Regional councillors, led by chair Chris Laidlaw are continuing to defend the transformation of the capital’s once well functioning service to the inconvenient hub-based system. But 10 weeks into the process and it becomes clearer every day the system is unfixable and the councillors are wedded to it.

Only central government intervention to reverse the implementation of this bizarre new network will work. That intervention doesn’t mean the whole GWRC needs to be stood down as the National Party did with ECan, but there needs to be a commissioner to sort out the mess.

Make no mistake, Wellingtonians are really angry about this fiasco. Surveys show over 80% believe the system is worse than before. At a Newtown meeting, a resolution to restore the former system was carried by 100 votes to four. Some people have advocated a civil disobedience campaign.

People have ridiculed initial figures that show patronage has gone up, pointing out that where in the past you took one bus, now you need to take two or three.

Myriad other issues have been raised from so called “ghost” buses (timetabled buses that never show) safety for women having to traipse to hubs at night, to disabled travellers being unable to use the hubs. Most relate to users no longer having a single bus to get them from A to B as the old linear network invariably did. Many who used to get buses direct to the hospital now need to take three.

In essence, the bureaucrats who advocated a hub system for a compact city such as Wellington, made a colossal blunder and Laidlaw and the now invisible chair of the sustainable transport committee, Barbara Donaldson, are just digging deeper down the hole.

Wellington lacks scale for a hub system. Waiting for one bus in Wellington’s often-inclement weather is off-putting. Waiting for two or three buses, stops people using them.

The original plan was to have a mind-boggling 25 hubs. This has been reduced to seven.

Laidlaw accepts hubbing is hated. But rather than accept responsibility for the fiasco of this system – both in design and implementation. He claims the letting of contracts means reverting to the previously functioning system is impossible.

Actually, it is the contracts and union-busting that lie behind much of this whole fiasco.

Tramways Union former Vice President, Chris Morley, (who died in July) laid this bare in a recent article in TS. Wellington was the only place in Aotearoa where bus drivers had retained pre-Labour Contracts Act penal rates. So long as the trolleys remained the GWRC could realistically only tender bus services to one main operator, as it was too complex to divide the trolleys among different operators. Once the trolleys were gone, it was open slather.

After the trolleys were scrapped, the GWRC sliced and diced the Wellington service between the former main operator, NZ Bus, Mana Transport, Uzabus and Masterton-based Tranzit . The latter, which had next to no experience with metropolitan services, was known as a hard-ball employer. It paid higher hourly rates but didn’t pay penal rates and used the odious split shift system, whereby drivers have to get up early for the morning rush hour, hang about for 3-4 hours, and then work the evening rush hour. As a former bus driver, I can tell you it is no fun.

Laidlaw and his henchman, Councillor Paul Swain, have washed their hands of responsibility of the new terms of employment, saying they only let the bus contracts, they are not the employer.

At meeting in Miramar, Tramways Union Wellington Secretary Kevin O’Sullivan made it abundantly clear the union is a ready for a fight and there is more disruption ahead for commuters. A union stop work meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

In environment-conscious Wellington, scrapping the trolleys caused an outcry regarding the implications of swapping electric-powered buses for dirty diesels.

To counter this, Laidlaw and Co have taken a huge gamble which is certain to end in more tears and further financial disaster. They have opted for some completely untried fully electric buses, both single and double deckers. (The introduction of double deckers is also fraught with risk). The plan to convert the 60 not-so-old redundant trolley buses to Wrightspeed buses as fully electrics has already run into significant teething problems and watch this space for bus fiasco 2.0.

The concept of the hubbing system was ironically prompted by the success of the old system –increased patronage both from the north and the south caused bus congestion in the centre. Consultants were called in, and, as consultants inevitably do (so they become indispensible), they devised a radical revamp involving new routes and hubbing. A minor issue that could easily have been resolved by terminating some buses at the existing hubs of Courtenay Place and the Railway Station, instead resulted in abandoning a functioning system.

Peter Kitchenman, who has been involved in infrastructure projects in New Zealand and overseas, and has university degrees in business studies, development studies, psychology and civil engineering, says the council ignored the group which should have been its main consultants during the design process – the commuters.

The council says it consulted with commuters, but Kitchenman says it is “unthinkable” those commuters would suggest changing buses was a good idea. The problem is, he said, the council consulted with the public once the network had already been designed and put out for consultation, back in 2014.

“I’ve been involved in projects like this, and from my experience, once the plan is up, it’s easy to speak to that plan with a lot of spin,” Kitchenman explained. “That’s probably how they managed to get away with the bus hubs.”

Kitchenman says requiring anyone to transfer buses where they did not previously need to was a fundamental design flaw. Psychologically speaking, this effect was known as a “response cost”: the cost associated with removing something which encouraged people to use a product or service, and making them less likely to use it.

In the case of transfers, taking away a direct service and replacing it with a more disruptive journey was plainly a barrier to using the system. “They should be growing their customer base, not discouraging people.”

Lim Leong, a former KPMG executive, who has led complex design and implementation of nationwide data transport networks, said the GWRC has butchered a functioning network and replaced it with something which failed even basic design principles.

“It infuriates me to see all sorts of PR spin put on this new network which does not live up to professional engineering codes of conduct. The fallout of the debacle has affected badly a segment of society who can’t afford cars and rely on public transport.”

Before the new network was launched, GWRC general manager public transport, Wayne Hastie, claimed the existing network couldn’t cope with future growth. But growth was forecast to lift passenger journeys to just 42 million a year by 2024 from the current 38 million – an insipid growth rate of 10.5% over six years – – one that would get most sales executives sacked.

The new system would be “simpler, easier and more reliable”, said Hastie in a comment President Trump would proudly own. The timetable chaos, ghost buses and woeful performance of the Real Time Information system gives the lie to the reliability claim, while the only reason it is simpler and easier is there are fewer buses going to fewer places.

A preposterous claim was made that only 5% of users would need to use the new hubs. Similarly, Deb Hume, GWRC’s public transportation programme director, said: “People won’t experience, in the main, a drop in service.”

Laidlaw said many of the problems, such as most of the hubs not being built, or the fact that the integrated ticketing system won’t come into effect until 2021, are temporary. But Hume said the hub system has been planned for at least six years. So even if the plan was half baked to start with, there is no excuse for this to have gone off half-cock as it has done.

Councillor Ian McKinnon told the Miramar meeting that councillors were, and should be, accountable.

According to the annual report Laidlaw was paid $157,126 in 2016/17 for his GWRC position, while other councillors like Donaldson are paid $70,000 or more. These are important but not full time jobs.

In my books, accountability means more than making statements saying you are accountable. This has been a diabolical debacle from go to woe that threatens public confidence in public transport.

Even the former Labour cabinet minister Claire Curran has some notion of what accountability is, it’s past time Laidlaw, Donaldson and Swain understood it.

(Simon Louisson is a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, the New Zealand Press Association and Reuters and was a political and media adviser to the Green Party He was also, in the previous century a bus driver for the Christchurch City Council.)

66 comments on “Wellington bus debacle deeply damaging to Govt’s transport policy ”

  1. Dukeofurl 1

    The contract to sign up a new company and change to new routes was done before the last local body by-election as it required a couple years to change.

    As well as the decision being made long before even the current government was in office it was done under ‘nationals Rules’ of lowest bidder wins always with no regard for the quality of service.

    As for the swapping of trolley for dirty diesels, it could at least show that the proposal was to switch from trolleys to electric buses ( without wires.)

  2. bwaghorn 2

    How hard can it be . ? Twenty odd years ago I lived in Aberdeen the buses were awesome . Just copy them! I can only assume a bunch of bubble speak consultants got hired and proved that they like most of their kind are very good at inflating their own abilities . Claw back every cent the fools charged.

    • OnceWasTim 2.1

      Indeed. CHRIST! it’s hard to know where to begin with what’s happened. Even worse, it’s hard to accept that not much has been done after 3 months – let alone what should have happened after the 1st month.
      You have to wonder too whether the burning of bridges that would have allowed a return to the status quo ante wasn’t intentional.
      After 3 months, the only concession is over an 18e as far as I can see.
      I ‘spose Mr Hastie didn’t get his name for nothing – but them there is a rather naiive Laidlaw who you’d have expected to be a little wiser, and worse still, a Ponter who I’d have expected a fucking sight more of.
      They (probably intentionally) destroyed the possibility of a ‘back out’ and reversion to something that would have worked given a few tweaks, to something that’s now going to be a lot more costly.
      I imagine it’ll become a case study among project managers on how NOT to do things.

      I wonder who will have the guts to stand at the next elections. Darran might just be able to save himself if he can get past his initial responses in the first 4 weeks.
      Somehow I doubt it though. And if I were LP thinking of elevating him to central government ambitions, I’d wait another election cycle – he’s going to be covered in shit for another year or two

  3. Dukeofurl 3

    My thoughts for the ‘start’ of these sorts of debacles is to see if a ‘new broom CEO’ had been appointed before the new contracts were let in 2014/15

    https://kcnews.co.nz/story.php?storyID=9414
    New Chief Executive begins at Wellington Regional Council Nov 2014- check

    Whether that person has some experience in marketing fluff etc …
    “extensive experience in the private sector, most recently as Chief Marketing Officer and Director at Vodafone New Zealand. Previous positions include Managing Director of The New Zealand Guardian Trust Company and General Manager, Products and Marketing, ANZ Bank. ” – triple check

    Often then a sweep out of long serving staff then occurs who actually know what they are doing and replaced by ‘clones from central bullshitmarketing’- yet to know the answer on that one.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      Dukeofurl
      You have reached deep wisdom on this matter I think – according to Confucius.
      What you describe is what frequently happens under the disruption of management and staff. It is, on a small plane, like an invading leader dismissing the culture of the place he has over-run and replacing it with his own different style which may be inferior, and the best of the old is lost.

      By three methods we may learn wisdom:
      First, by reflection, which is noblest;
      Second, by imitation, which is easiest;
      and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

      Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/confucius_131984

      And DTB I feel that you probably meant to put /sarc in comment no.4?)

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Surveys show over 80% believe the system is worse than before.

    But can they actually prove that it is?

    If they can’t then they can simply STFU.

    • alwyn 4.1

      As I resident of Wellington I can only give my views on what people are saying about the system.

      If you are in a group almost anywhere the first topic in any conversation is the shambles that is the bus system. I don’t know anyone who thinks it is as good as it used to be. I, personally, have pretty much given up on using the buses now and I drive. I am mildly handicapped in standing and walking and standing waiting for buses that either don’t turn up at all, or don’t stop because when they do arrive, late, they are completely full is too much for me.
      Combine that with the need to change buses at hubs on what used to be single trip journeys and it is the final straw. It is simply too hard for me. From now on, unless they fix the damn things I am through with the buses.
      You ask, about people’s belief that the system is worse, “But can they actually prove that it is”.
      What would you accept as “proof”? Obviously the fact that almost everyone says it is worse for them isn’t enough for you. What would be?

      Do you live in Wellington by the way. Can I suggest that if you don’t, and have no experience of what has happened you should perhaps take your own advice and simply STFU.
      If you do live here can you honestly say that the system is better than it used to be?

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        As I resident of Wellington I can only give my views on what people are saying about the system.

        In other words you’re simply talking your arse. But that’s normal for you.

        What would you accept as “proof”?

        A fairly simple statistical analysis showing decreased efficiency and lower services. Basically, people whinging about the changes aren’t good enough.

        • alwyn 4.1.1.1

          I guess it is silly to expect the Dumb T Bastard to actually discuss the subject properly.
          He simply reverts to talking out of his arse when questioned.

          How would you define “decreased efficiency” and “lower services” anyway. What do you mean by the phrases and how would you define them?
          Let your mind roam free.
          Tell us what you really think about the service and why peoples experience of what is going on is irrelevant rather than simply pour out you usual waffle and abuse.
          You don’t happen to work for the GWRC and were involved in planning this disaster do you? Or perchance you initials are used here in reverse order and they really are B D and you aren’t interested in what people say and you wouldn’t attend meetings of real users because they might say unkind things about you.
          http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=111511

          At the present rate the service will be dead in a year anyway.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.1

            <blockquote… why peoples experience of what is going on is irrelevant rather than simply pour out you usual waffle and abuse.
            It’s irrelevant because it’s nothing more than anecdote and because it’s in the first stages of change. All we’re really getting is their perception of the change. We need actual data to make informed decisions on it. To see if those perceptions are valid.

            It’s neither abuse nor waffle to ask for that data.

            And, yes, it is rather stupid to demand changes just on the anecdotes.

        • Tuppence Shrewsbury 4.1.1.2

          For someone who hates profiteering management and capitalism, you sure know how to sound like a some corporate middle manager trying to suck up to his immediate boss for a raise with your efficiency babble

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.2.1

            I understand economics and thus why efficiency is needed, why private motor vehicles need to be removed and how a little inconvenience can decrease resource use efficiently.

            The problem that we’re seeing here is people putting their convenience above the needs of the country. It’s part of the delusional me, me, me economy of capitalism that has us on the road to complete ecological collapse.

            • Tuppence Shrewsbury 4.1.1.2.1.1

              more likely we are seeing what happens when an unaccountable bureaucracy has a great idea

              • mikesh

                There is nothing new about having to change buses on a single journey; nor is there anything new about buses running late. The old system was not perfect, but we adapted to it. No doubt we will adapt to this one.

                Even so, I can understand the union being disgruntled.

        • mpledger 4.1.1.3

          I tried to get data throught an OIA but I wasn’t allowed it. Therefore we can only have GWRC’s word/analysis and our anecdote.

          Mostly I come out even-stevens in the changes – longer travel times but buses come more often.

          However, a trip of around 6km, to the after-hours doctors at the basin reserve requires 3 different buses instead of the 1 it did before – and if I lived in the north of Miramar, rather than the south, it would be 4 for the same distance – that’s a change in bus every 1.5km!!!!!!!!

      • AsleepWhileWalking 4.1.2

        I’m a Wgtn resident and agree with all your points. Other than the regional council trying to talk the thing up I’ve not heard anything positive.

        People are really pissed off.

        Also I have to travel into the CBD once a week (TG). If I had to use the car in the past there were plenty of carparks as I’m pretty early. Somewhere between 2-6 weeks after the new timetable started there are notably fewer spots left. Couple of weeks ago I was lucky to get one at all.

    • Dukeofurl 4.2

      Whats the point of your comment ?
      If the customers are dissatisfied then that speaks for itself.
      What do you expect a bus stop by bus top analysis ?

      Im not in Wellington but I can recognise bus company spin like – ‘only X% of services are late’
      Which is fiddling the numbers as its often the peak hour services where lateness is most harmful and in reality it could be ‘2X % services’ are late during peak .

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        If the customers are dissatisfied then that speaks for itself.?

        All it says is that people are upset with changes. It tells us practical.

        What do you expect a bus stop by bus top analysis ?

        Yes and over at least a year.

        As I say – doing things solely on belief doesn’t work. In fact, it’s usually very badly wrong.

        • Sacha 4.2.1.1

          In customer service, what people experience is all that really counts.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1.1

            In transport it’s the ability to get people moving efficiently that counts. We have major congestion because we tried the inefficient method of cars and ignored public transport. And our public transport became inefficient because people were whinging that they had to change buses/trains every now and then which changed how the PT was designed pushing the idea of really long runs from outer city to inner and back was what was needed/wanted. This resulted, inevitably, with massive duplication of routes and decreased efficiency because people actually don’t like being on a bus for so damn long.

            Thing is, what these people are experiencing ATM is probably just teething issues. Implementing such massive changes isn’t going to go perfectly no matter what. Once things have been in place for a while with a few minor changes to correct some issues and it will probably be better all over.

            What they’re seemingly doing ATM is simply whinging about changes because things have changed and people simply don’t like changes.

            • Ad 4.2.1.1.1.1

              That’s the ARC attitude that very nearly killed the entire public transport system in Auckland.

              AT’s customer-centric model for pt is driving patronage through the roof.

              • SaveNZ

                “AT’s customer-centric model for pt is driving patronage through the roof.”

                Priceless, perhaps it is the massive population growth so that people have zero choice… combined with petrol charges..

                Apart from the trains and ferries which don’t run enough services, everything else is pretty much shit for public transport in Auckland and takes 2 to 5 times longer to use public transport than driving.

                When you put in Auckland transport generally you have to walk about 30 minutes for start, wait copious amounts of time for the transport which does not run often, have to change or you can’t get where you want to go anyway as it is not served at all by transport, allow at least double or five times the time for the journey if it’s bus related and costs more.

                Auckland Transport are taking 1.45 billion a year to run a substandard service plus now the petrol charges, something is wrong.

                I’d say Wellingtons problems are just a follow on from how they have butchered Auckland. First screwing up population growth and expecting ordinary workers to bear the costs while celebrating how we have a rock star economy because banks and big business are happy with the extra consumers, having sky high rents and property prices, now screwing up transport to service the population growth that makes things worse for many people. Then public transport telling everyone how successful it is, wasting money on consultants and self promotion and refusing to listen and rectify commenters issues.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Apart from the trains and ferries which don’t run enough services, everything else is pretty much shit for public transport in Auckland and takes 2 to 5 times longer to use public transport than driving.

                  Public transport in Auckland is hugely better. Yes, it can take time to get across some of the less used routes but it’s mostly comparable for the well used routes.

                  Auckland Transport are taking 1.45 billion a year to run a substandard service plus now the petrol charges, something is wrong.

                  BS.

                  They’re not doing everything right but they are getting many aspects of transport in Auckland better. They’re still investing too much in roads and cars though.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Ah, no.

                You do understand that AT started the change to a similar strategy years ago (I’m pretty sure that you’ll find Wellington is copying the Auckland changes) and that it’s allowed them to increase the number of services for the same resource use right?

                That increased service is what’s driving PT patronage. Oh, that and along with the huge amount of congestion in the city.

        • greywarshark 4.2.1.2

          DTB
          You ruin your reputation when you go so robotic. People rely on the bus services as part of running their lives. They can’t wait for a year’s study you ass. Try and get with the reality of life will you.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.2.1

            People rely on the bus services as part of running their lives.

            It’s a new change that will likely make their lives better. There’s probably a few teething problems as can be expected at such times. They should be giving feedback to the WCC as such is needed along with actual study to help find solutions.

            What doesn’t help is people whinging.

            They can’t wait for a year’s study you ass.

            But it’s too soon and there isn’t enough data to make any decisions.

            Try and get with the reality of life will you.

            You’re the one who’s denying reality here. People can’t just snap their fingers and have everything become right because you demand it so.

            • mpledger 4.2.1.2.1.1

              People aren’t just whinging – they are taking action.

              These aren’t teething problems – my colleague at work, who works four days a week, arrived at the bus stop to find her bus had been cancelled (via the RTI) three times last week and the forth time it was listed as coming but never turned up. This is 8 weeks after the change-over!!

    • One Two 4.3

      …if they can’t then they can simply STFU…

      Delivery not a strong point is it…

      You’ve simply not though this through well at all…

      Who controls and manages that ‘proof/data’ Draco…and how would the burden be on the end user to provide it…

      It’s not…and they don’t…

      Leave Wellingtonians direct experiences and their right to express them, to those who have to live with the outcomes…

      STFU indeed…

  5. greywarshark 5

    I have a prejudice about sportspeople in positions of authority. It seems too often that they have one-track minds (inculcated by their training and field of action!) and while they can be good at reaching their targets, they adopt economics thinking as in – pushing aside annoying variables that upset the calculations.

    While it is called ‘mass’ transport, it is based on many one or few separate individuals of groups, each of whom has an important destination which is time-related, and who plays a part in the economy and has a complex life to lead. The minds of these efficiency and profit-seeking planners tend not to register this.

    It appears that in this bus debacle, apart from hubs (which i am sure they have seen work successfully, profitwise, overseas somewhere ie in one of the United States of A), they have also analysed where routes are under-utilised and re-organised those to ensure, possibly, 95% occupancy each trip on average. The figures left on the roadside when there is now no service, or a full bus, aren’t just blips on a screen but real people. And these people feel despairing that in a modern country, with a rock-star economy, the isolated highly paid planners and administrators are more interested in playing with a City equivalent of a War Games board than providing the adequate transport options that citizens need and should be able to expect to be provided.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      While it is called ‘mass’ transport, it is based on many one or few separate individuals of groups, each of whom has an important destination which is time-related, and who plays a part in the economy and has a complex life to lead. The minds of these efficiency and profit-seeking planners tend not to register this.

      And there you would be wrong.

      BTW, I’m pretty sure that the WCC isn’t a profit making venture.

    • Ad 5.2

      Grey you are dead right.

      With Hopcard and Goldcard to over 90% of pt journeys, every single journey and mode choice is analysed by ATMetro.

      The Auckland system is now heading I the right direction, and AT and NZTA are investing to support it.

  6. gsays 6

    It could also be seen as a failure of neo liberal theory.
    In that the race to the bottom service providers, trying to cut costs, control staff and turn a profit, end up doing a piss poor job.

    • Bg 6.1

      I would say it’s a failure of a centralised govt. The company has no competition, as it is given a monopoly to provide a service by the local govt, therefore can act with impunity.
      If it was a true market, it would have to pull up its socks or else fail to a better provider.

      Ironic that a true open market would increase the service experience.

      • Ad 6.1.1

        Current model is “fail fast- then keep failing”, with a side order of patronage “creative destruction”.

      • gsays 6.1.2

        Great theory there, but unlike text books, failed companies mean real people, your neighbours, lose their jobs.
        Also those ‘market driven’ companies are not flash at paying holidays and redundancies.

        Maybe it is a failure of government in that they don’t take ownership of busses and run a public service.

      • mpledger 6.1.3

        But the problem with letting companies fail on critical infrastructure is that the economy is disrupted.

        Imagine if one (of the 4 companies now doing Wgtn routes) just stopped without notice on one day. There is no company waiting in the wings with unused buses sitting idle to fill the gap. People would turn up to a bus stop, find no buses coming and have to drive, bike or walk – the roads would grind to a halt. And it would take weeks for a new provider to sign up, get buses, train drivers and get going.

  7. Joanne Gail Perkins 7

    DTB regardless of your declarations the fact is the 2 of the poorest suburbs have been left without any bus service outside of peak and only minimal services in peak, some services have in fact not run at all since July 18, people are constantly missing connections at the hubs and being late for work or school or medical appointments. People in some areas have to change bus up to 4 times where in the past it was one journey, Karori, one of the richest suburbs in NZ had its bus service in peak reduced by 30% and to compensate the operator was forced by the regional council to remove seats to increase loading by making passengers stand. I could go on but these are not anecdotes, they are factual repercussions of the changes ill devised by the regional council.

  8. Ad 8

    If Twyford steps in, National will remind the government of all its previous opposition to the Environment Canterbury intervention.

    Twyford could use this as a subtext to unlock the grip of Infratil over Wellington, since Infratil runs Snapper, owns the airport as a core pt driver, and runs services.

    NZTA would I think welcome this as they seek a nationwide card system.

    Twyford stepping in would have large intended and unintended consequences, many of which will end up in the High Court.

    If I were Twyford I would send in Stiassny first. He knows where the bodies are buried, and how to bury them.

  9. miravox 9

    It’s like the project team of this hub system thought the aim was to move buses more efficiently. When really, the main purpose of any public transport system is to move people (it is, after all, in the name).

  10. Chris T 10

    I have to take my car into the shop Thursday which means I will be busing in for 2 days.

    First time since the changes.

    From what I hear it might be quite “interesting”

    The bus I need to catch is the same one as the one where the driver went up the completely wrong gorge and ended up in the wrong suburb.

    • greywarshark 10.1

      Up the creek without a paddle, sort of. Could be an analogy for NZ. Where is our country drifting to? Can we turn around if we are squeezed into a narrow space?

  11. Kay 11

    Also being heard around town is how the GWRC has achieved what is usually politically impossible, by uniting the entire citizenry. Face it, it’s very hard to simultaneously piss off people of all political leanings, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic groups over a single issue but they’ve managed to do it.

    • KeithWellington 11.1

      Kay: GWRC councillors will see your comments as a compliment ! Just as their CEO has complimented his staff on a job well changing a bus system with a few flaws, to one in almost total disarray.

      We need to remind ourselves that in government and local government circles any project is deemed a success if it doesn’t get the level of complaints the managers of it projected it would.

  12. Simon Louisson 12

    Latest according to Stuff is that the council is in the process of abandoning the dreaded hub system https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/107319138/wellingtons-controversial-new-bus-hubs-to-be-reviewed-as-some-are-still-being-built – such is the power of The Standard!
    The next interesting questions are whether they will completely revert to the status quo ante and reinstate popular useful routes such as the Miramar #2 and by how much the budget blowout for this entire fiasco will cost ratepayers?

    • veutoviper 12.1

      Sorry Simon – nothing to do with “the power of the Standard”! Which is probably just as well as I have seen some comments here that bear no resemblance to the reality of what is actually happening here in Wellington. LOL

      Sure, people are always reluctant and critical initially when it comes to change; but this time it is much more than that and Kay says it well at 11 above. She and I (and possibly other Wellington based TS commenters) have been part of the citizenry who have been taking action to try to sort this disaster out in consultation with other citizens, suburban groups, Councils, Metlink etc, etc. I am coordinating reasonably good constructive dialogue with Metlink and others over certain specific issues in my suburb rather than participating in shouting matches as has happened at some of the public meetings.

      It is also the flow-on effects of the fiasco. It is actually quite funny watching the double decker buses navigating the IB current cycleway street design.

      More seriously, I have also seen the results of the hubbing fiasco and need for people to now change buses to get to Wellington Hospital. I have had a series of hospital day appointments over recent months, and although I would normally use the bus to get there, even though it is still only one bus for me, I have taken my car rather than risk late or ‘no show’ buses. At most visits, however, there have been other people who were late or no shows for appointments. According to hospital staff, this is becoming quite usual and causing problems for the flow etc of appointments, day surgery and similar procedures (colonoscopies, for example).

      I personally am cringing at how much the fiasco will cost ratepayers, and I am from the suburb who have seen major planning/spending fiascos in relation to our so-call cycleway.

      I am also wondering how on earth Tranzit, being one of the major bus service providers, is managing to survive financially and whether we will see them crash. The unexpected costs of having to hire buses to fill in as they are still waiting for some of their bus stock to meet their route/timetable commitments must be considerable, as must the costs of having had to bring in drivers from outside Wellington and pay not only them but also for their accommodation etc.

      • OnceWasTim 12.1.1

        Simon L seems to have covered the issues well in the main article, but I agree with both you and Kay at 11). I also have to wonder whether the planners (‘planners’ used very loosely) intentionally stuffed up the possibility of returning to the status quo ante. Why for example did the entire overhead system have to be removed, especially when, as Simon alludes to – much of the alternatives have not been proven to be reliable long term? I realise that the traction supply (at substations) were nearing the end of life although apparently 3 remained serviceable and the remainder (collectively refurbished to a reduced number) might have been used in order to use trolleys on a reduced number of routes.
        By the way – do you know what they’ve done with it all? Probably flogged it off as quickly as possible to pay for a few hubs and/or consultants.

        And as I look out a Mt.Victoria window, I STILL see bugger all buses along the golden mile with its bus lanes and prioritised traffic signals, and I still see a high number of buses showing ‘Not In Service’ running down the Quays and back routes – probably trying to get back on schedule.

        Like you, I’ll be interested in the final cost of this fiasco for ratepayers, and while a lot of this is going to reflect badly on 2 or 3 local body politicians, those in Council(s) admin shouldn’t escape accountability.

        • veutoviper 12.1.1.1

          Yes, I should have made clear that I thought Simon L’s post was excellent – and I presumed his comment re power of the Standard was tongue in cheek!.

          Re buses showing “Not in Service” – I am surprised you are seeing them in town. I thought they were all holed up here in IBay. They are everywhere here! LOL. Eating pies from Tricia’s Pies! The drivers, not the buses, are eating the pies.

          • OnceWasTim 12.1.1.1.1

            🙂 I see the bloody things everywhere, including heading south on Ngauranga Gorge travelling in convoy at various times. (That’d be the No1 route stuff up that you’re at the other end of)

            • greywarshark 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Sounds as if the commenters here would like Flanders and Swann take on buses. It’s always enjoyable.
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVHbF0jAzMw

              • OnceWasTim

                I have to admit, I did once drive the WCTransport ‘Big Reds’ and Cable Car for 4 years during the ’70s. One could comfortably pay a mortgage, eat properly, pay the MED electricity bill and support a family at the time.

                Funnily enough, Cable Car drivers at that time were known as ‘Gripmen’. It’s possibly a title that could now be applied to the likes of Mr Hastie

                • greywarshark

                  OncewasTim
                  I rather regard bus drivers as stars, special people. It seem a hard job and recently i was in the Airport Flyer and noticed the narrow twisty city roads it travels and marvelled as the driver completed a right hand turn clearing a post or corner with aplomb and a couple of cms.

                  So good on you for following in the line of very much appreciated service providers. I would say that everyone who has climbed on a bus and been given a fairly smooth ride and perhaps some advice on stops near the destination would praise them highly, almost as high as dentists!

              • alwyn

                No, no.
                As I remember this item, and yes that pair were wonderful, they talk about a “diesel-engined” omnibus.
                Most people commenting on the site would scream in horror about pollution and want to know why it isn’t electric.

          • alwyn 12.1.1.1.2

            “Not in Service” buses.
            People in Karori have suggested that they are going to move to the suburb called “Not in Service”.
            It is considered to be the only one that actually has a reliable and frequent set of buses these days.

        • William 12.1.1.2

          GWRC are spinning the problems as being mainly due to NZ Bus, primarily on the new No2 route. I live at the south end of the Island Bay No1 route which now extends to Johnsonville and beyond and is run by TranzUrban.
          The problems I see are due to buses getting behind schedule and then bunching up and leap frogging because the number of passengers the lead bus has to collect is greater than it would normally be. An example, a couple of weeks ago at about 2:30 pm I was up Milne Terrace where there is a clear view along the last km of the route. There were four double deckers in view heading south. They should be 10 minutes apart so there should have been 30 minutes between the first & the last, instead there was about four minutes. Lesser examples is not uncommon.
          Their implementation of the hub model seems weird. eg Miramar shops is a hub for North Miramar services, but Kilbirnie is also a hub and only about three km’s further along on the route passengers have just had to transfer to. Johnsonville is a hub and yet the No1’s continue past there to three different destinations instead of terminating at the hub. There’s also a train service to Johnsonville so why a competing bus service?
          Some services have increased frequency, the new No29 travels a convoluted route between Brooklyn & Newtown on a 30 min/7 day schedule. It goes past my front door, the most I’ve seen are six passengers on board, sometimes zero. Maybe it will pickup enough to justify its existence.

          What improvements could they have made instead? The main justification was to reduce the number of buses travelling along the golden mile. Back in the seventies there was an inner city route along Willis & Lambton, & an outer city route along either Featherston and Victoria/Wakefield (I don’t recall when that became one way) or the quays. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the one way system so that greater priority is provided for public transport, whether bus or LRT.

          • OnceWasTim 12.1.1.2.1

            Howdy @william.
            Yep, a little ‘friend of mine made the very same points in a letter to Paul Eagle and Gareth Hughes recently.
            Reducing the number of buses travelling along the ‘golden mile’. That ‘golden mile’ where a helluva a lot of people actually want to go as their destination – with its dedicated bus lanes and prioritised traffic signalling – along with the universities and regional hospital.
            And as that ‘little friend’ also pointed out in the email/letter, before implementation of that Inner CIty (Green)/Outer City (Red) system. WCT did actually consult with people and drivers on the ground who were witnessing the problems that they were trying to overcome.
            From my little friends memory. two names that were consulted were Tom Cole (an ‘old hand’ driver who also did driver training, and a guy called Norm Catchpole – one of those bus inspector types who did training and ran defensive driving courses. I imagine both have now passed away).

            I no longer catch buses. I used to either try and walk or catch buses everywhere, but even today as I walked along that ‘golden mile’, I noticed a fairly long queue of people waiting outside Burger King for a Number 2 (yep – they looked like it as well – if you were to take a Number 1 for its entire journey, you’d definately need to take a pee first).

      • Kay 12.1.2

        Well said @VV. An interesting recent observation, I wonder if you’ve encountered it yet- I’m still continuing proving “feedback” to Metlink via their website over every negative experience that’s directly related to the new system. And they continue to respond, but more recently it’s gone from personalised replies to glaringly obvious form responses, even referring to issues that weren’t part of my complaint.

        One can only assume the poor front line workers charged with this miserable task (and I do have a lot of sympathy for them) are now so overloaded on the complaints front they’ve given up?

        Surprisingly, a few days ago I was able to get a direct bus from A to B and back again- both arrived at the time stated on the real time board and there were no dramas along the way. After recovering from the shock I debated providing some positive feedback but didn;t want to provide Metlink with any reason to say look, the public is happy!

        • veutoviper 12.1.2.1

          I haven’t been in touch with them for a couple of weeks, as health has had to take priority. Trying to bring myself to get back on track with the bus issue but need some encouragement etc! I actually realised last week when I had to go into the city that I personally had not actually used a bus for almost two months … I am being more a facilitator/coordinator of other peoples’ concerns than a user in my dealings.

          • Kay 12.1.2.1.1

            VV, same thing here, been housebound a lot recently, but even on the good days I’m avoiding going out of my suburb unless I really have to, in other words becoming more and more isolated which is happening to a lot of bus dependent people, especially those with disabilities. I’m really dreading my GP/hospital appointments just over the hill in Newtown- where I could once confidently walk out the door 1/2 before the appointment to be there in time, now it has to be at least an hour, just in case. Then of course a bus actually showing up early means having to kill a lot of time in Newtown before the appointments…

      • greywarshark 12.1.3

        Was there something wrong with the old bus system that was totally unsatisfactory? Why was a new bus company brought in? Is that part of the insane neolib economic system? Couldn’t one company stay on a regularly reviewed contract which if meets reasonable requests for change continues to hold the contract?

        • OnceWasTim 12.1.3.1

          Try asking Mr Fuxit Joyce 🙂

        • Kay 12.1.3.2

          @ Grey-
          Public transport= very bad
          Cars = good
          And some warped idea that there’s money to be saved, at least short term.
          Screw people who can’t drive or can’t afford to they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job or cure their disability.

          So yeah, classic neo-liberal thinking.

          • greywarshark 12.1.3.2.1

            Kay
            Yes. I think that planning and management training is all about choosing a system and following it, like a recipe, and if all is done right it will be a success.

            But if the aim is not to provide the best service that can be achieved on x amount of money, to the most people, then the whole bloody effort is a waste of time and expenditure. When Nasa shoots off a rocket to the moon, they don’t feel good if it lands on another planet away from their target. This isn’t rocket science eh!

    • alwyn 12.2

      Did you notice the poll in the article you linked to?
      84% said that the hub system had made things worse.
      10% said there was no difference.
      6% said things were better.
      I am generally suspicious of self selecting polls but this one certainly seems in line with the comments of all the people I meet. Only the 6% surprises me. I would have sworn it was a lot less than that.

  13. Antoine 13

    One could also mention various events that have shaken confidence in cycleways

    A.

    [lprent: Perhaps if you left some relevant links to these ‘events’ or even an actual argument so that people could judge for themselves. Then I’d have some confidence that this isn’t what it looks like – a really stupid gamed astroturf to get the first comment to divert the debate from the post. So I’m adding to the bottom and banning you for a week for trolling. ]

  14. DrZimmer 14

    Restore the trolleybus system and trolleybuses under a new BIG RED agency. It’s the only way forward. Make sure to dump Lester and the City Council politicians at the next election as they voted to support the junking of the trolleybus overhead infrastructure!

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