Fierce criticism six weeks after Wellington introduces new bus network

Six weeks after the roll-out of the capital’s new city bus network, there’s been fierce criticism of the way it’s operating from commuters.

A packed out meeting in Kilbirnie this afternoon, organised by Greater Wellington Regional Council who is responsible for the revamp, saw locals airing their concerns over the new system.

Commuters said longer travel times, the removal of some routes and unreliable schedules were unacceptable.

One Strathmore resident said the suburb is suffering from removed services.

“I don’t think this is reasonable when you have teenage children and they’re catching two buses from town at night and then there’s no bus to take them up the hill so they have to walk,” she said.

“Because the network’s such a disaster your figures are going to be totally skewed towards nobody using the buses,” another man said about the council monitoring use of the network.

A Hataitai resident said the removal of a service that took locals from Hataitai to Kilbirnie has stopped older people travelling directly to the supermarket, doctors and library.

The Public Transport Users Association has safety concerns over the new double-decker buses.

“I am wondering who in the regional council decided to bring these to Wellington knowing if there is a cardiac arrest upstairs, how on earth are they going to get the passenger out?” member Kara Lipski said.

Frankie Kinraid is calling for reduced fares until issues are resolved.

Getting to Kilbirnie has gone from taking her 35 minutes maximum to one hour and 35 minutes with the new system.

Ms Kinraid said she was slammed into the bus doors last week on a bus that was crammed with commuters and is now hoping there won’t be a serious incident.

Greater Wellington Regional Council accepts there are issues with operations.

Chairman Chris Laidlaw said a key reason the new system was necessary was due to a build-up of bus congestion in the city.

He said most of the issues stem from the design, which was created by consultants, the performance of operators of the service such as Tranzit and the information system.

“Perhaps the most galling problem of all is there has been a big information technology malfunction from day one,” Mr Laidlaw told the public meeting.

“Who knows why? Who knows why? None of us have really understood why yet but it’s being improved day by day.”

Mr Laidlaw said staff are working seven days a week to follow up faults in the information scheduling system, and a solution would be in place shortly.

At the moment the real-time schedule boards at bus stops are sometimes showing buses are due to arrive before the notification disappears, he said.

Members of the public were critical when Mr Laidlaw said the system is largely functioning properly and many commuters are finding transport is working well.

Rongotai MP Paul Eagle stressed for commuters to share their issues on suggestion boards set up at the meeting and talk to regional council members who were present.

The regional council has reinstated the off-peak service of a popular route between Miramar and Victoria University of Wellington following public criticism of the move.

Commuters aired their concerns at a meeting in Kilbirnie today. Source: 1 NEWS