Regional Council promises Wellington buses will be punctual within 8 weeks

Regional Council promises Wellington buses will be punctual within 8 weeks
Photo credit: Newshub

From next week under-performing Wellington bus operators will face penalties imposed by Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC).   

GWRC has told a Transport Select Committee at Parliament that implementing the new bus services in Wellington has been a "bumpy ride", but it didn't explain what form the penalties would take.

Chairman Chris Laidlaw said the service has had some unforeseen real-time problems from day one. The performance of operators has been mixed, with some disappointing.

"We thought the incumbent operator would operate well from day one, but that's not been the case," GWRC chief executive Greg Campbell said.

"Karori services have been particularly concerning, and I apologise for that."

GWRC is working to ensure buses are punctual and that there's room for passengers to get onboard within eight weeks.

A suggestion that services had been implemented smoothly in the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley was met with laughter from Labour MP Virginia Andersen and National MP Chris Bishop.

So too was the suggestion that the process for creating the new network had worked well.

Labour's Paul Eagle said the buses could damage Wellington's reputation as the world's most livable city. Mr Campbell responded that the council had considered its options very carefully.

Mr Bishop said 62 percent of people in the Hutt are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the buses, and 56 percent of people in the Hutt say they're less likely to use them.

National's Nicola Willis asked what assurances were given to the New Zealand Transport Authority that GWRC could deliver major changes to bus network while at the same time undertaking contract negotiations.

"We gave them assurances we could," GWRC general manager public transport Wayne Hastie told the committee.

Mr Hastie said there had been testing of the new routes prior to introducing new services, but not testing of the passenger loadings.

"There's a limited amount of pre-testing you can do," he said.

Mr Eagle urged GWRC to get bus operators together to prevent the threatened indefinite industrial action by the Tramways Union from October 23.

"The opportunity to change the terms within the contracts is very limited," Mr Campbell said.

Mr Campbell told the committee he hasn't seen anything yet that can't be resolved.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester told the committee he's not happy with the bus service, but said the council will support GWRC in implementing its solutions.