Wellington’s Public Transport Disaster

When I was a child, the bus turned up on time, was probably an electric trolley, seemed to have enough room, was affordable, driven by an affable rogue, and got you where you needed to go when you needed to be there. Not so much these days.

Step forward a few decades, and the converse appears to be true, at least in my opinion.

The bus doesn’t turn up when it should, the “real-time information” boards should really be called the “fake news information” boards, we seem to have a significant number of noisy types of diesel buses, the drivers are angry, the cost is expensive, some genius broke most of the routes up by making people get off one bus and on to another, and good luck getting where you need to be on time, ever.

Anecdotal information supports the view that the once proud bus public transport system in Wellington has devolved into a worse than third world service. Of course, everyone knows why except the Greater Wellington Regional Council who breathlessly defend the mess of their own making taking entirely no responsibility for what is driving people back onto the road (pardon the pun.)

And back onto the road people are going.

I know several people who have abandoned the bus service for their cars in the last fortnight. Why? Because they need to get to work on time and right now, that appears to be a near impossibility.

How did we end up here? It’s likely it has to do with money. Of course, it does.

It is standard business knowledge that choosing a cheap tender price results in a mess. You can apply this rule to any tender of any kind. Selecting the most affordable option will result in failure almost 100% of the time.

We’ve all seen it before. The lowest bid floats in, probably hasn’t done the due diligence required, most likely has a great sales team while the operations people are shaking their head in disbelief at what they are selling, and then the mad scramble to make the solution work starts once the ink is barely dry.

New Zealand is the first country since the Paris Climate Accord was signed to remove sustainable electric public transport, when progressive countries are moving in the opposite direction. – ReVolt Wellington

Untangling this confusion is going to take a lot of effort, effort, which so far, is absent. According to ReVolt, the impacts of the changes have been myriad.

Stressed drivers, inexperienced drivers, double-deckers taking far longer to load & unload, passengers not being able to get on full buses or buses that are not in service trying to make up time, an increase in fares, much-increased pollution, and more noise.

I drove through Miramar recently at just after 9am on a Wednesday morning. There sat a shipping container with holes in its sides, people spilling out into the rain, all apparently waiting for a bus. I wondered which genius chose the location of the “bus stop” given its dangerous proximity to the pedestrian crossing forcing cars into a blind spot as they pass the bus.

Honestly, who thought that shipping containers were a good idea for a bus shelter.

Frankly, I have seen better third world public transport systems.

This is likely to remain in the current state for the foreseeable future because none of the parties responsible refuses to believe that anything is wrong, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Once again, local government has accidentally radicalised people, see the Island Bay Cycleway for another good example, with the ReVolt group being formed and taking some aggressive action. Of course, local government claims that it consulted on the new system, which prima facie it did; however you can see from the original proposal to the current mess, little was changed.

Wellington City Council has, as usual, remained wholly detached from the problem other than City Councilors Calvi-Freeman and Free taking to Twitter to try and get Metlink to fix point issues.

One could ask what the use of the WCC is in all of this and why our elected representatives are a) generally not engaging and b) if they are, resorting to Twitter to do it.

Of course, the cycle zealots are loving it, in places mocking people and quite literally, telling them to get on their bikes. It is of no matter in particular given that the Cycling Lobbyists have so damaged their public perception that there are very few that listen to them except for other cycling zealots.

So here’s to the death of what was already an ailing bus system after changes made a decade ago put it into critical condition before these changes unplugged the life support and walked down the hospital corridor whistling, hands behind their back, looking a little sheepish.

It could have been so good, but once again, our local government has unabashedly stuffed it up.