Let’s really get Wellington moving and make immediate improvements to your public transport.
- Accelerate bus priority on key routes – to improve reliability and speed of the bus service.
- Work with GWRC and Wellington Airport to revitalise the Airport Flyer – get it back on real time information and Snapper, and improve amenity/way finding at the Airport.
- Work with GWRC to trial shuttle services from some suburban areas to local railway stations
- Improve pedestrian links to and from bus stops
Getting more people walking, cycling and using public transport is vital to reduce congestion and reduce our carbon footprint.
It is important to understand roles. Wellington City Council does not run the bus and train system. Greater Wellington Regional Council contracts the bus and train providers, owns the trains, and sets routes, fares and timetables.
However the City Council can work with GWRC, NZTA and other Councils. We provide bus stops and most of the bus shelters, and bus priority.
I’ve been in charge of almost every bus priority improvement Council has ever done, and some like bus priority in Glenmore Street and Hunter Street were my personal ideas. Bus Priority is vitally important in helping buses keep to timetable. We all know the frustration of the late or cancelled bus! Bypassing other traffic also sends a message about the benefits of taking the bus.
We can also make public transport more attractive by the way we design our city and managing parking allocation in a complementary way. I was one of the original architects of the compact city we enjoy today with its mixture of residential, commercial, retail uses. That is much more PT friendly than the sprawl that many cities suffer. That’s a major reason our regional public transport has grown from 23 million uses at its nadir in 1992 to 38.5 million in 2017-18.
It’s also why Wellington has by far the highest level of walking, cycling and public transport use of anywhere in New Zealand. The last available census figures showed commuting in Wellington City nearing 1 person walking, biking and on bus or train for every car driver / passenger, while in the rest of the region driver/passengers outnumbered pedestrians/cyclists/PT users 4 to 1, and in Auckland and Christchurch it was more than 5 to 1.
Over several years Wellington City Councillors refused my requests to budget for bus priority, and have been until now lukewarm at best on delivery because it can be hard. Now finally we have money for bus priority in our budget and I want to get things done!
We had the best bus system in the country, but since Greater Wellington’s 2018 bus review clearly there are real problems with reliability, cancellations, and connections. We need to help them fix these critical problems.
The Flyer must be reinvigorated. I’m working with Regional Councillor Daran Ponter and GWRC management to do this. Taking it off RTI and Snapper earlier this year naturally crashed passenger numbers by hiking the price and preventing people knowing where the buses are! Given Airport traffic is approximately 1/3rd of the volume going through Mount Victoria tunnel, getting a lot more people onto a quick, affordable, traceable bus service to town is essential. I think we can do more to make the Airport terminal more attractive. Including the Flyer inside the Metlink system will allow it to be priced more attractively. Even making it the equivalent of 4 or even 5 sections would drop the price from $12 to $6 or 6.50 cash, and $4.20 or 5.13 peak (Snapper) or $3.15 / 3.85 off peak (Snapper).
I’m talking with GWRC management about trialling shuttle services around hillside suburb areas to their nearest train station. Park and Ride at most Johnsonville Line stations are generally full, and there is no land to expand them, so how about a cheap/free regular shuttle allowing people in say Crofton Downs or Ngaio to get to and from the train without needing to drive there.
Easy walking access to and from bus stops is important too. I’ve had many complaints about some bus services that under the new routes go to the Railway Station when people really want to get to Lambton Quay. Many services go down the Terrace and we could very simply better signpost and promote the pedestrian / lift links between the Terrace and the Quay to at least partially address this.
Finally half of all the bus trips we take involve crossing a road to get to the stop. I will work with stakeholders like Living Streets and Public Transport Users Association to identify key bus stops where improved road crossings are needed.
I’ll get this done!