Prioritising buses on the road

We’re working to give buses priority on the road and make key bus routes more reliable.

Key facts

  • 70,000 bus trips every day in Wellington (nearly a third are for education).
  • Buses often take twice as long as cars for the same journey.
  • About 97% of Wellingtonians live within easy walking distance of a bus stop, but just 37% of people use the bus when travelling to the central city in the morning peak.

Source: Draft Bus Priority Action Plan 2019 (Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council).

How we’re giving buses priority

We need to move more people with fewer vehicles in Wellington, especially at peak travel times. Giving priority to buses on key routes helps to move more people around the city and make it more attractive than driving by car.

We’ve developed a draft bus priority action plan to make buses more reliable and quicker on the busiest routes in Wellington city. It will also look at how walking and cycling can be made safer and easier on these routes, and opportunities to make the streets better places for people. 

Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council commissioned the draft plan and councillors from both councils approved the plan at their meetings on 11 and 12 December 2019.

Wellington bus priority plan draft 2019 (13MB PDF)

The draft plan highlights priorities for early improvements, based on passenger volumes, the size of the problems, and the expected benefits for the cost incurred.

The draft plan estimates that an investment of between $90 million and $143 million across key bus routes will mean buses travel up to nine minutes (or 27%) faster in the morning peak.

There’s a range of measures we can use to make buses more reliable, including:

  • bus lanes
  • clearways
  • transit lanes
  • timing changes at traffic lights (so buses go first)
  • in-lane bus stops (the bus stops in the traffic lane to pick up/drop off passengers, rather than pulling off to the side)
  • adjustments to car parks
  • the spacing and quantity of bus stops.

How this links with other public transport improvements

The bus priority programme is one of a range of measures under way to improve the bus network and transport systems in Wellington. Greater Wellington Regional Council is reviewing the design of the Metlink bus network, looking at what works well and what changes may be needed.

Councillors on both councils have agreed that bus priority improvements will be part of Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) – a joint initiative between the two councils and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to develop a transport system for the city that moves more people with fewer vehicles.

The bus priority work would be incorporated into wider transport improvements being planned for the city.  These include the Golden Mile – which is planned to become part of a public transport spine from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place – and Thorndon Quay/Hutt Road which is one of the city’s busiest transport corridors and will include provision for walking and cycling.