Council Calls for More Consultation on Bus Changes

23 March 2012

Wellington City Council believes bus network changes are necessary and could have major benefits for the city but is urging Greater Wellington Regional Council to take heed of community feedback and make sure it gets the changes right.

It also wants to see more consultation before any changes are made.

The Council's Transport Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, says public transport improvements are crucial for the city's future. The Council supports the principle of more weekend and frequent services and some reduction in the number of buses running through the central city.

"However, it is essential that Greater Wellington works through all the issues that have been raised by the community as it fine tunes its proposals," he says. While there may need to be some trade-offs, the details and way individual bus routes work will be critical in retaining existing bus users and getting more people on to public transport.

"Some 5,500 people and organisations have had their say, which shows there is a huge level of community interest in this, including high-level and route-specific concerns. We'll be offering to work with Greater Wellington to look at some of these issues and believe that there must be more public consultation before any changes are made."

The City Council's Strategy and Policy Committee yesterday debated and agreed on the content of its submission on the Wellington City Bus Review.

City Councillors were particularly concerned about the likely impacts on public transport users in the northern suburbs and voted unanimously to ask Greater Wellington to avoid making any changes in that area until fully integrated ticketing and fares are in place.

Integrated ticketing and fares allow people to pay just once even if their journey involves transfers and different types of public transport.

Cr Foster says making sure people can change buses and make connections easily is fundamental.

"Greater Wellington will have to make sure comfortable, attractive interchange facilities are in place before changes are made, that connecting services arrive when they are meant to and that there is enough room on the buses to cope with transferring passengers.

"Capacity is a big issue. The last thing we want to see is people discouraged from using public transport."

The Council supports the plan to keep core bus services on the Golden Mile and says an alternate route for peak-hour services should only be used as a last resort. If such a route is necessary, it wants to work with Greater Wellington to determine the best route and bus stop locations.