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Bringing back the Number 18

Yesterday’s meeting of the Sustainable Transport Committee of the Greater Wellington Regional Council voted unanimously for the reinstatement of off-peak services on the #18 Metlink bus route.

A number of speakers at the meeting spoke of the difference this would make to commuters from Miramar and Karori, and for students at Victoria University of Wellington.

The #18e (extended) service currently runs from Miramar through Kilbirnie, to the Hospital in Newtown, Massey University in Wallace Street, Victoria University in Kelburn, and then to Karori, returning along the same route.

The changes would extend weekday services from the current five departures from each terminus in the morning, between around 7:20am and 8:40am, and another five in the afternoon from around 3:30pm to 4:50pm. It would also run on weekends.

Bill Guest of the Karori Association told the meeting that removal of the offpeak #18 services had been advised against during planning stages by Karori passengers on the route, and that lack of consultation or feedback on this left them feeling “ignored”.

The Karori Association recommended the reinstatement of the #18 to its original service, which would restore the status quo. It would also provide a constant route from Karori across Kelburn, which would allow for the return of the #21 service to a Glenmore Street route, which the Association also pushed for.

Other speakers also referred to the overcrowding problems that Karori commuters are experiencing with the #2 service. The reinstatement of the #18 would assist in easing congestion and aid capacity.

Robin Boldarin from Miramar spoke about the impact the changes to the #18 route have had on eastern suburbs residents wanting to get to Newtown during offpeak hours, particularly those wanting to get to the Hospital.

Marlon Drake of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association spoke about the value to students of the “Campus Connection” service previously provided by the #18 route. He pointed out that the study and work patterns of students do not easily adhere to a peak-hour service, and that many students live in the Newtown area, and a direct connection from there to the university is vital.

GWRC councillor Daran Ponter’s amendment to the recommendation to Report 18.323 of the Sustainable Transport Committee reads:

“Agree to extend the number 18 service to a seven day a week service from Miramar North to  Karori South providing direct connections to Newtown, the hospital, Massey University University and Victoria University Kelburn campus.”

Speaking to this, Ponter said that council decisions made in 2014 had removed too much capacity, and the removal of the #18 offpeak services, along with the route change from the #3 to the #2, had given Karori passengers no direct route to the Hospital, affecting the sick and elderly as well as students.

No timeline for the reintroduction of the service has been set.