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Laidlaw takes it on the chin at angry bus meeting

Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw bore the brunt of the audience’s anger at a public meeting about Wellington’s bus network yesterday.

The noisy meeting at St Pats College, Kilbirnie, was chaired by Rongotai MP Paul Eagle.

It attracted around 300 members of the public from the southern and eastern suburbs who were vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction with the service.

Laidlaw was frequently shouted down, and at time faced abuse.

GWRC public transport general manager Wayne Hastie was also drowned out by the crowd at times.

He claimed that the bus service had shown improvements over the past week, but also admitted that the eight bus hubs across the region, designed to facilitate transfers of passengers between services, were not working at present.

The Kilbirnie bus hub is still under construction.

Laidlaw said that while the hubs were unpopular, they would be made to work.

The meeting also cited problems with driver shortages and inexperience. Concern was expressed for the wellbeing of drivers, who were described as being under serious stress from timetable pressures and long working hours.

Problems with the Real Time Information system, unrealistic timetables, overcrowding and “ghost buses” that disappear from the schedule were also raised by members of the public.

More public GWRC meetings for bus users are scheduled over the next month, with suggestions raised at the meetings considered for an upcoming review.

A meeting for western suburbs residents will take place on Thursday from 7:30pm at Karori West Normal School, 19 Allington Road (previously scheduled for Karori Community Centre).

A meeting on Miramar buses is scheduled for Thursday 6 September from 7:30pm at Gateway Baptist Church, 33 Park Road, Miramar.

Meetings are also planned for Khandallah and Mornington.