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The buses: don’t look back

With only one day till the local election results are announced, the Regional Council has congratulated itself on a year of “challenge and success.” But it chooses its words evasively when it describes its bustastrophe, looking hopefully ahead and referring instead to a “future focussed bus network.”


A press release from outgoing chair Chris Laidlaw spends most of its energy describing its efforts to fight climate change and pests, to boost flood protection, to develop a natural resources plan and a biodiversity network and a regional investment plan, and to build “a more resilient infrastructure.”

It is pleased with the number of trees that it has planted (with help from others) and it notes that it now has three committees caring for clean water.

But Chris Laidlaw says that such a solid performance has been “obscured with the problems associated with the bus services in Wellington city.”

“The launch of the region’s new bus network, a complex and ambitious challenge, didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped,” says Cr Laidlaw. “For a variety of reasons we were unable to meet many of our performance targets. But to the council’s credit we quickly acknowledged the issues confronting the network – some of which were outside our control – and worked face to face with the community and stakeholders to resolve problems and adjust services to meet needs.”

Not a word of sympathy for unhappy bus travellers. Instead, he makes it all seem to have been inevitable:

“Overhauling an increasingly out-of-date network was never going to proceed without issues. Difficult though the experience was, we believe we have rebalanced the network to align with regional growth and demand. Time will show that we are on the right course for Wellington.”

Bus travellers on malperforming routes may well observe that time has not yet shown them that things are on the right course.

But everyone who has voted (you’ve still got time…) will be anticipating that new leadership at the regional council may at last signal that bus services will be getting better.

Lindsay Shelton