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Bus hub budget balloons to $14m

The cost of installing seven bus hubs has blown out from $3.5m to more than $14 million.

RNZ story by Senior Reporter Catherine Hutton
@Chuttonnz [email protected]

The Kilbirnie bus hub in Wellington had to be modified after the WCC announced the cycleway route. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The bus hubs, designed to connect buses from the outer suburbs with the main routes, are part of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s changes to the public transport service, which has been plagued with problems since it launched in July and is now the subject of an independent review.

The seven hubs, comprising at least one bus shelter, lighting, electronic signage and associated road works, were expected to cost $3.5 million to install.

However, the agenda for tomorrow’s Greater Wellington transport committee meeting shows the combined cost has risen to $14.4 million.

The agenda said the costs of the project were higher than originally anticipated, but it added that because it has already consulted on the project, it does not need to go back to the public, as further delays would impact on customer levels of service.

Announcing the new hubs in June last year, Greater Wellington’s Sustainable Transport Committee chair Barbara Donaldson said “the existing hubs are poorly located and have to go”.

She now says that original cost was based on very early estimates, when the council thought it was putting in traditional bus shelters. After consulting with the Wellington City Council it was decided more complex structures were needed.

Councillor Donaldson said the bus hubs are not ordinary bus stops. They are encased in glass for security so people can see in and out. Each one has a pole, connected to power, the network and CCTV and contains a weather-proof high tech cabinet.

They also require much stronger foundations because of the heavy galvanised structure.

Each site also had different underground problems, including cables that weren’t identified, or the placement of sewer pipes.

“They’re wider than bus stops and bus stops don’t have the glass right around them and they don’t have the totem pole with all that connectivity. They may look like bus stops, but they’re very high level bus stops,” Donaldson said.

The project has had problems.

At the Miramar hub, the electronic sign was situated so anyone sitting inside the hub couldn’t see it.

Councillor Donaldson said the council was constrained where it could put the sign because of underground services, and city council requirements and standards.

Meanwhile the hub at Kilbirnie had to modified after the council announced the cycleway route.

“A lot of this is because we have to work with our partners and adjust things according to their requirements. Some things may be not as desirable as they should be,” she said.

At Courtenay Place the number of new hubs has increased from one to three, because the existing ones were found to be substandard, while new bus shelters were required at Wellington Station, that had not been identified in the original programme.

“All those things have come with extra costs, that until we did all the design and discovered all the issues couldn’t possibly have been calculated,” she said.

Councillor Donaldson said she expected the hubs to be finished in February 2019.