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Wellington mayor wants Government help tackling bus crisis

Author
Newstalk ZB ,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 13 March 2019, 11:38a.m.
Justin Lester wants a crown observor to help tackle the ongoing issues. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Wellington's mayor says problems with the city's bus network have gone on too long.

Justin Lester says he'd like the Transport Minister to consider appointing a crown observer to help the regional council.

NZ Bus is up to 40 drivers short, leading to up to 30 services being cancelled a day.

This is after a new network rollout eight months ago sparked chaos for commuters,with one calling the situation a "lasagne of failure".

Amongst the issues included the cancellation of popular routes, including a direct service to the zoo, and seats being removed from buses to improve capacity.

Justin Lester says what's currently happening is just not good enough.

"If the Crown Observer can help improve that process and work alongside the regional council and strengthen the lines of communication with [central[ Government, that's something I'd like to see considered."

However, he says the Transport Minister would have to be sure any government intervention would help the process rather than hinder it.

"If you introduce a new party, sometimes it can also be a drag, it can hinder the process, and you want to make sure it's focussed on improving the bus service."

However, Sustainable Transport Committee deputy chairman Daran Ponter says the fault lies with NZ Bus themselves. 

He told Heather Du Plessis-Allan that they have known about this problem for a while. 

"NZ Bus have dropped the ball, and have not put the recruitment tor the training in place to have more drivers." 

Ponter says they are the common denominator in public transport issues across the country. 

He says there are penalties for the company for things such as cancelled services and using the wrong bus, but Ponter does not know how much they are fined. 

"It's not that I can't tell you, no councillors are made aware of that issue." 

Ponter admits it may be time to ask that question of the officers who issue the penalties, but whether it would change anything he is not sure. 

He denies that 

The main thing that he wants to see happen is a wage increase to attract more bus drivers. 

"Those wage rates need to go up by something like $5 an hour to make it a more attractive career."

Greater Wellington Regional Council CEO, Greg Campbell, last September dropped his other duties to focus on fixing the transport crisis, with no solution found.

LISTEN ABOVE AS DARAN PONTER SPEAKS TO HEATHER DU PLESSIS-ALLAN 

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