There’s been alot of anger about Bustastrophe, the multi-faceted meltdown of Wellington’s public transport. While the anger has focussed on the last ten months of change, the last ten years have seen Wellington’s public transport dead in the water. Indeed Auckland’s growth has vastly outstripped ours. Wellington has added 2 trips per capita in the last ten years, whereas Auckland has added 20 trips per capita. Auckland will soon have more trips per capita than us. I always thought Wellington prided itself on having the best city lifestyle of anywhere in New Zealand, but when it comes to transport at least, that will soon no longer be true. 

So while Bustastrophe has been the catalyst for Wellingtonians public transport rage, it has more shown up a prolonged period of underperformance and underinvestment as much as anything else. This underinvestment led directly to Bustastrophe, as many of the things that would have led to increased patronage were not done before the new network implementation. These include integrated ticketing – using your snapper card on all public transport, trains running on 15 minute frequencies, and some frequent cross-town buses. It’s worth noting that with Auckland’s much more successful network redesign, these things were mostly rolled out. Auckland has had integrated ticketing for years, has at least one frequent train line, and has cross-town frequent buses.

For mine, we can complain about Bustastrophe as much as we like, but to keep Wellington as New Zealand’s best city, we need to invest more in public transport. Otherwise we will continue to stagnate. Wellingtonians make ten car trips for every bus or train trip. With more investment, many of these trips could be on public transport instead. To decongest and decarbonise we need to invest in our public transport properly, instead of just hoping underpaid bus drivers will somehow save us.

NB: This post has left poor pay and conditions for drivers out. Because that is deserving of a whole separate post

Conor Hill