Cheers Driver!

I want to see a public transport that works for all users, and for the drivers who keep this city going. As a non driver I rely heavily on buses for all kinds of trips. Like all Wellingtonians I am deeply frustrated by the failure to deliver a quality bus service in Wellington. I will lead on fixing the myriad issues affecting our buses.

I know I should just grandstand and say “I’ll fix the buses” but the city council, the regional council and NZTA all have different responsibilities. In this post I look to separate what those issues are and what I will do at each level of government.

Wellington City Council

As much as I’d love to slate the current city council, their role in the mess is the smallest. Wellington City Council controls local roads and bus shelters and that is about it. What I will do is:

  • Deliver bus priority to the north, south, east, and west of the CBD as part of Let’s Get Wellington Moving. This means more bus lanes and more bus priority at intersections.

  • Ensure that people are safe getting to and from bus stops through improvements for pedestrians near bus stops.

  • Where needed, invest in better quality bus stops.

Greater Wellington Regional Council

These are the people with the most responsibility for the day to day running of public transport. Aside from Mayor, this is the most important part of the election this year. The Mayor’s role here is really an advocacy and relationship building one. Here is what I’ll do:

  • First, identify who is best to do the job - who are the candidates who understand the day to frustrations of people whose buses don't show up at a hub? I want to see good plans from candidates for this election. I want to vote for people who use the buses. Before voting starts I will write a post discussing who I think is worth voting for. At this point everyone is running on “fix the buses” but almost none of them have concrete plans.

  • Work with GWRC and NZTA to ensure driver pay and conditions are improved. This directly impacts bus users, as the current inability to recruit leads to huge numbers of cancelled buses.

  • Work with GWRC to make sure the airport bus runs properly and is treated as part of the network with reasonable fares. I'd like to see consideration of an additional route - one from the airport through Newtown, Ghuznee street, Kelburn and to Karori - It’d give great city coverage and could be a good replacement for the Number 18 bus which many still miss.


Hiding above everyone, is NZTA, a central government agency. I will advocate for:

  • Changes to arbitrary farebox recovery rules which force down driver pay and lead directly to cancelled buses for the everyday user. We’ll never be able to deliver good buses without delivering good driver pay and conditions. These rules make that much harder.

  • Wellington is so far behind Auckland with it’s ticketing system. I want to advocate for the one ticketing system for all buses, trains and ferries. Last I heard it was scheduled for rollout to Wellington trains in 2021. We need to know now if this is happening, if not why not?

So those are key for me. it’s important that I advocate realistically and understand what other agencies can and should do. I look forward to delivering a better experience for all Wellingtonians!

Conor Hill