New Zealand / Transport

New Wellington bus routes good for some but not all

11:21 am on 11 July 2018

A young Wellington woman with chronic pain is worried how she'll get to university when bus routes change dramatically next week.

One of the new buses being rolled out in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

On Sunday a huge overhaul of the capital's bus services will go live.

It means while some people will be better off, others will have fewer options or a longer journey.

Victoria University student Sabina Child has a chronic pain condition that means she can't walk far, and she needs to sit when on the bus.

She's concerned that as of next Sunday there'll only be one direct route for her to take, and this bus will only run in peak times.

"I'm very worried for myself because it's going to put a lot of extra time and a lot of extra energy into my commute ... when although it doesn't seem like much for some people it was already quite uncomfortable for me, and it was already quite a stretch getting back to university with health issues, anyway."

She was expecting that if she could not catch the only bus that would go directly to Kelburn Parade, it would take at least 20 minutes longer for her to get to university.

One of her options is to take a bus into town, and either get another bus to the campus, or walk.

"It will also be a lot harder for people with accessibility issues like me, we'll have to be forced to do more walking between buses or wait outside in the cold, or in the heat in summer.

"A lot of people will be taking this one bus, so it might not always be possible to get a seat."

But the changes would also bring benefits to residents across the city.

In Churton Park, just north of the city, the residents association had been working with the regional council for years to make sure any route changes were for the better.

Next week residents would have access to a new loop route and a route along Wellington's so-called transport spine to Island Bay, residents' association member Richard Taylor said.

"We've now got a there and back through the centre of the suburb supplemented by a loop route round the fringes. So we believe that the majority of people are better served than they were before."

The area is growing fast, Mr Taylor said, and the current route doesn't get close enough to people not near the surburb's centre.

"With the changes in the routes, and this new spine one on a there and back basis, I think more people have got reasonable access to the bus."

In a statement, the Greater Wellington Regional Council said the new network would address the broader needs of the community.

Seventy five percent of people would be within a kilometre of a high frequency bus services, compared to 45 percent now, and 26 suburbs would see more off-peak services.

The new system was developed after years of planning and talking to the community, and seeing what other cities do.