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May 1, 2014 | by  | in Homepage News |
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Bus Stopped

The Greater Wellington Regional Council is looking to cut University bus routes, including the popular number 18, in a move VUWSA says will add to student travel time and CBD congestion.

Under the Draft Regional Public Transport Plan, currently in the process of consultation, new “hubs” will be created at the Railway Station, Karori Tunnel and Courtenay Place.

The number-18 route will be cut in favour of “frequent direct connections from hubs” which will “enable access from across Wellington.” The 17, 20, 22, 23 and 47 routes will also be replaced by new University bus routes, L and M, which would operate seven days a week.

The M will go from Wellington Station to Kelburn Campus, via the Terrace, every 7.5 minutes, down from the current interval of 5.7 minutes for the multiple routes which access the University.

The L will go from Karori to Mount Victoria via Courtenay Place. It would go from Courtenay Place to Kelburn Campus every ten minutes, an improvement on the current 12-minute interval.

VUWSA’s Welfare Vice-President Rick Zwaan said that the cuts will add time to students’ commutes and cause stress.

“The changes would mean that most people travelling from Newtown would go along the ‘Golden Mile’ route before having to transfer to travel up the Terrace from the Railway Station end. This would add 3.3 km to the route, increasing the travel time by at least five minutes in off-peak travel – a 25 per cent increase. Congestion along the Golden Mile during peak hours would increase this even further,” Zwaan said.

The Plan also proposes introducing a 25 per cent off-peak concession, while removing the current disability concession.

The concession would apply to travel from 9 am to 3.30 pm and after 6.30 pm Monday to Friday, and 5 am Saturday to midnight Sunday. However, this proposal is in the long-term plan, so if approved would not be enacted for more than ten years.

The GWRC says that an across-the-board off-peak concession is “fairer and more equitable” than a discount targeted towards tertiary students.

“An across-the-board concession for all tertiary students would mean that everyone studying at a tertiary institution – regardless of their economic circumstances – would pay cheaper fares. However, young people on the minimum wage or jobseeker allowance would pay the full fares.”

“These changes would also benefit many tertiary students, with Victoria University reporting that two-thirds of student travel is in off-peak periods.”

The GWRC is also considering introducing a fare-capping regime and investigating the introduction of a “bulk purchase product” which would initially be targeted towards tertiary students.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown supports the concessions, saying that “affordable fares are critical in getting more people onto public transport. This is a good step forward.”

Paul Bruce, Councillor on the GWRC, said that he was happy with the discount but thought that it was primarily based on traffic reduction. He said there should be a specific student discount but that it should be funded by central government, like the Gold Card.

Bruce also said there was a “democratic deficit” as there had been only three public meetings about the proposal, which he found “deeply disturbing.”

The Plan also proposes integrated ticketing, with one “smart card” for all public transport. The smart card would also eliminate “transfer penalties” so there would be no extra cost to transfer between buses, trains and ferries. However, this would involve “a three-to-five-year business transformation process”, so the earliest this could be introduced would be 2017.

Another proposed option is bulk purchasing, whereby organisations would be able to bulk-buy public-transport period passes at a discounted rate. According to the plan, this would be initially targeted at university students, but work on pricing and scheme development has not been done yet.

The Draft Regional Public Transport Plan is open for submissions until 9 May.

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Comments (7)

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  1. briar says:

    what does this mean for bus 47? because everyday I catch the bus from johnsonville and the new L and M routes dont seem to account for that. 47 Should remain and it should be more frequent, because stopping it between 2-5 is ridiculous because thats when most people finish uni.

  2. Alex Pannekoek says:

    In my personal experiences as a tertiary student at Victoria University, I dread catching the bus as (mainly in Winter) there is upward of 30 students waiting on the Murphy bldg-side bus stop with minor cover from the wind and rain and only so many buses to pack people on to.
    Currently if you are either at the back of the mob or there are just too many people (which are both very common) you must wait another 15-20 minutes in the elements if you live anywhere that isn’t near to the train station or reachable via the train.

    I believe we need better cover on at least Murphy bldg side and more buses that travel towards Newtown, Island Bay and Kilbirnie.

    This new idea will end up costing more time and money to those that are already deprived of both!

  3. Driver says:

    Delays, congestion, and rip-off fares: absolutely positively Wellington.

  4. bonnie says:

    If 18 is going to get cut, doesn’t that mean only two buses will run from Miramar? It’s already packed enough in the morning for all three buses, so it would be even harder to take a bus if 18 is cut. Plus 18 is the only bus which takes us directly to the campus. There should be a better way to approach this……

  5. Philippa says:

    The proposal is that from the southern suburbs the route 18 be replaced by a free connection to a frequent shuttle from Courtenay Place direct to Kelburn. Unlike the route 18 which only benefits some suburbs and only runs half hourly during the day (and not at all evenings and weekends) the proposal would provide more extensive access to Kelburn with students able to use any bus to get to Courtenay Place, including express buses, and then take a free connection up the hill to Kelburn. This will provide more frequent and faster travel options for many across southern and eastern suburbs compared with the current route 18.

  6. Philippa says:

    Re Route 47: The proposal is to combine it with the Northland bus route and it will continue to connect Ngaio to Victoria University.

  7. Tim says:

    Don’t like the ideas; you’ve got 4 hours till submissions close on this. Go to http://www.gw.govt.nz/ptplan/ and check the maps and follow the ‘make a submission’ link and tell them what you think. Don’t just sit on Salient grumbling; make your thoughts known to the decision-makers. Like the buses – TELL THEM WHY.

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