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"Why won't they listen to us? We made t-shirts and everything!"
The Greater Wellington Regional Council may scrap the number 18 bus route, one of the most popular bus routes for Victoria students.
A vital daily route for thousands of students, the 18 connects Wellington’s eastern suburbs with Victoria’s Kelburn, Te Aro and Karori campuses, as well as Massey University and Toi Whakaari.
The GWRC has proposed a redesign of the city bus network. New “hubs” would be created at the Railway Station, Karori Tunnel and Courtenay Place.
The 18 route would be cut in favour of “frequent direct connections from hubs” which will “enable access from across Wellington”. New university bus routes, L and M, would operate seven days a week. The M would go from Wellington Station to Kelburn Campus, via the Terrace, while the L would go from Karori to Mount Victoria via Courtenay Place.
The proposed changes are part of the GWRC’s Regional Land Transport plan, the organisation’s six-yearly review on how the region’s transport, roads and networks are working. The GWRC will vote on the proposal at their next meeting on February 25.
VUWSA President Rick Zwaan said that getting rid of the 18 would see students in popular residential areas, such as Newtown, facing “increased travel times as well as inaccessible transfers”, particularly for students with mobility impairments.
In a bid to save, or at least replace, the convenient bus route, VUWSA staged a public meeting on the bus last Thursday. At its peak 30-35 people were estimated to have turned out including Regional Councillor Judith Atkins, with GO Wellington allowing those attending to ride on the bus free of charge. Salient now fully intends to start ‘protesting’ on a daily basis.
Zwaan insisted in a media statement that “it’s time for GWRC to step up and listen to what students are saying. This is a genuine problem that will genuinely negatively impact students’ lives and we’re asking them to respond to that.”