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=> Please share this post with the wider Wellington neighbourhood as the Neighbourly posting option seems to have restricted to immediate neighbourhood .
For people who use the public transport and found the new bus network not working for them, I urge you to write to Metlink to express your view.
Someone was right, having a moan on social media is not going to make a difference. Having enough people writing to GWRC/Metlink may make a difference. Following is the letter I sent to Metlink/GWRC:
I would like to provide some feedback on the new Wellington bus network. There have been multiple serious issues for commuters since the go live of the new networks nearly 2 weeks ago. Issues can be summarised into the following main categories:
• Excessive delays in getting to the destination
• Severe overcrowding during peak time
• Multiple transfers required to get to the destination adding to the delay
• Missing buses
• Some routes are now missing in the new network
• A lot of the transfer hubs are no more than ordinary bus stops which do not provide shelters against the rain/wind for transferring commuters.
Whilst Metlink would like to argue that these are teething issues when introducing a large and complex new network. In my humble opinion: Yes, there are teething issues which can be fixed (eg. Bus shelters) but the root cause of the problem is a flawed network design which is not fit for purpose for Wellington.
The old network is principally a point to point network whereas the new network is a hub and spoke model by and large. The new design has high frequency services leading to the hub and then transfer from the hub to the lower frequency artillery routes.
The theory of hub and spoke model is to reduce overall complexity of the network and optimise traffic flow through the entire network. A critical assumption of a hub and spoke design is that traffic must be allowed to flow unhindered from the spoke to the hub. Unfortunately, this assumption does not hold true given Wellington’s geography and topography. Wellington has mostly single lane, narrow roads and the traffic flow is unpredictable at the best of time. A delay on the route leading to the hub will cause a domino effect throughout the entire network. This is what commuters are experiencing with excessive delays and more delays caused by missed connections.
I know GWRC has done computer modelling and simulation study on the new network, but I do not believe the computer model /simulation study had taken (enough) in to account the unpredictable nature of the Wellington single lane roads.
With the new design, having high frequency buses going to the hub does not actually improve the overall service. Often the high frequency buses do not show up and when they do show up, they are literally following one another. Personally, I have witnessed the No 22 High Frequency buses exhibit this behaviour over the last 7 days. They are either not on time or they follow closely one another at arrival at a stop. Another observation is that the time to load and unload a double decker is holding up all the other buses and cause a domino delay effect on the network
Notwithstanding the above, a design which requires multiple transfers to get to a destination in a compact city like Wellington is pure madness. Real world examples of where hub and spoke model have worked well have multi lane roads and/or dedicated bus lanes to ensure that traffic can get smoothly to the hub for a transfer to the spoke. Wellington does not have the luxury of multi lane roads or dedicated bus lanes.
The old point to point network is not perfect by any measure but it was largely working prior to it being de-commissioned. I would argue that the old point to point network is more suited to Wellington’s topography and being a compact city in nature. All that is needed is a further refinement to the old network by introducing hub and spoke design where it makes sense rather than a wholesale change.
I would like to urge Metlink/GWRC to do the following for the sake of not creating further problems for the suffering commuters:
1. Rollback and re-instate the old network as soon as practicable
2. Initiate a study on how the old network can be refined further
3. Settle the pay and working conditions dispute with the bus drivers promptly and in good faith.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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