This government and most local councils are hellbent on getting people out of cars and onto public transport. This works well in cities like London or Hong Kong, where population numbers are sky high and there are huge numbers of tourists. It doesn’t work quite so well though in a city like Wellington with only 200,000 people (350,000 if you include the entire region) or even Auckland, which may boast 1.5 million residents, but is spread out over about 1100 square kilometres.

Nevertheless, the number of parking buildings in the capital has been reduced significantly, as earthquake damaged buildings have never been reopened. Now parking in the city is difficult if not impossible and, if you live in the Hutt Valley and work in Newtown, you may take the train, but then, from the railway station, you will have to take a bus… and then, the fun begins.

Almost 50 rush-hour Wellington bus services will be cancelled every day from August 25, as the city’s driver shortage continues to cripple the network.

Metlink said on Monday 25 Tranzurban services would be scrapped for up to six months, with another seven to be replaced by taxi vans.

The announcement follows the cancellation of 21 NZ Bus services in February, taking the total number of planned cancellations to 46.

The NZ Bus cancellations were expected to last up to six months. But that period ends on August 25 and so far none of the services have been reinstated.

Instead, that date will mark the day in which the scheduled number of cancellations will double.

Don’t forget that, about a year ago, the bus timetables were changed dramatically in Wellington and that travel times for some commuters went from 20 minutes to one-and-a-half hours after the changes.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s sustainable transport committee chairperson, Barbara Donaldson, said the changes were made to provide certainty for commuters.
“The past few weeks have been an uncertain time for customers across the network not being sure if their trip will happen or not.

Stuff

So now they can be certain that their trip is not going to happen. That provides greater certainty for commuters… but probably not the type of certainty they hoped for.

Oh, and don’t forget: the second Mt Victoria tunnel, desperately needed to reduce congestion in the urban area, has been pushed back into the never-never by Green Associate Minister of Transport, Julie Anne Genter.

Things are becoming really silly now. People simply cannot get to work on time. Businesses are losing custom because their parking has been ripped up for cycle lanes, or simply because no one can park anywhere in the city, so they don’t bother going unless they have to.

One of the ideas floated some time ago, with the intention of reducing congestion, was that people drive to the outskirts of the city and then take a bus into the centre of town. You can see how well that idea will work now, can’t you?

I don’t have a problem in principle with public transport of any sort, but if local and central governments want to encourage people out of their cars, they are going to have to provide a reliable and affordable service that gets people to where they want to go within a reasonable time frame. Instead, they are forcing people out of their cars, but providing less and less in the way of public transport, with absolutely no idea how to fix the problems.

I was driving into Wellington on a day in early July when there was a train derailment. The traffic was going no faster than the average snail on the motorway and totally gridlocked in town.

Just think about the state of affairs in Wellington on that day though. No trains, no buses, and for all those commuters forced to drive into town to get to work… nowhere to park.

Yes, some people could work from home, but how are you going to do that if you are a nurse at the hospital, a receptionist in an office or a fireman going on duty?

The Wellington City Council has studiously ignored this problem for years, preferring to put down rainbow crossings rather than deal with transport issues. Now, they are joined by an ideological government that hates private transport but can do nothing to improve public transport systems without massive infrastructure programmes that will take decades and billions of dollars to implement.

Ideology does not get you to work on time. In the meantime, those people who do want to get to work on time are labelled as ‘car fascists’ by our Associate Minister of Transport.