Miramar frustration at bus services
March 25, 2019
Miramar residents are frustrated with every aspect of the bus system and their complaints seem to be falling on deaf ears.
This week children were left out in the cold as buses failed to arrive. Elderly and disabled residents struggled to navigate indirect or unhelpful routes. Buses were too busy to accommodate their disability needs.
The list went on and so did the complaints, but residents felt their views were not being listened to or acted on. Wellington City councillor for the eastern ward Sarah Free doesn’t think this is good enough from the Greater Wellington Regional Council. “They need to sort this before winter.”
Metlink spokesman Stephen Heath said he was “surprised at [negative] comments.”
He was inclined to believe people’s opinions were influenced by the shaky start. “People’s views are still rooted in the difficulties we had when we rolled out in July.”
According to Heath, residents can voice complaints to their local MP, get in touch with the council via email, or post on social media.
Heath said Metlink relied heavily on its Facebook page for feedback. “We’re listening every day.”
However, some residents have trouble accessing even the bus timetables online, so it seems unrealistic to assume they will be making their voices heard on Facebook.
Metlink’s website and the smartphone app, Metlink commuter, show routes and live timetables, and paper timetables are no longer common.
The Metlink website lists only the Miramar library as a stockist of paper timetables.
Elderly Miramar resident Robyn Mahima does not use the website or the app, and was unaware of the library stocking paper timetables.
Bus drivers were often so busy they couldn’t provide her with information. “If I wanted to get over the other side of town I wouldn’t know how to do it!”
Mahima uses a stick to aid mobility, and said overcrowding of busses made it difficult for her to ride safely.
Because of confusion over new routes and crowded busses, Mahima began avoiding taking busses altogether. Instead she uses taxi chits provided by ACC to get around, which is not a permanent solution.
She attended meetings to give feedback at the community centre, but felt the public’s views were ignored. “I wish I had some empowerment.”
Miramar north residents were especially impaired by the route changes. Ella Toft, 20, regularly buses from Miramar north to the railway station, and before the changes to the bus system would catch a direct bus.
Now Ella catches two buses to get into central city and another to take her to the railway station.
Miramar resident Karen Bell’s daughter, 12, and two friends, 10 and 12, were left stranded after three buses failed to arrive on Wednesday morning and their parents had already gone to work.
Miramar north resident Inger Deighton was badly inconvenienced by the removal of the number 2 route, and now has to take two buses to get to Kilbirnie.
She said she now drives to pick up her children at night instead of letting them bus, as the system was too unreliable and sporadic.
Dieghton said that despite the public outcry, “the publicity from Metlink is ridiculously and relentlessly positive whilst ignoring the facts.”
She too emailed regional councillors, with no response. “Everyone seems to be running for cover.”
As residents avoid bsses and opt for cars, traffic levels in an already congested area are rising. Inger said, “I believe there is far more car traffic on the roads now.”
These changes were introduced in tandem with weekend parking charges, which, as Inger said, “just takes the cake.”
To make matters worse, new bus hubs like the one opposite Miramar New World stick out into the road, forcing cars to wait or cross the centre line to pass, making the roads congested and dangerous.
Resident Joanne Henderson has bought a car and is learning to drive because the buses do not enable her the security of getting to work on time.
She also objects to the move of information online. “We shouldn’t need an app for something as simple as catching a bus.”