Passenger numbers were low heading into Wellington on the first day back in level 2. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

It was a stop-start opening day for public transport on Wednesday with Wairarapa commuters appearing to be in no rush to get back to the capital for work.

With all of New Zealand [bar Auckland] having entered into level 2 from 11.59pm on Tuesday, people now have the freedom to head back to their work places after three weeks of working
from home.

However, that freedom didn’t seem to encourage many of the 900-plus people who use the train every day to commute to Wellington for work, from leaving their home.

Coach company Tranzit, who were called in last minute to replace regular train services due to a damaged signal cable on the Wairarapa train line, said eight buses were used to transport passengers over the Remutaka Hill on Wednesday morning, but had initially set aside 15.

“The travelling volumes were much lighter today with far fewer passengers travelling than had been expected, a Tranzit spokesperson said.

A passenger on one of the bus services who arrived at the Wellington Train Station from Wairarapa on Wednesday morning said: “It was a little weird because everyone was really spaced out but at the same time there weren’t really many of us in there, when normally there’s plenty. We were at least two seats apart from each other.”

Going back into level 2, the Wairarapa train line’s full regular timetable had resumed from the three services that were provided during level 3. However, Wellington public transport operator Metlink’s website had not been updated on Wednesday, which potentially could have brought confusion over departure times.

Metlink said the swift alert level change is the reason for the update delays, although they said their website would be updated today.

“There’s usually a 24-hour lag during the quicker alert level changes,” a Metlink spokesperson said.

“We have been sending service alerts to passengers that have subscribed for MyMetlink messages and there’s a service alert message on the website saying the full timetable has resumed.”

As school returned yesterday, Tranzit has issued a timely reminder for people to be patient and work together as everyone adjusts to the new alert level settings.

On Ministry of Education school bus services, face coverings are not mandatory for students and drivers, but were encouraged.

Tranzit said reports were the travelling public was scanning in and wearing face masks.

“For those using public transport, please scan in using the covid tracer app, and continue to wear face masks which are mandatory for anyone over 12 years of age.”



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