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Bus infrastructure may return to public

Bus infrastructure may come back into public ownership for the first time in decades.

Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] agreed at a meeting last week that it will consult with communities on whether to bring bus infrastructure back into public ownership as part of its Long-Term Plan process in 2024.

Currently, GWRC’s public transport arm Metlink contracts several different companies that own buses and depots to run its services, the largest of which is Wairarapa-based Tranzit Group.

But in the future, the regional council wants to own some of those assets itself to enable faster and more integrated investment in bus services across the region.

Metlink manager Samantha Gain said GWRC and Metlink will prioritise increased control of bus depots in the short to medium term and are not currently looking to run the day-to-day operations themselves.

The last time buses were in public ownership in the Wellington region was 1992 under Wellington City Council, after which they were sold to Stagecoach.

GWRC chair Daran Ponter said it is important for communities to have their say in the future of bus infrastructure.

“As communities will know, public transport plays an incredibly important role in connecting people and places, as well as a pivotal role in mitigating the impacts of climate change,” Ponter said.

“The more people we can move with the fewest vehicles, the better, and to be able to do that we need the right infrastructure in the right place.

“To enable rapid growth to both the size and frequency of our network we need certainty over critical transport infrastructure and their timely investment.”

Wairarapa’s main Metlink bus service is the 200, which runs daytime trips between Masterton and Martinborough seven days a week.

Public consultation for the GWRC Long Term Plan is currently scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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