No Go Wellington
When Infratil took over Stagecoach Wellington, I was cautiously optimistic: after all, who wouldn't prefer our buses to be owned by a local company rather than a multinational with an atrocious industrial relations reputation? The service was rebranded Go Wellington and got a bright new livery; they sponsored the Cuba St Carnival and promised us smart cards and extra services. What we got was chaos, angst, blame, embarrassment and recriminations.
It's all supposed to have been caused by a botched new rostering system, but one has to wonder: what about the recent industrial action? What about Infratil's threats to get out of the local market if the regulatory system isn't to their liking? Is this part of the sort of brinksmanship and infighting that saw the fate of the trolleybuses go to the (ahem) wire? I haven't the energy or the inside knowledge to speculate, but it's pretty clear who suffers: us.
If that's not enough, we're so short of trains that we're raiding the museums for replacements. With the half-finished bypass still in a confusing limbo, it may be too early to blame it for recent traffic congestion as some have done, but it hardly looks like $40m well spent at the moment. It's flattering when visitors from other parts of New Zealand say things like "public transport that actually works! Wellington feels like a proper city: the sort they have in other countries", but it really looks like we're throwing away our geographic advantages and the investments of previous generations.
I can't offer any solutions for the short-term cockups, but one thing's for sure: the Regional Council needs to stop setting insipid goals about "convincing commuters to get out of their cars" while spending all their money on new roads. Commuters already want to get out of their cars and onto trains and buses: the problem is that there aren't any.