Wellington to phase out After Midnight buses to expand regular route hours

Posted: 27 May 2024 | | No comments yet

Greater Wellington Council votes to discontinue After Midnight bus services and extend operating hours on regular routes to better meet community needs and enhance safety for passengers and drivers alike.

Wellington to phase out After Midnight buses to expand regular route hours

Credit: Greater Wellington Regional Council

In response to declining patronage, Greater Wellington councillors have voted to phase out the region’s After Midnight bus services, paving the way for enhanced late-night transportation options across regular Metlink bus routes.

The decision, supported by Council Chair Daran Ponter, follows a sharp 76% drop in patronage since 2006, with After Midnight services now averaging just six passengers per bus. This decline prompted a thorough review in consultation with safety groups and the community, revealing a clear preference for expanded operating hours on existing routes rather than dedicated night services.

“The safety of passengers and drivers is our top priority. But with so few people using night buses it’s clear we need to replace them with services that maintain public safety while better serving passenger needs,” said Council Chair Daran Ponter.

The transition will be phased, starting with Wellington city routes N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5 from October 2024. Metlink plans to extensively publicise these changes well in advance to ensure a smooth transition.

In addition to phasing out After Midnight services, councillors also made strides in modernising public transport options. They established a unit for the Metlink On Demand bus service, currently being trialled in Tawa. This move comes on the heels of legislative changes expanding the definition of public transport to include on-demand services, aiming to integrate such innovations into the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP).

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Transport Committee Chair Thomas Nash said: “We know Metlink On Demand is popular with the community. It operates in areas without scheduled buses, where passengers hail rides through our app to access train stations, shops, the hospital and other services.”

Moreover, councillors have agreed to gradually phase out cash payments on Metlink trains and buses after the introduction of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS) in late 2025. This shift aims to enhance safety for frontline workers and streamline fare payment methods for passengers.

The introduction of journey-based daily and weekly fare caps alongside the NTS has also been announced, replacing current passes and offering discounts across all passenger demographics.

As Greater Wellington looks ahead to these changes, councillors remain committed to ensuring that public transport evolves to meet the needs of a growing and diverse community.

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