Wellington tenders next year

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NEW ZEALAND According to Australasian Bus & Coach, the Greater Wellington Regional Council will put bus contracts out to tender in either March or April next year. Contracts will be awarded by the end of 2016 and will all come into effect by January 2018.

The council adopted a Public Transport Operating Model in 2013 that requires contracts to be put out to tender to achieve maximum efficiency and service reliability, with no guarantee that exiting operators will retain their runs. This system sees services grouped into categories of routes and operators bid to run whole categories, instead of individual routes.

The Wellington regional bus network is made up of 16 separate categories. Seven categories have already been directly appointed to incumbent operators and nine will be available for tender. An industry briefing will be held on August 26, to provide bus operators with information on the tendering process and their feedback will be sought to inform council decisions regarding the bus network.

More than 24m trips have been made on buses during 2014 and 2015, the highest per capita public transport use in New Zealand. The council aims to create a whole new network to give more people access to more frequent services, more weekend and later evening services for 15 suburbs and brand new services for 11 suburbs. There will be more cross-city routes, so fewer services will begin and end in the central business district, resulting in less bus congestion and quicker journey times.

Existing trolleybus services will likely be phased out from 2017 onwards, with hybrid-buses simultaneously rolled out. There are plans to introduce a Bus Rapid Transit system through central Wellington, Newtown, Kilibirnie and eventually Wellington Airport, as soon as associated major road projects make this possible. An electronic card-based payment system is also being investigated for all the region’s public transport services.