Nice Idea But Doesn’t Fly


An intriguing public transport experiment in Wellington sounded as if it might work but isn’t going well.

It’s a community taxi-like door-to- door bus service that has been suggested here previously on AKT as worth considering in some areas. It has been tried in some US cities.

The door to door service, which runs between Porirua East and Porirua City, was introduced as a trial in February.

Sadly passenger numbers are very low. In fact it’s pretty much a disaster - currently there is an average of two people per trip.

The service runs three times each week day between 9am and 3pm. It picks people up from their homes anywhere in Porirua East and runs to Waitangirua Mall, Cannons Creek shops, Porirua Station, the Central Business District and Kenepuru Hospital.

The door to door service usually costs $3 from Ranui Heights or Cannons Creek and $4.50 from Waitangirua.

Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee that oversees public transport states the obvious economic relaties on such appalling numbers: “We simply can’t afford to keep running a service with such small numbers – an individual taxi service would probably cost us less.

“If that average increases to four people per average trip then it will continue. But if numbers don’t increase the service will stop later this year.”

Cr Glensor said the service was promoted, through a leaflet to residents and posters, when it was introduced in February. “But there were lots of changes to Porirua bus and train timetables happening at the same time so I suspect news about this particular service may have got lost with so many other changes going on.

“We’re hoping that by making the service free for two weeks people who may not have used or known about the service will give it a try. It takes all the hassle out of driving to the shops and finding a park.”

How it works is that people wanting to use the community bus need to phone Mana Coach Services on 04 910 5179 at least an hour before the departure time. You also need to book your return trip either by phone or by letting the driver know when you board your first trip.

Well it was worth a try.

At least we know now whether it was something that might work.




  1. George D says:

    Interesting. I’d like to know more before I decided whether the problem was the concept, or failings in its specific application.

  2. Matt says:

    3 Times a weekday. Frequency could be the issue. Most people would just walk to a bus stop and get a more frequent bus.

  3. KarlHansen says:

    Small bus services always cost a LOT, because paying a driver for a small amount of passengers is very costly, subsidy-wise. So making these “innovative” schemes work is really very hard. It’s trying to bridge the gap between the flexibility of cars and the efficiency of bus transport, and I have not heard of it work really well anywhere. As I said in an earlier post, the only place were small buses seem to work well AND cost-efficiently is countries with very low wages, so the extra bus drivers don’t blow your budget.

  4. Owen Thompson says:

    This is a low wage country, the minimum wage is only $13ph.


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