Metlink is temporarily suspending a further 114 bus trips in Wellington, as the region continues to struggle with a national driver shortage.
The move comes on top of the 67 trips already suspended in October and other services suspended in July last year.
This latest round of axed buses will take 80 trips off Wellington City routes and 34 trips off Porirua City routes.
The region is currently about 120 drivers short.
Almost 2000 bus services have been cancelled some weeks, leaving frustrated Wellington commuters paying for Ubers to get to their destinations.
Passengers have reported consecutive service cancellations leaving them stranded for hours at night.
Metlink general manager Samantha Gain said the temporary suspensions would reallocate available drivers to improve certainty for passengers.
“So our customers can know which services will not be running, so they can plan for the ones that will be running.”
Gain said there was no time frame for how long the suspensions would last.
Suspended trips will be reinstated as soon as operators have the necessary number of drivers, she said.
Some suspensions have already been in place for more than a year, but it’s expected some trips will restart over the summer holidays because school bus drivers can be reassigned to other routes.
Gain said operators were undertaking recruitment campaigns and “a couple of things are kicking off in the next few weeks”, which she hoped would result in more driver applications.
The Government has also announced it’s spending $61 million to lift bus driver wages to address the nationwide worker shortage.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said the money - allocated in this year’s Budget - would be spent over four years to lift base wage rates towards $30 an hour for urban services and $28 an hour for regional services.
Decisions would be made around that money for the Wellington region early next year, Gain said.
It was too early to say whether further suspensions would be necessary, she said.
Metlink is working with operators to deploy larger buses to affected routes to compensate for the reduced frequency of buses.
“While the suspended trips have been selected from different routes to those in October, they are again chosen from higher frequency routes and those with lower patronage,” Metlink said in a statement.
Operators will prioritise trips on the affected routes to avoid consecutive cancellations where possible, Metlink said.
While the suspensions will create more certainty, ad hoc cancellations are still expected across the network.
Routes affected by the temporary suspensions from November 20 are:
- In Wellington city: 1, 7, 23, 24, 25 29, 32, 39, HX
- In Porirua: 210, 220, 226, 236