Peak hour bus services in the capital are set to be reduced as the city grapples with a shortage of at least 60 drivers.
Driver shortages for two Wellington bus operators have caused Metlink to revise its timetables - reducing rush hour services, while increasing trips available off-peak.
Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher said the shortages had lead to "a higher than usual amount of unplanned cancellations".
"We're not prepared to allow that to continue so in order to get on top of this we are going to have to revise our timetables so we can guarantee that the services will be running.
"The cancellations we're looking at are just under 3 per cent of our overall network.
"But again that's too high for us. We're working to ensure that we can guarantee our peak timetable can be met."
Metlink was not yet sure how many services would be cut, or when the changes would take effect, but hoped to also strengthen off-peak services.
"We are going to be looking at a number of our off-peak services in a number of our communities and actually delivering some high frequency services for off peak."
"We hope to be able to share with all our communities the precise nature of these changes within the next two or so weeks."
The driver shortage comes as NZ Bus and the Tramways Union continue to wrangle over their collective agreement.
So far negotiations have failed with drivers going on strike for 24 hours in April.
Gallacher said slightly more than 700 bus drivers were needed to operate the network at its peak, and they were at least 60 drivers short.
They were not prepared to wait for more drivers to be recruited, he said.
"Realistically it takes 3 – 6 months to get drivers through the door, verified, trained and out on the network.
"And we're not prepared to let our passengers face more uncertainty around cancellations so we're taking the best action we can here and now to adjust the timetable to suit the number of drivers we have at present."
The network also needed enough drivers to allow for increased sick days in the Covid era.
"As we know pre-Covid, if you didn't feel that well most Kiwis would turn up to work and try to get through," Gallacher said.
"But in Covid that's just not the case – the Government's made it really clear, if you're not well don't turn up to work.
"So it's also ensuring the operators have as much resilience with their workforce to cope with a higher sick leave than we've seen in previous times."