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  • Dan Moskovitz

Metlink Encourages Early Bedtimes for Students—Without Consultation

Night buses to be phased out from October 


Students having a night out will soon no longer be able to take the night bus home, after the  Greater Wellington Regional Council agreed to scrap the service last week. Neither VUWSA nor  Te Tira Ahu Pae—the Massey equivalent—were consulted on the changes. 

Metlink’s night buses run between 1 and 4.30am on Saturday and Sunday mornings, providing a cheap(ish) option for students and others in town to get home safely. 

With low patronage, Metlink made the call to ax them in favour of high-frequency (the 1, 2, 7, ect.) services running later into the night and starting earlier in the morning. 

“We are more likely to provide a safe way home for more people if the existing bus services go later at night and start earlier in the morning than if we carry on with a service which isn't getting used,” said councillor Thomas Nash, who is head of GWRC’s transport committee. 

As Nash points out, night bus patronage has fallen 76% since 2006.

“If you know your regular bus service is on the timetable and just running later at night, we think you're more likely to actually use it,” said Nash.

Students’ fondness for town is a subject of much renown—they will thus be disproportionately affected by Metlink’s changes. However, both VUWSA and Te Tira Ahu Pae were caught off-guard by the announcement, as neither association was consulted about the changes.

“While it is unfortunate that the Night Bus program will be coming to an end, we recognise how its declining patronage may make a replacement service more feasible,” said VUWSA’s Pierson Palmer in a statement. 

“We urge GWRC to ensure they have a replacement ready to start, ensuring a smooth transition and preventing both students and the rest of the general public from being caught out.”

Palmer expressed hope for Metlink’s on-demand service currently being trialled in Tawa as a potential replacement, but Nash poured cold water on this idea, saying on-demand only worked in “specific situations with specific circumstances.” 

Te Tira Ahu Pae’s Wellington president Tim Wilson was more critical of the reforms. 

“Cutting the night bus services will put vulnerable Massey students at an increased risk of harm. If students are now forced to walk home during these hours, they face a multitude of different harms.

“I believe cutting night bus services will particularly put young women and our rainbow community at an increased risk of violent attacks,” he said in a statement.

Part of the issue stems from the way the council operates - we don’t know the exact timetables the replacements will be running on. This is because, according to Nash, GWRC needs to make the initial change of ending night buses in their Regional Public Transport Plan before they could work on creating the replacements. 

The changes will begin in October, with later and earlier 2s and 4s replacing the N2 and N3. However, these bus routes are not identical. The N3 services the area around both Wrights Hill and Mākara Hill, an area which neither the 2 nor the 4 covers. 

The rest of Wellington city’s night buses will be phased out in 2025, and those servicing Porirua and the Hutt to follow after that. 

For the Porirua and Hutt Valley replacements, Metlink indicated later rail services could also be an option alongside later buses. 

Most bars and clubs are on Courtenay Place which, according to Google Maps, can be as much as a 26-minute walk to the train station.


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