A joint Transport Agency/Police operation aimed at ensuring the safety of passengers using buses in Wellington has seen concerning results, with 18 buses in the region 'pink-stickered' and removed from service for significant fluid leak faults today.
The Police Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit (CVIU) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) this morning began a two-day operation to assess the safety of the region's buses, to ensure that a range of serious faults previously discovered on 14 buses in an operation conducted in May had been addressed. A total of 61 buses were stopped during today's operation in the Hutt Valley, Wellington and its suburbs.
Kate Styles, Transport Agency Regional Manager, Access and Use, said while a number of the safety faults identified in May had been addressed and the overall compliance rate had improved, both agencies were still concerned by the large proportion of buses identified with oil leaks which had not been fixed.
"Our top priority is to ensure the safety and security of Wellington bus users, and while it's pleasing that many improvements have been made, the best result would be to find that every bus on the road was up to the standard that we expect and that passengers are entitled to expect.
"Unfortunately that has not been the case. The purpose of these inspections is not to order buses off of the road – it is to ensure that the buses that people in the region use every day are safe."
Senior Sergeant Willie Roy, of Police CVIU, said: "We feel for those commuters who now face potential disruption because of the failure by the operator to address these significant safety issues, which they have been aware of for several months – but we are left with little choice when public safety is at stake."
Mr Roy said all 18 of the vehicles pink stickered and ordered off the road had serious oil leaks – an obvious fire hazard. Other significant faults detected on a number of buses included insecure fuel tanks and battery boxes, as well as faulty lighting. Vehicles that receive pink stickers must immediately be removed from the road.
Eleven of the faults were found on Go Wellington buses, six on Cityline buses and one on a North City bus.
Mr Roy said safety inspectors had also issued three green stickers, which are for faults that are less critical but still need immediate attention and must be fixed within seven days. In one instance this involved an exhaust leak – creating the potential for fumes to enter the bus and harm passengers, and in two cases, bus door pressures being too high – meaning that passengers could be trapped or injured by closing doors.
Six other notices were issued for minor faults, including small fluid leaks and faulty wipers and washers.
Mr Roy said the operation would continue tomorrow, and would be targeted at non-peak times on buses not carrying passengers to minimise any possible further disruption.