|Matangi trains at Wellington Station|
Wellington is the administrative capital of New Zealand, located at the Southern end of New Zealand's North Island. It has a population of around 200,000 (just 10% of Brisbane's population) and a population of 400,000 in its surrounding urban area. It is thus quite a small city to have a half-decent commuter rail system, as well as a bus and trolleybus network. Wellington is like a mini-Hong Kong, with a bowl shaped inner-city with (shorter) high rises next to a harbour, and a cable car climbing the mountain.
All public transport operators are privatised, with train services run by Transdev Wellington, and use run by multiple companies including GO Wellington. They are all branded as Metlink. The Greater Wellington Regional Council is responsible for planning and subsidising public transport.
|Matangi Train at Redwood Station|
The platforms are relatively low. For each 2-train train, one carriage has low/platform level floor and doors for wheelchair and pram access. This makes for much better accessibility than in Brisbane. There are manually operated fold out ramps if required. The ends of this carriage, and 100% of the second carriage has 100% high level seating.
All lines are worth travelling on for interested visitors. In particular the Johnsonville Line has many sharp curves and tunnels as it climbs the hillside. The Kapiti Line has many coastal sections, and a very long tunnel between Wellington and Takapu Road stations. Another point of interest is Redwood Station which has offset side platforms either side of a level crossing to reduce level crossing closure time. Pedestrian crossings only have lights and no barriers.
Whilst the Snapper smart card is available for buses, taxis, and some shops, trains still rely on paper tickets. Most stations do not have a ticket office or ticket machine, and are bought on board from the guard. In fact some 4 and 6-car trains have more than one guard for this reason. This is rather quaint, if somewhat inefficient. However, with roaming staff on every train, it may deter fare evaders. Fares are also relatively high, in line with New Zealand's high cost of living. Child discounts are unacceptably small at 20%.
Wellington also has a 5 station mountain-side cable car (funicular) which is mainly used by tourists. However locals can still use it with the smart card. Get there early to avoid queues, especially if a cruise ship is in town. There are also a couple of harbour ferries.
BrizCommuter found Wellington's public transport system a joy to use. The only delays were experienced just after "strong" or "severe" earthquakes! The smart card needs to be rolled out system wide with a more integrated fare structure. Train frequencies could be better, and peak frequencies more consistent. However, frequencies are still still very good for a city of Wellington's population.