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Cost of train delays piles up on city businesses

Aug 30th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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By Jenny Gilchrist and Juju Paraone

Wellington workplaces are quietly going about their business bearing the cost of weekly delays on Wellington trains.

Delays cost more than $8 million annually but that does not factor in costs to businesses such as city retailers.

Manager for the Body Shop Lambton Quay, Nicola Robinson, says when she worked at the Cuba St Body Shop it would affect business because both she and the assistant manager caught the train into town.

“If one of us were late because of trains we couldn’t text the other to ask to open the shop because we both live outside of Wellington.”

The employees of McClellan Grimmer Optometrist agreed the train delays were a hassle because they had a worker who caught the Paraparaumu train and was often late.

“She is often five to 15 minutes late to work and at worst half an hour.”

Mrs Huxley Jones, administrative assistant in human resources at Kirkcaldies and Stains, says a lot of staff had been affected by train delays.

“It certainly makes an impact, but the staff just get on with their jobs when they get here.”

Catherine Kungu, retail assistant at Country Road, who commutes from Tawa daily, has experienced constant difficulties getting to work by catching the train.

She says Wellington public transport wasn’t as well organised as it was in her home country, Kenya.

“Trains are crowded, there are no straps to hold onto,” says Ms Kungu, who is frustrated by the lack of options.

“You can’t afford to live in town because it’s expensive so there is no choice but to live in the suburbs.”

Ms Kungu says her boss, who is a former train user, understands the predicament of commuters.

Transport consultant Ian Wallis has estimated that the total economic value of delays to train users is $8.24 million annually.

train2This figure is likely to be an under-estimate, according to a 2008 report by Mr Wallis.

The $8.24 million does not take account of costs to employers in terms of loss of productivity, the Measurement Valuation of Public Transport Reliability report states.

It excludes valuation for any delays of less than three minutes.

Over a period of two weeks, commuters on the Paraparaumu line were surveyed on the pros and cons of train travel.

A common complaint was poor liaison when passengers needed to be transferred to buses due to delays and technical difficulties.

Another grievance was the inadequate number of buses provided when trains were unavailable.

One man made an observation about heating in carriages: “It is either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.”

He also says the Greater Wellington Share a Ride Scheme for car-pooling is too difficult to co-ordinate, making more people reliant on train travel.

Linda New, of Porirua, pictured below, says parking facilities at Porirua station are unsatisfactory.

However, there was some positive feedback from the interviews.

Ms New remarked that train travel eliminated the need to look for car parks in busy central Wellington.

Other passengers enjoyed “chilling out” on the train and liked Metro Alert, Tranz Metro’s text alert service for delays over 15 minutes.

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