At the 25 March 2015 Strategy and Policy meeting, Greater Wellington adopted a new policy for carriage of children in prams and for foot scooters. The policy was being refreshed after a couple instances of passengers being treated unfairly under the old rules. I came to this issue later, after trying to navigate the bus rules with a buggy that was difficult to fold down, going so far as brining it up in an oral submission to Greater Wellington’s Public Transport Plan. By then, policy changes were already taking place.
The new policy looks very workable. It makes room for parents with children in buggies on the low floor buses and trains, but specifies a priority for wheelchair users. In that case, it’s expected that the parent will hold the child and collapse the buggy. While it’s certainly fair, it may be difficult to manage all the pieces of the puzzle in a short amount of time, especially if the buggy’s storage compartment is full. Most importantly, the policy looks to be written from a customer-first point of view. We’d love to see more of this approach across all of Metlink and Greater Wellington policies.
The other part of the policy update was around scooters, commonly used by children. The previous policy indicated that scooters must be folded before boarding, but the reality was that many modern scooters have a fixed frame and are unable to fold. The new policy takes this into consideration:
Scooters that can be carried by hand are allowed on buses. If possible scooters should be folded before the bus arrives. Scooters must be secure at all times on buses, and must not block the aisle or any doorway. Kick-bikes that meet the criteria for Folding Cycles can also be taken on buses.
Well done to the officers and councillors who’ve made this happen. Process is long and hard, but that part is done.
Having said all that, bus drivers and train operators are the face of the policy. The DomPost is already reporting that at least one Go Wellington driver would rather fight with parents than follow the new policy. There needs to be driver discretion for safety, but passengers have a reasonable expectation to be treated with respect. As a network, we have a long way to go.