If you scan through the list of routes around the region, you’ll find a few names pop up over and over again. For example, quite a few buses terminate at either Wellington Railway Station (which may be called any number of things) or at Courtenay Place. This is generally fine for most routes, since they usually start in different places. Things are a bit trickier with something like routes 43 and 44, which are basically identical except for the direction between Ngaio and Khandallah. In that case, getting on the wrong bus changes the timing, but not the access.
Then there’s Eastbourne.
If you ignore the express service, three routes travel between Courtenay Place and Eastbourne – routes 81, 83 and 84 – with major deviations across the routes. I’ve seen this happen a number of different ways, since I work along the 84. Usually, you’ll see the person fidgeting a bit when the bus turns up Molesworth St. Some people will ask the driver if the bus goes down Thorndon Quay (no.) and get off before we turn onto the motorway. The very unlucky will get to Petone before asking how to get back to Wellington. Drivers have usually been really accommodating when it happens. Thankfully, it’s pretty rare. Nor does it always get that far. Some people will double check with the driver when boarding, which adds a bit to the dwell time, but not costing them an extra fare. There’s usually at least one in a week who asks and it used to be more frequent.
There’s an easy solution to this. Change the route name on the front of the bus. Route 81 just goes to Eastbourne. Say so. Route 83 goes to Eastbourne via Thorndon Quay and Queensgate. Pick one sub-destination and say that. Route 84 goes to Eastbourne via Gracefield. Say so. The legibility of numbers 81 vs 83 vs 84 isn’t overly clear, so use the words to make it obvious.
Interestingly, searching for the Eastbourne routes on Metlink, route 84 is labelled Gracefield. So why doesn’t the bus display it? This shouldn’t be a technology problem.