Today (20th April), at about 5:50pm, I wanted to catch my usual bus, the #4 Happy Valley, from Willis St, opposite the Metro New World. I spotted it pulling away just as I arrived at the stop, so, thinking to myself that I would probably be able to catch up with it at one of the next two or three usually busy bus-stops while it waited in a queue, I jumped on the next bus, showed my Gold Pass, and took a seat.

And, indeed, at the next stop, outside the James Smith Market, the #4 was stuck behind another bus. As we pulled up to stop, I stood up to get off.

Upon coming to a stop, however, the bus-driver refused to open the doors, and glared at me. After a few seconds, I had to ask what exactly was wrong. He refused to answer immediately, left the doors closed while a long queue of people stood outside looking puzzled, rolled his eyes at me, and eventually asked me if I knew what bus I was on. I must admit, at the time, I didn’t know, and admitted as much. He told me it was the #31 Miramar Express. This did nothing to enlighten me as to why he wasn’t allowing me to get off and his other potential passengers to get on. Finally, after another 30 seconds or so of glowering and muttering at me, he told me to “read the bloody front of the bus before getting on next time” and opened the door. In all, he had taken about a minute off his ‘express’ travelling time to admonish me for getting off a bus that was stopping anyway. Naturally, by this time, my #4 was long gone.

As far as I can tell from the Stagecoach timetable documentation published by the Greater Wellington Council [pdf], the #31 doesn’t make stops from the end of Courtenay Place to the Mirarmar Cutting. I would have thus thought I was within my rights getting off at a stop before Courtenay Place.

To that end, I would appreciate some confirmation as to the exact details of my rights with regards to getting off the #31 before reaching the express section of the journey.

I have been a Stagecoach passenger for many years now, and buy a Gold Pass every month. The surly behaviour of many bus drivers I usually just put down to the fact that they have to deal with the narrow roads of Wellington and inconsiderate attitudes of other drivers each day, and thus don’t usually worry about it too much. But to have abusive language used against me for merely wanting to get off a bus that had stopped to pick up passengers anyway, has, for the first time, got me riled up enough to write this letter, which, I should let you know, will also be published on the website.

I look forward to hearing from you,


James Guthrie


UPDATE. An email of apology has arrived, part of which reads…

Your points have been passed to the Depot Manager and the driver in question has been verbally counselled.

The Express only picks up from the rail, through to Courtney Place [sic], from there it’s non-stop to Mirimar [sic]. The driver should have let you disembark when you requested however.

Verbally counselled? Obviously it was a traumatic experience for him as well then. The second paragraph does spell out that there is a pick-up rule only, so, technically, I was in the wrong. However, for the life of me, I still cannot find where this rule is printed on either the bus or on their website.