Last month, the Police did a series of random checks on buses, eventually pulling more than 60 off the road due to faults and safety issues. The high numbers of emergency buses after the delays in new buses for all companies, and Red Bus’s withholding of its surplus vehicles certainly aided in making a much higher result than should be expected. There were also questions about CBS – which had most of the unsafe buses – and its inability to maintain its buses, seemingly cutting maintenance budgets to gain contracts at lower prices. The Press had several damning articles, and Press readers’ opinions online were along the lines that Christchurch was seething with nearly-murderous, third-world buses. CBS was finally sold days later, and the new buses began arriving after two weeks.
Today, the Police did another series of checks, and found only 4 faulty buses. There are still some earthquake-replacement buses on the routes, but it is a dramatic improvement after just four weeks. By January, all the earthquake-replacement buses should be replaced with new ones, and the Police checks, and ECan’s response linking maintenance quality to continuing contracts must also have had an effect on the companies attitudes towards maintenance. Either way, it shows that the buses are much safer now than they were in November, and that continued scrutiny will bring better services for the city.