A controversial shuttle service for Auckland Transport staff was little used this week.
The shuttle, a $122,000, six-month trial by the public transport agency, has come under fire from some transport lobbyists and politicians who believe staff should be using the bus and train services metres from their offices.
This week, it looked as if Auckland Transport staff might have taken that advice.
The Herald on Sunday watched the shuttle make seven one-way journeys, both out of the city and city-bound, on Thursday. Three of those journeys were made with no passengers on the shuttle, and two carried a sole passenger.
In total, 11 people travelled either to or from the city on the shuttle — the same number of passengers the Mercedes Benz van can carry on a single trip.
Three empty shuttles were also seen on Tuesday and Wednesday, while a sole passenger rode the shuttle on Friday morning.
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan — a shuttle user — said the service was averaging 40 to 50 passengers a day across its 11 return journeys since service began on May 1.
Staff had not been put off by the adverse publicity, he said. In fact, increasing popularity meant some users had to book their seats beforehand.
"The people who use it love it ... we are already seeing a drop in numbers using fleet vehicles or claiming mileage for their private vehicle."
Auckland Transport communications manager Wally Thomas said staff were shuttled between Auckland Transport's Henderson and Auckland central offices, and could not use the shuttle for commuting between work and home. Expected benefits highlighted by Auckland Transport included being able to reduce the size of the car fleet and improve "business efficiency", but also noted the train trip took too long.
On Friday, it was announced that an Auckland Transport advertising campaign called "Travel Myths" — which urges the public to catch buses and trains — was a finalist in the TVNZ Marketing Awards.
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