Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Workers bear brunt of public transport 'madness'

March sees students, workers and traffic vying for space at same time.
People waiting at a bus stop along Mt Eden Road. Nobody is getting picked up because buses aren't stopping and are displaying "BUS FULL". Photo / Supplied
People waiting at a bus stop along Mt Eden Road. Nobody is getting picked up because buses aren't stopping and are displaying "BUS FULL". Photo / Supplied

The annual battle for a spot on the bus has kicked off with commuters left standing in the rain waiting for a bus with room and journeys taking up to 1.5 hours.

Known as "March madness", the phenomenon kicks in every year as students head back to university and workers are back in full force while the region's traffic hits its peak for the year.

On Monday, 10 buses drove past Ravi Kaniyawala at his stop near Bellevue Rd, Mt Eden, before he could get on a bus where he had to stand.

He said other commuters started to grow increasingly frustrated and one older woman resorted to banging on a bus's closed doors, begging in vain to be let on.

Yesterday, he tried another option and caught the bus from earlier up its route in Three Kings. But even this backfired.

"It took me one and a half hours from Three Kings to Britomart."

Mr Kaniyawala plans to drive to the Mt Eden station today and get into the CBD by train from there. The technical analyst said he's been working in the city for three years but this is the worst March madness he has seen.

Another reader took a photo of up to 40 people waiting at a bus stop on Mt Eden Rd because so many buses were full.

Auckland Transport will add more than 2500 extra seats for the Mt Eden Rd, Dominion Rd and New North Rd routes from this Sunday.

Six more train carriages have also been put on as patronage also increases this time of year. Last February, train patronage was 1.21 million, in March it reached 1.56 million but by April it dropped back to 1.13 million.

Mark Hannan, Auckland Transport spokesman, said it was too early to say if complaints had increased this year as tertiary students had only just started back.

"The numbers travelling on buses and trains does increase but settles back again as students work out their schedules. The best advice is to plan ahead and try to travel outside peak times."

The New Zealand Transport Agency said the extra travel time was most noticeable during the morning peak, particularly on State Highway 1 heading into the city.

The agency's Auckland Highway manager Brett Gliddon said at the start of a new year people's traffic patterns change because "they might try a new route or leave home for work a bit later, and that can sometimes mean traffic is slightly worse to begin with" before they get into a new routine.

AA Auckland issues spokesman Barney Irvine said March madness was a sign that it's "back to the grid for all motorists", particularly those headed into central Auckland which sees the brunt of the chaos.

However, he said one thing to look forward to was that this time next year the Western Ring Route will be complete which should ease traffic significantly.

Making space

Extra bus trips and seats from Sunday

• Mt Eden Rd - 24 trips = 1056 seats
• Dominion Rd - 16 trips = 736 seats
• New North Rd - 18 trips = 720 seats

- NZ Herald

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