Almost $217,000 of public money has been paid for taxis or buses in the past four years to shuttle stranded train passengers to their destination.

However, the figure spent each financial year is dropping and officials say it's evidence of an improving train network.

According to figures obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act, the amount spent on alternative forms of transport dropped from $71,820 in the 2011/2012 financial year to $46,067 in the last financial year. The budgeted allowance for the 2015/16 financial year is $29,225.

AT Metro general manager Mark Lambert said Transdev had to provide a form of alternative transport when services were cancelled or delayed. Other modes of transport includes taxis and bus services.

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"That's all about putting the customer first and particularly when you consider the Transdev contract goes back to around 2004 when we were still in the early days of redeveloping the rail network in Auckland."

Mr Lambert said the kitty that paid for the buses and taxis came from Transdev. However the money Auckland Transport spends on that contract comes from Auckland ratepayers, a national contribution from taxpayers and fares.

But the falling spend on alternative forms of transport was proof of an improving network, Mr Lambert said. The increased frequency of services also meant if one train was cancelled or delayed, another one was not far behind so a taxi or bus didn't have to be provided.

And if there happened to be a similar bus service running near the station where passengers were stranded, Auckland Transport staff encouraged those people to use it.

In the response to the Official Information Act request, Auckland Transport refused to provide a detailed breakdown of why a taxi was provided, the cost for each taxi, from where to where, which company was used and the date and time the taxi was provided due to "commercial sensitivity".

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Jon Reeves said the reduction of the amount spent over the years could indicate service improvements but it may also be that Transdev has struck a better contract with the taxi operators.

Mr Reeves said this meant it was hard to tell if this was a positive reflection on rail or not.

"[We] received many complaints last year when Transdev was cancelling trains en route to Waitakere station and no taxis were provided for the passengers. So, those sort of actions by Transdev could result in lower taxi costs."

Transdev did not respond to the Herald's request for comment yesterday.

Shuttle bill

Amount spent on alternative transport $46,0672014/15

$43,004
2013/14

$56, 089
2012/13

$71,820
2011/12

$216,980
Total

Figures from Auckland Transport