March Madness led to more than 1100 Auckland bus complaints

By Amelia Wade

Photo / Jason Dorday
Photo / Jason Dorday

More than 1157 complaints were made about Auckland buses being late, full, overcrowded or not showing up during March Madness.

But Auckland Transport said the report only highlights issues which are already being worked on.

After launching its Better Bus campaign urging people to voice their frustrations through a form on Generation Zero's website, the action group has released a report about the complaints.

More than 1300 forms were received but the analysis focused on the 1157 submissions received in the month of March, the busiest month of the year for public transport in Auckland.

By far the area with the most criticisms of the city's bus services was Mt Eden Rd, with 240 complaints regarding that route alone. The nine routes rounding out the top 10 were Dominion Rd, Outer Link, New North Rd, North Shore to University, Onewa Rd, Manukau Rd, Inner Link, Takapuna and Howick & Eastern.

And the most common issue was that buses were too full to pick people up so had to drive past or the buses were seriously overcrowded, with Generation Zero receiving 694 complaints about this.

One person who complained about the 020X service from Westmere to the CBD being full said: "Everyday the standing room is full to capacity and the driver has to leave people waiting at bus stops. It's unsafe and extremely frustrating."

Another person who complained about the 881 service said: "I was cold, tired, stranded, desperate to find some way home and annoyed. If you can't provide a reliable and adequate bus service, Aucklanders will just get into their cars again. It's as simple as that."

More than 580 complaints were made about buses being late, 233 about buses never showing up and 201 about being stuck in traffic.

The Better Buses report found the time which had the most complaints was between 8 and 9am and the day with the most criticisms was Friday, March 18 with more than 160 received.

Generation Zero's Auckland director Leroy Beckett said the bus network is not coping with the current demand and so if we wanted to create a liveable low-carbon city, this has to change quickly.

"We heard from frustrated bus users all over Auckland who are sick of having buses go past full, buses leaving them stranded late at night, and buses which don't even turn up. Something has to change if public transport is to be a viable alternative."

Mr Becket said the report proposes four implementable solutions to the problems facing the network.

• Adding more double-deckers during peak hours
• Having a longer peak frequency
• Better all-day frequency
• Having more bus lanes

Auckland Transport said it welcomed the report as it highlighted some of the key initiatives already under way and issues that are already being worked on.

But general manager of AT Metro, Mark Lambert, said the report highlights the increased travel demand in March but doesn't consider the fact that Auckland Transport has to plan for all 12 months of the year.

"March Madness is an annual phenomenon which isn't unique to Auckland. During the month we carried 5.9 million bus passenger trips. March is the month each year with the highest demand on transport and other services. With the end of February it includes the start of the tertiary year, schools are back and more people are in the city following summer holidays."

Mr Lambert said Auckland Transport is part-way through a programme to roll out more than 60 double-decker buses and in the year to the end of June another 17km of bus lanes will be added.

And when the New Network is rolled out from October, there will be higher-frequency services that will operate on key corridors - either rail or high-frequency bus routes - operating seven days a week between 7am and 7pm.

- NZ Herald

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