Auckland Transport piles on extra services as March Madness hits tomorrow

By Sarah Harris

Patience is a virtue. And you will need it in spades while travelling on the City of Sails' road network this week.

Roads and public transport will be chock-full tomorrow as the holidays are over, the work year is in full swing and students are headed back to school and university.

Auckland Transport has put 6500 extra spaces on buses and trains in Auckland, to deal with the "March Madness" although passengers have been warned they might not always get on the first service.

Auckland Transport metro operations' manager Brendon Main advised commuters to travel outside peak times if they can.

The month of March sees 8.5 million passenger trips across the public transport network. This is 30 per cent more than in February and April.

Ahead of the predicted busy day on our roads, Main urged people to use public transport instead of their own cars to help ease congestion.

"We just ask people to show a little bit more patience as we move through March. It's the busiest month of the year," he said.

"Those that can travel outside the peak times, that could be a good idea."

Traffic chaos would simmer down in April as uni students figure out what time they need to be in class and workers take holidays around Easter.

Main said the boost in public transport capacity and services would "go a long way" towards meeting demand.

"We want to ensure that wait times are acceptable and, on some routes, better than last year."

The boost follows chaotic scenes last year that saw huge delays and angry commuters left stranded, waiting for clogged buses. Some commuters on popular routes endured journeys of up to 1.5 hours.

This led AT to add more than 2500 seats for the Mt Eden Rd, Dominion Rd and New North Rd routes.

This year there will be 56 more city-bound bus trips during each morning peak compared to last March, equivalent to 5 per cent more capacity and up to 34 per cent on some corridors.

Bus capacity has increased by close to 5400 spaces and timetable changes for trains from March 12 will mean 1200 more spaces are available in the morning peak.

On February 27 four double-decker buses started services on routes between Beach Haven, Glenfield and the central city providing much-needed capacity along Onewa Rd. Double-decker buses are also coming to Birkenhead to help with the demand.

The traffic chaos comes after those travelling to Auckland Airport in December also suffered through gridlock so bad some missed flights, and other flights were delayed.

In March last year 1157 complaints were made about buses being late, full, overcrowded or not showing up.

- Herald on Sunday

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