Auckland Transport is coming under more fire over its attempts to axe dedicated school buses and make school children catch regular public transport.
Following a Herald story about the parents of Epsom schools banding together to fight the loss of school buses, numerous other concerns have come forward about the loss of school buses, overcrowded buses and safety issues for young teens.
Parents are also pulling their children off buses and driving them to school.
Other concerns have been raised about AT's rollout of new bus routes across the city, including the elderly, many using walking frames, losing a direct bus route to the Green Lane Clinical Centre.
Students from Macleans College at Bucklands Beach have written an article in their school publication, The Collegian, about battling overcrowded buses and "hot", "suffocating and claustrophobic" conditions.
"[The bus situation] is utterly inconvenient and requires hundreds of students every day to battle their way onto public transport," said student Fiona Yu.
Principal Steven Hargreaves said the school had had a few communications with AT with "no joy".
"We have got some crazy things happening outside school at present," he said.
Several people have complained about the school bus and public bus situation for Glendowie and Sacred Heart students that includes the cancellation of a public bus route from Glendowie along Remuera Rd and children having to take two buses via a hub at Glen Innes.
Gillian Brown said her daughter and friends were left stranded after football practice at Glen Innes.
"She and her friends felt very unsafe in Glen Innes as it was getting dark and the liquor shop next to the bus interchange can makes things very uncomfortable for young female teenagers," she said.
Another mother, who did not want to be named, said her son's journey from Glendowie to Remuera used to take 15 minutes. It now took an hour.
When the Herald spoke to her on Tuesday after she had picked her son up after rugby practice at Sacred Heart College, she had barely moved 50m on Remuera Rd during a 15-minute interview.
Said Hayley Schnell: "My daughter is at Glendowie College and the changed system has resulted in one bus shared by Glendowie and Sacred Heart College pupils with the result that the bus is overcrowded and stressful for both the kids and drivers.
"Children picked up at later spots are standing in crowded bus aisles. I don't believe this is safe ... it's not good enough. And it's not a solution to Auckland's already crowded streets in rush hour," Schnell said.
The Epsom cluster of public and private schools are banding together to fight the loss of dedicated school buses, which are part of a new central city bus network that came into effect on July 8.
This follows a similar outrage in East Auckland last year that forced AT to reinstate some school buses and improve other bus services after more than 1400 parents signed a petition. AT admitted it "could have done a better job" in engaging with parents earlier.
Diocesan principal Heather McRae said AT's plan was dumped on schools halfway through the year with virtually no consultation, with some buses arriving after school starts and before school finishes.
McRae said the school was looking to set up and share bus routes with other schools at a cost of about $100,000. The school is also inviting local schools to participate in a professional survey of parents to present to AT.
"I think it will show there are fewer students catching the bus or have significantly disrupted times because of their new regime," she said.
Glen Innes resident Ailsa Martin-Buss said the cancellation of the 007 direct bus service to the Green Lane Clinical Centre meant the elderly now have to catch two buses, many using walking frames making it difficult to get on and off buses.
Last week, she was among a group of people who took a taxi to the medical centre costing $40 each way, even with a mobility card, putting more cars on the road.
Selwyn Village Independent Residents' Committee chairman Russell Warren said many residents are angry and distressed at the loss of the 007 route that was replaced with the 650 cross-town route.
"This means that elderly residents, many of whom no longer drive and who have challenging mobility issues, have to board and dismount from two or three buses to get to the clinics.
"Alternatively they have to dismount on Greenlane Rd, cross the road and navigate a very busy two-lane entry road and walk about 300m to go to the clinics regardless of the weather," he said.
An AT spokesman said changes had been made to the 007 bus route.
"Depending on where this person lives, maybe their best option is to take the train to Britomart from Panmure Station and then use the 321 Hospitals bus that leaves from right out outside the main entrance.
The 321 bus goes into the Greenlane Clinical Centre, saving 100-200m of walking compared to the 650 bus, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said Glendowie buses after school are always going to be busy but they are never overcrowded.
"Buses do go to the transport hub at Glen Innes and people may have to change services.
"There is at least one security guard on duty from 2pm to the last train, this is common at many stations in Auckland.
"The area of the Glen Innes station has 21 CCTV cameras and is well lit."
The spokesman said there had been a few issues at the station, but if anyone feels unsafe at this, or any station, they should contact the security guard or go to the help point on the station where they can speak directly with AT's control centre.
There are also Transport Officers travelling on trains through Glen Innes and they spend some of their time patrolling around the station and its environs.
"We are working with the schools on any issues and have a regular meeting planned for tomorrow with Sacred Heart and Glendowie College. We have one parent who is in regular contact with us," he said.
The spokesman said Auckland Transport had received a number of calls about the central bus changes, mainly from people wanting route information. The number of calls about these changes is lower than for changes in other parts of Auckland.
"The New Network does mean change for many commuters and will mean some people having to transfer but mean more services, more often. Since 2016 there has been a 15 per cent increase in peak bus services and a 33 per cent increase in kilometres travelled.
AT said yesterday said the council body was aware of the concerns by schools and parents prior to the third term and worked with schools to make adjustments before the initial proposals were implemented, including an extra bus from the eastern bays to Epsom from day one.
He said AT would welcome the results of the survey, saying it would use the results to evaluate whether further changes need to be made.
"Auckland Transport continues to monitor the patronage, capacity and reliability of bus services, including the school bus services between the eastern bays and Epsom schools," said the spokesman, saying a number of schools had received extra school bus services as part of the new central city bus network.
The spokesman said school bus services are funded from the same pool as all public transport and it is important they complement, not duplicate, the rest of the system.
"If there was a public bus running along the same route as a school bus, it would not be a good use of resources to keep the school bus," he said.