Tomorrow's bus driver lock-out has been called off and busses will roll out as normal.

The lock out of 900 drivers and cleaners for NZ Bus would have disrupted travel plans for up to 80,000 Aucklanders.

Both sides lifted their notices of industrial action after a mediation hearing in Auckland this afternoon during which the bus company made an amended pay offer to staff.

Neither the company nor the four bus unions would discuss the offer with media which is to be put to a vote by staff at 11am on Friday.

It is understood the union negotiators will not be supporting a vote either way.

That will mean no buses for several hours but morning peak services will not be affected.

The action will cover Waka Pacific, Metrolink, The Link, Go West, North Star and free City Circuit buses which comprise 70 per cent of Auckland's bus routes.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee said the result "greatly relieved" him.

He said the lock-out would have caused a major disruption to Auckland but "common sense won the day".

Mr Lee said the strike showed how vulnerable New Zealand's largest city was and the lock-out had been avoidable.

"If these people in public service, and paid to be in public service, they have to take on a degree of public responsibility," Mr Lee said.

He said the lock-out showed that public transport should be in public hands.

Mr Lee said the original decision made by Infratil to lock workers out would not have been made by someone accountable to the public.

Company operation manager Zane Fulljames said outside the Government mediation rooms that he is pleased bus services will run as usual tomorrow and Thursday.

The company had threatened to lock out the workers unless they withdrew a notice of work bans, due to have begun at 4am tomorrow.

Auckland bus drivers were facing a mass indefinite lockout from early tomorrow but said they would have reported to work as usual, even if the last-ditch mediation bid had failed today.

Their unions claimed it was NZ Bus, not the 900 drivers and cleaners in a pay dispute with the company, which would have been the cause of disruption.

But the Infratil subsidiary, which operates 70 per cent of Auckland bus services and carries up to 80,000 passengers a day, had said it will be unable to run its business safely or reliably if drivers impose bans listed in a strike notice.

Yesterday Mr Lee called for restraint from both sides but accused the company of overreacting to a threat of low-level industrial action, at the expense of tens of thousands of passengers.

He said there appeared to be major problems in trying to run Auckland's public transport system from offices in Wellington, where Infratil is based.

"If someone in a boardroom on The Terrace in Wellington is going to lock out the people driving our buses, causing a huge amount of inconvenience, that's not very helpful at all."

The company apologised to passengers in newspaper and radio advertising, and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority had arranged for other operators to provide bus services along key routes including from Hibiscus Coast, New Lynn, Mt Roskill, Three Kings and Onehunga to central Auckland, and vice versa.

Combined unions spokesman Karl Andersen, of the National Distribution Union, said yesterday that any inconvenience caused by the proposed work bans would be minor, and involved no risk to safety.

Most involved working to rule according to company policies, rather than any major withdrawal of labour.

Actions listed in the strike notice include working to rule, not operating a start button on electronic machines at the beginning of trips and taking 10 minutes between runs for "terminus duties" such as going to the toilet and doing stretching exercises recommended by the company nurse.

Mr Andersen acknowledged that a refusal by drivers running late to carry out the last trip of a roster could cause some disruption, but said that would be minor compared with the company's response.

The company says the drivers are not facing economic reality in refusing pay rises amounting to 9.9 per cent by the final stage of a three-year deal.

But the unions describe their claim for an average 4.2 per cent for a one-year agreement as a reasonable demand that works out at about 70c an hour increase on rates ranging from $14.05 to $16.75.

* For information about skeleton bus services, visit maxx.co.nz or phone (09) 366-6400 or 0800-10-30-80