Thousands more spaces have been promised on buses and trains as Auckland Transport braces for March Madness - the perfect storm of public transport users and motorists creating carnage on city roads.

Auckland Transport has put 6500 extra spaces on buses and trains, although passengers were warned they might not always get on the first service.

The move follows chaotic scenes last year that saw huge delays and angry commuters left stranded waiting for clogged buses.

One commuter, technical analyst Ravi Kaniyawala, told the Herald last March he watched 10 full buses drive past his Bellvue Rd, Mt Eden, stop. That month 1157 complaints were made about buses being late, full, overcrowded or not showing up.


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

The phenomenon known as ''March Madness'' comes when students return to university, workers finish holidays and Auckland's traffic peaks.

Auckland University of Technology begins its academic year on Monday, and the University of Auckland a week later.

Better wait times sought

Auckland Transport metro operations' manager Brendon Main said the boost in 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."

Last year, 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.

"Since March last year we've worked hard to get more services on some of our busiest routes."

This year there will be 56 more city-bound bus trips 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.

Double-decker buses are also coming to Birkenhead to help with the demand, Main said.

From Monday, four double-decker buses will start services on routes between Beach Haven, Glenfield and the central city providing much-needed capacity along Onewa Rd.

Boost the 'right thing to do' - AA

Public transport will be busy, but AT and its service providers will be closely watching the situation, Main said.

"You might not always get on the first service but we want to ensure wait times are acceptable and, on some routes, better than last year."

The timetable change due on March 12 will also add 1194 spaces on city-bound rail services during the morning peak.

This additional capacity will be split between the Eastern Line, with 796 spaces, and the Southern Line, with 398 spaces.

Most ferry routes had sufficient capacity to cope with anticipated demand, Main said.

Generation Zero spokesman Leroy Beckett was pleased AT were focusing on March Madness, but the problem would not be solved until there were more bus lanes on the isthmus where congestion is worst.

AA infrastructure and Auckland Transport principal adviser Barney Irvine said the boost was the "right thing to do", but wouldn't provide much relief for those who had to drive.

They should plan their travel, avoid peak hours if possible and be flexible.

"Don't make this week the one where you make an appointment on the other side of town, after work, that you can't miss."

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