I hadn't experienced second-hand road rage quite as bad as the moment I found myself sitting near the back of a bus on Auckland's Great North Rd.

In the lead-up to what has been dubbed "March Madness", I had pitted myself against three other reporters to travel by car, bus, bicycle and train from New Lynn into the city.

I left my keys - and my lycra - at home and armed with a Hop card I jumped on the bus to travel into work on one of Auckland Transport's "rapid" bus routes.

Using Google Maps and Auckland Transport's mobile app we had all worked out a rough estimate of how long the journey should take us, but we knew there was room for change.

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In the wild world that was Auckland rush hour no one was taking their place for granted.

Tomorrow is the first day of March - the peak month for Auckland transport.

The period has been dubbed March Madness, when chaos is expected to ensue as about 100,000 university students join the city's commute.

But uni students are back a week early this year and packed buses, gridlocked roads and extreme levels of road rage were jamming the city's transport routes last week.

One would assume the train was going to be faster than the bus, but Carla had the addition of a walk snaking up Queen St and onto Victoria St to make it to the NZME building.

New Zealand Herald journalist Alice Peacock, NZH FOCUS reporters Carla Penma, Brigitte Purcell and Tristram Clayton.
New Zealand Herald journalist Alice Peacock, NZH FOCUS reporters Carla Penma, Brigitte Purcell and Tristram Clayton.

Would this walk amount to the difference between winning and losing?

Where would Brigitte, in the comfort of her air-conditioned car, place? And how would Tristram fare on his mountain bike?

My preference for trains is largely due to the wonderfully timely schedule they normally run on and the fact you don't have to face traffic.

I thought about this as I sat at the back of the bus, simmering with frustration over the fact Great North Rd was nearing a state of gridlock and there were not consistent bus lanes along the route.

Auckland Transport says 2.6km of bus lanes have been added to routes winding through the city over the past year.

This doesn't sound like much and in that moment, I felt sure this should be a priority area of spending for Auckland Council. Top priority, in fact.

I did have one up on the traffic though. The route I had taken - the 172x - only stopped a couple of times between picking me up and dropping me off in the city centre.

My competitive side couldn't help but feel a little smug every time we passed a stop teeming with hopeful commuters. So long, comrades.

This was a race after all.

The bus snaked through Avondale and into Mt Albert.

By the time the bus veered into Grey Lynn our traffic woes were over. We were gliding past car after car.

NZ Herald Focus host ,Tristram Clayton, rides to work for the bike/car/train/bus challenge. Photo / Michael Craig
NZ Herald Focus host ,Tristram Clayton, rides to work for the bike/car/train/bus challenge. Photo / Michael Craig

We turned onto Queen St and up Victoria St, where the bus stopped to let us off.

All I had left was a short power walk to Graham St.

Upon my arrival at the NZME building I had a welcoming committee of just one. Despite claiming a lack of fitness, Tristram had rolled in on his bike a little more than 25 minutes before me.

"Obviously the beauty of a bike is that I could slip along, and between, the stationary cars and continue to make good time," he said.

"The final part of the journey involved quite a few energy-sapping hills but then it was on the famous pink road and down the dedicated Nelson St cycleway for a quick and fun arrival at work.'

Just minutes after my own arrival, Brigitte moseyed up to the front doors of NZME.

Although taking a less physically strenuous option than Tristram, the past hour of her life had taken more of a toll on her mental stress levels. Her trip took nearly double the estimated time, which equated to more than an hour simply sitting in traffic.

"I had barely made to the second street before the traffic build-up began," she said.

And then there was one.

Carla arrived exactly three minutes after Brigitte did.

Our train commuter described her journey as "a breeze" and predicted she would have placed differently, had she not missed her desired train and had to wait 10 minutes for the next one.