A bus driver who reportedly threw a passenger off an Auckland bus for coughing exhibited "unacceptable" behaviour, Auckland Transport says.

The man was unceremoniously told to "get off the bus" with a suggestion he had coronavirus, according to a passenger who witnessed the incident on Friday night.

The bus - an NX1 or NX2 to the North Shore - stopped near Victoria Park between 8pm and 9pm on Friday, she said.

"[The bus driver] said 'Who's the person that keeps coughing?' A guy raised his hand and he said 'Get off my bus'," she told the Herald.


"The bus driver said something about coronavirus and the guy said 'I don't have coronavirus'. He was just coughing."

She did not believe the man was targeted for being Asian as the bus driver - also Asian - could not initially see who was coughing.

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The passenger didn't seem upset and had disembarked near Victoria Park.

"I felt so bad for him but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to get kicked off the bus." None of the other 10-20 passengers had spoken up.

The young woman had not made a complaint and asked the Herald not to name her to avoid repercussions from the bus driver in future.

However she had called Auckland Transport to ask for their policy on Covid-19. She was told drivers had discretion to ask passengers to leave for any reason including if they were causing a disturbance.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the behaviour described was "unacceptable" from a driver.


"Bus drivers may ask a passenger to get off the bus if their behaviour is threatening to the driver or other people on the bus, or if they're causing a serious safety risk, or disturbing others."

However AT could not look into the specific case because a ticket hadn't been filed.

"In all cases, drivers should report any request to remove a customer. They should call their depot control room via radio and request assistance," Hannan said.

AT's bus operators and their unions are updated three times each week on the Covid-19 threat. Cleaning procedures on buses and trains had also been stepped up, Hannan said.

The latest update from AT, issued on March 9, says the Ministry of Health has not asked the organisation to consider any specific actions related to the virus.

It also says frontline staff are being issued hand sanitisers and public hand sanitiser stand are being installed in 14 locations as well as toilets across AT's network.

The update also reminds staff that discrimination against AT staff and customers is not tolerated.


"We are aware that there is a risk that some groups may be unfairly associated with Covid-19." Any cases should be reported, it says.