Heavy traffic and delays are being reported on many of Auckland's main routes this morning as the annual "March Madness" begins.
Late February and March is the busiest time of the year on the city's congested roads - also known as "March Madness" - with university students starting the academic year and the majority of workers having returned to the office, causing a spike in demand for public transport alongside an increase in motorists.
This year's period also coincides with Lime's electric scooters being pulled from the streets of Auckland amid ongoing concerns about their safety.
A reader this morning told the Herald they experienced an extra 25-minute delay than usual in commuting in their car from Northcote to the CBD.
They weren't sure if it was down to "March Madness", but said Onewa Rd was much busier than normal and Queen St was at a standstill.
At 8am the NZ Transport Agency was reporting heavy traffic between Redvale and Onewa Rd on the Northern Motorway citybound, and heavy in the same direction on the Northwestern Motorway between Hobsonville Rd and Royal Rd, and again between Lincoln Rd and St Lukes.
The Southern Motorway was heavy citybound through Papakura and again between Manukau and Greenlane, and southbound at the CBD and Mt Wellington.
On the Southwestern Motorway traffic was heavy southbound between Maioro St and Hillsborough Rd, and heavy northbound between the Southern Link and Puhinui Rd.
Auckland's transport sector has been gearing up for the period with extra services, but has warned there aren't many spare buses and companies are struggling to hire drivers.
Auckland Transport (AT) said it was well-prepared though, after re-jigging bus services last year added more than 1700 trips every day to its network. But the organisation warned that if numbers exploded, there could be problems finding enough drivers to move the fleet.
In a bid to fend off commuter chaos, AT would add more buses to key routes across the city, and also has what it calls "banker buses" on standby.
"We will also be running more extra large and double-decker buses on some key routes," Derek Koper, bus services manager, said.
"We have recently added more double decker services on Dominion, Mt Eden, Manukau and Remuera roads and other routes, with 193 double deckers now in service."
"We have also identified some other routes which are going to be busier than normal and we will be using what we call 'banker buses' to help with capacity."
Over the past three years AT has introduced extra services to cope with the increased demand for public transport - AT currently runs 12,937 weekday trips compared to 11,200 at the same time last year - which Koper said would enable AT to cope with most of the capacity issues.
"But some routes have grown faster than predicted, so we will try to add some extra services where we can," he said.
"However, there aren't many spare buses and we know that operators are struggling to recruit new drivers, so that will add to the pressure."
Trains are expected to cope with the increased number of travellers, while additional ferry sailings have been added to the Hobsonville Point service.
Last year, Herald reporters raced to work using different modes of transport - car, bus, bicycle and train - during March Madness to test which method was quickest. Cycling came out on top.
BY THE NUMBERS:
12,937 bus trips each school day, or 82,422 per week
This drops to 12,489 trips during school holidays
120,000 people use Auckland buses every weekday, making 220,000 trips