After weeks of increasing unrest, a large number of Auckland’s buses will be off the road on Friday as large numbers of drivers from both NZ Bus and Howick & Eastern strike for the day.
Many Auckland bus services won’t run on Friday because of industrial action so people should plan ahead.
Drivers employed by NZ Bus are taking industrial action from 4am on Friday until 4am on Saturday. In a separate dispute some drivers employed by Howick & Eastern will walk off the job from 5.30am on Friday till 5.30am on Saturday.
Services affected are Metrolink, Go West, North Star, Waka Pacific, CityLink, InnerLink, OuterLink, Howick & Eastern and school buses operated by NZBus.
All other bus, train and ferry services will operate as normal. There may be other bus options available in some areas including: Ritchie’s, Birkenhead Transport, Tranzit (Airporter), Bayes, SkyBus, Murphy, Northern Express, Urban Express, Waiheke Bus Company as well as train and ferry services.
Auckland Transport’s Bus Services Manager, Brendon Main, says: “We are sorry but services will be limited on Friday, the roads will be busy and there will be delays. People should consider options such as travelling outside peak times, sharing rides, cycling or walking. People should also talk to their employer about their work situation on Friday.”
Mr Main says AT staff will be on duty at some busy locations to assist customers with information and advice. Updates will be provided on the AT website, Twitter and on radio and TV traffic bulletins on Friday.
Customers are advised to check with the Auckland Transport call centre (09 3666400)
Separately AT have said to me
NZ Bus industrial action will commence 0400 Friday 19 February – concluding 0400 Saturday 20 February
- No NZB urban or school services will operate during this period
- NZB operate approximately 240 school services per day (list here)
- NZB union membership approx. 85%. Remaining employees are unlikely to be able to get vehicles from depots due to picket lines
- Indications are that work to rule action will continue post Friday with drivers electing not to accept cash fares from customers over the coming weeks :note this will not impact AT as fare revenue, whether from cash or HOP, under existing contracts and commercial services flows to operators
Howick and Eastern industrial action will commence 0530 Friday 19 February – concluding 0530 Saturday 20 February
- H&E union membership approx 30%.
- During peak this will result in approximately 50% of scheduled service on Botany and Howick services being cancelled (this is still to be confirmed)
- All other H&E services including school buses will run as per normal
I’ve already seen some suggestions that without buses on many routes that people should be allowed to drive in bus lanes. AT have confirmed that the bus lanes are still in operation even if the buses aren’t running so if you drive, stay out of them. One of the reasons is that while NZ Bus are the main operator on many of the routes with bus lanes across Auckland, other buses do use them too. However, given those lanes will be much quieter they might for once make for ideal bike lanes.
There seems to be a lot of conflicting information on all sides as to the causes of the strikes and both the Union and the bus companies are obviously playing to the media and public to get support. As I said to the Herald, it’s a shame the public are being dragged into this dispute (which is obviously the point). Especially as confidence in public transport has been improving for some time and that has been showing through with the patronage growth. This year we’ve got both Simplified Fares in July and the new bus network for South Auckland rolling out in October and it would be a shame if this knocked the confidence of potential bus users once the changes go live.
One interesting aspect this time is that once the drivers go back to work they’re saying they won’t accept cash.
For 15 days over the coming months, drivers will refuse to accept anything but Hop cards meaning anyone trying to pay cash will get a free ride. The action is to urge Auckland Transport to better inform the public about cashless payments.
“We’ve asked them for pamphlets, so if anyone pays cash, they also get a flyer telling them that the Hop card is cheaper and faster.”
I wonder how many HOP users will just pretend not to have a HOP card on those days.
This seems to be almost a carbon copy of the action taken about four years ago which was the last time a strike was threatened. Back then the strike was averted with some last minute talks and I still hope the same can happen this time to avoid any additional chaos – although it wouldn’t surprise me if so many people changed or cancelled their travel that issues like congestion don’t become such a problem. If the strike does go ahead I’m sure AT and the NZTA will be watching the impacts with great interest. It could become a case study like the Wellington Rail network did following a storm that washed out tracks and shut the rail network for days.