We’re now in March and as expected the transport madness is in full swing.
The annual battle for a spot on the bus has kicked off with commuters left standing in the rain waiting for a bus with room and journeys taking up to 1.5 hours.
Known as “March madness”, the phenomenon kicks in every year as students head back to university and workers are back in full force while the region’s traffic hits its peak for the year.
On Monday, 10 buses drove past Ravi Kaniyawala at his stop near Bellevue Rd, Mt Eden, before he could get on a bus where he had to stand.
Yesterday, he tried another option and caught the bus from earlier up its route in Three Kings. But even this backfired.
“It took me one and a half hours from Three Kings to Britomart.”
Mr Kaniyawala plans to drive to the Mt Eden station today and get into the CBD by train from there. The technical analyst said he’s been working in the city for three years but this is the worst March madness he has seen.
As mentioned in the article the whole thing is entirely predictable and yet it happens every year without fail. The good news is that more services will be put on from Sunday which should hopefully ease the pressure although the question remains why it didn’t start this week.
- Mt Eden Rd – 24 trips = 1056 seats
- Dominion Rd – 16 trips = 736 seats
- New North Rd – 18 trips = 720 seats
Unfortunately the new double deckers will be too late to have an impact this year although it may help a little next year.
The buses aren’t alone in being busy. The trains are also feeling busy and despite having greater capacity than the same time last year, it feels like that extra space has already been used up. Platforms also feel busier than ever.
What does concern me though is that AT seem continue to treat this an annual event.
Mark Hannan, Auckland Transport spokesman, said it was too early to say if complaints had increased this year as tertiary students had only just started back.
“The numbers travelling on buses and trains does increase but settles back again as students work out their schedules. The best advice is to plan ahead and try to travel outside peak times.”
Yes, things do settle down again after Easter but I also believe that a lot of people simply give up. After all there are only so many days you’ll put up with standing at a bus stop or squeezed on a bus or train before you try something else. How much higher would patronage be through the rest of the year if enough services were put on and people had a better experience? As well as more services, one big thing AT should be doing to help address the issue using off peak pricing to encourage those that can to travel later.
To show just how much busier March can be, here’s the monthly patronage results up to the end of January. The March results are shown in red. If the rest of the months were closer to what we see in March, it could add 10 million or more trips a year to the results.
And some of the many tweets I’ve seen of full buses
— Patrick Reynolds (@pv_reynolds) March 1, 2016
The 020X bus service is full from the backseat to the front door ^CM pic.twitter.com/1HrhHHndD2
— 95bFM News (@95bFMNews) March 1, 2016
— Niko (@nikoelsen) February 28, 2016
While on buses our friends at Generation Zero are running a campaign calling for better buses
Does your bus kinda suck? We want to know if your bus is always overcrowded, if you have to wait while buses go past already full, and anything else about your bus journey that just isn’t quite up to scratch. If we hear from everyone who is annoyed at their bus this week, we can show Auckland Transport there’s a problem.
Today, tomorrow, anytime your bus is crappy in the next few weeks. As often as it happens. Let us know. What we want to identify is where and when we most need to add more buses. Then we can present all your complaints to Auckland Transport and make them do something about it.
Head over to here for it.
How are you finding March Madness so far?
Edit: AT have informed me the extra buses on isthmus routes won’t start till the 14 March.