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.

Packed Train
What would the impact be if all of these people drove instead?

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.

2016-01 - Monthly Patronage

And some of the many tweets I’ve seen of full buses

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.

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  1. It is easy to focus on more buses because the existing ones are full. Where are these buses going to go to? The existing bus stops in the CBD are overcrowded, by buses, with buses not able to get to the bus stop because of other buses in the way.

    What is needed is more bus stops in the city to spread out the existing bus services, then there may be room for more buses.

    1. More bus priority in the city and else where will also help by allowing more efficient timetables to be run with greater turnover of buses.

        1. Any indication of when no-change will occur? Will help so much with dwell times. Works so well with cities that have implemented this rule. Also compulsory HOP card for Supergold users will help later this year

          1. no definite timeline that I know of – and I suspect that’s deliberate and reasonable, given that the benefits/costs depend quite heavily on the number of people who are using HOP. The more we maximise the latter, then the more beneficial it will be for the system as a whole (and the less impact on passengers) associated with moving to no-change given.

            Personally I completely agree with you: It works fabulously well and would rather see it sooner rather than later, but probably not before HOP uptake is in excess of 90% of journeys. The good news is that it was included in the RPTP and hence will be able to be implemented via new PTOM contracts. They might start by implementing it on isthmus services first, although that might be confusing for some people.

      1. Don’t worry – the long term plans along here call for less not more stops, they’ll be more evenly spaced apart, and they’ll be mostly aligned with each other (on either side of the road) and (supposedly) have ped crossings to allow easier crossing of the roadway near each stop.

        Believe all that when I see it. But thats the current plan.

  2. After suffering through the Inner Link continuously getting trapped in traffic by the roadworks on Victoria St between Queen and Albert, I’ve switched to biking most days. Kind of fun queue-jumping long lines of traffic along Fanshawe St.

  3. Things are busier on the southern line but I still get a seat at manurewa. Last year the services between 6:58 to 7:30 could be standing room only. I think the bigger trains with higher frequency has help. However, I would not like my odds on getting a seat on the trains services between 7:30 and 8:30 am.

    It is a shame that more buses could not have been put on for the 27x and other central isthmus routes. However it seems that the planned light rail system is the only real solution to this problem. Maybe the government will front up with an extra billion dollars.

    1. Hang on a sec – lets get some proper bus priority first and see how that goes. I dont think the potential capacity of buses with proper corridors on the isthmus has yet been used up.

    2. I take the train from Homai and last week it was possible for me to grab a seat. However from the beginning of this week all seats are practically taken. There was a day where I was lucky to have gotten a seat when people in Middlemore alight but most of the days now I’m pretty much standing up all the way to Newmarket.

    3. Light rail wouldn’t change things at all. They would still try to run the February services in March and look on stunned that more people wanted to travel. After a few weeks they would add some more services and some people would travel at a different time just as they do now.

  4. Indeed. Not only are more buses required, but proper joined up longer duration bus lanes too.

    But then that would really have AT scrambling as it would create a virtuous circle of demand, the reverse of the result of what appears to be a policy of passive marginal demand suppression through inadequate supply.

    And of course an infinity of buses cannot fit on our streets, so higher capacity more spatially efficient systems are needed especially in key places, especially the city centre, and across key pinch points; the Waitemata Harbour, the Tamaki river, the Mangere Inlet, and to the North west.

    Geography will out.

    1. “so higher capacity more spatially efficient systems are needed especially in key places”

      Surprise. …..not really.

      Why can’t they build for the demand at some future point a couple of years out instead of always scrambling on the day to fill the gap they knew was likely……two years ago. *sigh*.

      1. Cos its the wrong mode; the Waikato Expressway is being delivered about 3 decades in advance of capacity need, cos cars and cows. But urban Transit has to undergo decades of stress testing at overflow before demand is considered ‘worth the risk’.

  5. The only real option is more and longer bus lanes (Such as one from Queenstown Rd roundabout all the way to the CBD to name one of many I’m sure are needed). I wish AT would take this seriously. The new networks are going to kinda help but only if they are backed up with bus lanes and better frequency. I’m looking at you route 30 (Who in their right mind thinks 30 mins is good enough for a link to the Airport)

    1. Yep the 380 definitely needs a higher frequency! When I went from Queen Street to the Airport via Britomart and Papatoetoe the longest I had to wait was about 15 minutes at Papatoetoe. I never had to wait anywhere else!

  6. In a PT system that is experiencing a lot of growth it does seem to make sense to plan annual service improvements to increase capacity in January/February, or August as a second-best. This would provide capacity when it is needed, help to encourage people to keep using PT, and provide capacity to soak up growth over the subsequent year.

    I suspect that some of the difficulties in coordinating such capacity increases may reduce once PTOM contracts are in force, because these give AT more discretion to work with operator to contract additional services. I can’t shrug the feeling that many of our current issues stem from an out of date contracting regime … time will tell I guess.

  7. Its frustrating to think that they knew it would happen and planned extra services to ease some of the pressure off but they didn’t get it done in time. That’s pretty poor really, hopefully people aren’t scared off from what they had to endure this week.

  8. Agree with the bike users above; I’ll be riding to the city shortly, car would be stupid, and I was lucky get on yesterday’s bus. This mode has huge potential to help free up other systems, but then it has infrastructure bottlenecks too, many happily now being worked on thanks to the government’s Urban Cycleway fund and the Council’s Transport Levy.

    But what would really sort all of these issues more directly is a regime of much clearer price signals. Look what’s happening in London now that the price of both driving and Transit use is higher and clearer:


  9. My grumpy commuter 2 cents…
    If we want congestion charging for cars, why not for buses? Why not make it CHEAPER to take the buss nice and early e.g. say 5:45am? Plenty of seats on my bus

    Secondly, I get soo annoyed when I have a 50 minute bus trip and people who live <50 minutes walk to the CBD then get on the bus. Maybe they should be less lazy and should walk. If I could walk to work in the time it takes me to bus, I would bus. All those people are doing is slowing down the bus for more deserving people with longer to travel

        1. Hello, outlier. Pretty sure the research says 20 minutes is the longest commute time most people will tolerate before they start getting annoyed and look for ways to shorten it.

    1. When I was living in Eden Terrace and working/studying in the city I would generally take the bus mainly to avoid turning up hot and sweaty in the summer or soaked to the bone in winter. Walking into the city isn’t super pleasant from that direction due to the motorway. I really wish they could sell the air rights over the motorway to allow development to occur at least along the major bridges that cross the motorway.

        1. Auckland has this monstrous thing called the “Central Motorway Junction” which goes under Upper Symonds Street.

          Hideous waste of valuable urban space.

          1. Completely forgot… yes you do cross over it.
            Not a waste of urban space! Motorways have their place.

          2. So how should someone driving in from Blockhouse Bay for example access the CBD?
            (in the absence of a 5 minute frequency PT system)

    2. I agree with EC here: We should make PT cheaper at off-peak times. Both because it promotes efficiency (encouraging peak spreading) and equity (off-peak discounts tend to be progressive).

    3. I don’t know why you keep banging on about 50 minute walks EC. International research shows that most people are typically only happy to walk up to 10 minutes at each end of their journey.
      I don’t know many people that would want to walk 50 minutes to/from work each day especially not on a rainy day or in winter or hot/humid summer days….that leaves you with about 6 months of the year (less rainy days) that it *might* be possible to get a decent amount of people walking that sort of duration.

      1. And most people are happy to eat fried chicken and gravy but we still have healthy eating campaigns

        What people “want” and what they “should do” are very different things. The entire basis of a legal system is the development of normative standards.

        If people are that lazy, we shouldn’t coddle them

        1. I think your underlying point is reasonable: There is a tension between meeting needs of short versus long journeys, and where PT competes with the former then it may have health disbenefits.

          BUT 50 minutes is excessive. It’s far longer than the average person’s commute. If you design your PT system to favour journeys of 50minutes or longer you won’t be carrying many passengers.

          Also, it’s an open empirical question as to whether people who are currently using PT for short journeys would otherwise walk/cycle. It may be that they’d rather drive, at which your point is, well, pointless.

        2. You presume everybody is young and fit. I am 66 with bad knees. I can walk some distance but there is no way I could do 50 minutes a day each way. There are lots of medical indications which would mean that people would not be able to do that regularly. And weather!

    4. I was with you until you said anyone who lives less than 50 mins walk should walk, because that’s how long you have to travel. What a moronic statement. It’s not their problem you choose to live so far out. I don’t mind going on leisurely walks of an hour or more, but it’s not practical to do that to and from work everyday.

      1. Not sure 8.4km from Britomart is “so far out”
        Ever considered that I live 8.4km away because I’m not rich enough to afford a $2m villa?
        Nice little bit of let-them-eat-cake classism there

    5. What makes you more deserving because you live farther away? Surely the people who elect to pay more to live closer in order to reduce their travel times, their resource consumption and their pollution are more deserving.

      Here’s a tip too, you should thank the people who are travelling short distances. They are subsidising your long trip. A three stage fare is just over double a one stage fare, but covers five or six times the distance. Service delivery cost is basically linear with distance.

      1. I’m willing to be people who live closer to the CBD earn more and thus from a progressive approach we should be favouring the poorer people like me who have to take such long journeys

        You’re basically saying we need a regressive system where the rich get richer

        1. It’s already progressive, the “rich” inner suburban dwellers are already cross-subsidising the longer trips. Not that PT users from the inner suburbs are especially rich, a large proportion of them are students with tiny incomes.

  10. Got the bus on Wednesday morning. 6.45 am at Mostyn St the New North Rd bus was late and picked up lots of people at every stop. Full at 6.55 am. Late arriving at Civic so I missed the Takapuna connection. In the 20 minutes I waited I saw several New North and Sandringham Rd buses arriving with “bus Full” signs up. All before 7.20am!

  11. For my trip from the north shore, march madness isn’t causing a problem with full buses, it’s the increased traffic slowing down the journey. The trip from murrays bay to constellation now takes as long as from constellation to the city. As it is, i’ll consider driving to constellation instead, which of course adds to the problem. What is needed is either alternative routes or bus priority

  12. Well first off – the extra buses do not start next week but from Monday 14th – so there is an extra week of this madness.
    Secondly AT needs to sort out roadworks. The inner city is cluttered with them and that would help so much inner city congestion. Limiting car traffic in Wellesley and Victoria Sts would be a start.
    Then a few ideas:
    Having a give way to buses bylaw ( or even law if Simon Bridges is really into public transport) might just be a good idea too. So much time is wasted trying to get out of bus stops etc while cars race past.
    Having tertiary students pay full price before 9.00am similar to gold card users could help too.

    1. Jean I think that on-peak charging is only useful if it induces a smoothing out of demand. For that to work commuters have to be flexible and there needs to be alternative transport available. Your idea would be unfair on tertiary students who have lectures before 10am, which is probably most students on most days, and for the same reason there would be no benefit in terms of managing demand.

      1. If tertiary students had to pay full price between 7 and 9 they could still come in nice and early, do their readings before class or hit the gym, and avoid contributing to peak congestion – and make their 9am lectures

        How I did it for 5 years

        1. Yes this is also a “fare” point: I don’t think tertiary student discounts should apply during peak periods.

          1. Huh, the time that students get to uni is totally decided by their class time. Disincentivising them during peak times is idiotic.

          2. I have 9am lectures everyday. It takes me an hour to get to uni via train so I get trains between roughly 7:15 and 7:45. I can’t catch later trains because I’ll miss my lectures. Sure, I could catch trains that leave between 6:15 and 6:45 but that’s insane. I may as well quit studying and become a dairy farmer or a baker with those times. The fundamental difference between university students and work commuters is that a commuter earns the cost of their return ticket back once they arrive. The University student, by and large, does not.

            The reality is that most students don’t need to catch peak services (and consequentially do not*) but ones like me, who do, even if (as I noticed you later suggest) will get hit with a big jump up in costs and, often enough, not get to have any savings whatsoever because the return journeys are often at peak times too. And yeah, you could just leave later (and sometimes you might) but is that a reasonable model of behaviour… I think not. I don’t know how it was when you were at uni but these days, at UoA at least, it is the complete opposite to school or work with their pretty consistent hours.

            *Compare Auckland at between 8:30am and 9am next week to between 11am and 1pm. If you don’t notice a difference you’re dreaming.

        2. Students getting in early. Bahahahaha. I went back as an ‘adult’ student a few years ago and my classmates would get very bitter about attending ‘early’ (pre-11:00) lectures.

          1. Dude, you gotta realise that you’re an exception to the norm. And it’s hardly lazy to not be up 5am. I bet you’re in bed asleep at 9pm, I think that’s incredibly lazy, wasting all that time during my most productive hours.

            Anyway that’s a bit moot, the student peak is between 9am and 10am, after the commuter peak. Likewise in the afternoon there is almost no student peak, it’s spread from about 3pm to 10pm.

          2. Early there is absolutely nothing morally superior about getting out of bed before others. Quite the opposite. Early risers only do it to grasp anything free they can before others do.

    2. I asked the Minister of Transport about give way to buses regulations an he replied it isn’t needed because
      * concerns about cyclist safety (bus drivers might pull out in front of approaching cyclists)
      * there are existing,successful “let the bus go first” programmes run by local bodies
      * there are bus lanes
      * it’s more a mater of normal road courtesy

      1. Bus drivers do look before they pull out, give way bylaw or not.There are many cars that do give way to buses and good on them but common courtesy is a very limited traffic management plan. Bus lanes are only operable in limited peak times. I think Simon Bridges may not know what the problem is.

      2. “* it’s more a mater of normal road courtesy”

        It is a courtesy but in my experience it isn’t normal at all. I would say a minority of drivers do this.

          1. I like peak congestion on inner city streets. All the traffic is standing still, going nowhere, which makes the city a great place to walk (between the cars). Its when it is not congested, and cars are moving at speed, that the city becomes hard to walk around. So the answer is one extreme or the other. Its the in-betweeny stuff I don’t like…

      3. Courtesy on the road. That guy must be new to New Zealand.

        The majority of the drivers don’t even know such concept exists. A prime spot for observing the charming level of courtesy of drivers, is the entrance of Western Springs park on Great North Road, across the car park.

        Spoiler alert: you will also figure out how many strollers can squeeze into that “pedestrian refugee” island.

      4. This rule works well here in Australia. It certainly speeds up buses, because they can return to the traffic stream without waiting for a break in the traffic – they just indicate and the traffic has to give way.

    3. Uni student here. If you expect me to pay full price on my commute to and from uni everyday, I’m going to drive and park in the city. I don’t care if the roads are congested, I don’t care if I have to pay more for parking, I don’t care how expensive petrol is. I’m not paying $10 a day to stand in a bus like a sardine (mt eden road, 7:30am).

      If I’m paying the same price as other people, why don’t I get the right to a seat?

      You want me to pay full price? May as well charter an UBER for me, thanks AT.

      In high school I drove to and from school even though the walk was only about 30 minutes each way. The quality of Auckland buses has remained the same over the past decade or so, not because AT aren’t making improvements, but because the improvements can’t keep up on the demands.

      1. Ray if buses are full then its a choice between uni students or adults. Who do you think is more likely to drive? You may do so but youd be unusual.

  13. Why dont we limit all CBD lanes to one lane and convert the extra lane into a bus lane (benefits cyclist too). This would pretty much clog up the cbd for all car users which should discourage alot of people to not take their cars to the CBD. By limiting the capacity, it will reduce car usage. I reckon this is a much effective way than tolling the CBD.

    We should also limit the amount of on-street parking in the CBD. We have thousands of space in those parking apartments. I suggest that all these on street parking be turn into courier/drop off zone parking only, which should stop all these vans and trucks from blocking bus lanes, cycle lanes and foot paths in the CBD.

  14. A few things would help that wouldn’t involve additional cost.
    1) No annual leave in March for bus/train drivers to make sure they are all onboard to operate services.
    2) No planned maintenance in March (use the other 11 months to do maintenance) to make sure all buses/trains are available.
    3) March HOP incentive – cheaper off-peak travel (before 6:30am, after 9am until 4pm, after 7pm) – ok this one might cost (might be revenue neutral too).

  15. Every year, AT fails to deliver sufficient capacity.

    Capacity that ends up being the standard within the next year or so anyway. We deserve a lot better.

    1. Yes, that was the thing I noticed. It’s a bit rich for AT to say “it’s only March and then it will settle down, so plan outside the peaks because we won’t add extra services”. Quite clearly the pattern year-on-year is that what was unusual for the previous March soon becomes the norm all year round within a year or so. So they shouldn’t be worried about providing “superfluous” extra supply – it will get used in no time.

  16. As others have noted, there are a range of things which are free, or nearly free which are obvious and available.

    *Limiting leave in March.
    *Extending/creating bus lanes on all major arterials. (These don’t require years and millions of dollars in consultation. Just do them.) At the very least an extension in hours by 30 minutes on either side.
    *Restrict non-essential maintenance in March.
    *Give-way to bus laws. Given that the Land Transport Act requires a go over anyway and things like bike passing distances are being considered, this should be included.

    I disagree with Stu above. Student discounts should be maintained at peak hours. This is because their incomes are limited, and if they are forced to pay full fare, they will be more likely to drive. And NZ’s student discounts are very small by international standards anyway. We should be encouraging student use of transit

    1. Consider this: What about charging students full fare during peak periods but giving them a larger off-peak discount, such that they pay the same total weekly cost. The only difference is that they now have better incentives for peak spreading.

        1. Cool – that was what i was thinking. My thinking is that a peak fare should be approximately the same for all passenger types, because when vehicles are full the space is rivalrous so we dont really have a prima facie reason to favour any particular group over another. If anything given road congestion externalities we may have a reason to favour adults! But the main point is have a single fare for peak travel for all passenger types (except children) and then vary your offpeak discount so that noone is worse off.

          Just an idea: im not wedded to it.

          Im response to Simons comment about students not having a choice: that simply is not true. Many do. And like i said above peak capacity is rivalrous so may as well price it equally.

          1. Students don’t really have a choice. You decide on a particular course, you usually get one (or two or three if you’re lucky) option for when that class is. And if it’s before 11am then travelling before 9:30am is almost inevitable. I would be willing though to see someone pay more for their 9am class and less for their 3pm tutorial, if the difference was roughly neutral.

            I imagine you’re thinking primarily about University of Auckland and AUT’s city campus, where parking is limited and expensive, but a great number of students attend other institutes and campuses. They have more options, and keeping them off the road while conserving their meagre buying power is important. It’s interesting how we can agree on policy levers, but how we push those levers matters.

            I would start out by seeing how we can improve cycling at universities and educational institutes, where I think we can make huge headway. Most (but not all) students are healthy, young, and not carrying around children or a vanload of tools.

          2. It’s all a bit weird. Auckland’s city campus is not particularly full before 10am. Even at 10am it feels pretty quiet in the first week… where a lot more people are around than usual. Yet, the trains show a massive jump up in people. It doesn’t really add up. The week before is probably a bit busier at peak versus two weeks earlier because of orientation activities that want a whole swag of people to arrive at one specific time.

            And you just know that next week there are going to be, already, noticeably fewer people around… but the PT won’t notice that.

            It doesn’t add up. Which probably means there’s at least one confounder…

  17. Because it doesn’t feel safe. Riding at 20km/h with buses revving behind you, or cars passing just cm from your handlebars is something that can be really intimidating, even for an experienced cyclist.

    Driver behaviour can help, as can legislation to make drivers give room. But what has been shown to work more than anything else is separated cycle-lanes.

    The other thing which dampens cycling is rain, and this requires cycling retailers to be proactive about giving people mudguards so that they don’t arrive at work with wet bums and ankles, and bright lights so that they don’t fall off the habit in the darker months.

  18. I would love to cycle to work, although one of the most convenient roads to travel on is New North Road, which is a diabolical road and very unsafe for cycling, particularly the section between Blockhouse Bay Road and Carrington/Mt Albert Road. There are safer routes, although they take much longer.

  19. On the timing of the introduction of double-deckers, I believe some of the kerb works (to avoid conflict between buses and shop verandahs) has only just been completed, is that responsible for the delay?

  20. Interestingly this article sums up why peak time congestion charging of vehicles will not reduce congestion. The capacity needs to exist in PT first before single commuters are priced out of their vehicles through congestion charging.

    Hypothetically if the number of peak time buses and train services were doubled then apart from scheduling challenges there would also be significant financial challenges with the new capacity (bus/trains/drivers) sitting idle outside of peak hours.

    1. Clearly road pricing has to coincide with improvements in significant alternatives. Although it is expected that time of day pricing will not only lead to mode shift but driving time shift, that is the experience overseas, as is the simple evaporation of a significant number of trips]. Clearly driving is simply an underpriced good.

    2. “Interestingly this article sums up why peak time congestion charging of vehicles will not reduce congestion.”

      Except it doesnt do anything of the sort.

    3. Disagree toa.

      One of the key benefits of road pricing is not that demand shifts, but that it is suppressed altogether. Read up on stockholm experience if you’re interested. They found most of the drop in demand for car travel did not show up in increased demand for other modes.

      What actually happens is that leas valuable travel is re-prioritized in many ways.

  21. Mt Eden Rd buses would be more efficient if the bus lanes were longer (including closer to Mt Albert Rd intersection where the gridlock now seems to start from) … or if the owners of the bakery 1/2 way along Mt Eden Rd asked customers not to stop in the bus lane outside their shop … or if there was a bus lane through the Mt Eden Rd / Balmoral Rd lights – normally 2-3 cars go in the left lane then block buses from reaching the next section of bus lane just after the lights.

    Must find out how to log this with AT.

    1. Yes bus lanes, like breathing tubes, need to be continuous to work. Only making bus [or bike] lanes where it’s easy and doesn’t conflict with other users, especially parking, and therefore intermittent, is simply a pointless cop-out.

  22. The train and ferry system seems to be holding up fine. Eastern line is noticeably busier, but still working well.

    I took a bus yesterday for the first time in ages; the red city one from Britomart to K Road. It was awful, at 3:15pm I think i could have walked it faster. No priority lanes, stuck for ages at every set of lights.

    1. Bus lanes on Queen St are coming soon, but they will be incomplete. In particular they will be surrendered for the ridiculous amount of specialised turning lanes that this country’s road designers somehow get away with.

      Madness. Queen St should be:

      A. Carfree, or failing that:
      B. as unwelcoming as possible for this particularly useless rat runnery.

      1. Most streets in the city centre need access by cars, vans or trucks at some point, for deliveries, construction, roadworks, refuse collection, residents who have cars or carshare, and a host of other things like that.

        But precisely none of those city centre streets need fast, convenient access for private or service vehicles. Those vehicles are an unfortunate necessity that needs to be managed, they’re not the point of the street.

        That’s the cruel irony of the “motorway ring” around the CBD. It defines the edge of the motorways which are designed to bring cars into the city centre. But that line should really define the boundaries of the area in which cars are actively discouraged, because at that point they are largely pointless and unhelpful for the task of simply moving people.

        1. Well said. Nowhere is this more true than on Queen St; driving there is pointless, quite literally. It only happens because we allow it; why, exactly? The disbenefits are also limitless and benefits negligible. All drivers using cross streets would benefit from the removal of Queen from the driving system, as obviously would Transit, Delivery, and Emergency. It is accepted by all that it will happen, yet requires the magic of Light Rail to force it. Yet if it is the right thing to do with LR, why is it not the right thing to do with buses?

          1. Oh yes, which goes without saying, by far the most dominant mode on Queen, the most economically valuable, efficient, and environmentally desirable.

            But there are no Human Engineers, only Traffic Engineers. And Human Traffic is what almost none of them seem unable to notice or value (except as an ‘unnecessary delay’ for their master mode).

          2. Shouldn’t Foot Traffic count as a type of traffic, and if LOS is being considered, it should be considered for that all types.

  23. Proper buslanes and double deckers cannot come soon enough. We simply can’t cope with the huge numbers in mixed running, and LRT is at least 3-5 years away. A massive extension of shoulder service would help too as many people worry they won’t get on a NEX or Mt Eden bus after 7pm.

    1. Yep best way to encourage people to use shoulder is ensure bus are less crowded. At the moment they are just as crowded in the shoulder peak, as the service level drops off so fast.
      Don’t even need to reduce fares, just run almost same level of service for a few hours, and people who want a seat will travel in the shoulders, and the peak will be packed as it always will.

  24. Maybe accordion buses might help…Problem only is they are too long and may struggle on smaller roads….Maybe encourage Primary and Highschool students to take school buses so that at least there will be less on buses that are for the general public….You should see how we catch the bus in the Philippines, because they are privately owned and drivers get a commission if they meet tragets buses try to overtake each other for passengers…Passengers on the other hand do not wait for the bus to stop completely at the stop…since the doors are left open (or no doors) they jst rush to it before the bus even reaches the stop

  25. March madness is alive and well on the Takapuna route. It appears to be because some scheduled buses never turn up. I sent a complaint to AT but nothing useful came of it. I will however complain again as it seems reasonable that when buses are either full or over full then frequencies should be better. (The most passengers left behind at a single stop was 28 this week).

  26. It seems in Auckland the buses all run from the terminus to terminus. I remember years ago when buses were the predominant form of transport when the buses started to get crowded relief buses would start part way along the route to ease the load. Going the other way at night some would not stop until a designated stop part way through the route thus giving a faster service to all. Why cant this be done today?

    1. This is done today. Along New North Road, for example the 220 is a short run from St Lukes, the 223 starts from New Lynn, and the 224 starts from Henderson.

      Meanwhile some of the routes (221 and 223) have express versions that run non-stop from Morningside to Newton.

      1. What happens to school bus runs, or special peak services designed for schools ? If there is a minimum shift length of 4 hours, only a portion of this would actually be used. Great for the drivers but not for the ratepayers who have to cover the capital and labour costs for a relatively short period of operation. Could some of these shifts be extended by providing additional shoulder period frequency in the morning on city-bound routes, and similarly in the evening peak ?

  27. It really is a pity that we can’t be sure of a timeframe for electrification to Pukekohe or Pokeno. If we did we would be able to order more EMU for patronage increase and the extension.

    It is obvious that 57 train sets can’t cope with the morning peak so some sets have to be 3 cars when all peak trains should 6 cars.

    1. Yes by my math AT need around 21 additional units in order to run 6 car sets on the 3 main lines for two hour peaks. This looks like an order that ought to have already been actioned.

      They are still, we understand, investigating hybrid battery/pantograph EMUs for the southern extension. These would have to be in addition to the numbers required for the rest of the network.

      Additionally moving to driver only operation with dwell times below 30sec as is standard internationally would not only speed runs significantly (10mins?) but obviously increase the efficient utilisation of all existing resources, freeing up move trains for deployment in any given period.

      1. Why go down the expensive and slightly incredulous idea of the battery sets when for about $20m (IIRC) we can wire the route?

        Dwell times on my trains are minimal and would probably be faster with a guard than with the driver closing the doors. The biggest impediment to reducing dwell times are the passengers.

        DOO probably won’t reduce dwell times with the logic that is built into the door system.

        You might also like to consider the implications of DOO by reading this report:


        1. $140m is the number I have seen for electrifying to Pukekohe. It’s a simple cost benefit analysis on batteries v electrification; we don’t know the outcome yet. Either way new trains are required. Also what is incredulous about battery electric trains?

          Other systems all over the world achieve 25-30sec dwell times without TMs and Drivers, checking and re-checking with each other. Passengers are not the issue; they can only use doors when they are open and will soon learn to not delay once more efficient door times are routine. Also the doors do need to open much quicker than is currently the case, however the trains are staffed.

          Other nations than the UK run very efficient urban rail systems; perhaps we can learn from them too?

    2. The alternative is to operate them at much higher frequency but once again it needs a) more trains and b) CRL. Once that happens, there will be further large patronage gains.

  28. I just can’t get over the level of expectation of right held by tertiary students here. Gold Card users do not get a discount until after 9am and yet many have to be at work before then, so they pay full fare. Haven’t seen many of them complaining in here. Tertiary student travel discounts are not a right – they are the same as child fares for secondary students aged over 15 and pension fares, that is, discretionary and dependant on having the right identification or information loaded into a hop card.
    The March madness phenomena only last a couple of months until people realise they can change attendance and so change their travel times. I am more concerned about the full buses after 9.30pm at night because frequency is too low. Similarly on weekends and public holidays.

    1. Gold Card users do not get a discount until after 9am and yet many have to be at work before then, so they pay full fare.

      That’s the thing. People going to work at 9am are *working* and at the same time collecting the pension which is 66% of the median income.

      Tertiary student travel discounts are not a right – they are the same as child fares for secondary students aged over 15 and pension fares, that is, discretionary and dependant on having the right identification or information loaded into a hop card.

      Your point is? That they’re a bit of a hassle to get, for the 20% discount they provide (very low by comparison with most other cities). They’re not child fares, and they’re certainly not old-people fares.
      And if you’re referring to me as someone with an expectation of right, I haven’t been a tertiary student for most of a decade. Unlike some people though, I’m concerned about the mobility of people who cannot access a full income – by definition a fulltime student is on a limited income – but who still have very real and non-transferable mobility needs.

      1. Exactly! Students at most are getting an allowance of $160ish, or borrowing $170, plus likely part time work too. Even at the most that’s much less than a full time job plus pension!

        1. Yes and a lot of pensioners & workers live on very little income without many chances to improve this. This is getting away from the debate however all I meant was if there were time limits on students they may rearrange their commute times in March as they seem to do for the rest of the year.

  29. This is why there is traffic people find the trains are too packed so they take there cars.
    So much for advertising the train being good.

  30. when will the extra train units parked at wiri each day start to be used? there seams to be at lease 4 units at the wiri platform each day at peak time not in service?

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