Auckland has had a tough few weeks, first with flooding and now Cyclone Gabrielle bearing down. Hopefully everyone is safe and any damage is limited.

At the time of writing this the wind is starting to pick up but we’re yet to really see the full effects but some impacts starting to be seen, such as Waka Kotahi closing the Harbour Bridge and Kiwirail shutting the rail network across the top of the North Island.

As such, if there is any damage, hopefully it is able to be repaired quickly, and in the case of the rail network, I certainly hope Kiwirail put a bit more urgency than they have for a slip following the flooding.

While many businesses and schools are also closed for at least today, once the storm passes we can likely assume travel demand will quickly return to normal levels. Normal levels are quickly changing too as with schools now back, that brings with it a lot more demand for travel around the city. That demand will only increase in a few weeks as University students start again – resulting in a time previously called March Madness.

This should have been the time that AT could really start encouraging people back to using PT and getting us much closer to pre-pandemic levels as people look for a way out of the congestion. But this year, both through the combination of driver/staff shortages and more recently the floods, the city’s PT network seems woefully prepared to handle a surge in demand.

One issue that stands out to me, partially because it affects me personally, but also because it feels like clear example of the kind of experience so many have on our PT network, is a slip on the rail network just east of Sturges Rd.

I’m not sure if this came down during the first flooding even on Friday 27 January or the heavy rain event the following Tuesday but I first noticed this on the morning of Wednesday 1 February. As you can see below, this appears to be a fairly small slip that has partially covered one of the tracks.

While a number of other slips around the network were repaired, over at least a week and a half later, Kiwirail have yet to even show up to clear this one. Worse, I’ve heard some suggestions they will take till the end of the month to clear it.

As a result of the slip, trains are having to run on a single line Henderson and Swanson so the real issue is that while we wait for the network to be fixed, users are subjected to complete uncertainty about if or when a train will even show up. Last week the timetable changed four times in as many days – at one stage only offering a service approximately every 60 minutes but with no fixed timetable. They eventually settled for a train shuttle running every 30 minutes – though this wasn’t reflected in the live departures in the AT app so you’d only see it if you went searching in the notifications section.

While I’m sure everyone can understand the network being closed for safety issues, like today, or as a result of damage from flooding or a slip. But there’s been another thing that’s bothered me about the response, a lack of information. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen plenty of images of damage to our transport network, as is normal in these kinds of events, but there’s been almost nothing about the various slips that have occurred on the rail network or when they’ll be repaired. About the only thing we’ve had was a press event on Monday 30 January next to a slip near Meadowbank. There Kiwirail CEO Peter Reidy said this:

Despite the wettest day in Auckland, the network’s held up reasonably well. We have 15 slips, a lot of those have been remediated over the last 72 hours, we have 80 people on the network, we’ve brought crews in from Palmerston North, we’ve held off any other capital works we’re doing right now to resolve the issue at hand, to make sure passengers can travel as easily as possible on Tuesday.

Behind me, as Mark said, we’ve got the Meadowbank slip here, this is one of our major slips, this will be remediated today. We’re very confident, as long as it doesn’t rain too heavy tonight that we’ll get this line up which means passengers can operate on the Eastern Line. We’ve got slips in Parnell, both ends of the Parnell Tunnel, we’ve got a geo tech review today, we’re evaluating the conditions, seeing what we can do to at least open that to a limited stage, but if it’s not safe we won’t do that, we’ll have a longer term plan. And thirdly out west we’ve had slippage around the New Lynn station.

Those words feel very hollow when there’s clearly not a sense of urgency on slips like above. Perhaps it’s just an extension of the general contempt that both Auckland Transport and Kiwirail have always seemed to treat the Western Line with.

Compare that response on the rail network to AT’s ability to install a temporary road bridge in just days.

The temporary Mill Flat Rd bridge

The real issue here is this, as well as years of disruption and poor service is eroding trust in the network and people who give up using the network in frustration at going to be much harder to get using it again if these issues are ever fixed. And this isn’t just about us saying highlighting the network issues.

One West Auckland resident has told the Herald his train to the central city takes almost twice as long as it did two weeks ago, with slips still affecting rail services.

The recent floods “extensively” damaged Auckland’s rail and road network, the AT spokesperson said, and work has been underway clearing slips, fixing roads and re-routing bus services.

“Granted there has been some track damage due to the flooding, I can accept that,” West Auckland commuter Mark Sheridan said.

“What I can’t accept is the ridiculous response from the network or the sheer lack of maintenance, accountability and ownership of our disgraceful network.”

Sheridan said rail replacement buses he has needed to take have often not arrived, and service changes have been unclear.

He said it was “impossible” to find reliable timetables for the disrupted train services online.

AT did not respond to concerns about how service changes have been notified or communicated to affected commuters.

“The system is a joke and it needs to change,” Mark told the Herald.

Unfortunately, buses haven’t been much better either with the Herald also publishing this last week.

One father says he’s lost trust in Auckland Transport after a string of cancelled buses hampered his daughters’ first day back at school today.

The North Shore father-of-two said one daughter was 30 minutes late and he had to drop the other at school after she was left waiting for a bus that never arrived.

He told the Herald when his eldest daughter’s bus did eventually arrive the driver “forced everybody off” 2km into her journey and didn’t continue on to her destination.

“Why do we continue to trust (and fund through rates) AT to run our buses, trains, roads, general transport, parking and speed limits when they continue to prove that they are incompetent?”

“What is the Council and our mayor doing about it?”


“We know how unreliable AT are so we got her to the bus stop 2 buses early, so when the 1st bus was cancelled at the last minute we didn’t panic.

“But after the 2nd bus was cancelled we knew that she would be late,” he said.

Auckland Transport said they were unaware of any significant issues this morning.


The father said he had “no choice” but to continue putting his daughters on the bus.

“A public transport system has to be reliable or it is worthless and only the desperate or those with no choice will use it.

Reliability is certainly a major issue. As a result of the rail network issues I caught the 120 bus. As I’ve experienced before, sometimes, like it was last Tuesday, the trip can be faster than my usual option of catching the train but other times it isn’t, and I had that experience once again last Thursday when I caught the bus at the same time but the trip was over 30 minutes longer due to a lack of priority. Furthermore, despite being operated with a double decker now, with schools back it was also leaving kids behind at bus stops.

The bus was too full to even stop for any of these kids to get on.

The mayor has talked a lot about fixing Auckland and has even set up a dedicated transport committee with one of it’s key tasks being to address the PT crisis we’re in. They better get cracking or before long there won’t be much of a PT network left.

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  1. Leaving Greenhithe kids standing at the bus stop as shown above isn’t a new issue. It is why we gave up on the bus when the youngest Miss mfwic was at school and started driving her every day. The ARC seemed able to provide school services. AT couldn’t.

    1. Yeah, well, AT run a lot more bus services than the ARC ever did. Buses go all the way to Wellsford and Omaha now instead of cutting off at Waiwera. Plus the rail buses are soaking up any available spare capacity.

      1. But miffy’s point is still perfectly valid. That picture of children standing at a bus stop should be posted on a billboard opposite AT’s luxury headquarters, in the lift inside their building, and on the inside of the chaffeur-driven car that the head of AT takes to work every day instead of using the bus. It is unconscionable to have that happen even once, let alone every day. When I was a small sprog, the school bus used to pick up ever child on the route – and if there were too many children, then they put on a second bus. Leaving children behind should NEVER happen.

        AT – you should be ashamed of yourself. By your silence, you probably are. So how about fronting up and explaining what you are going to do about it, right now?!?!

        1. To be fair, I used to see Mark Lambert on the train a fair bit. Not sure if he still does with all the network issues happening at the moment though.
          But agree with the sentiment of that it’s terrible that school children are the ones to suffer, in amoungst all the other transport failures children have to put up with, and yet another small part to ensure that going to school overall is a miserable experience.

        2. It’s no good trying to compare now with the rose tinted past. Kids used to go to local schools on bicycles, the city was half the size it is now, buses weren’t held up by traffic to any great extent etc etc.

        3. But Zippo – just saying that the past was different back then is not an answer either. There are some basic steps of competence that should be being taken. I’ve lived in Hong Kong, home to some fairly penniless people, but they are still treated with more decency and better organisation than AT treats school children. They tend to solve them with multiple minibuses – I used to get off the metro line at my local stop, and there would be a stream of mini-buses arriving, almost continuously, setting off on a set route, so despite 1500 people per tube train, the crowds would be picked up and whisked away, and all for a few cents. They didn’t have enough money for big expensive buses, just simple 15 seater Hino, bought in bulk. AT just simply does not know how to run a cake stall, let alone a city.

  2. Neglecting buses going towards schools has a long tradition. In 2019 we were trying to catch a bus from City to get to Freemans Bay school, we patiently tried a few times and bus simply never stopped, we were forced to move closer to school, to be able to walk. I believe everything school related should be a highest priority amongst basic services, otherwise what is the reason to pay taxes if most basic and most important things don’t work at all.

  3. The climate deniers and those against public transport, bikeways have cost this country dearly.
    Congestion, road deaths, health costs for hospitals and individuals, emissions, parking, sprawl and now floods with high cost to our infrastructure.
    Their hateful denials have done terrible damage to NZ.
    They fail to accept that public transport has benefits and that our economy depends on it.
    Many thousands of good people depend on PT each day and care about global warming but the car lobby struggle to accept them.
    AT need some people who see the network as a service and go out of their way to win over more customers

  4. My family currently experience delays of up to a couple of hours, each way, each time we travel by public transport. Firstly the Waiheke ferries get cancelled due to operational reasons (no staff to run them) or due to cruise ships thrusting or refueling in the ferry basin. Many trains aren’t running, so it’s rail replacement bus, or bus then train, or train then bus, or bus then bus. Almost always, one of those gets canceled or runs so slowly the connection is missed. Unfortunately, the kids have to do this twice a day to get to and from their school and other appointments in town. They are late to everything.

    Apparently it’s having a knock-on effect on traffic in Auckland too, with congestion levels being higher than historically (if this source is reliable?: This of course means the buses get stuck it traffic too (which is in line with our experience) in an example of a positive feedback loop. But it’s surely making the clearest possible statement that the best way to fix traffic is to fix public transport. Here comes March…

  5. The massive deterioration in public transport services across bus, train and ferries makes me so angry.
    I have been forced to mostly give up using PT and buy a car. (Don’t get me started).
    The total breakdown in useful and current info is absolutely not acceptable in this so called information age- where info can be spread quickly and easily. AT social media needs a big shakeup along with its difficult to comprehend website.
    Almost everyone I work with no longer uses PT and the few who do arrive late and storm in showing AT app screens of cancelled services or grim stories of being left at Devonport (the other day because a cruise ship was coming in and had AT priority).
    I can’t see any urgency by the Fix-it Mayor or sadly council to do anything and AT staff must be grinning as their the-car-rules obsession gains momentum.
    Doesn’t everything feel rundown? Britomart sometimes looks like a ghost place. Bus electronic signs don’t work. There are 40 minute cancellations of Link buses then two turn up at the same time.
    This is total mismanagement.
    We need to do something urgently because the councillors won’t. Can we brainstorm? Can Greater Auckland lead a deputation before the Governing Body? Start a petition? Gather money for a taxpayers union type media advertising campaign?
    We are losing people to PT and won’t recover for many years,

    1. Totally agree amazing how backwards PT has become here. The cruise ship fiasco is a joke, prioritise rich old overseas boomers over people who want to get to work?

        1. Yes:

          Funny thing is, the Harbourmaster’s rules are meant to prevent what has been happening:

          Rule 3: Between the hours of 06:30 to 09:05 and 16:30 to 18:05 on weekdays, 08:30 to 12:00 and 16:30 to 18:05 on weekends and Public Holidays:
          a) No vessel of 500 gross tonnage or greater shall;
          i) Manoeuvre within the downtown ferry terminal basin,
          ii) Operate or test any propulsion equipment or thrusters.

          The question is: Who is letting it continue to happen after 6.30am in the morning? I reckon if they haven’t completed ‘thrusting’ by then, they can choose to either turn around and go home, or pay a significant fine, to be spent on the betterment of the ferry service.

          But that might not be appetizing to the following organisations:
          – Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED)
          – Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL)
          – New Zealand Cruise Association
          – Tourism Industry Association New Zealand
          – And the cruise ship operators, natch.

        2. fraggle – What they need to do if they haven’t reached North Head by 5.30 they should be made to drop anchor and ten wait until 9.05 before they can move to their berth and do that a couple of times they may learn how to get there on time .

  6. That “slip” on the tracks looks like it could be fixed by two people with a shovel and a wheel barrow in about half an hour. An hour tops. Any chance that members of the public could just get out and move some dirt to help the incompetent managers of AT/Kiwirail get that line working again? Its hardly rocket science…

    And before anyone says you can’t, because it is a rail corridor and n one is allowed there – clearly that hasn’t stopped your local dickhead tagger FEIST, who appears to have gone onto the corridor to tag every available post at least once… Perhaps he would like to have a spade and do something useful for once in his life?

    1. Good idea. 35+ people to repair a car bridge in wealthy Riverhead, with articles fawning over the response. Probably only get a couple of people for something train related

    2. average human – The slips at MeadowBank and either side of the Parnell Tunnel are on Public Land whereas the one East of Sturges Rd is a combination of Public and Private Land , and truth be known an insurance company is involved and nothing can be done until they sign off . And if you have ever dealt with them Snails can move faster .

      A week or so back I saw a track gang doing something there .

    3. Hey, no need to bag on FEIST. He’s been around for years and never fails to impress with his dedication, commitment, and creativity.

  7. What a joke it’s not even what i’d call a slip bit of dirt sitting on one track someone with a shovel could throw it back onto the grass inside half an hour how pathetic

    1. Although at one level, your comment is accurate, it’s a simple “fix” to shovel that small pile out of the way! However the challenge is that this small slip is an indication that the whole bank may follow. Of course that would be a much more serious problem. So the stability of the whole of the bank needs to be investigated and, if it is unstable, to be repaired / new drainage installed which does take the time and specialist geotechnical resources.

  8. For buses, if they implemented all the obvious quick fixes I have harped on about for years then they would need less drivers as the services would be quicker:
    – All door boarding and bigger doors
    – 24×7 bus lanes
    – Combine routes so they don’t terminate in the city (e.g. NEX and Dominion Road?)
    – Articulated buses where possible (NEX and Dominion Road?)
    – Traffic light priority
    – Less bus stops

    There really is no reason the major bus routes should be so much slower than a train, and the faster the buses go the less drivers you need.

    1. All those things require taking space away from cars, taking signal time away from cars, or taking kerb space away from cars. Except fewer bus stops which people seem to hate impulsively.
      So yeah.

  9. The Sturges Rd slip doesn’t look like much from Sturges Rd where this photo was taken, but when you see it from a train it’s half of someone’s quarter acre section slipped – the bit that’s on the tracks is the tip of the iceberg, there’s a whole lot more slip that you can only see from the tracks,and there’s no point shovelling that bit clear while there’s 15 times more ready to take its place.

    1. Also Kiwirail is dealing with other slips where the track is completely blocked on top of all the other work it is trying to do. They only have limited resources and have to prioritise.

      1. I said almost exactly that to my wife this morning.

        I wonder how long it will be before people start complaining about roads not being fixed, because there aren’t enough people to do the work. Same applies to rail, except that rail work is specialised.

  10. We could get the mayor to deal with it,saw him on TV with a shovel.He could get onto it after he has sorted out the drainage solution, that has curtailed his media briefing.

  11. Although at one level, your comment is accurate, it’s a simple “fix” to shovel that small pile out of the way! However the challenge is that this small slip is an indication that the whole bank may follow. Of course that would be a much more serious problem. So the stability of the whole of the bank needs to be investigated and, if it is unstable, to be repaired / new drainage installed which does take the time and specialist geotechnical resources.

  12. Speaking of the Mayor promising to fix things, he’s told AT to shave $25m in his draft budget. He was elected on a platform of cutting bureaucracy so I hope he doesn’t settle for the savings coming from public services

  13. That is the reality, we need to stop, breathe, and begin building a climate change resilient city. Auckland is a mess because no one listened to Robbie. And we have not had a decent mayor since then. Public Transport must be the backbone of the city as it is the only way to move people efficiently. It is not about AT or AC or Waka Kotahi or Kiwirail; is is about building a city for the future, a progressive city founded on treating each and every inhabitant as a human, and bringing we the humans closer to each other again!

  14. I wonder if the government will use the current floods as an excuse to cancel light rail. It could then allocate the money to damaged existing infrastructure. As the current project is very expensive and unpopular (with everyone) and key goals could be achieved at a lower cost by reallocating road space to public transport this could be good for public transport projects.

  15. The Government could under its nationwide state of emergency, reduce the open road speed limit to 80 kph ,whilst our roads are in such a state,but doughty we will see such action.

    1. . . .and then leave it at 80Km/h, when they see the huge reduction in deaths and serious injuries! (Or does the ‘safety-first’ approach only apply on other modes such as rail?)

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