After a particularly difficult year, parts of our public transport network are finally starting to recover as more and more bus drivers arrive from overseas.
Just over a week ago Auckland Transport said:
Auckland’s bus driver shortage is now below 170, down from a peak of 570 at the end of last year. For passengers, this means more buses and more reliability across Auckland’s bus network.
In recent months there have been strong signs of recovery, with bus patronage lifting to above 80% of pre-covid levels.
And for the fourth consecutive week, Auckland’s bus cancellation rate has been below 5%.
Mr Koper is confident that all previously removed services will be added back to the timetables by the end of July.
“Within the next month, we will be able to restore all services that were removed from timetables last year and by the end of September we’re expecting to get back to the same levels of reliability we saw before COVID.”
That’s a significant and very welcome improvement and one that was confirmed again in an interview again last week by AT CEO Dean Kimpton.
So it’s incredibly frustrating for PT users that this week many buses are cancelled due to strike action.
From Tuesday 11 July to Friday 14 July, some bus services operated by NZ Bus will be cancelled due to the driver strike continuing. Cancellations will take place from the start of service each day until the end of the morning peak. There may be further delays and cancellations throughout the morning as normal service resumes.
- CityLINK, InnerLINK, OuterLINK, TamakiLINK
- 101, 105, 106, 110, 125, 125X, 128, 129, 14T, 14W, 162, 18
- 20, 22N, 22R, 24B, 24R, 25B, 25L, 252, 253, 27H, 27W, 295
- 30, 321
- 64, 650, 670, 68
- 75, 751, 755, 76, 774, 775, 781
- 801, 802, 806, 807, 814, 82, 842, 843, 871
- 923, 924
Last year the government announced $61 million towards increasing drivers wages, which came on top of other increases from Auckland Council and Waka Kotahi, noting
The intention is to work towards base rates of $30 per hour for drivers in main centres and $28 per hour for regional services.
Stuff has a good explainer on the issues which primarily seems to be about wages and the length of shifts. On wages, it seems that NZ Bus offer two different options for drivers, a higher flat rate or a lower base rate with an overtime penalty rate and allowances. The unions say that most are on the latter.
NZ Bus said they proposed a new offer that exceeds the shared target of raising pay rates to $30.00 per hour.
NZ Bus says the proposed flat rate for drivers would start at $31.00 per hour from July 2, increasing to $33.20 per hour from March 31, 2024, and the base rate increases to $28.00 per hour with additional rates from July 2, and then $30.00 per hour from March 31, 2024.
I can’t comment on the quality of the offer other than to say that we do support drivers being paid fairly as the work they do is critical to helping keep the city moving. What does frustrate me though is that it’s the travelling public who bare the brunt of the disruption, including potentially impacting their ability to get to jobs or appointments. I guess the only upside to it being this week is that school kids aren’t also impacted.
I also note that the union claims these weren’t ‘last-minute’ strikes. That may be the case but they certainly are for the travelling public.
Hayley Courtney, First Union organiser, said there was no movement during Monday’s mediations.
“We sat down in mediation with NZ Bus today in good faith and listened to them reproducing the same offer that members have already rejected without any realistic movement or negotiation at the table,” she said.
Courtney said the strike was in no way a surprise to NZ Bus, nor was it a ‘last-minute’ strike.
“We have warned them again and again that drivers are not being listened to during bargaining and have already delayed strike action twice during the last month as negotiations continued fruitlessly.
A much preferable approach would be the one the unions took in 2019 where they refused to collect fares. That way services still ran so the public could still get round while
About half of Auckland’s bus services were free today and for the remainder of this week due to a deadlock between the drivers’ employer NZ Bus, and members of two unions, FIRST and NZ Tramways Union.
AT HOP card machines were disabled and drivers refused to take cash fares on the NZ Bus services, which make up about half the city’s fleet.
“The power of industrial action of this nature is precisely that it costs the employer a bunch of money, and is designed to put it under pressure in that way,” he said.
Auckland Transport said the bus company was liable for lost revenue.
I hope the unions and NZ Bus are able to get this resolved asap.