Auckland Transport is both a students’ nightmare and life-line. Many students are reluctant to drive, or simply are legally bound to not drive.
Therefore, many students have to rely on the unreliable public transport system to get around for their life. The Auckland Transport system has presented three main characteristics to the public; either they’re late, early, or never there. What’s even more concerning is that buses or trains are so off-time or cancelled constantly, it has become the average today.
Though major news outlets such as the ‘New Zealand Herald’ and ‘Stuff’ have covered the outrageous standard Auckland Transport holds itself to, there has been less of a focus on the buses the company supplies for schools. Schools over Auckland have encouraged students to take the bus as their option to or from school, and have supplied them with around three buses each. However, an average secondary or intermediate school holds around two thousand students, while the buses given have a maximum two-hundred fifty person capacity.
Overcrowding is the norm.
For example, Macleans College holds two-thousand-seven-hundred and thirteen students. There are only four buses. An average bus can hold around seventy passengers. This means, only two hundred and ten students can board the bus. This is also not mentioning that two buses (427 and 425) also carry Bucklands Beach Intermediate students, already filling the capacity up. The dire situation that passengers have to face have become a daily occurrence for most, as many of them simply want to go home.
A daily example of overcrowding would be the bus 427, having the longest route and destination. Though it is still a little larger than the other three buses, 427 still holds the obnoxious award of having the most degraded reputation out of them all. Nine point nine times out of ten, boarding 427 and attempting to scavenge a seat is near impossible. 427 is one of the buses that first take Bucklands Beach Intermediate students, which means Macleans College students yet to have compete with them for the comfort of a seat. The route is quite long, taking around forty to fifty minutes to reach the final stop.
Imagine pulling through five exams in a day and still needing to have enough strength to stand.
Somehow, overcrowding isn’t the bottom of the barrel yet.
Here is a quote from a Macleans College student, who often relies on the bus for transportation to and from school.
“Only with Auckland Transport will you find yourself in the absurd situation that is a driver yelling at a bus of teenagers, delaying everyone trying to get home.”
This in fact is true. On 428, there is a bus driver that yells at the students on the bus for quite a while now. Usually, a trip from Macleans College to Botany Town Center takes around thirty to thirty-five minutes. However, with this unidentified bus driver the trip takes around ten to fifteen minutes longer. Students who live further away may be missing connections, events, or after-school classes because of an incompetent bus driver. According to an anonymous Macleans student, one time the bus driver stepped out of the vehicle for around two minutes and threatened to deny service. It took nearly an hour to reach Botany Town centre.
Even though the school system of Auckland Transport is horrific enough, many students will require the services outside of school hours. It really isn’t any better.
“My bus showed up half an hour late one time.”
“My grandma and I were waiting for the bus. It showed up forty minutes late.”
Cancellations, delays, or off-timing is one of the most egregious things to deal with when it’s simply out of your control. When sourcing information from fellow mutuals around the school, it came to me that the three musketeers of Auckland Transport is a standard occurrence. The majority of us need to find a workaround.
Here’s another student’s rough anecdotal statistics on it.
“Auckland Transport services are like, 10% on time, 40% within the first fifteen minutes, 25% cancelled, 25% outside fifteen minutes. “There was once twenty six 735 services one day and I think like 9 weren’t cancelled. Yes, that means they cancelled like seventeen services. Approximately only 33% of the buses showed up.”
“Four bus cancellations for main bus route NX1, it was from Britomart to Hibiscus. It was a Sunday afternoon, so I was stuck at Albany with my friends for two hours.”
One major reason for the mass cancellation of bus services include the mass bus driver shortage. It’s a high-stress job with money barely above minimum wage, and needing exclusive training for a period of weeks. Bus drivers have to deal with drunk, high, or simply uncivilised passengers that ruin the trip for everyone. There have been cases where passengers have attempted to physically assault the driver, such as one case earlier this year. However, it’s not just the driver that makes the bus ride unpleasant.
“I pressed the stop button like five times, and the bus driver didn’t stop until we reached the very end destination.”
One incredibly annoying aspect of the public transportation experience is missing your stop when waiting for the bus, or even worse, being on the bus. The general rule for when you request the bus to stop is to press the ‘Stop’ button, and the bus driver should stop at the next stop. But sometimes the bus driver misses it. Multiple times.
“I remember once in BBI the bus didn’t stop until two stops after mine so I had to walk half a kilometre just to get home.”
One final nail on the coffin would be the low-tier condition of the buses. Lights would glitch, doors malfunction to the point where drivers have to get down from their chairs and close the doors themselves, or even the tempered glass windows breaking. Two years ago, Macleans College and Bucklands Beach Intermediate students witnessed this humiliation front faced. On 427, one of the windows at the back seats completely shattered into pieces, leaving hazards wherever you went. It was a miracle no one got hurt.
“Taxes paid, bus quality still F-grade.”
Auckland Transport is regarded as one of the most looked-down upon services by the public, and yet many people rely on such a broken service. Complaints have been running for years now, and the deep-rooted stories of cancellations, off time buses, overcrowding, aggressive bus drivers, ghost buses, and poor service will forever continue.
26th June, 2023
Graphic design by Jenny Wei