Well the intransigent owners and managers of Infratil / NZ Bus finally went on strike this morning in their quest for higher profits. They locked out the bus drivers for threatening to abide by their contract. This is causing widespread chaos amongst other businesses as their employees are unable to get to work. We just dispatched a car into town to pick up some stranded employees.
In many areas of Auckland, there are alternate bus companies (who pay their employees more than NZ Bus) who will be getting bonus passengers. Because of the separation of bus routes between companies there are whole areas of Auckland that will not be covered by buses this morning. The ARC and whatever the super-shitty council winds up as being should make sure that that there are several bus companies covering the same areas to reduce the industrial issues.
The traffic on the motorways is heavy and liable to be getting a lot heavier as the passengers get out of busses and fill the car lanes. Not to mention that getting parking today is going to be chaotic.
Earlier this year I decided to stop driving to work. The cost of parking was getting excessive, the traffic was driving me nuts, and I wound up with at least an hour per day of frustrated radio listening. Some days this would be closer to 2 hours if there was a jam morning and evening. Not to mention getting more and more paranoid about idiot drivers on the road after getting rear-ended.
The buses were a haven. No parking issues. I could read my iPhone on the way to and from work. There was a coffee shop where I changed buses. It was only slightly slower than taking a car, despite having to change buses in town. There are bus lanes almost the whole way so I can look down on cars stuck in traffic jams. The maxx website was moderately accurate about linkages. (I’d love to revise some of the maxx algorithms – I can out-perform it for both ‘convienience’ and ‘quickness’).
I wasn’t alone. On the buses I use, patronage has been going up massively in the last 6 months. Where there were nearly empty buses, they are now half full. Where they were half full, they are now full, and where they were full there isn’t standing room any more. More motorways in Auckland simply make little economic sense, we need a better public transport system. It’d cost less, be more flexible over the long term, and generally free up our existing roads for the transport of goods and services.
Of course our minister of transport Joyce doesn’t see it that way. To me, the question arrives is where have those anonymous donations to the national party coffers come from? Road construction and suburb developer companies perhaps?
I had a look at my available bus routes this morning. I could have gotten buses to work. It would have involved 3 buses and taken at least 80 minutes (if I was lucky) compared to my usual 30-40 minutes. I took a taxi because the cost and aggravation of driving and parking was greater than the taxi fares.