As you may be aware, the capacity of school buses has been in the media this week. We have been very active in reporting concerns to the operators, and have been approached by various media outlets for comment. We received this communication yesterday from AT:
- We are aware of the capacity issues you are experiencing since Term 1 began – we wanted to tell you a little bit about what we are doing.
- We had staff at Smales Farm this afternoon to manage the afternoon peak.
- Alternative travel options include public route 842 and 856 (see below) in combination with the NX1 on the Northern Busway.
- We are investigating whether we can run a larger bus on route 046 with NZ Bus (operator).
Please also see below a summary of messages that Matthew Kerr, Senior Local Board Advisor, has shared for us to pass onto our community. Whilst a resolution is still being sought, please know that we have been active in raising concerns, and will continue to follow up.
Communique shared by Matthew Kerr:
The following is a statement provided by Duncan McGrory, AT Public Transport Service Operations Manager:
Auckland Transport is working with school bus operators across Auckland to help ensure that there is enough capacity on bus routes to get students to school safely.
We are aware of issues last week with an overcrowded school bus taking students from the Hibiscus Coast to North Shore schools and we have been in touch with the operator to ensure they are running the correct size of bus for this service.
During the school year there will be times on school buses when there is standing room only, especially at the beginning of the term when attendance hits its peak.
It is normal and safe for students to stand on a moving bus, but we want to make sure buses aren’t overcrowded so we are asking our operators to remind all their drivers about the capacity limits of their buses.
We’re also reminding students to always tag on with their HOP card when they travel on a school bus. That way AT will have accurate information about how busy these services are so we can better manage capacity on these buses.
Stacey van der Putten, AT Director Public Transport & Active Modes, has also provided the following key points. She wants to give assurance that AT are prioritising the issues re school bus capacity.
Key messages on school buses:
AT is undertaking daily capacity reviews of the network; it is important that all students use their AT HOP card to tag on and off public transport as this provides the basis of information used to ascertain vehicle loadings and identify the real capacity issues.
AT is contacting schools where there has been capacity issues reported to provide a detailed list of all available services within the school zone (school bus as well as scheduled urban services).
Where demand exceeds available capacity, AT will be working with bus operators to optimise bus sizes, and where required, additional trips will be added based on fleet and driver availability.
Key messages for all public transport users (Feb/March):
February through to April is the busiest period on Auckland’s roads and public transport network as school and tertiary students join the higher than usual number of commuters travelling to and from work.
AT have planned for an increase in people using public transport this peak season. We have added extra trips to routes 22, 27, 30 & 75 at peak times to address expected capacity issues, have increased the vehicle size on routes 195, 209, 209, 309X, and 70 to help with capacity risks, and we will be monitoring the performance of the public transport system daily so we can respond quickly to any issues that may arise.
While it is likely you will experience more people on roads and public transport than usual, especially during peak hours, AT are confident that there is enough capacity across the whole day to get everyone where they need to go.
There are so many ways to move around our city – by bus, train, ferry, car, scooter, bike, walking, running and more. If this is an option for you, why not consider mixing up the way you travel around Tāmaki Makaurau this February and March?
To ensure you get to where you’re going on time we suggest you allow yourself some extra time to travel during February and March and refer to the AT Mobile app to find the best public transport options available for your journey.
The AT app and Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) indicate the available capacity on the scheduled services to help customers make informed decision on which service to board.
Remember that this busy period is temporary, and the demand for public transport typically stabilises in early April as everyone settles into their travel patterns.