Com­muters de­layed in March mad­ness

Western Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTER

Auck­land com­muters faced hour­long de­lays as se­mes­ter one be­gan amid a mas­sive rail work­ers’ strike.

The an­nual bout of road may­hem, dubbed March Mad­ness, jumped the gun by a few days this year, with se­mes­ter one start­ing on Mon­day.

And ‘in­dus­trial ac­tion’ from the Rail and Mar­itime Trade Union, an­nounced on Sun­day, af­fected some peak train ser­vices on the south­ern, west­ern, and eastern lines. The strike runs from Mon­day to mid-March.

Brit­o­mart in the CBD was mostly empty of com­muters at 8am on Mon­day, with long queues on mo­tor­ways and on-ramps show­ing many trav­ellers had cho­sen to take their cars in­stead.

One West Auck­land com­muter said it had taken her half an hour to travel three km down Te Atatu¯ Rd, then an hour to get to the city.

‘‘Mon­days are usu­ally fine, but this is de­press­ing. I am not OK.’’

The traf­fic had more than tre­bled her usual com­mute time of 20 min­utes.

‘‘I have got three min­utes to get to work. I am 500 me­tres away. I can see it. But I will be late be­cause traf­fic is crawl­ing,’’ she said.

An­other, who got on at Swan­son in West Auck­land, said the ser­vices were stretched be­yond ca­pac­ity.

‘‘By the time we got to Avon­dale, our train was packed and no­body else could get on, and peo­ple were left at the plat­form.

‘‘It’s just re­ally frus­trat­ing, they’ve got peo­ple hand­ing out fly­ers and trains run­ning less fre­quently but no one re­ally knows what [the de­lays are] all about.’’

Jared Sey­mour, who was trav­el­ling with his epilepsy ser­vice dog Bear, said the packed train meant that Bear was bet­ter be­haved than usual be­cause there was less space to move around.

‘‘We got on at Hen­der­son and by the time we got here [Brit­o­mart] we were com­pletely packed.’’

Auck­land Trans­port (AT) said some peak ser­vices on the west­ern lines would be af­fected by the in­dus­trial ac­tion but all in­terpeak and off-peak ser­vices would run as nor­mal.

Trans­dev man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Michael Ladrak said they were work­ing to end the in­dus­trial ac­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.

Auck­land Trans­port spokesman Mark Han­nan said prob­lem ar­eas dur­ing March Mad­ness tended to change year to year, par­tially de­pen­dent on stu­dent flat­ting trends.

NI­COLE LAW­TON/ STUFF

The de­par­tures board at Brit­o­mart dis­play­ing de­tails on the strike.

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