Commuters delayed in March madness
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.
The departures board at Britomart displaying details on the strike.