Why have Auckland buses been cancelled? It looks like a deadlock.

Cheat sheet: Auckland bus hell with mass cancellation till Christmas

Everything you need to know about the suspension of buses in Auckland and the industrial action standoff that it springs from.

What’s going on?

Yesterday saw the cancellation of thousands of bus trips and a lot of people standing around at Auckland bus stops looking puzzled after services operated by NZ Bus – Auckland’s biggest bus operator, covering about a third of all routes – were cancelled following industrial action. Routes are focused in central Auckland, the north and west, and include routes along along Dominion Road, Sandringham Road, Mt Eden Road and Manukau Road, as well as the Outer and Inner Link services, aka the orange and green buses.

But they’re running again now?

No. They’ve been cancelled indefinitely. The morning commute tomorrow could be bedlam.

Which services have been cancelled?

A lot. An estimated 70,000 passenger trips are kaput.


The link buses: CityLink, InnerLink, OuterLink and TāmakiLink.

And these: 14T, 14W, 18, 20, 22A, 22N, 22R, 24B, 24R, 24W, 25B, 25L, 27T, 27W, 27H, 30, 68, 75, 82, 101, 105, 106, 110, 122, 125, 125X, 128, 129, 162, 252, 253, 221X, 223X, 243X, 248X, 295, 321, 650, 670, 751, 755, 762, 774, 775, 781, 801, 802, 806, 807, 814, 842, 843, 871, 923, and 924.

School buses operated by NZ Bus will also be suspended.

Update, 6pm: Auckland Transport has announced limited services on routes 25 and 27 have been commissioned from an alternative operator. Route 321, which serves the hospital, will run as normal. Scroll to end for details.

Twitter user @Alk_PT has marked up a bus network map to show the impacted routes. The blue lines are those with limited replacement services. A full resolution map is available here.


What about other bus services, trains, ferries?


So are drivers on strike?


What then?

It’s a bit complicated, but here’s the bones of it: drivers on NZ Bus services represented by First Union and Tramways have been in dispute with their employer over wages and conditions, and after the parties were unable to reach an agreement, they launched industrial action. Instead of striking, more than 800 drivers agreed to refuse to collect fares, which is why you might have found the tag-on and tag-off Hop card scanners disabled and/or covered with a handwritten note last week. On Friday they announced that the fare-strike would continue to Christmas.

Is that legal?

It’s not clear. Certainly it’s a better in terms of seeking public goodwill than withdrawing labour, and therefore disrupting the good bus riders of Auckland. But NZ Bus would no doubt ask you to imagine if it would be acceptable if, say, bar staff decided to stop charging for drinks.

So what happened?

After a failure to reach a deal, and unions’ refusal to withdraw the fare-strike notice, NZ Bus said it would be suspending (or locking out, critics would say) the drivers without pay for the period until Christmas. The process is currently under way.

What? It’s going to go until Christmas?

It could. For everyone’s sake it’s to be hoped they can reach an agreement with some haste. But at this stage it appears to be a deadlock.

Is it going to be hell on Auckland roads tomorrow?


What is the dispute about?

According to the unions, drivers, are paid between $18 and $22 an hour, and often obliged to work split shifts with several hours off the clock in the middle of the day. They are seeking more like $25 an hour, a reduction in the maximum working day from 14 to 12 hours, higher rates for weekends and after-midnight driving, and an extra week of annual leave.

NZ Bus, which is owned by an Australian private equity firm, says that amounts to increases of almost 45%.

What is the latest information from NZ Bus?

The most recent information in the “news” section on their website announces: “Auckland commuters get absolute certainty from NZ Bus”, adding: “NZ Bus drivers in Auckland have today ratified an offer put to them by the public transport operator which will provide ‘absolute certainty’ for Auckland commuters for the next two years.”

It is dated April 24, 2018.

Oh. Auckland Transport must have been all over it though. Their Twitter account must have been a hive of activity – explanations, suggestions of alternative options, etc – on the first day of the bus desert yesterday!

They did exactly zero tweets on any of this yesterday.

What is Auckland Transport’s role in all this?

Auckland Transport emphasise that it’s a dispute between the bus operator and their employers, but unions say that’s a swiz, given the contracts they negotiate. First Union’s Jared Abbott told RNZ: “What’s really going on is there’s not really any room for these companies to negotiate because they’re locked into contracts that essentially don’t have room to move in terms of the funding model.”

And how does Auckland Transport operate vis a vis Auckland Council?

Another sticky one. AT is one of five “council controlled organisations”.

So they’re controlled by the council?

Don’t be ridiculous. Introduced after the creation of the Super City, they’re designed to keep the operations at arm’s length operationally, with council providing “strategic direction”. But that’s led to criticisms that they can be unaccountable. Phil Goff has commissioned a review of the model – and is keen on an overhaul. But that would require legislation.

With the buses borked, might be time to try a Lime?

Good luck with that.

Limited buses services will operate along Dominion Road and Mt Eden Road from Monday 9 December, operated by Ritchies

Dominion Road, Route 25
From Mt Roskill Shops:
First bus 6.30am approximately every 15 minutes until 10.00am.
From 10.00am approximately every 30 minutes until 4.00pm
From 4.00pm approximately every 15 minutes until last bus 6.15pm

From Civic Centre, Route 25
First bus 7.15am approximately every 15 minutes until 8.45am
From 8.45am approximately every 30 minutes until 3.45pm
From 3.45pm approximately every 15 minutes until last bus 7.00pm

Mt Eden Road, Route 27
From Three Kings:
First bus 6.30am approximately every 15 minutes until 10.00am.
From 10.00am approximately every 30 minutes until 4.00pm
From 4.00pm approximately every 15 minutes until last bus 6.15pm

From Britomart (Commerce Street), Route 27
First bus 7.15am approximately every 15 minutes until 9.45am
From 9.45am approximately every 30 minutes until 3.45pm
From 3.45pm approximately every 15 minutes until last bus 7.00pm

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