Monday, July 21, 2008

Full Buses in Birkenhead

This morning Birkenhead Transport had a problem.

Thanks to the sky-high petrol prices, more people than ever started the week after the school holidays by taking the bus to work. As a consequence, the usual buses at morning peak hour were full and people were being left at the stops to get the next bus - if it wasn't full. The bus drivers were feeling the strain, radioing to their base to let them know what was going on. One driver was heard saying he started full and had to leave 50 people standing.

If you were one of those standing and waiting, you'd be wondering what madness made you try to take the bus to work. This can go two ways. Either they get more buses on fast or people will give up on public transport (again). One simple answer would be to run two buses at the usual time, assuming they have more buses and more drivers.

On the buses, it was standing room only. When the buses are that full, there isn't much to hold on to. But that doesn't stop some of the drivers performing their usual rapid accelerations and decelerations. No one wants to stand up to go to the door before their stop for fear of falling over....but risks missing their stop altogether when the bus driver closes the doors and roars off before everyone who wanted to has got off.

There is something deeply absurd about it all: overflowing buses; lead-footed drivers; victims down the back hoping to get to work uninjured, wondering whether they really can't afford to drive to work after all.

Let's see what happens tomorrow.


  1. One of the big hangovers from the past in the New Zealand psyche is the Presbyterian belief that life is meant to be a chore. I don't understand why we don't have exuberant public transport. Let's have brightly coloured double Decker buses here! Let's have gaudy Jeepneys ( ) with soft tops for summer working off peak/less well-patronised routes! On a personal note, and with no real evidence whatsoever, I think Aucklanders of all colours and classes would LOVE Jeepneys.

  2. How old is that photo? It looks just like the buses Whenupai Bus Co. were running when I lived there 25 years ago. Ecan would never allow it.
    PDF pages 23 and 24 for minimum bus standards.


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