Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | October 19, 2009

Bus strike

Recently a week long bus strike in Auckland exposed this country’s public transport woes in the worst possible manner. Even though I don’t commute by bus regularly, this affected my family and irked me quite a bit.

I believe one of the cornerstones of any developed city is its public transport system and here, I am sorry to say Auckland lacks tremendously. Neither does Auckland possess the best public transport system and nor does anyone bother about that. Thus, when the strike was initiated, the responses from the authorities, people and the media was pretty meek.

The major media covered the strike and the problems of people associated with it in the middle pages. The people in my office (most of whom travel by cars) never talked about it and did not really bother. Whatever little media reporting was there, it suggested the authorities did not really care whether the strike goes on for a day or for a week. Yes, there was an advertisement from the bus operators (in the middle page) where they apologised to the general public but I am not sure whether that was enough.

Whilst it is good that New Zealand is amongst the top most countries in the list of countries by the number of motor vehicles per 1000 people, but the basic tenet of development is when people move from their own private vehicles to take resort to an efficient public transport system.

Going by the people reaction to the Auckland bus strike, it seems people here are hardly bothered. They don’t bother because one they are very used to cars and two existing buses cover very little of Auckland. Therefore, people like us who don’t have a car at the moment find it difficult to travel from one part of Auckland to another at will. Somehow this rule of majority (who own cars) is quite a bother for the growth of Auckland’s public transport system. I believe that is why even authorities and media did not care much when buses were off the road for nearly a week.

I am sure the striking bus workers may have valid reasons for their actions but I am not sure whether they got major support in their cause. They tried to hold everyone at ransom, a few suffered but no one bothered.

Auckland is a big city in terms of its area. Streets of Auckland are not easy to walk on because of the elevation. Therefore, Auckland can certainly do with the best in class transport system. The trains can be faster and more regular and buses can be more frequent too. It seems the authorities don’t want to waste their money on these things because the population is less, which to my mind is short-sightedness.

New Zealand is a beautiful country and to my mind it is essential that there is more consciousness as regards to environment. Developing an efficient public transport system which forces people to use their cars less, is the first step. Going by the look of things, it seems highly unlikely at this stage.

I wish there is a time when Auckland’s transport system gets a makeover and for that the people, the media and the authorities need to join hands.



  1. In a country where the people don’t recognize the President in a supermarket it is natural that the people in general are politically spineless and cannot stand up to protest against civic problems. The country needs a few fercious Bengalis like the Late Sri Subhas Mukhopadhyay who can mobilise people in a couple of hours and burn a few buses and vreak a few bones.

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