‘Ghost buses’ leave Auckland councillor out in the cold at night

An Auckland councillor has complained to Auckland Transport after being left stranded in freezing cold weather in the central city last night when four buses failed to show up.

Cathy Casey left the Auckland Town Hall at 8.45pm after a meeting of the Rainbow Advisory Panel and did not arrive home in Mt Albert until 10.55pm.

“I’m a champion for the buses. I absolutely love them,” Casey told the Herald today, but admitted she now understands the stress people feel when there are no-shows.

“I can understand how it would put you off. It is quite scary to be alone by yourself at night on Symonds St,” she said.

In a letter penned to AT today, Casey said she walked to her usual bus stop in Symonds St to catch the number 22 bus. The electronic notice board said the bus would be there in three minutes, but it did not arrive.

Neither did the promised 9.18pm, 9.33pm and 9.48pm buses.

Eventually a number 24B bus arrived and six people at the stop asked the driver what had happened to the number 22. He radioed the control room and found the 22 bus had been diverted.

“He took us all to the next stop where he said we “might” be able to catch it.

“A 22 (bus) finally arrived at 10.22pm. I got to my stop in Mt Albert at 10.50pm and arrived home at 10.55pm. It took me almost two hours to get home from the city,” Casey said in the letter.

She wants to know why AT did not communicate with passengers if the number 22 bus had been diverted and why she was unable to contact the council body to find out what was going on.

“You cannot just leave passengers stranded on a cold dark night,” her letter said.

Casey said she has all the latest technology, including the AT app, and cannot understand why AT cannot communicate things like diverted bus routes with passengers. The notice boards kept saying the 22 bus was coming and then the bus disappeared off the screen, she said.

Asked if she considered getting an Uber or taxi home, Casey said: “I was certain the bus was coming.”

Through a spokesman, AT said it would like to apologise to Councillor Casey and to any other passengers who were not picked up last night.

“We have asked the bus operator NZ Bus for an urgent explanation as to what happened,” he said.

Casey posted about the fiasco on her Facebook page, drawing a lot of feedback.

“That is why people don’t totally trust the bus service. Standing in the dark and cold is not what people want or deserve. Until AT have a fast efficient service that reaches out to ALL,” said one woman.

Another respondent said: “And you wonder why more people don’t use Public Transport. And they won’t do (so) until public transport, bus and train, runs to a reliable timetable.”

Said a former bus driver: “This is the sort of incident that causes passengers to [use] verbal abuse and violence.”

“Wow, that sucks Cathy,” said councillor Richard Hills.

“I had the opposite experience. (I) got to my bus, the 8.20pm, as it was just taking off. I waved and they stopped and opened the doors and let me on,” he said.

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