A combination of factors have helped lure bus drivers back into the NZ industry
In exciting news for the New Zealand bus industry, operator Auckland Transport has revealed that its ongoing bus driver shortage is now officially over.
At the peak of the shortage just eight months ago, Auckland was short 578 drivers, with the city now having three more bus drivers than the 2,306 required to operate Auckland buses.
Auckland Transport metro optimisation manager Richard Harrison says this means more buses and reliability across the Auckland bus network for passengers.
“We are extremely grateful for the patience of Aucklanders while we have worked hard to get our buses back to where they should be,” Harrison says.
“We’re delighted that the bus driver shortfall is cleared – we now have more active drivers in the workforce than the full requirement, and there are more in training to build resilience.
“The operators have done an excellent job of attracting and retaining drivers over the past 10 months, and it’s great to see passengers return as services become more dependable.”
Despite the challenges, Harrison says Auckland’s public transport has bounced back strongly since COVID, with patronage at around 83 per cent of 2019 levels.
“Our patronage recovery is on par or ahead of many places (the US is notably lower) and we are still working on ways to make public transport even more attractive to Aucklanders,” Harrison says.
Under the resurgence, cancelled bus trips have remained consistently below three per cent over the past month, while all previously suspended buses were added back to timetables in July.
Auckland Transport says that recent patronage was 1.72 million boardings per week, another high since March.
Across the ditch, Australia’s Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) celebrated the news for the NZ industry.
“Fantastic news from our cousins across the ditch,” BIC says.
“Changes to immigration rules and a pay rise for drivers have achieved a great result.”