Huge queues as workers try to get home

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By Tess Nichol

Auckland city is "complete bedlam" according to one commuter, as students and workers leave early to escape the worst of Cyclone Cook.

Some people were even tapping on the windows of passing cars begging for lifts home when queues were at their height earlier today.

University finishing early combined with workers heading home before the worst of the weather hit created a sudden rush for buses, which was now being dealt with, Auckland Transport said.

Steve Hart said he waited for 45 minutes as seven or eight packed buses to the North Shore went by Victoria Park "one after the other after the other" without stopping.

"It's the first stop after the Britomart stop. People are queuing to get on at Britomart and filling every single seat up," he said.

About 100 people were waiting for buses and none were stopping at one point.

Hart was now home in Albany.

"Bus passengers were running across the road, tapping on the windows of passing cars and saying 'please can I get a lift'," he said.

"Traffic leaving the city for the North Shore is wall to wall - it's bedlam out there."

Some commuters were seen begging fro rides from passing cars as packed buses went by without stopping. Photo/ Mauro Murace
Some commuters were seen begging fro rides from passing cars as packed buses went by without stopping. Photo/ Mauro Murace

Herald reader Mauro Murace also said buses coming past Victoria Park were full and not stopping and he had seen people asking for rides.

Continued below.

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On the Herald's live weather blog, one concerned commuter reporting seeing a woman "brandishing a toddler as a weapon" to get onto a packed bus.

"[It's] complete anarchy in the city."

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said 20 extra buses including double deckers had been put on to alleviate the strain.

Universities being let out early at 11am had caused the sudden rush, combined with workers who had been told to go home early.

"Rush hour has come several hours early," Hannan said.

"We put the call out as soon as we saw there were queues."

Extra services had been running for about an hour and queues were now clearing.

"The queue was around the corner outside the AMP building [in the CBD], now there is a queue of about 10 people and there's a double decker there," he said.

Key points

• Cook is being regarded as the worst storm New Zealand has seen in generations

• It is expected to make landfall about 6pm

• Residents of low-lying Coromandel east coast told to evacuate immediately

• 137 schools and 133 early learning centres have been closed across the North Island

• Thames, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty are under states of emergency

• People are on high alert in Bay of Plenty and may need to evacuate with little notice

The eastern coastline is expected to come in for a hammering from huge waves and fears of inundation and erosion

• Helicopters and emergency welfare teams are on standby

• People are being urged to delay their Easter holiday plans

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