Passengers Get Angry, Want To Ban Pushchairs, Bikes from Trains


When trains were replaced by buses the other weekend, the fine print on the notices warned that things like pushchairs, bicycles and mobility scooters were not welcome.

STRUGGLING: What rights do Mums have?

STRUGGLING: What rights do Mums have?

This is because Railbuses are used and they can’t carry such things.

The Maxx website states:  “The majority of rail buses are unfortunately not accessible to wheelchair users and pushchairs. Mobility scooters, bikes and large items of luggage are also unable to be carried.”

But I was amazed what happened the other day during a breakdown-affected morning rush hour period.

Poor old Mum. Passengers got hostile when, as they struggled to get on board the limited three carriages,  a mother with a pushchair was trying to manoeuver onboard.

This isn’t the first time I have seen hostility to those with pushchairs, mobility scooters or bicycles but after many years of using the trains, I have noticed growing tension.

The reason: space is getting cramped on board.

In this incident, morning schedules had been thrown out because a train had broken down and when one finally was able to run, it had only three carriages and was bursting at the seams when it arrived at my stop.

Passengers  -as is not uncommon on morning rush hours now – had to skip up and down the platform looking for a carriage that wasn’t blacked out by a sea of bodies and had just room around the door area for them to squeeze into.

The woman’s pushchair was one of those SUV ones that looked as if it was carrying all that was needed for very sort of emergency during her long day’s outing.

There don’t seem to be any rules for train passengers regarding pushchairs.

NZBus makes it clear the pushchairs can not be of the large size variety but must be collapsible:
 “If you are travelling with a baby you may take a collapsible pushchair or carrycot and one extra piece of luggage. Handbags, umbrellas, walking sticks and other aids are permitted also. Your driver will use his/her discretion to ensure your, and your fellow passengers, comfort.”

This pram sat in the corridor where people would stand

This pram sat in the corridor where people would stand

Judging by the comments around me on the day – from men and women- mothers should a) not travel during peak times with pushchairs b) have a collapsible pushchair c) realise that they may have to face some discomfort and inconvenience including being told by guards before boarding to wait for a later train.

My heart went out to her as she struggled to cope amid the hostility.

Thankfully two schoolboys occupying the front side seats that are supposedly reserved for mothers, the elderly etc, did stand up for the mum. I don’t know how she would have coped with the swaying carriages otherwise and the congested standing room.

Another time recently, a man with a young child that he seems to bring during peak traffic also got stared at when the kid launched into a naughty two-year-old -type tantrum – understandable for a tiny kid hauled out of bed early to get washed and dressed and thrown into a carriage packed full of strangers at close physical proximity.

I heard the comment “why does he bring that poor little screaming kid at this time of morning” and another along the lines of “it’s bad enough on board without a f-ing screaming kid.”bikes  004

Then as a cyclist myself, I felt the other night for a cyclist who got on at Britomart during the 5pm rush hour. I couldn’t catch what the guard said but he got spoken to rather abruptly. I thought he was being told not to get on board but noticed when I got off  he had had to move to a different carriage and to stack his bike at the back of the carriage where there were fewer seats.

But I was pleased to see a group of cyclists (right) accommodated the other night at peak time.

It’s daylight saving and once we shake off a late winter, we’re in for those dreadful uncomfortable sweaty train rides full of perspiring bodies.

As patronage grows and tempers start fraying in that summer sun , we’re in for some interesting times next time someone with a large object gets on board.

Oh yes, that reminds me of the woman the other night who had been shopping up large in Newmarket. Her oversized parcels on the floor and in her lap gave little legroom for the person who ended up sitting next to her and who , during the trip, snapped at her that she should have got a taxi!

How fair is it to impose rules? Or is it first in and first served?

Are we all equal on the train?

It’s understandable buses just can’t cope with bikes and oversized pushchairs or mobility scooters in the passageway.

But trains are wider.

It’s just unfortunate they are far too crowded.

What rights do passengers have with pushchairs versus those who are standing and  already packed in like sardines?

Should guards tell people to wait for a later train or seek other transport?

As voices rise, it’s an issue that is going to have to be addressed.




  1. William M says:

    I think there’s an argument from both sides in this issue.

    While it’s true that the trains are crowded enough as it is, mothers have as much right to use the rail corridor as unruly students who do not sacrifice their seat for other adult (full fare paying) passengers. As you have said Jon, mothers should be aware that on most of our trains, there is a specific area of the train that allows for pram access (usually at either end of a DMU, or at the SD, -non-loco- end of an SA set). Ditto goes for cyclists - who I also have some sympathy for - because, they are making the greatest effort to remove vehicles from our roads.

    I identify with the mothers with prams - there was a brief period in time that my family was without car (which is quite liberating in some ways). Unfortunately, this meant abuse being thrown at us for bringing even our smallest stroller on to the train, and for an upset baby’s cry. Babies cry - this is a part of life. Those who are upset by such a noise probably should get in line for sterilization or wonder how the hell they got past having their own kids.
    From what I can see, the abuse is hurled at us by people who are career-focused rich-arse BEEMER drivers who think that their travelling the trains in Auckland is all they need to do to save the planet -OR- students who aren’t much better at keeping the noise down and being courteous themselves. Most other people are kind, assisting these people on to trains, making room - because we all should be entitled access to a working, efficient public transport system. Even our screaming two year olds ;-)


  2. William M says:

    Oh, and if some rich beemer woman can buy up big in Newmarket and clutter the aisle, I think we can make allowance for trundlers, children and bicycles.

  3. How many of these disgruntled riders are actually parents?

    Have any of them made any fuss about how public transport sucks in Auckland? Till they do, I’d ask them all to keep their silly opinions to themselves.

    It seems ludicrous to me to complain about lack of space on a train due to a mother, who obviously needs to get somewhere just as badly as other commuters, and not complain where it actually matters.

    This goes double for people who would complain about wheelchairs on a bus or train.

    Not everyone can afford to buy a pram for every situation. I wish these riders would get some compassion.

  4. Andrew says:

    What we need is a section on the train where there are no seats.

    Right now we have foldable seats at one end of the SAs and at both ends of the ADL pairs, but who’s going to ask someone to get out of one of these seats on a full train so a wheelchair, pram or bike can go there?

    It’d be easier if these sections simply didn’t have seats at all, so they could easily take wheeled items, or accommodate lots of standees if crowded.

  5. Joshua says:

    I have to say that it should be first in first served, obviously with the exception of giving your seat to full paying public as you have mentioned, but everyone should have the right to the train network at anytime of the day. Those people whom complain should take their fustrations into force for avocating for more carrages etc. It can be fustrating but so is sitting in a congested roading network.

  6. Chris R says:

    I must say I don’t blame them. There is a safety hazard with bikes on a full train, it reduces the carrying capacity of the vehicle and the rules say: “To take your bike on a train, you must purchase a bicycle ticket for $1. This is dependent on space and at the discretion of on-board staff. Avoid travelling at peak times when space is limited” and “Prams can usually be accommodated on trains. Within reason, other items can be taken on board, however space is often limited so check with the train operator, Veolia Transport, before you travel. “

  7. Johans says:

    Mothers with prams and fat people as scapegoats for the lack of investment in decent rail infrastructure? Ridiculous.


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