Next Big Commuter Challenge


Note: The Herald  says I set about taking photos of fat people on buses. That is untrue. I have not taken any nor intend to. Photo used here was published on a US site. I also have not declared “war” on anyone.

-There is no way of saying this without invoking some politically correct statute and being hauled before a tribunal for hate crimes.
Here goes. Fat people are starting to create an issue on Auckland buses.
I have had several angry emails lately from passengers who have complained about the problems of overweight people taking up more than one seat.

I thought they were just being a little precious to be honest.
But I have encountered the problem twice in the last fortnight - and I do not use buses as regularly as I do trains - and again this morning I struggled to get off the bus because a very wide person was in the aisle.

It’s not reached American proportions but is obviously starting to grow as an issue as our population starts showing growth around their midriff.

  • Day one: I grabbed a seat without surveying the person I would be seated next to. Turned out to be a very large woman who took up half my seat and forced me to even have to dangle my legs in the aisle as I had to sit sideways on half a seat to avoid her huge mid girth. I contemplated getting up and finding another seat but the bus was already very full. I had forgotten how small in width bus seats seem to be compared to those of the trains I use or is that just a perception?.
  • Day two: A very pot-bellied tall man was standing besides where I was sitting half way between the driver and the exit. When I got up to exit the bus, I couldn’t manoeuvre past him as he was stuck taking up the width of the aisle and he couldn’t move down as the bus was packed further back. So I had to literally leap or dive across a couple of people to exit towards the driver’s door and almost scraped a seated woman’s leg in the process. Bus aisles can be very narrow.

In the country that invented obesity along with their fat-saturated fast food, the US Federal Transit Authority proposes raising the assumed average weight per bus passenger from 68 kilos to 80 kilos which will result in fewer people being allowed on each city transit bus.
They say the average American bus rider is now tipping the scale at more than 90 kilos but current federal guidelines on average bus passenger weight are based on surveys in 1960-62 of what Americans weighed then.
The transit authority, which regulates how much weight a bus can carry, also proposes adding an 12 centimetres of floor space per passenger “to acknowledge the expanding girth of the average passenger.”
One result is that bus design companies are also going to have to study how the problem could alter bus designs.
They say that with such heavier people using the buses, one of their safety concerns is the increased possibility of the bus rolling over on sharp turns.
The price of gas in the US has seen increases in bus use - but very fat people also have problems fitting behind the car wheel so may opt for a bus instead.

Airlines were the first to raise the red flag.
The US Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees airline travel, officially has gauged average passenger weight at 86 kilos in the summer and 88 kilos in the winter. The Coast Guard’s assumed average weight is 83 kilos for boats and ferries. Those estimates too need updating.
One economic study concluded that the average 4.5 kilos Americans gained on average during the 1990s alone required an additional 1135 million litres of fuel a year. But the problem for passengers is not about fuel but a logistic and comfort one.
Already airlines have started wrestling with the issue of what to do with overweight people taking up more than one seat room. The criteria: if a passenger cannot close the arm rest, or cannot fasten the seat belt with and extension they have to pay for another seat as well.

Such penalties are spreading. United Airlines, for example, is one of the airlines to penalise overweight passengers, by charging them for two seats if they can’t fit comfortably into one and there are no other seats available.

It said it had more than 700 complaints about the problem last year.

And for numerous airlines, people are being disqualified from sitting in the exit row if they can not close the standard seat belt and need an extender.
There are growing calls in the US for the same sort of airline policy applying to public transport with people being forced to pay on buses per seat they occupy.

It’s not just passengers getting too fat. Fat bus drivers are also under scrutiny.

In some parts of the UK, for example, overweight bus drivers have been asked to get fit amid fears they are so fat they will break their seats.

Stagecoach in Hull says seats fitted on its buses have a weight specification of 146 kilos for some and less for others but it has had to send letters to some drivers as they may break the seats they are so overweight.

Of course the union is jumping up and down screaming discrimination -and that will emerge in any such debate about the growing problems on Auckland buses.
The reality is the buses are getting crowded already.
People who are overcrowded in fat are adding to the problems.
How about the discrimination against non-fat people who get squeezed on bus seats by fat people next to them or are unable to get on a crowded bus because fat people standing in them are taking up more room than should be for a single person.
All this illustrates the sense of a call for more people to walk, cycle and use public transport instead of the government encouraging people to drive by building more motorways to feed the car addiction.

It comes as no surprise that a new study from an Illinois professor says that the surge in passenger vehicle usage in the U.S. between the 1950s and today may be associated with surging levels of obesity.
The sedentary lifestyle that automobile use enables coupled with the prevalent role it plays in increasing the sprawl of our cities, towns and suburbs is stated to be the societal price we pay for always being in a rush to get places.
Sheldon H. Jacobson says: “For the last 60-plus years, we’ve literally built our society around the automobile and getting from point A to point B as quickly as we can. Because we choose to drive rather than walk or cycle, the result is an inactive, sedentary lifestyle. Not coincidentally, obesity also became a public health issue during this period.”

In developing nations that are just beginning to incorporate passenger vehicles into their way of life, obesity is also on the rise.

“We have had 60-plus years of infrastructure that has facilitated the obesity epidemic,” he said. “How do you turn that around overnight? You don’t. But you can make some changes. I am not convinced that tactical interventions like taking soda machines out of schools and adding 15 minutes of recess time will have an enduring impact. I do believe we need to re-think how we live as a society and effect policy changes that strategically focus on the root problems, not just the symptoms.”




  1. Doloras says:

    The “fat problem” on buses is less annoying to me than the “rudeness problem” on bus-related blogs. I wonder what you think fat people should do so that their attempting to use PT does not ruin your day, assuming that they can’t suddenly stop being fat overnight.

    (Disclaimer: I used to be fat, and I may be again one day if things don’t go right, so yes, I am taking this personally.)

  2. Matt L says:

    Will wait watching all the overly PC types to start jumping up and down about this post.

  3. Kat says:

    I think you’re making a valid point, I do, and the fact is - I am one of the fat passengers. But here’s the thing…

    I am very conscious of this issue on the bus, and I make an effort to take up as little room as I can - I put my bag on the ground between my feet when standing, or on my lap when sitting. I move over as close to the edge as I can, and I keep an awareness of my surroundings. I move to areas where I have more room to get out of the way and I genuinely think that my girth does not impact negatively on those around me in most cases.

    Compare this to the skinny person with a giant backpack on their back taking up the entire aisle, or the student who sits on the isle, with their bag or groceries getting the window seat.

    While yes, sometimes fat people are just too large to allow a second passenger to sit, or for people to get through the aisle, the bigger issue is the fact that many bus users are just plain inconsiderate.

    Before you outright blame the fat people, realise that some of us know perfectly well how large we are, and that we attempt to be as considerate as possible. You make a good point about the fact that the busses themselves need to change, but so does the etiquette of all passengers - fat and skinny alike.

    Public transport means that we are all crammed in there like sardines, it’s up to the users to make it as pleasant experience as possible for each other.

  4. KarlHansen says:

    Doloras, why are you doing exactly what the post feared?

    Especially when the post discusses quite sensibly how this could be helped (i.e. redesigning buses to accommodate bigger passengers, and encouraging people to get fitter).

    It may or may not be one’s fault that one is fat (opinions differ, and actual causes for obesity also differ). But when something like that can inconvenience others, then there’s a problem - no matter who is “at fault” for causing the inconvenience. It still IS an inconvenience.

    Whether or not anyone is being “rude”. What am I going to do? Ask him/her politely to shrink? Call him/her fat and tell him to exercise and stop drinking so much soda? Which in many cases would be their best option (but admittedly clearly rude according to our social customs?)

    So don’t take it personal. I am extremely tall, and can sometimes inconvenience people when I am in the cinema. I try to avoid doing so by slouching, or taking rear seats. And would like to see cinemas accommodate taller people via their design. But it is NOT rude for somebody blocked by my head from enjoying the movie to complain, so why should it be rude to complain about someone taking up a good part of your seat?

  5. Sal says:

    Wow, what a blog. No wonder it doesn’t have a name attached to it - having said that, I haven’t explored the rest of the site.

    I won’t even attempt to argue with you - you’re entitled to your opinion. However, I really think you shouldn’t have taken photographs. You made your point without the need to shame specific people.

  6. Jon C says:

    @Doloras Yesterday you slammed me as elitist. Today you use the word asshole. (You originally wrote The “fat problem” on buses is less annoying to me than the “asshole problem” on blogs.)
    Wow, I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s word of the day from you.
    Or hopefully you will just stay on the Auckland Transport Blog where you seem more at home.
    The main rule here is play nice or get banned.
    But - as with others who are now flooding my inbox with incredible abuse- I guess you don’t think that is fair either.

  7. Jeff says:

    this is fantastic. flame puppets flame!
    @Jon, I thought the ATB was a particularly negative place. looks like this has been confirmed

  8. Jeff says:

    @Doloras, the article was based around perhaps re-writing the rulebook on passenger comfort based on average passenger weight.
    But I’m assuming you filled with rage before you finished reading the entire article.

  9. Owen Thompson says:

    I have recently applied to NZ Bus to be a bus driver, which was a complete waste of time. Filled out pages of an online application form then got to the weight question.

    It was tick the box for your weight, <100kgs, 101 - 115kgs or 116kgs+. I ticked the last option & never heard back. Glad to know I'm too fat to be a bus driver.

  10. James B says:

    A few months ago I sat next to someone who was above average weight but not fat and she wouldn’t hold herself against the g forces the bus exerted when it went round corners. Nothing is worse than having someone roll against you on a crowded bus. Particularly if, like me, you hate body contact with strangers.

  11. Matt L says:

    Jon & Jeff - I don’t think the ATB is an overly negative place but there are always some who are (its hard to go on the internet without finding negative people after all)

    Jon - I hope you don’t take the abuse personally, I think you did a good job at raise the subject and suggest that some people are overly precious about some things. I would even go as far to suggest that most haven’t even read the post but just see the word fat and attack you regardless.

  12. Cam says:

    Ha I just knew the first comment on this post would be from Deloras. I also knew it would full of anger and bile.

  13. Jon C says:

    Hilarious. Yesterday i was elitist and hated heritage buildings - neither of which is at all correct.
    Today I am the next Paul Henry. 257 angry emails in my inbox at last count and language even I haven’t heard before when accusing me of being obesist.
    @Matt L Four years of blogging gives you the skin of a rhino. You would have no idea the hate mail it can bring.
    And you know I have nothing but huge respect for Josh’s blog.

  14. Andrew says:

    As I see it, large people aren’t the problem, however people inconsiderate about their large size, or their large sized backpacks, are.

  15. Nick says:

    This problem isnt going to go away anytime soon. What about just having a couple of ‘bigger’ seats at the front of each bus. It would keep other passengers from being squeezed in, and allow more comfort for the larger person. If a ‘smaller’ person was already in one of those seats a bigger person might have to ask them to move. But thats no different to when an elderly person has to ask someone for their seat if its only standing room only.

    I agree it makes for an uncomfortable journey when you can’t escape bodily contact on the bus. I definitely think bus seats are skinnier than ones on the train too.

  16. DanC says:

    The bigger the boat the more motion on the ocean… It is a hard one, and not just obesity but tallness… Not much you can do about it for all parties except if you can’t get past just say something, but not rude. A bit of “excuse me this is my stop” never hurts. If the other person becomes irate just say the bus/ train… isn’t big enough. No stress caused , no harm done.

  17. Andu says:

    Man this is the problem that will always cause tempers to flare up. You have balls my friend for raising this as an issue! I’m fully aware that some people really battle hard with their weight, but frankly there are loads of people who are just damn lazy, eat garbage, baloon to ridiculous sizes and make no effort to change their lifestyle.
    I’m no fitness freak but I believe in common sense.
    I HATE being squashed into a seat by a fat person (I’m extremely tolerant of people on PT but it is so unpleasant being leaned on by someone on a bus when its going round the corner.)
    It’s only really an issue for me with the hugest people, not people who are a bit overweight.

    From memory, the bus seats on Auckland buses don’t allow much width or leg room do they? I’m about 6 ft and my knees always pushed up against the seat in front.

    Do Auck buses have wider seating areas for elderly or disabled people? Can’t remember to be honest.

    Just as a side issue, In Europe (not the UK, which is very Americanised) You don’t see nearly as many fat people. In Eastern Europe one of the reasons is frankly that you would be shamed if you were too big. In Scandanavia (and the low countries I presume) everyone seems so damn healthy, I suspect because they are most definitely not an auto dependant society (they’re also not a materialist, workaholic society either, obssessed with wealth and status, like America)…..and increasingly, NZ and Australia.

    ”All this illustrates the sense of a call for more people to walk, cycle and use public transport instead of the government encouraging people to drive by building more motorways to feed the car addiction.”

    Exactly right!

    Good on you for bringing it up, people need to get healthier, for f**ks sake! :)

  18. Thomas says:

    Some ideas to help solve the problem
    - instead of bike racks on the fronts of buses, have fat people cages
    - have a set of scales at the front of the bus, and your fare is weight dependant
    - a few extra wide seats on each bus for fat people to use
    - when boarding a bus, fat people get a free lettuce to snack on

    Obviously I’m joking, except for maybe the third one, but its an interesting issue. Probably one thats going to arise more and more over time.

  19. Red says:

    People need to get real - western nations are overweight and its getting worse by the year - if don’t stop the trend THIS will be the future of Auckland transport problems in 2070 >>

  20. Andrew says:

    Respect Jon C. Good on you for this sharing YOUR opinion. I have no problem with those genetically overweight but compare NZ to Europe and we are dreadful. The issue is no self control here with junk food and it starts from an young age. I know that if I was fat others I would be too self-concious to take PT

    @Doloras - have you considered moving down to Wellington to your beloved Phoenix supporters?

  21. Thomas Scott says:

    How dare you attack fat people. We can not help it. It’s generic genes.
    I have every right to use the buses. Deal with it.

  22. Siva says:

    I am to heavy to drive so I go by bus. I can’t help it if I take up two seets.
    They should make the buses wider. I have trouble getting down to my seat.
    Its the bus company problem not me.

  23. Andu says:

    The post is hardly an ”attack” on fat people. It gently highlights that in society we have a big problem with people getting fatter and unhealthier and how this is affecting PT and how our car dependant lifestyle makes the problem worse.
    Western society is getting fatter and unhealthier because of bad food, laziness, and appropriate to this blog, our car dependance.
    The post is not a general attack on overweight people and certainly doesn’t condemn people who have genuine issues with their weight because of genetic problems.

  24. Ian says:

    Great post Jon. Ruffled a few feathers but there is no denying that NZ is turning into a nation of lard arses. Weight is simply a by product of energy consumed verses energy expended. With that said I’m off for a double down. Or maybe I’ll have half a dozen.

  25. Scott says:

    Controversial topic choice, Good on Jon C for writing about it.

    Few observations:

    When I was in Manila, a lot of the buses had 2×3 seating.

    Over time people are growing bigger, In all dimensions, height is most commonly measured.

    Im over 6 foot tall, and the seat pitch on, in particular older wakapacific buses sucks for me, I hate having my knees jammed up against the seat in front.

    Is it just me or are the seats on the NEX busses way narrower than those on say the new B-line buses?

  26. Chris says:

    @Thomas - “We can not help it. It’s generic genes.” Yes, that’s true but the main problem in NZ is those who eat junk food. I’m a European but if I eat too much junk everyday the reality is, my genetics will not always support me and I’ll be fat. Generic genes are not consistent and do change, both ways.

    @Siva - “Its the bus company problem not me.” What are talking about? They dont need to provide for your needs.

  27. Anthony says:

    Alrighty! Im glad this issue has finally been raised.

    Since im a tall and “flimsy” person, i once got knocked off my seat on a Wellington Trolleybus because a fat woman (that took up 1 and a half seats besides me) couldn’t be stuffed forcing herself against the G-force, I glared at her but she just stared at me and didn’t even apologise.

    I refuse to sit next to anyone like her anymore.
    Honestly, people like her can be like an out-of-control demolition ball inside a bus…

  28. dsadasgdf654645 says:

    I’m only 51kg, shorter than average and I easily get squished by people on buses/trains :( . For some reason people seem to think it’s ok to spill over from their seat into mine.

  29. Pixie says:

    I actually think that was a good piece of writing.
    As a small female, hence the name Pixie, I often get squashed by passengers either bigger than I am (ie. everyone) or who are much fatter than I am and so I end up taking up maybe a quarter, or a third of the seat at the most. I will often stand rather than have to sit squished into the corner.
    But I think that it is a good article in the herald, as that is what has led me to this website afterall. It was about time someone said something about it!!!!!

  30. Buffalo Bob says:

    Haha….I cant believe its causing outrage…people are too precious…

    One of the top stories on that’s good publicity….

  31. Andrew says:

    @Doloras: The above commenter mentioning the Phoneix was not me (I’m the one also on the CBT forum). I have no idea who the other Andrew is, and I wish he’d pick a name not already used.

  32. Sarah says:

    I can see both sides of the picture. I used to catch the bus, and it used to ruin my morning or evening to be practically sat on by a larger person. It would make me so mad but nothing you can do about it. I’d always be the first on the seat as I was at an earlier stop and then you can’t control who sits next to you.

    To help me overcome my seething frustration I would try to imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes. While some just seem terribly inconsiderate, I can imagine others are deeply embarrassed about even having to take public transport at their size. If I was that big I think I’d be so embarrassed I’d just foot the extra cost of driving. The same way contestants on the Biggest Loser talk about going through the drive-thru’s, as they are too embarrassed to go in to fast-food joints knowing that people are judging them.

    I don’t know what the solution is, it sucks, but at the end of the day obesity is affecting the lives of those who live with it every day more than the person who occasionally gets sat on.

  33. Jon C says:

    I haven’t declared “war” on anyone.
    i wrote a piece about bus companies starting to have to change bus design to meet the needs of a changing population!

  34. Jojo says:

    The seats on buses are too small, a medium sized person has trouble fitting in them. But this is also coupled with the fact that some people think that they can sit on the seat closest to the wall and have their arm right beside them, if they want to fit in the seat they need to have the arm pulled forward. Those who don’t do this get me sitting on them if they are protruding into my seat, I paid for my seat so I want to sit in all of it

  35. Elsie Browne says:

    I agree with the issues described in this article and the ridiculous thing it is deemed to be incorrect to express these views. It is almost as if society is rewarding people for gluttony and self-indulgence and people who look after their health and weight have to pay for that. NZ hospitals are now required to purchase larger beds at an exorbitant cost to accommodate the obese, to the detriment of normal sized citizens who are missing out on health care because of the cost of providing health care to the obese. The attitude of the overweight is one where they believe they should have the comfortable seat when at a party, the food has to be in reaching distance of them, they think airlines should provide larger seats at the same price as economy, they think that others should get up and wait on them and fetch things for them because it’s too inconvenient for them to get off their butt, huge people have taken up more than one seat on boat rides to the detriment of other paying customers, and obese people on planes take up the seat space of the person next to them (who have paid the same price for their seat) and now are missing out on their own comfort and are required to accommodate the obese with no choice in the matter. The whole attitude of society needs to change. When we raise our children we are supposed to reward a child for good behaviour – not for bad behaviour. Society rewards adults for bad behaviour from easy prison conditions for criminals but not enough funding for the victims, not expecting beneficiaries to work for their money (there is plenty community based work even if its unpaid), and the health system having to accommodate for overweight people. And I am sick to death of having to lose my rights because of today’s PC society.

  36. Andu says:

    I can’t believe it made the paper.
    The Herald has seen an opportunity to attack you Jon. Using language saying you ”launched into a tirade” is a complete misrepresentation of the piece and its intent.

    I agree the piece clearly doesn’t declare war on anyone or anything! But it is highlighting obesity in a PT and car related context as an issue that needs to be talked about.

    People are just ultra sensitive and irrational about weight issues, I guess.

  37. DaveB says:

    I love the cop out: “It’s my genes, it’s not my fault.” Actually, yes it is your fault, yes some people put on weight easier than others, but if you consume more energy than you burn then you get fatter and vice versa.

    This is true for Everyone. You can’t beat the laws of physics. I am heartily sick of the so called fat rights movement in general. Why should you deserve special treatment just because you can’t put the cake down?

    End rant.

  38. Nathan says:

    What a fascinating exercise into how the media works.
    You wrote a reasoned well researched piece on how airlines and now buses have to adapt to a population growing around the middle.
    Buried in it and I wished you had highlighted more was the good advice that this is why we need to encourage walking and cycling to encourage a healthier population.
    The Herald thriving on conflict claims you declared war on fat people!
    Watch out Jon. Campbell & Close Up will be setting you up to have a fat person shout at you tonight @ 7 to justify your attack on them for the sake of ratings.
    As for Auckland Transport saying they have not heard about it, that proves the worth of blogs like this that aretime and time again the eyes and ears on the ground as AT staff sail around in their branded cars and never use the public transport over which they govern.

  39. Toby says:

    What a fascinating exercise into how the media works.
    You wrote a reasoned well researched piece on how airlines and now buses have to adapt to a population growing around the middle.
    Buried in it and I wished you had highlighted more was the good advice that this is why we need to encourage walking and cycling to encourage a healthier population.
    The Herald thriving on conflict claims you declared war on fat people!
    Watch out Jon. Campbell & Close Up will be setting you up to have a fat person shout at you tonight @ 7 to justify your attack on them for the sake of ratings.
    As for Auckland Transport saying they have not heard about it, that proves the worth of blogs like this that aretime and time again the eyes and ears on the ground as AT staff sail around in their branded cars and never use the public transport over which they govern.

  40. Rob says:

    Jon, good on yer mate. Please carry this to the airlines where I get charged for overweight baggage but people can carry as much weight as they like in body. That’s also discrimination.

  41. Duncan says:

    While there is an expectation that all rate payers (fat and thin) to subsidise public transfer there can be no expectation that one group of people should pay more or less than any other.

    If however you want to get rid of those then as a “fat” person I’m all for larger patrons being charged extra for their space they consume. Then we can perhaps focus on the smelly and loud people.

  42. Feijoa says:

    I use buses reasonably often, and am not overweight, but can’t claim ever to have had a problem with passengers bigger than me. I would just get up and move if there wasn’t room on the seat. Cars blocking bus lanes annoy me much more as they delay my journey, something overweight passengers have never managed to do.

    The ironic thing about this problem is that buses are part of the solution to obesity. People who take buses will incorporate much more exercise into their day just walking the short distance to or from the bus stop than people who drive everywhere.

    Lastly, although the Herald sensationalised things by choosing the term “tirade”, which this is not, I think the way the first paragraph is worded was inviting a response like this. I also hope the photographed passenger was asked for her permission as it seems a bit unfair to single one person out.

  43. Matt says:

    I agree 100% with this article. When you get on a bus you pay for 1 seat, not 2. Just because people choose to be overweight this should not become my problem or anyone else’s for that matter.

    People need to start taking responsibility for their poor life style choices which lead to them being overweight and negatively affecting other members of the public.

  44. Vanessa says:

    Hi Jon, I’m Vanessa, a producer at Close Up, TVNZ. Could you please email me your contact details as I would like to have a chat with you about this issue. Thanks Vanessa

  45. Sam Finnemore says:

    “I haven’t declared “war” on anyone.
    I wrote a piece about bus companies starting to have to change bus design to meet the needs of a changing population!”

    Not to inflame this further, but in the same article you did describe thin people being forced out of seats by larger people as a form of discrimination - which I thought was a bit over the top.

    I’d suggest it’s the bits like this (and the opening sentence Feijoa mentions) that have made people seize on your article in a negative way, and perhaps dialing back on that would have made for just as good and relevant an article but with a bit less aggro from the Internet/media in general.

    As you rightly point out, this is a practical issue given that people in general are getting heavier on average; it’s a capacity issue just as much as (for instance) the frequency and number of trains in Auckland.

    Unfortunately obesity is a societal problem that’s going to take a long time to turn around and in the meantime transport systems are going to have to adjust to cope, particularly if we want to encourage more people to use public transport full stop, no matter what size they are.

    Finally, though, and writing this as a longtime reader - good on you for tackling such a range of transport issues here, even the more awkward and sensitive ones. It can’t be easy but generally you get it right.

    EDIT: Yeah, it may be an idea to substitute the photo for something else if it wasn’t taken with permission. There’s a reason news bulletin articles on obesity usually use stock images (like the Herald story!) or street footage without peoples’ faces showing.

  46. Jeremy H says:

    Good on you for posting Jon.

    I’m 6’2 and 90 odd kgs and I exercise - a lot. To be honest I’m guessing I’m more of a pain on the bus than obese people.

    Being tall and broad I take up a seat and all the leg space in front of me. I often carry with me on the bus; my bookbag, my gym bag, a carry all and if I get on after the gym I smell of BO/too much deoderant.

    It’s also nonsense that weight is outside of people’s control (apart from in rare situations) I have no metabolism and wear (or have to run off) everything I put in my mouth. Means I’m never allowed, sweets, pastry, biscuits, ice cream, alcohol, etc, etc. It sucks, to a certain extent, but I see it as I don’t have a choice.

  47. Matt L says:

    Haha I imagine that the 257 angry emails you had by 6:30 last night is only getting bigger. Jon I’m pretty sure the silent majority don’t have any problem with this but it does highlight the attempts by segments of society to make some topics taboo.

  48. idt says:

    Simple answer … make the door narrower.

    But seriously, the elephant in the room is Auckland Transport. Bellies and backpacks are only a problem because PT is so over-crowded.

    There’s zero incentive for private bus companies to provide enough buses and deliver good service.

    Let’s add a customer satisfaction clause to their contracts … with financial penalties!

  49. Jeff says:

    Just a thought Jon, you should probably crop out that snorlax’s (womans) face, the one-eyed-one-horned-flying-purple-people-eater at the top of the article that is.

  50. besolman says:

    Congratulations, about time someone raised this issue; though Jon should widen the scope to include airline travel. I have had numerous flights where I have had to sit at an angle because the person next to me was literally flowing over their seat into mine. All the best on the crusade – though as you have pointed out the pointy headed PC brigade are probably hunting you as we speak.

  51. Alan says:

    Here’s a challenge for you. Put on a fat suit for a week. Just one week, and walk around in public. Look at how people view you, judge you and treat you. Then come back and tell us who you think is being discriminated against.

    (JFTR, yes, I used to be fat. I’m around 40 kgs below what I used to be, and the change in you’re treated is amazing).

  52. Nic says:

    I think it was a brilliant article highlighting a few truths about the way that this nation is going. Yes some people are predisposed to being larger than others and those people have a terrible time trying to control their weight - trying everything under the sun to try to sort it.
    THEN there are the others that eat pies for breakfast… worse still they let their kids eat pies on the way to school! ARGH! I HATE seeing this! This is the reason why kids are so obese! It starts at a young age teaching children good eating habits. I know myself that if I was to eat the size of two dinners every night and sit around doing nothing then I too would probably be one of these people that take up more than one seat. But I dont, I limit my portions and still have takeaways - but not every night for dinner. If they feel self conscious they should do something about it. Dont buy the next size up in clothing, do something to make sure you fit the clothes you have! Even the simple act of putting less in your mouth and doing more and you will see a difference!
    Good on you mate for bringing this up - NZ is becoming a fatter nation every day and people need to start taking control of themselves.

  53. AKT says:

    @besolman The article does discuss airline travel

  54. Dan says:

    Why should we put on a fat suit? Why is it our problem? Literally anyone can lose weight. As has already been stated, it’s energy in vs. energy out. You’re not being discriminated against, you’re being judged for your poor self control and lifestyle choices. Why should that be anyone else’s problem but yours?

  55. cedar says:

    I changed to the trains to avoid the problems of the narrow aisles and what seems like smaller seats on buses.

    I am not overweight nor totally thin…

    What I like to do in buses particularly in Winter is take off my jacket/raincoat because I get very hot…then I like to put them on before I leave the bus.

    BUT there is nowhere to do that safely…

    The train aisle/door space allows that unless the train is full - there is more room to just spread out…with a variety of seats that allow that.

    The last problem relates to trains…NOT enough rail lines just E, S, W and therefore much of the time I find myself on a bus…like a sardine

  56. James says:

    Fat people are fat because they’re lazy, eat to much, and never exercise.

    Humanity didn’t in the last 50 years suddenly develop all these new “fat genes”, that’s just the excuse of a lazy person who wants to play the victim.

    Stop stuffing your face with Maccas and KFC and get on the exercise bike.

    I used to weigh almost 100kg, I’m back down to 79 because I stopped eating shit and started hitting the gym.

    That’s all there is to it.

    If you can’t handle the heat, and the jokes, stay in your apartment and scoff some donuts then.

  57. kyotolaw says:

    Michael Laws has just raised you as a topic this morning on his show - 100.6FM in Auckland.

    Have fun!

  58. Richard B says:

    I’ve recently lost 30kgs and absolutely agree with this post.

    Yes, losing weight is hard; yes losing weight is harder for some people than others; but you can do it.

    The rule is incredibly simple - burn more than you are putting in.

    Even when I was heavy I used to get so incredibly frustrated at people who complained about airlines charging for two seats if the passenger took up two seats. It’s commonsense.

    Take some responsibility. The thin guy next to you has, and he shouldn’t be punished by losing half his seat for doing so.

    And as others have suggested - lose some weight - you’ll be happier. So much happier.

  59. ImnoAngelina says:

    Completely rude article for starters, but to include a photo…. You could at least blur her face as Im pretty sure you didn’t ask her for permission to exploit her like this.

  60. Bryan says:

    Same prob on Waiheke Ferry when sitting at seats with table fixed.Their tummy half behind table and rest overflowing on isle.

  61. belly says:

    This article uses some extremely confused logic. At the end of the blog you rightly point out that increased automobile use is partly to blame for our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and therefore contributes to rising rates of obesity. So why demonise overweight people for using public transport?!

    Public transport is clearly a healthier option for the individual (who must walk to/from bus stops) and for society as a whole (decreased air pollution, etc).

    The woman you have so unkindly pictured (PLEASE pixellate her face, your use of her photo in this context is extremely cruel and unnecessary) may well be attempting to lose weight and who knows, maybe taking the bus is part of that plan. She may have already lost 50kg this year for all you know.

    I’ve been commuting via bus in Auckland almost daily for five years (from the depths of west Auckland, too, not some posh skinny suburb), and have never had any problem with overweight people taking up ‘too much room’. (I’m not some ridiculously tolerant warm-fuzzy lunatic either. Put me on the bus with a kid playing shit R&B through tinny speakers without using headphones and I’ll be frothing at the mouth with anger and frustration within ten minutes.)

    One thing I agree with you on: bus seats are too small. Yes, even for average-sized people. I am eight months pregnant and tall, and I now have to hang one leg into the aisle in order to stabilise myself if I need to take an aisle seat. Except, hang on, you probably think I’m just fat and therefore should start hiding myself away in my car so I don’t inconvenience ‘normal sized’ people like you.

  62. AKT says:

    I did not take the photo. It is from already published in the US.

  63. Calvin says:

    Well at least the “big people” are using the buses and not taking the car. And get a bit of fresh air and exercise to and from.
    What a sad person you must be to goto so much effort to blog about it.
    Go and pick on someone your own size !
    Bully !.

  64. Bill says:

    Fat people were once very rare. There hasn’t been a genetic change in the human species so it’s down to how many calories a person puts in their body. Space and additional petrol to move this weight may be environmental issues, but the real cost to all of us is the increased use of health system resources. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease are just some of the issues more prevalent in fat people. You are killing yourselves. Please stop.

  65. Fallon says:

    I am worried; there must be a gang of thugs traveling around the country forcing people to eat unhealthy food at gunpoint, because there is no other way these people got fat on their own. I may only be a naive university student, but in my HR paper we learnt there are 6 forms of discrimination and being fat isn’t one of them, so maybe stop crying about how people judge you walking around the streets of Auckland. Overweight people need to stop using the ‘disease’ excuse. We don’t hate fat people just arrogant fat people!

  66. Andu says:

    A lot of these comments are proving that the second you get near the subject of society getting too fat, people lose the plot completely. Which in turn proves that’s it is a subject that deserves to be raised.

    I say again if all those who are supposedly furious actually READ the post, it IS NOT an attack on obese people in general. For Gods sake.

  67. joust says:

    If the use of a photo here offends, the same and worse must be true of the warm day b-roll images used by the tv and print news outlets on any story loosely related to weight. In a country the size of ours the unwitting subjects are bound to be recognised and embarrassed. The photo appears to be from overseas.

  68. Mark says:

    @JonC - world famous in NZ - good on ya!

    the upside may be a few people who start to read the other thought provoking posts.

    Apart from a few exceptions, I find this blog and its commentors thoughtful and consideate, and always worth a read.
    I always recommend it as a must read - hopefully you’ve raised the number of likely readers:)

    maybe worth getting Herald on Line to put a link up to the blog?

  69. kyotolaw says:

    @Fallon. I learned it in university, so it must be true!

    Wake up dear. I’m certainly not going to argue that we shouldn’t discriminate against fat people, but you need a better argument than “I read it in a book so it must be true”.

  70. Tom phD says:

    Question: Do Larger Airline Passengers Need to Buy a Second Seat?
    Recently, some U.S. air carriers have announced new or newly-enforced policies that apply to what they discreetly call “passengers of size” or “passengers requiring extra space.” The terminology is polite, but the policies are, for the most part, straightforward. If, when you sit down in your airplane seat, you need a seatbelt extender (or a second one, in at least one case) or you can’t lower both armrests, you will be asked to pay for a second seat unless extra space is available somewhere onboard the aircraft.
    Each airline publishes a document, typically called a “Contract of Carriage,” that documents the legal relationship between the airline and its passengers. The Contract of Carriage may or may not overtly define the airline’s policy on ticket purchases for larger passengers. In some cases, such as Southwest Airlines, the airline’s policy covering larger passengers is spelled out in detail on the airline’s website.

    Policies vary by airline, and some airlines prefer to deal with larger passengers on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about a particular airline’s policy, it’s best to email the carrier in question well in advance of booking your ticket. You will have your response in writing, which may offer you some protection if you have difficulties checking in for your flight.

    Please bear in mind that airlines may change policies without providing notice to customers or issuing press releases. Policies and available information are always subject to change. It’s always a good idea to print out (and read) your Contract of Carriage before booking your flight.

    Current U.S. Airline Policies
    American Airlines

    Recent news articles suggest that American Airlines will attempt to find larger customers a seat near an empty seat whenever possible. In rare cases, larger passengers may be asked to purchase a second ticket. American’s Contract of Carriage vaguely refers to safety issues as reasons to deny boarding to specific passengers. (Note: I have sent an email request for information to American Airlines and will update this information as soon as I receive a reply.)

    Continental Airlines

    Continental’s policy regarding Customers Requiring Extra Seating is very specific. Passengers must be able to lower both armrests and fasten seatbelts with one extender. In addition, passengers must not “significantly encroach” on the personal space of the passengers on either side of them.

    Delta Air Lines / Northwest Airlines

    Delta and Northwest have recently merged, so the same policies apply to both. In addition, the airlines’ domestic and international policies are virtually identical. For Delta and Northwest, the “litmus test” for passengers is their ability to fasten their seatbelts without extenders. If passengers require seatbelt extenders, they may be asked to pay for a second seat.

    Southwest Airlines

    Southwest recently decided to fully enforce its long-standing policy on Customers of Size. As of this writing, Southwest customers who are unable to lower both armrests will be asked to buy a second (empty) seat for their flight.

    United Airlines

    United, the airline that reignited the “larger passenger” policy discussion in spring 2009, requires passengers to be able to lower both armrests and to fasten seatbelts using only one seatbelt exender.

  71. Dwhiting says:

    Bus seats are getting smaller and people larger so it’s not just the large persons fault - bus companies need to make their buses more user friendly. However, it is unpleasant as a small person to be squashed - sometimes to the point of pain by a larger person (not necessarily just obese - there are also some big guys out there with wide shoulders etc!) taking up more than their seat. My solution - I got off the bus and back into my car.

  72. Sean says:

    I’m 110Kg and 6ft2 and take the bus daily and have been that way since I was 16. Not really fat just large. Body fat measurement at the gym comes in at 14%. Anyone taller then about 6ft will have trouble sitting in most bus seats. Bit of a non issue really. Bit harsh putting a picture of that lady up though.

  73. Highlander says:

    Of course we should discrimate against fat people. It is lifestyle choice that like smoking should not be inflected on others. Do they have no shame.

  74. ally says:

    i also don’t like :

    people with ipods
    people with children
    people with too much perfume / deodorant
    people with too little perfaume / deodorant
    people talking

    etc etc etc etc

    fat people bother you?

    grow up.

  75. Jon C says:

    @Mark Thanks, that is very kind. Thanks for all your wise & knowledgeable contributions.
    I’m not sure this is how I want to be famous with all the nasty email going on in my personal inbox and in fact my about section makes it clear I don’t want to be famous just help encourage debate about Auckland and transport!
    I did ask the Herald to put a link in but nothing happened.

  76. Westbound says:

    So true so true, I take the train into the city and I am a big lad myself, 6ft and 105kgs (no pot gut, just a crate in the making), The fact I am built like a front row forward all shoulders and neck cannot be helped (so I apologies for my genetics, good waikaot stock!!!). The fact that everyone knows kiwis are getting bigger yet they still have seats that only accomodate 5’4″ft 55kg persons is the first problem that needs to be remedied, yes it may mean more buses or longer trains to accomodate everyone comfortable so be it!!!. Next time your in an elevator check out the weight restrictions, my office one says max weight 900kgs or 12 people, thats 75 kgs each folks!

  77. Peter says:

    I don’t think fat people are a huge issue on buses and trains. It would be different if we were allocated a seat like a plane, but we can choose to sit or stand. Public transport in any big city will get crowded, We just need to get used to it. Just as annoying is when people don’t move down the bus and people standing are squashed near the front because of people with a lack of common sense.

  78. SCARE! says:

    you hit the nail on the head.
    the fatties should be walking..
    it is disgusting sitting next to a fattie on the bus.
    the smell, and the lack of room. not to mention the sheer disgust i feel at their obesity.

  79. Chris R says:

    Fat is an addiction and whilst we have KFC, BK, McChucks et al making it easier to buy fast food than cook we will always have this problem.

    However, this item doesn’t make it easier for fat people!

    Just goes to show how bigoted some people can be.

  80. AKT says:

    In response to dozens of angry emails, a clarification once cgain.
    The Herald says I set about taking photos of fat people on buses. That is totally untrue and I never said that. I have not taken any nor intend to. Photo used here was published on a US site.

  81. mike says:

    Im thinking that life must be to easy for some people if all they have to complain about is the bus ride to work and home . There are alot of overweight people out there who have health issues and struggle to fix the problem (not a lifestyle problem) . Seriously fat haters get a grip.
    Bus seats are not designed for anyone larger than a pip squeak.

  82. Piri Pareiha says:

    I’ve searched the responses here for any comments regarding safety. Having someone blocking the centre aisle of a bus, and being so large as to not to be able to quickly remove themselves and/or enable others to do so in an emergency should be a concern. The same goes for overly-obese drivers. The ability to respond quickly in an emergency, to avoid or respond in an accident, should be the first concern of the companies providing bus transport. That is not being discriminatory - it is plain common sense. As the blog makes clear, the increases in body sizes over the past few decades really requires a rethink on people-transport design. Those considered obese are creating the issue. But should the rest of us be expected to have the cost of our travel raised, and our safety and comfort compromised to accommodate those shielded by loony PC mantra. I think not.

  83. Spiritfree says:

    Tell it like it is!
    I am so over being discriminated against because I am not fat.
    1. every time I buy clothes. Their clothes use more far material than mine.
    2. every time I get on a plane. I weight 60kg but they airline uses the average weight of its passengers to work out the fare. So I subsidise the fatties.
    3. health costs built in to taxes. Fatties are *unhealthy*.

    Discrimination against fatties? B****cks. Fat people are fat because they eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t exercise. Period.

    No-one is forcing fatties to go into MacDonalds or to eat fish and chips. They do it and everyone else has to pay.

  84. SkinnyJeans says:

    This is so true. Finally somebody has the b@lls to come out and tell it like it is. I am sick and tired of rolly pollies on PT. What angers me more than just encroaching into my personal (payed for) space is you whipping out the food with a total disregard for the rules of the bus. Please stop encroaching into my space, and please put that smelly pie and chips away. Have some respect for the rules and your fellow passengers please.

  85. David says:

    I cannot believe you didn’t blur the faces of the people you posted photos of!

  86. Bryan says:

    From the NZTA 2009 “Draft New Zealand national minimum standard for urban buses”,

    5.2 Seating
    Our passengers are getting heavier, bigger/wider, older and less mobile, so good easily accessible seating is a requirement for passengers.

    Seat width :
    single seat : >425 mm
    double bench or paired : >875 mm
    mother and child (on front wheel arch) : >810 mm
    Spacing forward facing : >670 mm

    Are the train seats designed to the same standard, as I’ve heard complaints about them being too low, and too close together.

    And losing weight is surprisingly easy - I’ve had to pull my belt in since I started walking 1km to catch the train.

  87. babe says:

    They pay for one seat, take up two, are not willing to stand up for old people or pregnant women, and won’t (can’t) stick their knees together, so another person could squeeze next to them! I know what these people mean when they complain! Never mind the smell of sweat on a massive sac of lard next to you! Lose weight for your own sake, people! Your presence in such limited space makes life difficult for other people. Stop being so rude and selfish.

  88. Mark says:

    @JonC - sorry to hear personal attacks are continuing. If you’re not used to it it can be very hard to take. And in fact even when you have developed a thicker skin they can be hard!

    My best advice, is to explain to a point. When people show they are deliberately unwilling to listen, then try and forget it and move on. the responses usually say more about the other people than your own views/expressions. People usually resort to personal attacks when they don’t have the ability to participate in a proper debate……their loss not yours

  89. AdG says:

    Hi Jon C,

    Firstly well done on a perfectly well reasoned bit of writing to highlight the health issues caused by a car dominated society. The article being interpreted as a supposed attach on overweight people shows the sensitivity of the subject but misses the point as you have already noted.
    Secondly I would be interested to hear any follow up from you re the lady that emailed from TVNZ close up - could there be an opportunity here for you to refocus the discussion on the real issue of the downsides of an overwhelming car culture and on national TV - now that would be a good outcome from this blog debate.
    Keep up the good work - I always find a well reasoned blog here AKT

  90. Giel says:

    Agree with Mark and AdG Jon C - Good work on this blog as a general rule. Reason seems to loose its place on people’s comments on blogs sometimes. As for the NZ Herald - as with much of the media a good Tui billboard is called for - “It’s true - I read it in the NZ Herald - Yeah Right” No better evidence of that than their headline on this subject matter today - What War? You state you didn’t take photos and they said you did - sounds like they made it up. They should be censored for that - or at least apologise. In fact their “news” is more like a blog than reported news sometimes. True reporting of news without editorial bias is sadly lacking in most NZ media these days. At least with blogs we know it is opinion - but with a paper they print opinions and perspectives like they are facts and so the misinterpretations roll on. Maybe they are scared that blogs and internet sites like this are doing them out of a job. I am surprised they haven’t opened a comment page on this story on their website.

    As for the larger ones amongst us - I have no bother either way with you and accept your feelings may be hurt by some vile comments people write. But look at the intent of what Jon C said – he is trying to improve things by advocating better Public Transport for all – that is what this blog is about.

  91. Kelsey says:

    I totally agree with Andrew. Further if the larger sized person was your relative or partner or dear friend I don’t think you would have a problem sitting next to them, and if you did you wouldn’t complain to this extent about it. Discriminating against people you do not know because of their size is a little unfair. I can’t see all public transport adjusting the seat sizes anytime soon, even if it’s just starting with buses in Auckland. Too costly and time consuming. In the meantime, grow up and deal with it. Suck it up or suck it in!

  92. Anthony says:

    One thing i truely hate about the world is that the only way of getting the media’s attention is when you “attack” a range of people.

    However i think the upside is that more people who agree with you will follow your blog, and will hopefully be aware of good projects like the CBD rail loop.

    Do go on Close up Jon, I would be happy if you did,

  93. Alan says:

    I wonder what the value of all the (free) advertising that this blog has received would be?

  94. AKT says:

    @Alan This blog makes no money and because of the increased hosting needed it costs quite a bit of money to maintain so there is no value from publicity other than hopefully it draws more people to talk and think about transport which is the aim of this blog.
    @Mark You can not blog for four years without having to develop a very thick skin but the extent of venom over the last 24 hours has made me worried about what sort of people are out there!

  95. Matt L says:

    Alan - considering that Jon doesn’t make any money doing this I would suggest that the financial value would be pretty low. The biggest value would be from people reading other articles an getting more of an awareness of transport issues and hopefully spreading the word that Auckland needs to change.

    Edit: Looks like Jon just said the same thing while I was typing that. Jon, I still think you should offer a donation service as I, and I’m sure others really appriciate the work you do and would like to help reduce the financial burden (nothing we can do about the personal attacks though ;-) )

  96. Pickle says:

    This is a very tricky issue. Some people are always genetically going to be bigger than others but some people are just lazy. Other people may work very long hours and simply have no time to exercise. I think there are a lot of people like that. We need all workplaces to have compulsory break during the day for exercise, with things like free gym passes offered etc.

    I do have problems on the bus sometimes given that I am only 1.6m tall and also quite thin,weighing only about 65 kg’s, I am fortunate to only have to work around 30 hours a week and do have time for exercise etc but I am the exception to the rule. You do raise a valid point but you have to be careful not to attack fat people (which I don’t think you were)

    My advice to Jon C would be to write a letter to the editor of the Herald, defending himself and to remove the photos from the blog post (even if they aren’t yours).

  97. Lovefoxxx says:

    @ Fallon - Oh, the arrogance of these fat people - DARING to take the bus!? Idiot.

  98. Lovefoxxx says:

    Oh & @ Bryan - good on you for actually doing some research on the issue at hand!

  99. Roxanne says:

    I do believe that the weight issue on buses is one we all secretly know about but don’t wish to say anything. I for one am not a small person I’m on the other side of average but I know my size, I move over and let myself dangle off the seat so I do not encroach on anyone’s space. But it is hard to stay on your own seat in the newer buses. I am over 5ft 7 tall, my thigh bone is at a length where I am jammed against the seat infront if I sit properly and when I do that my knees ache. I don’t know how taller people sit and not infringe on the next seat with this problem

  100. Lovefoxxx says:

    I loathe to leave another comment but ‘this blog makes no money’ - the skyscraper ad begs to differ!

  101. tbird says:

    Doloras: “Disclaimer: I used to be fat….”

    Surprise, surprise. That explains the persecution complex!

    “and I may be again one day if things don’t go right, so yes, I am taking this personally.”

    You’ll get fat if you eat lots and don’t do any exercise, not if things “don’t go right” - take some responsibility for a change!

    Congratulations AKT at raising an important issue. Fat isn’t an issue about discrimination - people choose to be fat by the choices they make in life.

    Obesity is a major health problem - one which isn’t going to be solved by making seats bigger or banning insulting fat people.

    Fat people are lazy and greedy - that’s why they’re fat. The treatment involves eating less (be less greedy) and doing more (be less lazy). Simple.

    Having said that, I don’t think they should have to pay extra fares. They buy a ticket for one person (not one seat) - and they are still people. Just, please don’t let them sit near me.

    I think you should look into what your options are about the Herald article’s blatant misrepresentation of your blog. The media in NZ gets away with so much crap - don’t let them.

  102. Richard says:

    The “explosion” in obesity has more to do with the degradation of society ( think quality of life ) and peoples image of themselves. Taking up commutor space is just one of the more agravating flow-on effects, as fat people lose touch with their sexuality and their general appreciation of how good life can be. Food becomes their focus.The frightening increase in Diabetes is another pointer.Diabetes of course is the No. one challenge facing the medical fraternity as they try and spread less money around a fatter, obese society.

  103. Desade says:

    Fat people are a problem AND selfish,never saw a fat hungry person.

  104. Dave says:

    Its time that people realised that being fat is wrong. They do take up too much room, and they often smell… excuse for that. Being fat is mostly self inflicted. Anyone can lose weight if they want to.

  105. Jon C says:

    @Lovefoxxx They are served by Google and advertisers pay per click.
    If no one clicks, there is no pay.
    Google takes its cut.
    You can not live off $20 a year.
    PS It’s always nice though when people do click. $20 pays for my next bus ticket. LOL

  106. JK says:

    Great to read all of the vitriol from fat people. Hey the bottom line is there is only one reason why you are fat and thats a disporpotionate correlation between orifices - namely your mouth is bigger than your arsehole. You can only get fat by getting this relationship out of proportion. Then with this lack of self-responsibility you all bleat on about your personal rights. Well what about my rights as a person who have got their two holes in balance? Tell me why by looking after myself, its my reponsibility to pick up the tab for you being negligent. Bring on the fat F***er tax thats what I say. The fatter you are the more you pay for bus seats airline seats and healthcare - user pays!!

  107. George D says:

    Gosh, so many rude, hostile people here (mainly from the ant-fat camp). If everyone put their guns down we could have a sane debate.

  108. Alan says:

    @Matt - Maybe you misread my post - how much would it cost to purchase the exposure that this article has given (free articles in the Herald, free air time on mainstream radio, and a real chance of appearing on prime time, national television)?

    For example, this article excluded, as a cyclist I find the articles on cycling to be interesting, and will probably be back to read them fully when time allows. I would not have found this site if it wasn’t for the Herald article this morning.

  109. Ian H says:

    No matter what size you are we are all tax and ratepayers, and also pay the bus fare so we are all entitled to use the bus or train so i am afraid that i wil take exception at being told by some skinny little wretch of a person that i am to big for public transport….so get over your skinny little selves. Having said that it is also easy to hide behind a blog on the internet, i wonder if you would have the same courage to say it face to face to a larger person like me perhaps

  110. Joan says:

    I agree with you Jon! Obese people think they are being got at if anyone makes a comment about them but try sitting on a long haul flight next to someone who could only fit into their seat by raising the arn rest between us. After 12 hours I had had enough - especially when she fell asleep on my shoulder!!! Never again - I will kick up a fuss (quietly and politely of course) if I am ever put next to someone who cannot fit into their own seat!!!

  111. Roger says:

    I choose not to be fat by getting exercise and eating health food. It irks me to have someone in front of me in an airline queue who is 30kg heavier than me travel for the same fare while I have to pay extra if I have 10kg of excess baggage. I also hate to lose all my arm room by sitting next to the same person in the plane. No, this is not PT in Auckland, but the same principles apply.

  112. daniel says:

    I find this unfair in my opinion. Im 6’3″ and take up way more room then a fat person do you want me to pay more because im tall and my legs stick out in the isle? If you don’t like the bus dont use it! People like you with you vile views often contribute nothing to society other then hate. Any way Im sure your big head and massive ego take up way more room, then any obese person or myself do jerk.

  113. daniel says:

    Also @JK there is not only one reason. My father looked fat because of a renal carcinoma(cancer of his kidneys) which erroded the lining of his stomach cause blood to pool in his stomach, i work down the road and have see a number of patients with this problem. Also another reason for some people to become fat is due to medication like prednisone a steroid given to asthmatics which causes weight gain due to insulin overproduction. Just saying its not just over eating yet people like you and the blog writer judge them all in the same boat if i saw any person picking on the obese person i would quite happy destroy the bully! Take your hillbilly logic somewhere else

  114. Jeff H says:

    Ridiculous criticism by some. Public transport is for everyone. All are welcome - end of story.

    ps - If your big, don’t worry. I’m skinny and will happily sit beside you.

  115. Brat says:

    You know, 90% or so of people who lose weight put almost all of it back on? A study done on dieters by diet companies found the most successful diet lead to only a total of 4 or so kgs lost in a year. less than a dress size.
    Nother link:

    But that might get in the way of some commenters pillorying fat people.

    No, I’m not fat. And I’d rather sit next to a fat person on the bus than some dude with his legs spread so wide it’s as if he thinks his junk is the size of a pumpkin. But I don’t pay for a seat on a bus - I pay for it to take me a certain distance on a pre-defined route. Having a whole seat is a nice extra.

  116. KarlHansen says:

    Ian H - yep, you are entitled to a seat on a bus or train. The whole point of the article is contained in that “a” seat. It doesn’t say “two”.

    And Jon is hiding himself much less than you are, so why accuse him of something? Accuse him of cowardice? It took some guts to write something he was clearly aware would cause uproar.

    And it makes more sense for a transport blogger to raise something on a transport blog - after lots of readers did complain to him - than to go out on the bus and randomly accost people for being fat. That would be rude, but Jon did no such thing. He blogged - reread his post with a cool head - about things that are simple facts, and reporting how this has been discussed elsewhere!!! Nowhere does he say that big people shouldn’t be allowed on public transport, that they are second class citizens, nor has he himself insulted them in any way in his post (some commenters were of course quite rude to fat people) .

    So unless you think that obesity - not just being big, obese! - itself is desirable, and thus consider that someone who says “obesity is a problem” is persecuting obese people, you have no reason to accuse Jon of anything.

  117. PT user says:

    lol… i love this article. good on you for raising some issues that most of us are too afraid to say anything out loud but are stirring inside of us like a tornado.
    I hate when inconsiderate fat people take up space & leave the rest of us standing. and for all those who try to argue that it is not their fault they are fat, we shouldn’t discriminate, etc… look on the bright side, if our “discriminatory remarks” influence fat people in any way that makes them think about their size, we may be simply encouraging them to lose some weight & save their lives from the numerous obesity-related diseases, thus we are really doing them a favour!

  118. Malc says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen so many comments on here before! Pretty funny that it made the paper, and they totally took the article out of context. Not surprising at all.

    Its a very interesting problem though. Does anyone know how the United States deals with it? I assume its a much worse problem over there.

  119. Darren says:

    I fully understand this point, but lets not forget us tall people. I am over 6ft 2 and have extremely long thighs. I struggle all the time on the buses, especially the larger bendy bus that is on my route. I physically can not sit in the seat properly and get all sorts of comments. When I do squeeze in I end up with cramp. Not good on a journey that takes 1.5 hours. The buses are not designed to cater for people of different stature, especially the imported ones.
    This issue also extends to the airline industry and their seats.

    Lets pack everyone in like cattle class and cause more health problems

  120. Jeff H says:

    Looking at the economics of this frankly quite pathetic debate, all it would appear to be achieving is to put people off using public transport.

    The obvious results of that would be less services at higher costs.

    Surely the opposite of what most contributors are seeking?

  121. Mel says:

    LOL while reading these blogs. Gosh this article has really hit some nerves.
    Very brave of you Jon for doing this article but I can probably safely say, if you had highlighted the ‘loud music playing’, ‘talking loudly on their mobile’, ‘coughing/sneezing without covering their mouth’, ‘big backpack wearing’ annoying sort of people, you would not have had nearly the same response. In fact it probably wouldn’t have even made the paper. The main difference with these ‘annoyances’ is that you can do something about them immediately. You can’t get skinny on request.
    So to all those people who have been offended by this article (which was only stating facts) is that the “biggest loser” doesn’t lie. Doing exercise and eating healthy DOES work so stop blaming your genes. I know first hand. If you are embarrassed about your size, LOSE WEIGHT. It IS that simple.

  122. Jim says:

    It is a problem, overweight people are a problem for society. It costs more to transport them, they have more health problems etc. Yet those who put in the effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle are expected to subsidise this issue. If the weight/size of a person is an issue THEY should have to pay more for the extra services etc they consume. Managing weight is not easy, but I know many overweight people and they either eat too much or exercise too little. I am tired of being penalized for others laziness and self-indulgence

  123. David says:

    I agree in the point that it is a hassle to move past a larger person or to be forced to sit on the edge of the seat that you paid just the much for as the person next to you did but there cant be state discrimination against larger passengers. If anything it should be the duty of the larger passenger to make an effort to be polite and notice that they are invading others space. It is not rude or unjust to raise this issue as if you have been on the receiving end of the issue you will have experienced some form of discomfort, voiced or not. If the larger passenger cannot control the boundaries of their waistline I suggest that they do not take public transport but instead run as this would be killing two birds with one stone.

  124. Mel says:

    Good on you Jon for bringing up a serious issue. Unfortunately it is not isolated to PT but effects the whole of NZ. I have been fat (pregnancy can do that) but I did something about it.
    The people who have taken exception to your article obviously have their own issues so I hope you are not taking their comments personally.
    I am waiting to see when the biggest loser hits NZ. Walking around our shopping centres there are definately plenty of contenders.
    Can’t wait to see you on Close Up. Good luck

  125. Fi'afa says:

    I am disgusted by this. It is not your business if we are overweight. Who decides anyway if we are overweight?
    I smoke too and am sick of all yous who tell me I shouldnt.
    Who do you think you are to come on here and tell me off?
    I will get the bus. I am allowed. If I ever see you on the bus watch out,.

  126. Jenny says:

    Good on your Jon.
    This is an issue and we will all pay for it in future when people take up hospital beds (2 of them?) and we pay for their folly at eating.
    Has anyone seen what people have stacked up in their supermarket trolleys? They moan about the price of milk (healthy) yet stack their food larder with potato chips, Coke etc supplemented with Macs, KFC and so on.
    It’s time to shame these people.

  127. Alex says:

    Good show Jon, shows that there is a modern-day ‘taboo’ on this subject, and further discussion is needed to properly air this issue.

    Keep going!

  128. Scott says:


    Although a crude measurement a BMI of more than 25 is generally accepted as being overweight. This has been decided by the medical industry.

    A lot of people are annoyed at those who make un-healthy choices as NZ has a subsidized hospital system. This means that it is likely that NZ tax-payers are likely to ultimately pick up the bill for the costs associated with unhealthy behavior.

  129. DanC says:

    This is a good blog, informative and fills the gaps that other media like the NZ Herald misses and people can discuss, share and debate news & planned & unplanned infrastructure projects.

    Obesity is an issue in NZ. The direct cost of obesity to the New Zealand health system has been calculated at $500 million a year. However a recent Australian survey looked comprehensively at the overall economic effects of obesity in that country and concluded the disease cost them $58.2 billion per year. So the indirect costs for NZ will be huge. An example of this is it is forecast that health costs for type 2 diabetes will reach $1.78 billion by 2021/22.

    I used to be larger, and while it is hard to loose and maintain and healthy weight it is do-able and I get more out of life. I point the finger at many causes, price of healthy food, A long commute sitting in a car… but the main thing is there’s only one person to blame. I have said above that it if someone else is larger then let them be, don’t be rude if you need to get past just a polite excuse me. But something does need to be done on a national level.

  130. Geoff says:

    @Brat, yes most people who lose weight put it back on, but that’s because while they may have changed their behaviour once, they didn’t change their long term thinking processes that lead to putting the weight back on.

    Forget diets and expensive excercise equipment, the best way to lose weight is to go for a walk every day. Burn off the same amount of energy that you put in. Eat a lot if you want, but walk further to make up for it.

    It’s easy to do, and you feel great.

    @JonC, I clicked on the ad :)

  131. kimbo says:

    When I heard about this blog on the radio and saw comments on the web I was pissed about it, UNTIL I actually read the article.
    You have some valid points, about kiwis getting bigger and bus seats getting smaller so that more people can be squeezed on.
    I’m 6’5″ and about 115kg, so when I get on a bus I need to find an asile seat because I cannot sit next to the window unless I angle park, because my legs are too long.
    So those of you who are going off at the author, take time to actually read the article and don’t believe everything the radio, web and tv commentators say.
    Get the true facts yourself!!!

  132. Ian says:

    132 comments. Has to be some sort of record.

  133. Jan says:

    The main issue here is overcrowding not obesity. If there is an obese person on a bus that is not crowded - it isn’t a problem.

    When we are uncomfortable we look for blame and it looks like the fatties are in firing line for this one. I get irritated, when someone encroaches on my personal space . I could be standing or sitting next to the person who has bad body odour (for me that is the worst problem), powerful perfume, height issues, voice decibel control problems or weight problems …. the list goes on.

    Or …. I could just get over it and be thankful for the service provide and worry about important things in life :-)

    On another note, I’d rather be crammed in a bus, next to a fat person, than the have a bus go sailing past because it is too full - now there’s another debate. More buses need maybe?

  134. GoodGravey says:

    The real “problem” here is that people seem to confuse a health issue with a rudeness issue.

    And that “perfectly reasonable arguments” are only perfectly reasonable to those in a position of privilege. A term for you to look up. “Tone argument”.

    Then we come to the fact that size and weight are not necessarily related to health. You can have extremely large people who are perfectly healthy, but I don’t hear anyone complaining about them taking up too much room. Or people who are very tall whose legs stick out too far.

    You say it is not an attack on fat people. That’s only because you fail to understand the impact of what you are saying.

    Let’s not forget the idiots commenting here who say “it’s only a matter of eating less and exercising more”. Being a better human is all about simply “thinking about how others feel”, but obviously that is too difficult for you to accomplish.

    The nature of a population changes over time. It is ludicrous to expect the services provided for those people to remain constant, and expect people to fit in with it. If society as a whole is getting bigger, then the services provided need to adapt to accommodate those changes.

    Oh - and the “we all pay for the costs of healthcare” crap non-argument … why should I pay for the healthcare and injuries of drunken idiots who fall over? Why should I pay for people who play sports socially and get injured? Why should I pay for anything that anyone else does? Another word for you to look up - society.

  135. southernrata says:

    I think commenters who are blaming obese people for their own weight at the same time as not wanting them to pollute their bus are missing at least one important point.

    The main contributer to lack of exercise is the modern habit of driving from door to door in private cars. People who take public transport have to walk at either end, often substantial distances. If you want these people you hate to keep out of your space you are depriving them of exercise they need.

  136. Piri Pareiha says:

    @southernrata - “The main contributer to lack of exercise is the modern habit of driving from door to door in private cars” - hello? What does exercise, or a lack of, have to do with obesity? Not as much as you think. Calories in - calories out. While some people have genuine health issues around obesity the vast majority of obesity is caused by over-eating and booze. The principal benefit of regular exercise is cardio-vascular and body tone. The most effective method of losing weight is moderation of meal portion size balanced by moderate exercise. Let’s not let the science get in the way of the excuses for obesity.

  137. Jon C says:

    @Geoff Awesome, thanks. I can now go buy a sandwich for lunch!

  138. jimmyD says:

    @GoodGravey… thank goodness for a sensible voice amongst the nonsense thats been posted here. finally some wisdom. thanks!

  139. matt says:

    How can we really ban fat people from the buses? at the end of the day who would drive the buses!

    But seriously all you self rightous fatties commenting on here should actually stop and think for a minute why we are all so angry about this issue. It is about equity, if I ride the bus I don’t get in anyone’s way, my odour does not seep out of every orrifice intoxicating everyone within a 10 rows of where I am sitting, I happily sit on my bus and mind my own business. I am there to get from A to B and would rather have as fewer sensory stimulants as possible till I arrive at my destination. In most cases I will even stand to give up my seat to old, young, pregnant, or yes because technically you are disabled fat people.

    So yeah you can get angry about the fact that we all see you as visually, orfactorily and aurally offensive(yes fatties you can be loud…or as you call it jolly)…and thank God my sense of touch and taste have never gone there! But the fact remains you are the people who are in the wrong, you are the people getting in our space not the other way round.

    Just take solice in the fact that you will all feel better after you go and grab some KFC and smokes tonight and wash it down with some Double Brown complemented with a tub of tip tops finest (most likely purchased with the tax payers money).

  140. GoodGravey says:

    Wow. I thought I had read comments from utter pieces of crap. I am grateful to matt for showing me that until now, everybody else was remarkably intelligent.

    It’s about equity. So what are you saying? That you deserve to not be affected by your bizarre misconceptions of fat people? How about people deserving not the be around smug, obnoxious, pathetic pieces of shit like you?

    And you think fat people are olfactorily (yes, that is how you spell it) offensive? Funny thing is, I’ve never found that - quite the opposite in fact. Similarly loudness. The loudest people are the obnoxious morons who think their rights outweigh everybody else’s. They’re the sort, like you, who make generalisations and assumptions about groups of people without knowing the first thing about it.

    So please - do the rest of us a favour and just stay off public transport.

  141. T says:

    “Fat people are starting to create an issue on Auckland buses.”

    Umm.. perhaps you really should consider how you phrase things. “Increasing obesity is starting to became an issue in our transport system” would have been what I’d have gone with.

    I’d have also written the post being aware that our public transport system is uncomfortable for people of all sizes because the vehicles aren’t designed with modern day waistlines in mind. As it is, your blog post implies that only non-obese people are inconvenienced, and the inconvenience is caused by the obese people, as opposed to design or behaviour.

    Public transport is for the public. Not for the rich public. Not for the male public. Not for the skinny public. Just the public; whatever size, shape, colour, age or class they may be.

    We deserve good public transport. All of us. Even fat people. Blaming one group of users for our travelling discomfort misses the point entirely.

  142. matt says:

    With a name like “good gravey” it says it all. Thankfully I rarely do have to use public transport. Enjoy your bucket of double chocolate chip tonight fatty.

  143. jimmyD says:

    after reading a lot of these comments i can see why we have such an issue in schools with our children bullying other children. if this is the calibre of adults in society it makes pretty grim reading. the school yard tactics used by the majority of people on here is rather disquieting and lacking intelligence.

    poor matt has got confused in his emotion fueled comments and lumped smokes in with KFC and even has the ignorance to say fatties were self righteous. i didn’t realise this was a blog about smokers on public transport? (of which he rarely uses). come on matt, sharpen up!

    with the amount of people on here who have climbed aboard the fat bashing band wagon i am surprised any of them can get a seat on it!

  144. SkinnyJeans says:

    There are two types of people commenting here…..

    Those that agree to the article, and fat people!

  145. Fallon says:


    It’s called the Human Rights Act 1993, so yea I read it in a book, and it is true. Being Fat isn’t listed in any categories relating to discrimination.

  146. Sam Finnemore says:

    “if this is the calibre of adults in society it makes pretty grim reading.”


  147. jimmyD says:


    very assumptive. i’m not a over weight person AND i disagree. not wanting to offend a skinny person ‘cos skinny people are obviously the epitome of perfection in your eyes and you’re ever so clever but you’re comments are just plain dumb… but rather amusing.

  148. SkinnyJeans says:

    @JimmmyD, people that fit the “fat people” description all have one thing in common, they dont believe that they over weight. What size of jeans do you wear? Mine are a 32.

  149. Julie Fairey says:

    Wow, what a comment thread! I haven’t read them all, but boy there are some people with real issues about the bodies of others, which are really nine one of their business.

    I think the overall issue is a challenge with public transport design. You can’t expect to control other people’s body shapes and I personally don’t think it’s all that reasonable to even try.

    Readers here may be interested in a couple of blog posts discussing first this issue of space on public transport and then later the whole metaphor of “taking up space” in a feminist context - the first post came about as a response to the blog post here and media coverage of it, and the second has grown from the discussion on the first.

    Please be aware that the standards of commenting there may be different from here, so don’t expect to be able to get away with some of the hateful comments here over at The Hand Mirror.

  150. Julie Fairey says:

    EDIT to comment above: Should read “… which are really NONE of their business.”


  151. Kel says:

    People who are overcrowded in fat are adding to the problems. LOL. Cages for fat people. LOL. Out of control demolition balls. LOL. Making doors narrower! LOL.

    This article is definitely highlighting a real issue and has been an extremely entertaining read!

    A couple of extra ideas to share:

    # By no means EVER should there be seats assigned for fat people. Then we would have to have seats for Maoris, seats for white people, seats for gay Maoris and seats for gay white people and seats for fat gay Maoris and seats for gay white fatties… ridiculous idea! AND just encourages discrimination and embarrassment.

    Secondly we should not think of it as we pay for a seat. Because we don’t. We’re lucky to get a seat. We only pay to get to where we’re going, and we should all do it courteously and cleanly, whether we’re in a cage, rolling around like an out of control demolition ball, or sitting happily in our gay fatty Maori seats! :)

  152. GoodGravey says:

    Matt, Matt. Just because I fight for the right of various people to be treated with a bit of freaking dignity does not mean I am part of that group.

    I am a feminist, but not a woman. I fight for issues like this, but am (just) within the healthy range for my height. I fight for LGBTI rights, but am a cis-gendered heterosexual male. You do understand that people can care about things beyond their own little world, don’t you?

    In fact my weight is about the same as it was when I had a bodyfat percentage in single figures.

    Even if I was fat, it is none of your damned business. I strongly recommend you take some of Julie’s advice. Read something. Listen to other people’s views on things. Consider, just consider the remotest possibility that the people you are shitting on might just have feelings.

  153. William Stewart says:

    Agree with the points Jon has raised here. I have found this to be an issue anywhere where shared seating is required. I do believe that airlines should charge by the KG. Why should I (72kg) get the same luggage allowance as a fat person yet get charged the same amount?

    Obviously if I need to carry extra stuff I should make an fake belly bag to increase my total weight to 130kg and therefore be getting the same value for my money.

    A fanciful argument, but it costs more to transport heavier things so surely the heavier things should cost more to send? That’s what the lady at the post office told me.

  154. Stephanie says:

    I stumbled upon this site by surfing the web, in hopes that it wasn’t just me who was frustrated by fat people on buses. I know it’s not politically correct, but as someone who lives in a big city where public transit is my main source of transportation it’s beyond annoying when I have to share a bus where 80% of the people on it are obese. Considerate or not, the fact is that these people may be aware of their large size but it doesn’t change the fact that they take up more then one seat and then squeeze into seats they can’t even sit all the way back into. Since I’m average size, I always get the pleasure of having an overweight rider choose to sit next to me and I am then forced to have to deal with squishy thighs and large elbows pressed up against me the entire ride. It’s rude, inconsiderate and frustrating to have to endure a ride where I am forced to sit uncomfortably for the obese person next to me. Now I know that personal space is a luxury not given to riders on public transportation, but we have a right to our own seats. Bottom line… Americans are so overweight and if planes charge extra for them taking up two seats then we should either do the same on buses, expand the buses (as if they aren’t big enough already) or put size restrictions on riders.


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