Don’t even try to question my authority because I don’t have any. LOL. I’m just trying to help. Continue reading if you are one or many or all of these things:
- You are new in New Zealand.
- You don’t own a car yet.
- You still need to learn how to drive.
- Your friends and family who drive and have cars are too busy to drive you around or you just don’t want to bother anybody.
- You need to go to a specific place or you just want to go out and explore.
If you are one or many or all of these things then you got no choice but to learn how to ride a bus.
Knowing Your Bus
This is the most important thing to know. You can be assured that as long as you hop on the right bus, you will never get lost. How do you do this? It’s quite tricky. You start by checking Maxx (it’s a website, not a person lol) for Auckland (Metlink for Wellington) and typing the locations where you are coming from and where you are going. Sounds easy? Nah.
Website Tip: Often, if you select the bus stops nearest your origin to the bus stop nearest your destination, it doesn’t give you the best (or sometimes the correct) bus travels. An example of a wrong search result using bus stop numbers is here. To get the best or the right results, it will be easier to just type your origin’s street or road name and your destination’s street or road name too. The website has it’s own auto-suggest feature which will help you get it. However, another issue you will encounter with this is Maxx has its own codenames (example here) for the street or road names so you also need to familiarize yourself with your the other connecting streets, roads, or area. This is where Google Maps would come in handy.
Once you get the results, check if it’s right. The right results won’t let you walk one thousand miles away to get to the bus stop. LOL. If the walk way is short and the map showing is familiar to you, then it is the right result. Make sure you write down (or print or memorize) your bus number and all other details. Here is an example of a correct search result.
Important: Don’t you want to go back home? Make sure that you don’t forget to check your return journey by clicking the link on the bottom of the results. The problem that you might encounter with the return journey feature is that it doesn’t give you the time that you most probably would want to go home. It still gives the schedules of the time that you originally searched for. So how to resolve this? Click the “More Times” link and you would come up with a time pattern or a guess. If you really want to make sure, just do another search this time coming from your original destination to your original origin.
Riding The Bus
Okay so it is your first time riding a bus. Make sure you have your coins handy, preferably the exact amount, and wait patiently for the bus to come. The bus sometimes come a minute or two early, on time, or usually late so make sure you allot ample time for waiting. Also while waiting, you can check the bus schedule, if available, which is usually posted on the bus stop shelter, so you can get familiarized with its routine.
Once you see a bus oncoming, check the number that’s flashing in front and make sure it is your bus number. If it is, you need to give a sign or gesture that you are going to ride it, either by standing up and walking closer to the edge of the platform or simply wave (it’s a free country haha). If you don’t give a sign and you expect the bus to stop while you’re sitting pretty then you are mistaken. The bus will just run past you and you will need to wait for the next bus.
Once the bus stops in front of you, carefully ride in, put your exact amount of coins on the tray (some bus drivers get annoyed if you try to hand them your coins so don’t forget to put it on the tray) tell the driver where you’re going. He pushes some buttons and the machine automatically prints a receipt which you have to tear yourself. Remember, a lot of things in New Zealand are self service. After taking the receipt you can take a seat that you’ll be most comfortable in. Refrain from putting your bag next to you simply because it is rude. Once you’ve sat down, relax and enjoy the ride.
Hopping Off The Bus
This is most critical. You might not be familiar with the places so you wouldn’t know when to press the “STOP” buttons located around the bus. You can talk to the bus driver prior to sitting down about where you want to go and specifically tell him to tell you when and where you need to hop off. Most bus drivers would understand this (except those very few who are always irritated and unhappy with their lives and work that they won’t even smile at you lol). If you have not previously arranged this with the bus driver then you would have to watch closely where the bus is going, read the street signs and be alert. Bringing a map never gets old. Also, if you have taken note of the duration of your bus travel from Maxx, then you would have an idea when you are already nearing your destination by checking the time. And whenever you feel that the road is already familiar be ready to press stop. Once you have done so, and the bus already stopped, hop off carefully and don’t forget to wave or give a smile to the very kind bus driver. If you hopped off a bus stop early or late then it’s still okay. You can get some exercise by walking.
Yipee! You’ve rode your first bus! Congratulations! Weeee..
Next target (note to self haha): Buy your own car and learn how to drive. ^_^
—- Quick update
There are reloadable bus cards available for different types of buses so you don’t have to pay coins. The most popular one is the HOP Card which can be used for North Star, Go West, Waka Pacific, Metrolink and Link Buses. For more information on these, search Google.