Bus and Tram Express
Bus and Tram Express

The organised chaos of peak-hour Wynyard

Dec 16, 2015News

KaramThe Wynyard bus interchange is like a city in a city, with its own rules, and a transient population bigger than some regional towns.

As big as a city block, buses are stacked three deep along Carrington Street, with the footpath just as clogged with commuters wanting nothing more than to be home.

But, amongst it all and holding back the chaos is Nick “The Noise” Karam.

Nick and his team work tirelessly in a high pressure environment few passengers would even comprehend.

Dealing with more than 7,000 commuters in an hour, well in excess of 60 buses, and any number of factors completely out of his control, Nick holds it all together with a voice that carries down the stands, and precision hand movements that guide and direct drivers down the interchange.

But, one small incident can throw everything off, sending shock waves through the city. It’s those times that Nick dreads.

“I don’t have to tell you that everything is so finely balanced. Every bus, every stand, is perfectly timed to interlink with other services or with trains, so every minute matters,” Nick said.

“Each bus needs to pull up, load, and depart in a minute to clear room for the next. If not, buses bank up, and the footpath starts to be come unsafe as space runs out.”

Then there are the unexpected things.

As we speak, a man hauling a goods trolley struggles across the road as the peak is beginning at 5pm. Boxes tumble off his trolley onto the already packed Carrington Street, commuters and transport staff rush to assist, themselves knowing that anything that delays a bus will have cascading effects down the line.

“You can’t plan for everything, and despite incidents like that happening, touch wood, I’ve never had an accident in the interchange,” Nick said.

The casual ease with which Nick deals with every question from passing passengers and welcoming long time passengers back to the bus shows that this job is not just managing a flow of buses, but also a flow of people and recognising that a big smile and a warm welcome can make all the difference to someone’s day as they head home.