Lack of parking a 'major problem'
More car parking is the single biggest improvement Heather McClelland wants to see at the Papakura train station.
The AUT student makes the one-hour train trip from Papakura to Britomart four days a week and often battles for a spot at the Papakura park-and-ride, which overflows by 7am.
Extra parking on Railway St fills soon after and she's left to park on a side street.
That means a walk in the dark when she's returning home.
"It's a major, major issue," she says.
The train service isn't all bad though.
"Most of the time it runs hitch free however it's the bad experiences that sit in mind," she says.
She praises Auckland Transport and KiwiRail for station upgrades and doing track work outside peak times.
And she says the new HOP cards make things easier - for some.
If there's a mass passenger exodus at any station other than Britomart, everything slows down because people must tag their HOP cards off in single file.
Ms McClelland often studies on the train but that goes out the window at peak times, when the crush can be suffocating.
Trains fill up long before the city but passengers keep piling on, forcing train drivers to slow down.
The train is still better than driving though because you'd be "paying a premium" for parking in the city and sitting in traffic for hours.
Ms McClelland is in the last year of a chemistry degree and says ticket prices have gone up four times during her studies, while trains seem to be getting later - despite performance charts claiming they're getting more punctual.
"The last time I saw one I think overall performance was 96.6 per cent [on time] and I was like, ‘hmmm, that's not true'," she says.
The fine print confirmed her suspicions - "on time" meant within 10 minutes of scheduled arrival.
She estimates her train is late at least once a week and friends have similar tales of disappointment.
"You would not get a day in which you wouldn't hear about it."
Ms McClelland is keen to see train electrification and the building of the City Rail Link which together will feed trains through Britomart much faster.
In the meantime she reckons passenger goodwill would rise if staff provided more information about delays.
At Britomart announcers are "brilliant" at keeping passengers in the loop but at Papakura the intercom is rarely used, she says.