When I look back at this year, from a transport perspective, I guess overall the feeling is that “things were turning into a mess, but largely they’ve been sorted out”. Electrification’s still happening, integrated ticketing’s still happening, there’s an investigation into the CBD Rail Tunnel underway, funding for Project DART is continuing, and so forth. That’s not to say it’s been a particularly great year for public transport – and there are two issues in particular that stand out as particularly worrying for any public transport advocate:

  1. Changes to the Government Policy Statement that shift money from public transport into building motorways (happened back in May).
  2. Changes to the Public Transport Management Act (hasn’t happened yet, but is on the cards).

The first of these two matters is a complex one, that I will need to put quite a lot of research into writing about (although this article last week gives a reasonable overview of the implications of the GPS changes) so I will save that one for later. For this post I am going to focus on the second matter – the possible changes to the Public Transport Management Act (PTMA), or more specifically I plan to outline what that Act is, why it was necessary, why it was introduced and what the implications of messing with it might be.

Reading through the legislation itself is quite a challenge for this particular Act (although to be honest legislation is always pretty difficult to make sense out of) as a lot of it is very technical, and very procedural. The purpose of the Act is a reasonably good place to start in terms of making sense out of it:

As we will find out later, it’s sub-section (c) which is particularly controversial.

To make a little bit more sense out of what this all means, I guess it’s necessary to look at how the public transport system worked before this came along (which actually is generally still in effect as the PTMA hasn’t really had much impact yet as contracts largely haven’t come up for renewal). Basically, as far as I know, under the old system all public transport services fitted into one of the following two options: either commercial services or contracted services. Commercial services are those the operator (such as NZ Bus) considers that they can run at a profit – so they don’t need subsidising. Contracted services, on the other hand, are those which do receive a subsidy – from the Regional Councils and the national land transport fund (NLTF). Generally what would happen is that the different operators would choose the best and most profitable routes, and then operate them as commercial services, with the remainder of public transport route being subsidised contracted services.

Now if that sounds complicated enough, what made this situation even messier was the fact that a ‘route’ didn’t actually constitute a service, in fact by the sounds of it every single different ‘run’ made by a bus, train or ferry was a distinct ‘service’. Therefore, you could have bizarre situations where the 8.20am Sandringham Road bus would be a commercial service, whereas that 8.30am Sandringham Road bus would be a contracted service – one that ‘filled in the gaps’ in a sense. Once a particular operator had registered commercial services along a route, it generally made sense for them to be awarded the contract to run the contracted services – as (without integrated ticketing) the last thing we wanted were two different bus companies operating the same route. This led to rather bizarre situations where operators would register every second service as a commercial service, or all the services going one way as commercial services – so they’d have their ‘foot in the door’.

This situation, and the lack of controls over commercial services, led to a wide variety of negative effects on public transport since the split between commercial and contracted services was established by the 1989 Transport Licensing Act. These problems are outlined below:

  1. The ‘cherry-picking’ of high patronage routes. Of course, commercial services ended up being those with the highest levels of patronage or those where profit could be best made. This made it not possible for the regional councils and ARTA to use these routes to help cross-subsidise less profitable routes. In general, this has increased the amount of subsidies that need to be contributed to running public transport.
  2. Operators never had to provide any information on their commercial services. This meant that transport planners have found themselves playing rather crude guessing games in terms of patronage on these routes, while the level of profitability of these routes is also generally not known.
  3. Once a route no longer became profitable for operation as a commercial service, the operator could give fairly short notice of cancelling that service unless ARTA or the regional councils stepped in to ‘contract’ it. Effectively that resulted in a ‘privatise the profits, socialise the losses’ situation where the private operators enjoyed all the benefits of the good times, but as soon as things started to go wrong for them they could simply abandon that route as a commercial service and then start enjoying having it propped up with subsidies. Furthermore, the operators were not even required to prove that the service was no longer profitable – they effectively had the ability to beg for subsidies without having to prove they were necessary.
  4. The lack of control over commercial routes made it impossible for an integrated ticket to be implemented. As we’re seeing now with the acrimonious Snapper/Thales debate, different operators are incredibly jealous in their guarding of having to share information, ticketing and the redistribution of revenue. It is my understanding that ARTA could have forced the contracted services to accept an integrated ticket, but what’s the point when there’s the possibility that the 8.30am bus along Sandringham Road would accept your integrated pass, but the 8.20am bus wouldn’t? That would have been an even more infuriating outcome than having no integrated ticketing at all. So in that respect, the PTMA was essential for integrated ticketing to happen.
  5. The dichotomy between commercial and contracted services meant that they often ended up competing with each other, or you had buses competing against trains, or different routes from different companies competing against each other – all the while structuring which routes they declared as commercial and which ones as contracted to extract the maximum profit out of the system (which generally included a significant subsidy). The fact that we have many bus routes completely following train routes (such as the 135/136 buses following the Western Line quite closely) seems to me like an incredible waste of scarce resources.

Probably the biggest problem with the old system was simply that it actually didn’t encourage people to use public transport at all. The lack of co-ordination, the messy dichotomy between commercial and contracted services, the inability to get integrated ticketing up and running, the extraordinary waste of resources in duplicating services and the inability for higher patronage services to cross-subsidise lower patronage services very much contributed to the massive decline in per capita public transport use we saw in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Although undoubtedly things have improved since that time, that is really only the result of a very strong political and financial commitment from the ARC to public transport – and even then it is arguable the results have been relatively disappointing compared to the amount of money invested. So I think it’s fair to say that it was clear the old system wasn’t working. It wasn’t providing good value for money in terms of ratepayer and NLTF contributions, and it certainly wasn’t helping to provide anything like a world-class public transport system for Auckland. The old legislation was alsoactively preventing integrated ticketing from happening. So it had to go.

In terms of developing a replacement for the old system, it was clear that the main necessity was to give regional councils and ARTA some level of control over commercial services – so that they could be integrated into a co-ordinated system and so that we could actually achieve many of the things the old system had prevented from happening.

Three options were looked at when developing the PTMA – known as Options A, B and C. These are detailed further below:

  • Option A: preserving the status quo. Obviously this would have been an incredibly stupid option to pursue, but somewhat unsurprisingly most (although not all) of the public transport operators were keen on this particular option.
  • Option B: empowering regional councils to achieve their objectives mainly through two planning mechanisms —regional public transport plans, and controls imposed by councils on commercial services to implement these plans—and a compliance and enforcement regime.
  • Option C: enabling regional councils to require all services to be contracted (should they choose to do so).

Throughout the select committee process Option B was generally favoured by the politicians – although somewhat unsurprisingly it left nobody being particularly happy. ARTA was incredibly keen on Option C – as it was really the only option that could eliminate the dichotomy between contracted and commercial services that created all the problems detailed further back in this post. The select committee’s report detailed that: “ARTA asked the committee to  recommend a redrafting of the bill in favour of Option C, which would have given ARTA the option of a fully contracted public transport system.” Labour members of the select committee were also generally in favour of Option C, although they couldn’t get a majority to vote for it.

However, as the parliamentary process for enacting a piece of legislation has a rather large number of steps, eventually ARTA did manage to convince enough MPs that Option C was in fact the best way to go – and interestingly enough that is the piece of legislation that we now find ourselves with. Of course, Infratil (owners of NZ Bus) bitterly opposed the legislation – particularly the final decision to go with Option C – and eventually managed to convince the Minister of Transport to look into changing this piece of legislation.

The general feeling is that the PTMA will change back to “Option B”, which wouldn’t be a complete and utter disaster, as regional councils would still have some ways to impose controls on commercial services through their regional public transport plans and the controls that the Act allows them to have. However, Option B still results in a dichotomy between commercial and contracted services. It still means that we’ll have cherry picking of routes, it still means that we’ll find it very difficult to ensure co-ordination of services so that your feeder bus arrives at the train station just before, rather than just after, the train leaves. It also means that we’ll probably still have stupid and pointless duplication of services where buses effectively follow train route – competing for passengers instead of working together to encourage more people onto public transport.

While Option C sounds harsh, in that it effectively prohibits commercial services, in reality if we want a properly co-ordinated public transport system history tells us that that’s really the only path that is likely to work (the alternative certainly hasn’t worked). While one would imagine that Option B would still ensure integrated ticketing takes place, in my opinion Option B would not provide for the most efficient use of resources and will probably result in a continuation of the same process we’ve seen over the past decade of heaps of money being shovelled into public transport, but with rather disappointing results.

That is why I think the PTMA shouldn’t be changed. Unfortunately, we are yet to see the real benefits of what Option C would provide, as there are only a few routes in Auckland whose contracts have “ticked over” recently enough for them to be caught by the PTMA (such as Mt Eden Road services), so I do worry that it’s a situation of us not knowing what “might have been”, as the benefits of Option C will perhaps never eventuate before such a time as it is repealed in favour of the less effective (in my opinion at least) Option B.

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  1. I plan on submitting in person on this one, even if I have to fly down to Wellington… Prepare for a little tantrum in a select committee room…

  2. @adimin you seem to imply that companies are inherently untrustworthy and that they would deliberately take actions to find new ways of making money of subsidies. While some may do this I also believe that councils aren’t the smartest when it comes to spending rate/taxpayer money.

    Also what happens if route that was commercially viable then becomes contracted under the PTMA. Do we end up paying a subsidy for the service and the bus company get the commercial profits of it or does any money made go back to the council.

    I so agree that councils need to have some control over information so they can ensure the public is getting the best value for money but surely this could be done better than contracting each individual run. That means we have to have people at the council working out which run to do and everything associated with it. If they want to do this then they might as well buy all the bus companies them themselves.

    Surely a better solution is to contract out a specific area and leave it up to the bus company to come up with the best routes to service it. The contact could specify frequencies, catchments etc. but this way if a bus company found a new way of running a route more efficiently (whether by just changing the route or linking it to a route from another area) they could do.

    Lastly who is it that decides where the current routes go and how have they come up with the current options. The ARC should put up a $1 mil prize for anyone/group that can provide a 10% increase to route efficiency. Similar to what netflix did in the us for its recommendations system. We would likely get some of the best brains in the world working on this. That kind of improvement would be well worth the money paid. http://www.netflixprize.com/

  3. Matt, I would agree with the implication that companies would deliberately take actions to make money off subsidies. This isn’t exactly ‘untrustworthy’ however, it is just business. Companies are in the business of making money and if they can do that via subsidies as well as profits then they will.

    The key point of the PTMA is that it allows the council to recover the profits from successful routes, which could then either be used to subsidise less profitable routes or perhaps just to reduce rates. Taking the profits from the busiest routes and pumping them back into the system is an excellent way to be able to afford a high quality city wide network, rather than just a series of peak hour commuter routes.

    So instead of private operators creaming the windfall profits on the busiest routes and getting a ratepayer hand out for the less profitable ones, the council would keep all the fares and effectively charter the operators to run the routes. Operators would be paid based on the service they provide, regardless of how many people catch the service.

    Leaving “it up to the bus company to come up with the best routes” is basically the situation we have now. But private operators don’t come up with the best routes (at least not for the users or the city), they simply come up with the routes that will make themselves the most money. It is then up to the regional council to use ratepayers money to fill in the gaps with subsidised services, and given they get no return at all on these they cannot afford to fill in all the gaps.

    This is the key problem, under a commercial model the operators have no incentive to run transport that helps the city’s traffic, sustainability or social inclusion goals. The outcome is you get a pretty good bus service for peak hour commuters heading to the CBD or a handful of other places, but the 90% of other trips in the city are not provided for.

    Formerly the operators decided where the ‘commercial’ routes will go, and the council had no input. They couldn’t even ask for patronage data, and if the council planners didn’t like where it was going they there was nothing they could do about it as long as it was ‘commercial’. The council could only have influence over those routes on the network that they subsidised, the effect being the council had no control over the busiest core routes on the network! The PTMA put the control over the system back into the hands of the government.

    For public transport to ever work for the 90% of travellers in the region who aren’t peak hour commuters to downtown, the PTMA must not be messed with. If we go back to the old failed system the public transport network will never be able to suit more than about 10% of motorised trips.

  4. @Nick I’m glad the profits of the system will go back to help pay for other services, It wouldn’t have suprised me if politicians were stupid enough not to do this.

    “Leaving “it up to the bus company to come up with the best routes” is basically the situation we have now”
    I don’t think you get the angle I am coming from. If we were to contract out on a catchment area basis but with strict requirements as to what could be included we could get some interesting results i.e. the bus company is required to provide a service to all customers in this catchment, anyone must be able to catch a bus within X distance of their home and wait no more than Y minutes. The bus company could then work out how they fill that requirement. This way it is in their best interest to get the most efficient service possible and if something along the route changed, like a new apartment block built, they would be required to meet that new demand as part of their existing contact. Also this way if there are lots of profitable routes in an area there should be more competition between the bus companies when the contracts come up for renewal.

    I would also make them responsible for meeting patronage increase targets so they are required to effectively market the route.

    At the end of the day if the council is going to dictate routes, timetables, bus types etc then there is no point of having it contacted out and it would surely be cheaper to just buy the buses and run them.

  5. Matt, it might well be cheaper for the councils to buy the buses and operate them. Unfortunately I think that regional councils are prevented by law from owning public transport rolling stock, plus I doubt anyone has $100+ million in their back pocket to buy out the buses.

    “Option B”, as outlined above, is likely to include measures that would force routes to be grouped together, so that if you wanted to run, for example, the Dominion Road services as a commercial service then you would need to run all of them, 7 days a week, commercially. That is supposed to counter-act the “cherry picking” problem.

    On the other hand, it won’t really do much about the poor efficiency of resources if we still have competing buses and trains. Furthermore, it will still take away the ability for more profitable routes to help subsidise less popular/profitable ones – with the end result likely to be higher subsidies.

  6. Ok I understand you now. You are suggesting that sectors of the city be contracted as a whole, with the provider required to service the whole sector according to a set of minimum standards… effectively making the provider cross subsidise within the sector.
    I’m not sure if that is a good idea for a couple of reasons: firstly the bus companies would need to employ a route planning department, once again whose goals might not be consistent with council goals or current best practice planning. Secondly the council would need to undertake most of the route planning anyway to work out what they need to specify in the contract in the first place, and if they didn’t they would be leaving too much up to chance. Furthermore this might run the risk of silo-fying the various sectors of the city into little fiefdoms rather than having one region wide integrated transport network. Also if a route needs to be changed to meet a new apartment block of whatever, the council is the one who is best placed to identify and meet those needs. It is the council that sets land use policy and they are the ones that give out building permits, they are on the ball with land use changes so should likewise be able to implement concordant transport system changes.

    I think there is definitely a place for completion in public transport provision, and that is at the contract level. Councils identify the transport routes and applicable standards, and private companies compete via tender to supply those services. The council selects the most efficient tender and if tenderers don’t meet the standards specified then they don’t get re-tendered. However I don’t think it would be any cheaper or better for the council to actually own the buses and manage the company that operates them. Apart from killing competition completely running a company isn’t the business of a council, so to speak. For example councils specify a lot of roading needs, but should they own and run an earthmoving company or a business that resurfaces roads? They do a lot of printing and mailing, but would it be more efficient for them to run the printing presses?

    In my opinion the ideal solution is to have the system specification, design and monitoring in the hands of the region, they can co-ordinate the system, the fares, the marketing, the customer liaison etc as a single entity for the whole city. This side of the system is most effectively done by a single organisation that is not directly concerned with profits, one empowered by law as a government agency and responsible to the citizens of the city via the democratic process. In contrast to neo-liberal economic theory I do not think that a free market of private companies can ever cut it on this side. Where the private sector shines is in a competitive market to supply things at the service side, as specified by the council. Let profit guide their efficiency for provision, but not for supply. Basically I don’t think government would be particularly good at running a transport company, but neither would a transport company be any good at integrated urban planning.

  7. Jarbury,

    Thats a well written blog. In the end I think the problem is the ability for the Council to fully contract the whole system. That is draconian.

    If they want to do that, as others have said, you might as well let them run the whole system including operation of buses/trains. Existing operators are obviously going to fight that.

    The main problem with a fully Council run system is that there is no ability for operators to come along and fill in the gaps that the Council don’t propose to provide for. I see no problem with commercial operators being able to propose new routes so long as they aren’t competing with existing services and actually provide a new option to commuters.

    Things like integrated ticketing, bus standards (although I’m not a great fan of these given all the political correctness involved) and other controls to try and combat “cherry picking” can all be combatted with regulations in the Act. Allowing complete contracting of the whole system is where it all goes too far.

    Perhaps the best system is one that allows the Council to run its system, but which also allows commercial operators to provide services that complement that system, and which don’t have recourse to public funds. The Council via the PTMA would have the ability to make the decision about whether they complemented or not.

  8. I do mostly agree there Scott, and I think your Pt Chev to Newmarket route is certainly one reason why the whole prohibition on commercial routes is potentially a bit heavy-handed. However, I think you would agree that your situation is relatively unique, in that it seems as though you’re providing the service largely to help improve Auckland’s public transport system – rather than to make as much money out of it as possible.

    Your suggestion of a middle ground between the PTMA situation (which would allow the prohibition of all commercial services) and the pre-PTMA mess, with all its “cherry-picking” of routes, does indeed seem like the best outcome. It’s certainly food for thought when it comes to submission time when Joyce introduces the legislation.

  9. “However, I think you would agree that your situation is relatively unique”

    I guess it comes down to what routes you think could actually be run commercially. The past shows that routes centred on the CBD during the peaks pay their way. But due to the lack of information otherwise, its hard to know what other routes can pay their way. I think it would be an interesting question for existing operators. What new routes do they propose to run on a commercial basis (any)?

    I may have been a little naive in starting my venture. However, even I am surprised at how hard it is to get people out of their cars on and onto my bus.

  10. One would imagine that it’s the busiest existing routes that would be those which operate in a commercially successful manner. They would seem to generally be CBD-centric ones, although to be honest I really don’t know much beyond the routes that I’ve frequently caught in the past (New North Rd, Onewa Rd, Sandringham Rd & Herne Bay).

    In terms of your service, as well as obvious disadvantages such as ARTA being so slow to come on board and the issues about the route potentially being confusing (as I’ve mentioned before) perhaps a problem is that really the only catchment for which the route is particularly useful is between Pt Chev and Morningside. East of Morningside everyone is simply going to catch the train if they want to go to Newmarket.

    If I were to start a “non CBD centric” route, I would probably do something that really focuses on linking together a number of important nodes and transport interchanges. If your route was somehow combined with the 006, adjusted slightly to follow main roads better and be more visible, and perhaps extended from Newmarket to Mission Bay then it could work. It would have the following activity nodes/transport interchanges:

    1) Pt Chev shops
    2) Unitec
    3) Mt Albert Shops/train station
    4) St Lukes shopping centre
    5) Kingsland train station
    6) Valley Road/Dominion Road shops
    7) Newmarket
    8 ) Orakei Train station
    9) Mission Bay

    Having it compatible with integrated ticketing would be utterly essential, as if the service ran frequently enough it would be a really useful linkage for people catching feeder buses to train stations or linking with other CBD-bound bus routes. Someone travelling from New Windsor to Mission Bay for example could just transfer onto the service at St Lukes or Kingsland.

    Something like the map below, where the blue line is the route and the red dots are activity nodes/transport interchanges:

    possible route

    It’s still a bit “zig-zaggy” to be ideal, but Auckland’s street network makes that hard to avoid.

  11. Hi Scott, I definitely understand you ideas about route innovation. Indeed councils could have a lot of inertia and beuracracy that would prevent new small routes being started, but I am still in favour of the gross contracted model. I think there should be a means for operators to trial routes in conjunction with the council, perhaps as a non-subsidised start up like yourself. My thinking is that if the operator has good indication that the route would be successful then the council should be convinced too, and they could issue some sort of ‘permit to trial passenger services’ contract.

    In regard to problems attracting patronage on your route this is perhaps indicative of the issues faced under the current model (among other things, not least your issues getting on the journey planner and recieving other support from ARTA).
    Your route provides a peak-hour only commuter link from Pt Chevalier to Newmarket, with a more frequent service on the weekend. It does pass through Kingsland and Mt Eden so there might be some additional traffic there, however residents from these two areas are probably better served by the train. So you are left with a route in isolation that only serves regular weekday commuters who work 9-5ish in Newmarket and live in Pt Chevalier.
    Maybe consider this:
    Approximately 10,000 people live in Pt Chevalier, which is a big potential customer base.
    But how many of those people work? (maybe a third to a half, say 5,000?)
    And how many of those workers work regular 9-5 hours Monday to Friday only without regular overtime or shift work? (only half again maybe, leaving 2,500)
    And how many of those people work in Newmarket? (who knows, I’d suggest maybe 10% at the most, so we are down to about 250 people)
    So with an un-integrated point-to-point commuter service your potential pool of travellers is only a couple of hundred people.

    If there were a high level of integration between services you might be able to serve more people, say ones that live in Pt Chev but work out west along a connecting bus route, students at the Newmarket polytechs that might not start until midday, people that work variable hours etc. If you caught more of this patronage then you could afford to run more frequently and attract even more people with better service levels and a ‘turn-up-and-go’ frequency that would suit students, shoppers and people entertaining themselves too.

    Personally I can only see two way to get such a good level of integration, either one company has a total monopoly on the city, or the council has a monopoly on routes and timetabling. I’d prefer the latter, assuming that the government is up to the task of course.

  12. I do congratulate you Scott on your innovation, but overall the current large private bus companies have proven that they are incapable of any large scale innovation that the free-market public transport system was supposed to bring.
    The only one I can think of is the Link, which was a good start but not enough to vindicate the pre-PTMA model. On the other hand there have been many changes to council controlled services over the last decade. Therefore the private sector inertia seems to be far worse than public sector inertia. This tells me that the only way to have a great city wide PT system is it needs to be under the control of a forward looking council. Also the other problem with private services is they very rarely enable easy transfers to other services, especially rail. Paul Mees illustrates this well regarding rail and trams in Melbourne.

  13. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and ideas are always easy until you have to finance them! I regret not going with my first choice of route which was Pt Chev – Westmere – Ponsonby – Newton – Newmarket. That wouldn’t have had the conflict with the train which you have appreciated. It is interesting that the route picks up passengers in View Road as this is a point which is very near to the 006 route, however it might be that working together the routes offer about a 30 min frequency (in the weekends anyhow).

    I have tried to provide the best chance of the route making it on the funds I have, that being a service targeted at commuters and students. The jury is still out as the service has only been on the journey planner since 20 Dec 09. I do take your point about the possible number of patrons.

    When designing the route, I was heavily influenced by my planning thesis which was based on Paul Mees theories. An ideal is a bus every 500m, however I wonder whether buses at these separations can really be supported in the Auckland context. Perhaps not.

    On the larger issue of the PTMA, I guess I am biased, but I do like the thought of people being able to “give it a go” like I have, so long as this isn’t of detriment to the larger network. You are right, if the existing operators want to retain a place for private operators in the system, they need to demonstrate more innovation. I think the 680 by H&E might be partially commercial. Similarly the Birkenhead to Auckland Uni services may be partially commercial. Urban Express run all contracted services I believe.

  14. I can imagine that it’s a very tricky process of coming up with a bus route that will be effective, yet at the same time will “add” something useful to the mix. I think the lack of integrated ticketing probably hurts you at the moment, as if transfering was made easier then having an “inner crosstown” route linking up all the suburb-to-CBD routes.

    Is your thesis online anywhere? I think I came across a link to it on the Voyager library system, but unfortunately I’m not a student anymore.

  15. Yeah Scott, I would be very interested to read your thesis or an executive summary if you have something available.

    One critical thing with Mees’ theorem is that the services every 500m physically intersect (which you seem to have to a large extent) and are either frequent enough to allow untimed connections or are at least timetabled to provide quick connection (which I suggest is all but impossible in the current Auckland climate). Unfortunately to get Mees’ holy grail of network effects then you need to have pretty much the whole system working in unison, which is a large ask with so many players.

    In his lectures Paul Mees stressed time and time again that he though none of that would be possible without a single public transport authority. One that was at arms length from partisan local and state government to avoid politicised outcomes, but one that had the ‘teeth’ to make it’s plans a reality. Auckland has that in it’s grasp, more so that Mees’ Melbourne. I hope they don’t repeal the PTMA for that very reason.

  16. Hi Jarbury,

    No unfortunately I wrote the thesis back in 2003/2004 and as a poor student couldn’t even afford to produce the colour maps (had to colour them in by hand!). There is definetely still a copy in the Planning and Architecture library. You can’t actually take them out of the library, so I thought anyone could go in and read them, or do you need your university card first?

    Nick, yes I take your point about the network affect. Ideally a service like mine would need to be running at 20 minute frequencies to ensure that connecting waiting times were no more than 10 minutes. At 40 minute service (in weekdays) it obviously falls well short of that.

    Was Paul Mees a university lecturer of yours? Hes a pretty inspiring guy. I am certainly a convert.

  17. Yes, I had him just last semester, I am part way through a planning masters at RMIT.
    Paul is a very inspiring theorist and a charismatic and entertaining lecturer, and if anything he has taught me to think critically and seek evidence rather than just jump on the bandwagon for the planning ‘flavour of the month’. He is perhaps the only urbanist in Victoria that is saying the proposed metro tunnel is unneeded and a waste of money for example, everyone else has gone “ooh yay shiny new metro, lets forget about the existing network shambles and spend billions on this instead”.

    Unfortunately his stong opinions and vocal confrontational nature have run him foul of the state government and he is currently something of a persona-non-grata in Victoria. The upside for me is that he has now been reduced to lecturing at a two bit technical university that I can afford to go to part time 🙂

    What was the topic of your theisis Scott, network topology?

  18. My thesis basically introduced the network effect and the grid it relies on to Auckland. I basically mapped out the isthmus with a potential grid (as best as the road network allows) and compared trips on the existing network to trips on my theoretical network to demonstrate that they were faster and more direct.

  19. Hmmm, what sort of headways were you using as the base case? Did you use a pulse timetable or a ‘frequent enough it doesn’t matter’ timetable?

    Did you weight trips based upon existing demand patterns or was it more of an random selection of journeys between pairs of points?

    More importantly, what were the identified barriers to introducing such a network in Auckland? Is it actually feasible at the moment?

  20. Nope, BPlan for me.

    Nick, I set out a number of points over the area so that there were starting and destination points covering all parts of the Isthmus and then compared trips between the points, both on the theoretical network and on the existing network. I then asked a person at the ARC at the time to run possible trips on the theoretical network in one of their computer programs and then extrapolated for the remaining trips. I used the journey planner for trips on the existing network. Not bullet proof, but the best based on the resources I had to me at the time. I think the biggest barriers to implementing such a system is the existing road layout. You can’t get anywhere near a perfect grid. Some of the streets in the older suburbs are also puny – Parnell is an example. Also infrastructure would be needed in certain places, an example is Orakei Creek, there is only one north-south access along the whole of Orakei Creek near St Johns (the bridge by Orakei station).

    Putting those things aside though, we have a large amount of bus resources, which are currently wasted in duplication in the current radial model. I think you could get a good part of a grid network set out, with no extra subsidy cost to ARTA.

  21. Ahh… it’s available on short loan from the architecture library:

    Author: Macarthur, Scott.
    Title: The provision of bus service in low-density residential areas : a proposal for improved service delivery / Scott Macarthur.
    Published: 2003.
    Thesis Note: Research study (BPlan)–University of Auckland, 2003.
    Description: 1 v. (various pagings) : ill. (chiefly col.), maps (col., some folded) ; 30 cm.

    Location: ARCHITECTURE LIBRARY Short Loan (2 hour)
    Call Number: Research study (BPlan) M116 2003
    Status: Available

  22. Scoot, is it a feeder system for trains or an alternative to the spoke type system we have now that would work even if there was no train system at all..?

  23. I see it as a layered network, similar to the approach ARTA is currently pursuing. Buses provide a finer grain service and get people from A-B on shorter trips. They should also feed people onto trains for the longer distance trips. That why when Jarbury says he thinks buses going along Gt South Road are competing with the trains, its not necessarily true. The train might only stop every 2km, versus a bus every 400m. If a person actually wants to get off somewhere along that corridor, the bus service probably provides a better service with less walking distance. Its only if that person wants to go to the CBD that the bus service would be unecessarily competing with the train. I think buses and trains are therefore operating at different “levels” and complement each other provided they are well designed. It should be up to the public as to which service gets them to their destination in the most efficient manner.

  24. Yes I think there is room for buses and trains in the same corridor, as long as they are designed to service the kinds of travel they are each good at (i.e. longer distance on trains, shorter local journeys on buses). This would mean dis-establishing commuter buses somewhat, and possibly breaking them up into local routes that connect well to stations.

  25. I favour each train station having a feeder bus system… Which will become more feasible if gas prices really go through the roof…

  26. Feeder buses to train station are, of course, essential. But where does the train system serve? Largely only jobs within the CBD and Newmarket. I still think we need a grid-like network to help serve jobs elsewhere.

  27. You could have a system based upon a trunk of rail/busway lines with feeder bus loops at each station that would serve the whole region. A trip would take the form of:

    Bus feeder from origin to nearest station.
    Rail trip to station closest to destination, perhaps requiring a transfer between lines.
    Bus feeder from station to destination.

    This follows the same theory as the ‘heirarchy of roads’. Origins and destinations are on a ‘cul-de-sac’ bus loop that serves only to get people to and from the main trunk routes where the majority of transport is done.

    Probably not a good idea as the only topology of the system, but it could have applications within a grid network, particularly for trips that involve crossing the city in a roughly straight line.

  28. @admin, yes but if we are ever going to have an Auckland wide excellent PT system we do need a rail line out east, to the airport, the CBD and later on the SAL and shore…

    In that case a full feeder system with some cross town routes would be optimal…

  29. Yup absolutely. In order for people to switch to public transport it needs to be more attractive than driving. A big part of that is speed, which rail is best at achieving as it has its own right of way.

  30. It seems that maybe ARTA is lacking a level in it’s heirarchy of services. They have the RTN trunk routes of rail and busway, high serivce level QTN bus routes in between, and LCN local connector network for local trips and feeders to the RTN.

    Perhaps they also need a NTN, a ‘network connector network’ of bus routes with high frequency but perhaps less capacity or quality as the QTN.This would aim primarily to provide connections between the RTN and QTN networks rather than service new areas directly, in order to integrate them into a proper system.

  31. I agree Nick, although I think that there will be a fairly large number of routes that will effectively stay as is, so therefore won’t really fall within any of ARTA three options – like my 004/005 route or New North Road buses between Avondale and the CBD.

    I think ARTA’s biggest challenge is to actually get some of the QTNs up and running. I mean seriously, they’ve been talking about them for a few years now and how many do we have? Zero? One (Dominion Rd)?

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