About a month and a half ago ARTA launched a tweaked “MAXX website”, which is the front-door for people wanting to catch public transport in Auckland. It’s where you can find out timetables, updates about what’s happening in the system and also use the journey planner to work out the best way to get where you want to go, and the next bus/train/ferry that’ll take you there. At the time there was a fair amount of criticism levelled at the new site – largely on the basis that it seemed to make things worse, not better.

Many of those issues appear to have been sorted out, but from my efforts this evening of trying to work out when the next bus from my place into town is coming, it still seems like some improvement is necessary. Searching for that ride, here’s the “Option 1” result that I got: So it wants me to catch a bus in the complete wrong direction (one stage) and then catch another bus (two stages) to get into town. Option 2 is to walk it – hardly the best marketing for your public transport system. Option 3 is sensible and probably what I will be doing (if I finish this post quickly enough). I don’t even want to look at what Option 4 is, but somehow it seems to involve three (yes, not one, not two, but three) Link Bus trips.

I would try to illustrate how daft most of these suggestions are on a map, but when I click on the “map” option, this is what I get: Um yes, well that’s helpful. NOT.

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  1. Interestingly, walking is faster than most options and only slightly slower than the direct 017 option. Is this really the case?

  2. Interestingly Google Transit gives much more sensible options for the same trips! You would think they have the same data in them. Unfortunately Google Transit struggles to deal with non address place names, and if you tell it you want to go to Albany it says it cant do it. It thinks Albany is in Albany heights, which has no bus services.

  3. I agree with your general point — most of these options seem pretty senseless. But I really like the fact that it includes walking as a option. Walking is often as fast as anything else with the added bonus of exercise and seeing the world. Including it makes the site seem more like it is actually a service rather than an advertisement for PT. The journey planner on Transport for London even includes cycling options if requested…

  4. @David Google Transit now includes cycling for San Francisco – and gives you routes that avoid traffic, are along cycle ways etc. Maxx should look to mimic how Google Maps does it, I am not sure whether getting into bed with Google is a good idea as you never know what stunt Google would play in the future in regards to increased charges.

  5. @rtc, I amazed how often walking comes out as the quickest option, particularly after about 8pm… I think is both an indication of how underestimated walking is and the lack of service/poor design of some parts of the city…

  6. You have to ask what the logic algorithms etc its using – the old MAXX site while not the best wouldn’t send you all around Auckland like the current one does.

    Didn’t you know the easiest way to get to Britomart from MT Eden village was to catch a bus to symonds st – then to newmarket – then catch one from there to Britomart – Not get on the 274 from Mt Eden village which runs every 20 mins ???? Thankfully I know the bus routes well enough not to accept crap advice like this – Have given up using journey planner till they fix it … and they wonder why public transport is not well used in Auckland – NOT

  7. The predecessor once gave me advice on how to get to a hotel for a course I was doing, located near One Tree Hill.

    It suggested I catch a bus to the Harp of Erin stop, then walk a distance, catch another bus BACK to Harp of Erin (opposite side of the street now), and then walk to the hotel.

    I still have the screenshot of it somewhere. I can only assume that for some reason it assumed that there was no way to cross the road at that point, and by it’s algorithm, instead of walking the whole distance, once I could cross, a bus back would have been faster.

  8. Max, that’s simply classic.

    I once got told the best option for getting from Herne Bay to Avondale to start at 8.30am in the morning was a 2 hour walk.

    (hmmm… actually the tragic thing is that it might have been right there).

  9. I use MAXX about once a fortnight, and several times on the new site have found the map doesn’t show the selected route.

    Still can’t see why I can’t put “before” or “after” on 1st search page like I used to, I would do this for 90% of my MAXX searches. And “customise my search” is just a wasted click. Have also struggled to find route maps on the new site. IIRC needs several clicks, vs two clicks on old site.

    On the positive side, is in bigger font so in 30 years when my eyesight gets worse this will be an improvement vs the old site 😉

  10. My flatmate had a funny one this morning.

    The two options given to get from City Rd (The road that runs from behind the Langham down to Queen St) to Foodtown Quay Park.

    Option 1: Walk x distance
    Option 2: Walk 1.4km to Boston Rd Station, take the train to Britomart, then walk 700m to Quay Park Foodtown.

    This considering we have two fairly major bus stops close by, the Symond St one by the Langham and Queen St, both taking us in the direction we need to go.

    The new Maxx site is absolutely useless, so much so my flatmate ended up writing them an e-mail of complaint.

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