Auckland Transport has announced some pretty big changes to the central city buses – consultation on the changes runs from now until April 15th. The changes affect a whole pile of different routes:

  • The LINK
  • City Circuit
  • 004 or 005 – (Herne Bay, Westmere
  • 006 – (Newmarket – St Lukes – Unitec)
  • 007 – (Pt Chevalier – St Heliers)
  • 010 or 011 – (Ponsonby – Onehunga)
  • 015 to 018 – (Ponsonby, Herne Bay, Westmere)
  • 024 to 028 – (Richmond Rd, Westmere)
  • 034 or 035 – (Westmere, Williamson Avenue)
  • 042 to 045 – (Pt Chevalier, Unitec, Mt Albert)

Here’s a map showing how the new routes will work (a bigger map is here): There’s a lot to like about most of the proposed changes. We’re going to see a big simplification of the Western Bays bus services, cutting a huge number of routes down to the 020 and the 030. The 010 and 011 services are also simplified and improved. The extension of the 005 to Pt Chevalier is also a good thing, although that service will only run during peak times.

Many of the changes to the Link Bus are likely to be good too – with the detour at the southern end of the route no longer doing a long detour and now quickly connecting Grafton Bridge with Karangahape Road. In fact, there’s really only one aspect of the change that I have some doubts about – and that is the “Outer Loop”. On a piece of paper it looks great: I could catch a bus from the top of my street to all sorts of places: Pt Chevalier, Unitec, St Lukes, Eden Park/Kingsland, Mt Eden Village and Newmarket – as well as the city. However, when you think about how the service would actually operate, this is when I get worried.

Essentially, my concerns were discussed in the post I did on “loops” a while back. The Link Bus already suffers from bus “bunching”, long delays at Victoria Park, unreliability of services and so forth. One would imagine that with an “Outer Loop” being three times the length, it’s quite possible we could end up with three times as many problems unless more bus priority is introduced. Another potential problem with the route is at the intersection of Valley Road and Mt Eden Road, where a bus will need to turn right out of Valley Road and into Mt Eden Road – that manoeuvre is always a nightmare and I think signalising that intersection is essential in order to implement this route.

I guess it would be fair to say that I support about 90% of what’s proposed here. The western bays simplification, the shift of western bays buses onto Albert Street and off Queen Street to improve travel times (although I think Albert Street’s bus lanes need some work to improve their continuity), the new Queen Street shuttle service – which promises to be of more use than the city circuit and the Link Bus changes are generally good. I just really worry about reliability of the Outer Loop – such a long route, so much potential for delay, so many opportunities for the buses to bunch and so forth.

That matter aside, it’s good to see Auckland Transport finally undertaking some bus route changes that actually have a bit of courage and make a big difference. It will be interesting to see what feedback there is.

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  1. Well its good to see you’ll be able to get from Pt Chevalier to Newmarket on one bus again 😛

    You can see what they’ve done, its basically a simplification of the 006 route, then extended to make a loop.

    You could just cut the portion from Newmarket to the CBD. The train and the Link already cover those areas. This would make it a “U” shaped route and would allow layovers at either end.

  2. Its a shame they haven’t gotten rid of the dog leg in Newmarket. I have always found that a confusing part of the Link service, you never really know which way the bus is going (Parnell or the University). Would it really be a big deal to loose the Nuffield Street bit and just have the service turn right at Khyber Pass.

    1. I think that turnaround at Newmarket would be the best place for a “timing hold” for the Link service. In which case keeping the loopy bit might be OK. Apparently that’s the lowest patronage part of the whole route (ie most people catch it to or from Newmarket rather than through Newmarket.)

  3. “the new Queen Street shuttle service – which promises to be of more use than the city circuit”

    I highly doubt that. The city circuit as it currently stands probably has the highest average bus occupancy rate of any route in Auckland. It commonly has to leave behind passengers even at Britomart because there is not enough room on board.
    Passengers heading to the Universities I would estimate make up 70% of its patronage, Auckland Casino another 10-15%, and none of these locations will be served by the new service.
    The snail pace it will travel along Queen St will mean most people could walk as far as the Town Hall around as fast.
    The service will also move from a free service to a fare based service (I suspect it was partially subsidised by the Casino before), so its simply replacing the regular Queen St services while removing the current City Circuit service.

    Here is my alternative for a free city circuit alternative:

    In any case it is essential we have integrated ticketing in place before these changes are made.

    1. I believe it was subsided by Heart of the City before and the casino will still be served by Wellesley St. Also I don’t see why integrated ticketing is needed before we can make route changes, if we were waiting for that for everything nothing would have been done in the last few years. Lastly as I have mentioned in other places, students can get over themselves, there are hundreds of other buses that go past the university.

      1. And all of those buses attract a full one-stage fare, courtesy of Auckland’s f’ing awful pricing structures.

        You speak like a man who hasn’t trudged through up through Albert Park with an armful of books, in driving rain.

  4. Looks promising, and simple.
    It would be nice if they extended 15 minute frequency to the weekends like BUZ.
    Integrated fares and ticketing will make connections much easier.

    One step at a time I guess.

  5. So happy that inner city service is running every 5mins. Will this now be the only bus running along the length of Queen St? Pity that is charged, but hopefully with integrated ticketing it will be a free transfer for most users.
    Hopefully this will attract more users who work at the south end of the CBD to use rail and NEX.

    I too have concerns about the outer loop. I guess Newmarket would be a logical timing point for this service.
    I hope the Dominion Road transfer point is made very obvious, will allow Dom Road services to gain the network effect, will be great for Roskill residents going to Newmarket, St Lukes and Unitec.

  6. Ok a couple of thoughts now that I have looked closer at it

    What is the point of the 030, all of the buses from further out west would cater for the demand along Gt North Rd and the 005 would sort those at the northern end of Pt Chev.
    Why is there no services that cross the motorway around Bond St? there is a fairly large gap there.
    With more services using Fanshawe St how does that impact North Shore buses? Does that not further increase the need for a Sturdee St busway?
    Who the hell would go all the way to Onehunga on the 010? Surely it would be better for a series of shorter lines that are more useful to people.

    1. Agree with the comment about Bond St. Anyone who has tried to drive or find parking at Kingsland will value a commuter service. How about a variant of 020 that instead of going west into Garnet Rd, goes right to Surrey Cres, then Gt North Rd and Bond St to Kingsland. There’s a large gap in the map. Taking the outer loop would take forever.

      1. Yes, I have always thought that Sandringham Rd buses should cross Bond St to follow Great North Rd into the city. There are already a zillion routes that converge on New North Rd so relocating the Sandy routes wouldn’t be such a problem, especially once transferring becomes realistic.

        1. I agree. Would be great for people to transfer from trains/buses from the West Auckland to K Road/Aotea until the CBD rail link is built. People working around this side of town have very poor PT links unless they are coming from the North-West.

  7. @Matt L

    The 005 will not run outside Peak Hours, the 030 will provide the primary route for Northern Pt. Chev, and Williamson Ave.

  8. What about some suggestions for necessary infrastructure upgrades to implement this?

    Bus lanes along Customs Street would seem essential (they’re needed anyway). Clearly the Valley Rd/Mt Eden Road intersection needs to be signalised. It will be interesting to see where the bus stop goes on the other side of the road to St Lukes on both the outer loop and the 011.

    I wonder with the above routes whether the 007 really needs to go past Pt Chevalier shops anymore.

    1. Yes and Albert St needs more complete buslaning, or what about the idea to remove cars from Queen St and make that the transit route? As has been mentioned before there are no car crossings to buildings in Queen St, no entrances to parking buildings, and really very little need or utility in having cars there. Giving it over totally to pedestrians and transit seems like a no brainer. And trams would be the best mix with pedestrians but until we achieve that doesn’t it make sense to work the route with the existing technology?

      Currently Q St is the worst and slowest part of most bus trips, I now get off and walk at the Town Hall when heading north as walking is quicker…. there is no point in any form of mechanised transport that is slower than walking, or even anywhere close to walking speed.

  9. Need to identify a set Dominion Road transfer point. Ideally somewhere near a pedestrian crossing so people can easily cross the road. Would give the stop obvious branding, and provide good quality shelters.
    With the new buses to be used on these serivces, I hope the onbaord TV’s will be put to more use than just advertising. Displays should be made coming up to transfer points, informing which services can be transferred to.

  10. Looks like a good change – I particularly like that trips such as Ponsonby to PT Chev are now much easier to achieve and the connection to Wynward will be critical to achieving the PT goals of the area. My only complaint would be that the frequencies off peak for some of the routes are pretty poor.

    The outer circle I also like the idea of, it may lead to bunching but that can hopefully be dealt with through bus lanes. I always liked that you could just jump on the link without having to worry about checking route numbers etc.

  11. The City Circuit really needs to serve Alfred St. Many times I’ve been on the city circuit in the mornings, and the bus empties at the University. And the buses to the university from britomart are all scattered all over the place. If they had a board with “Next Buses to UNIVERSITY”, with the route, stop number and time to departure, that would be helpful.

    1. definitely agree with that. Unfortunately only the Mt Eden bus services will depart from outside Britomart, which isn’t often enough. Should be plenty of capacity for these trips as they are counter-peak. They can stable on a side st somewhere, but should include the front of Britomart as the 2nd stop.

  12. I think one of the best thing of this proposed changes are the fact that something is actually being done to simplify the routes.
    Sometimes I wonder if someone at AKL transport follows this blog, as I remember a post here talking about a simplification of the LINK very similar to the proposed one.

    1. I think quite a few people at Auckland Transport read this blog.

      Furthermore, they actually discussed these proposed changes with me a few months back (on the condition that I didn’t go public with the ideas) so it seems that my feedback is valued.

      (Not that they actually took up any of my suggestions).

  13. The 010 together with the Inner City Service is almost exactly what I had in mind for a tram line (excluding the turnaround loop on Greys Ave, and assuming the new Viduct bridge is built).

    Let’s hope the Inner City service is so popular it gets upgraded to the Queen St tram soon!

  14. I like the 005 and 030 changes they should get rid of a lot of routes and add to their frequency, every 15 mins say…

  15. Many of these routes might be good to make into BUZ routes, high frequency, all day and all night and all weekend frequent service.
    Maybe the outer orange loop might be better off as two different routes, cut at Britomart and cut again at what appears to be Mt Albert rail station.

    Looks neat.

  16. As for integrated ticketing. In the meantime, we could also

    * rationalise the cash fares into multiples of 50 cents; and/or,
    * provide ticketing machines at the busier bus stop, which can offer change as well.

    In the words of the Tesco motto, “every little helps”.

  17. Great to see some changes finally. Two areas that affect me directly:

    The 020 service looks light for anyone that lives on Garnet or Richmond Roads. Currently there are 6 024 / 028 services in the 8:00 – 8:30 morning peak. From the looks of it, these will be placed with one service every 20 mins. Also I don’t get the diversion via Hepburn and Howe St.

    Can the 005 / Superloop please not go via the Herne Bay terminus, at least on the outbound. This adds about 5 mins to the journey, especially in heavy traffic.

    Of course free transfers are going to be the key to getting this system really humming!

  18. Yes I’m on 020 and it’s pretty full in the mornings so halving the number is surely not going to work. In general my view is 15mins should be the minimum any PT service should strive for to get regular walk-up and therefore growth….

    The Newmarket dog leg on the Link is pointless and clumsey, do they really need that for operational purposes?… those buses don’t help Nuffield St… which already has way too much traffic for its scale.

    And, AT, it’s time to sort out Three Lamps, return the buses to running both ways through the shops, not cars, just a buslane….. think about it- it’ll work way better….

    1. The Newmarket loop has a couple of features, one it gets people down the southern end of Broadway by 277 which is a wee hike away from the bus stops up by the cinemas, two it brings the Link right in front of the station, and three it provides a convenient back street location where buses can loiter a few minutes for timing stops and crew changes.

      I agree on three Three Lamps idea, I note there are discussions going on around actually returning the three lamped light pole to the street, which would involve some regigging of lanes and a new traffic island. Perhaps a little overhaul could be done as part of this?

      1. Unofortunately from what I understand, because of the need to reconfigure the road if the lamp is placed in the centre of the intersection (and the fact that I think the budget for this project is pretty minimal), they are planning with a location on the footpath on one corner of the road.

        1. Improving this intersection to improve the traffic management with a pedestrian and PT focus will need its own budget….. personally I’m not much fussed about the olde worlde lamp, especially as it is likely to be a caricature of the original and can’t really be in the right place- smack in the middle of the road.

  19. Auckland Transport is pleased to see so much interest in the review. Based on some of your comments and questions and the feedback received to date, Auckland Transport has created some Frequently Asked Questions in response to common questions. These can be found on the Maxx website.

  20. Why is there no replacement bus planned for the fowlds ave route? There is no 233 route to st likes anymore and the elderly and the disabled, those without alternative tramsport, school kids used to rely on that route.

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