- 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.