My post a few days ago on feeder buses highlighted a really interesting issue – how terribly slow buses are from Onehunga to the city centre, and therefore what a massive difference the Onehunga railway line has made to the trip times of people within walking distance of Onehunga and Te Papapa stations. The fact that the train is more than twice as fast as the bus really stood out in a comparison with other potential transfer points around Auckland: While we will obviously still have buses between Onehunga and downtown, because Manukau Road is a very important bus route (bus lanes along it might be a good idea too), the opportunity of having many more buses that pass through Onehunga from the south to become feeder buses seems like a possibility too good to ignore. The current timetable indicates that not only are there very few buses from Mangere to the city centre, but that they take an extraordinarily long time to get there – up to an hour and 20 minutes (update: they are supplemented by these buses so it’s not quite as bad as I had originally thought): Not only are the buses exceptionally slow, the bus network is also incredibly complicated and difficult to understand:
Now I don’t know the way these routes work in practice, because I think I’ve only ever caught one bus in this corner of Auckland, but it would seem that we could quite easily both simplify and significantly improve the speed of trips. Looking at the area in general, it would seem as though there are a number of obvious node points that we could build the bus network around: Mangere town centre, Onehunga (and its train station), the Airport, Otahuhu (and its train station), Papatoetoe and Manukau City. These are shown in the map below: Two routes seem pretty obvious as forming the backbone of the network in this area – as Manukau to Onehunga routes via the Airport and via Papatoetoe: The green route would be a useful precursor to Airport rail, slowly building patronage over time and offering good options for airport employees and for travellers who can transfer onto the rail system at Onehunga or Manukau. It might be worthwhile to send the route via Mangere Town Centre, although that’s something to be balanced against the additional time such a detour would add. The blue route acts as probably the core route for people living within the parts of Mangere it travels through who want access to employment areas on the isthmus (through a transfer at Onehunga) or at Manukau. Transfers to the rail system as possible in a number of locations: Onehunga, Papatoetoe and at the future Manukau station.
Overlaid on this map you could add a crosstown link between Onehunga and Otahuhu via Mangere – giving people along the route the option of going to either place for further transfers onto either the rail network or onto other bus services. Mangere Bridge and Mangere East probably need some bus services, so a further route could be added – although it does have some level of duplication with the blue route – so some further work might be necessary there: There are still holes in the network, around Montgomerie Road, Favona Road and parts of Mangere East – though once again of course there’s always a tension between making the route get closer to where people live and making the route quicker and therefore more attractive. Another frustratingly disconnected road network doesn’t help here.
What do other people think? Is there huge potential to improve the buses in this part of Auckland? Should we run buses from here right into the city or is it OK for people to transfer at Onehunga and Otahuhu? Have I gone too far in terms of simplification (leaving holes without a particularly nearby service) or have I not gone far enough in the simplification process?
I really don’t know the right answer here – other than it’s certainly not what we have now.