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.

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  1. I think if we are going to focus on transfers and feeders then those should mainly be at the stations along the southern line as they will have at least 10 minute frequencies, probably even better after Manukau so it makes sense to transfer there rather than to Onehunga with only a half hourly service. In saying that a connection should still exist to Onehunga as we don’t want it isolated.

    One thing is for sure, something needs to be done because the current mess of routes and operating patterns is far to hard to follow.

  2. Sorry this is a tangent, but why would anyone make a map with 20 odd bus routes all shown in the same shade of purple? It makes it much harder to read the map as you have to look at every single turn along the path.

    Bus maps/signs should be easy for people to quickly glance at and work out. I’d give our signs about a 2 out of 10 for ease of use and consistency. It makes buses harder to use and puts people off. Auckland Transport, if you’re out there, please aim a bit higher and look at how they’re done in London for example.

    1. One obvious thing to do is to also distinguish between core route and routes that only run at peak times. The latter could be shown as a dotted line.

      But generally agree – I struggle to think how our bus route maps could be more difficult to comprehend.

  3. Thanks for posting on this – it looks like a real dog’s breakfast out there. As a boy I used to live on Muir Ave, near Ambury Park. Are there really no bus services at all down that road? Bizarre if that is the case…

  4. I’ll willingly fall into your trap, admin; isn’t it obvious that this area could be fixed with a connecting rail line between Mankau City and Onehunga, via the airport and the Mangere Town Centre? With feeder buses running at right angles? Wouldn’t that greatly help fix the appalling severance of the Town Centre caused by the community shattering highways? And efficiently speed both travelers and workers to and from the airport and surrounding businesses onto the rest of the network both into the CBD and east to Manukau City.
    Would it not literally shift this neglected area closer to the rest of the region by a significant value?

    Quick call the MoT, it’s too obvious, we must find something else to do, an eight lane highway? Oh already got that for all those visitors to the country who pack their cars….

    1. That’s far too sensible Patrick. I think we need a busway from the Airport to Onehunga, then a bus tunnel from Onehunga to the city!!!!!! Coz that’s bound to be cheaper than a train line – right?

      *Takes MoT hat off*.

  5. As I said a couple of posts ago, can something please be done about the fact that there are no Onehunga-Britomart train services between 9.45am and 11am-which seems a large oversight. Surely a couple of extra services wont be too difficult to implement.

  6. the services terminating at Onehunga generally need to wait for double tracking of the Onehunga line to become really effective as you really need 15min frequency or better to make this work well.
    Until then Onehinga could still be a good transfer point, so some services can go express to CBD, some along manukau Road, and some people onto a bus towards Penrsoe, Ellerslie or Mt Roskill.
    The Onehunga – Airport service could be split in 2 between an express that comes from New Lynn (or further afield, Henderson,Westgate or Albany).
    This would run along the motorway from Onehunga to Ascot Road.
    A second service would wander along, serving Favona, Mangere Town Centre, Massey Road then Ascot Road.

    Also a Onehunga – Mangere town – Manukau express via motorway would be good.
    Currently buses take 30mins plus for a 10min car-trip, hopeless.
    Dont forget about Middlemore, should have at least one service. Maybe the pink and brown should go past here, more important than Papatoetoe.

  7. It’s important to remember that the reason for extensive (complicated) bus routes in Auckland, is to maximize the catchment, making PT accessible to most people. If the routes were greatly reduced (simplified), PT usage would plummet.

    1. I don’t think “how close am I to a bus stop” is necessarily the prime factor in whether people use the bus or not. Issues like frequency, speed, simplicity, price, reliability and convenience are likely to be just as important – if not more so. Would you walk 10 minutes to a really high quality service as opposed to 2 minutes to a bus that came once an hour and was really unreliable?

      It’s always a balance, but the past pure focus on making as many different routes as possible to put a bus within a few hundred metres of everyone’s else, but without any regard to the quality of that service has been a failure I think. Of course we can go too far the other way – the key is finding the appropriate balance in the middle.

    2. @Geoff the big issue with your logic is that public transport usage is very low, despite a bus being near most people house. The issue is more with the quality of service, and range of destinations available.
      Also many of the service only run hourly as it is.
      The routes identified above could be run at 15minute frequencies, using money saved by running less through to CBD services.
      The old wandering routes could then largely be kept to fill in the gaps for now at their hourly frequency, so no-one is worse off.

  8. Nice start here Josh. What about pushing your pink circulator route further west to pick up the Mangere Bridge catchment? You could then do away with the orange route altogether. I’d also consolidate the blue line on the western side of SH20 – just abandon that little segment by the harbour.

    Basically, this part of Auckland is a good example of why you don’t let traffic engineers and/or private developers design your street networks. Because once they put in their disconnected, hierachical, curvilinear crap you just can’t do anything with it but stand back and watch it turn into a slow-moving urban train wreck..

  9. I’ve lived a lot in Mangere and am currently living there now. From what I see, your routes don’t make ‘sense’ to me. They seem to avoid populations and miss valuable catchments. It’s looking-at-maps planning, although with the objective of making things simpler and faster. You also seem to assume that people in South Auckland are trying to get to other parts of the city, rather than to more local destinations. I’ll have to come back and comment further to explain why, and crucially what is needed to make your plans effective.

    South Auckland has high populations, and high population densities. Looking entirely at housing belies this – single unit dwellings in Mangere and Papatoetoe often take 5-7 people. This Stats NZ map shows (at low resolution population patterns present and predicted around Auckland.

    Mangere is presently underserved by quality public transport. It needs fixing, and I’m thankful that you’ve started to look at it.

  10. Regarding travel times… i am a regular user of the 302, 304, 205 and 312 buses catching from the Royal Oak roundabout, so I appreciate I miss alot of the madness that happens within Mangere and beyond before it gets to me. However, where these buses converge on Manukau Road there is a horrendous hold up due to traffic. There is no bus lane along this extent so it is a painful process getting through to Newmarket and eventually the City. Sandringham, Dominion and Mt Eden roads (to name three) run bus routes from the south into town and have bus lanes to allow the public transport to move! A bus lane along this route would significantly cut travel time…

    1. Manukau Road is a key thoroughfare and really does need painted (probably time-specific) buslanes and better clearway enforcements. Would take about 5-10 minutes off the Royal Oak – Newmarket section.

  11. @Rick would be interesting for your feedback as to how realistic the timetabled journey times are, and if the times you see buses turning up at Royal Oak are anywhere near what they should be?
    Maybe things are worse than the timetable suggest.

  12. Interesting thoughts Jarbury. A great first step as I see it would be to extend the 380 airporter to Onehunga.

    Its also worth looking at the routes through Onehunga. For example the 312 currently takes 15 minutes to meander though Onehunge before its gets to town. Perhaps the silly windy bit could be combined with one of the Mangere routes as a local service feeding the railway station and bus hubs? That goes for the Oranga section of the 392 as well.

    If the buses in the area were redesigned to feed the hubs, a half hour off peak train service would be a must, as would penalty free transfers to other bus services (including the 008/009 run by urban express)

    For Onehungans, the 328-334 buses once you are on them are the fastest bus route into town (sometimes 35 minutes). However they regularly run late getting to Onehunga due to a twisty route and heavy traffic through Mangere. If these buses were terminated at Onehunga, there would be a need to reroute some of the Onehunga buses down queenstown/pah road (via trafalgar street or beachcroft ave)to ensure West Onehunga still had a bus service.

    I agree with Rick about the need for a bus lane on Manukau Road

  13. Thank you for raising this issue as it is one I have grappled with over the last year, but particularly over the last week as I have struggled to get to my new job – being late twice in three days is not a good look! I am travelling from the back of Mangere Mountain, near Ambury Park to Mangere East and Manukau Central. This involves a 15-20 minute walk to Miller Rd and then hopefully the infrequent bus to these places is on time. So far, what would take 10-15 minutes by car has taken me anything from 60-90 minutes, including the tikitours around the suburbs as there are virtually no direct buses. Maybe the planners need to realise that not all buses should be heading into central Auckland in rush hour – thousands of people head in other directions as well. Maybe I will just have to give up the effort to use public transport and travel by car again!

  14. Mangere as a whole is a big area and has a large population who need to move around within that area. They also need to head to the CBD, Newmarket, Onehunga, west Auckland, Manukau Centre, etc. Surely the best approach is to have high-frequency (10-20 mins) local (small) buses feeding into mainline routes to the CBD, Manukau, west, etc. And railway stations. Would it be too hard to sort it out on that basis? Oh, and no fare penalties for transfers. Oh and maybe even a local-bus-only off-peak pass, etc.

  15. Can you please change the bus services back to the old way? And get rid off all the go bus transport especially the route 743 and route 298 want to b taking of road? And put route 670 to travell a long Nielson Street Onehunga. Thanks

    Kind Regards

    Dianne Milne

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