Spending most of my days at Auckland hospital in recent times (and the likelihood of continuing to do so for a few more days) has provided me with a fairly interesting insight into the operations of public transport in another corner of the city. First things first, I really wish the proposed changes to the Link Bus route were operational already so my bus trip from Ponsonby to Grafton (and back) didn’t include an enormous detour. But that’s not the main point of this post – which relates to the Central Connector bus corridor between Newmarket and the city centre via Grafton and Symonds Street.

I had to zip into town from the hospital today to briefly catch up with what had been going on, and to check that I hadn’t missed anything coming in to my emails or in the post over the past few days. Heading into town this was an incredibly easy task – no more than 30 seconds after I arrived at the bus stop outside the hospital there was a bus ready to take me down into town. I didn’t even have to check the route number, as I knew that pretty much every bus would end up taking me to roughly the same area. It was easy.

However, in the reverse direction (coming out of the city) many of the advantages of the Central Connector are lost – simply because the departure points for services using the Central Connector are spread out all over the place. A further annoyance is obviously the fact that Howick and Eastern buses do not yet accept HOP cards, so my options are further reduced. The map below shows the varying departure points for services using the Central Connector as far as Newmarket (the ones with red boxes around them): Most of the south Auckland buses depart from stop 7019 (which is where I made the gamble of waiting at because I thought the most buses would leave from there). Most Mt Wellington buses depart from stop 7012, most Remuera Road buses from stop 7018 and most Howick & Eastern buses from stop 7026.

What this means is that someone travelling on the bus from the CBD to anywhere along the Central Connector, or potentially further afield (like along Great South Road between Newmarket and Greenlane) needs to pick a stop where only a portion of their potential buses will leave from. Chances are they will unnecessarily have to wait a longer time than would happen if all those buses were grouped together to leave from one or two stops.

While I certainly recognise that we can’t have every bus leaving from the same bus stop (particularly during the PM peak when we have a LOT of buses) it seems obvious to me that we could do this smarter. Why not make the northern (left in the above diagram) side of Customs Street the real focus for buses heading to the southern and eastern parts of Auckland? Shift the Mt Eden Road services from stop 7020 to being outside Britomart and free that stop up to handle the services that currently use stop 7019 across the road. Then perhaps shift the routes that use stop 7012 (Mt Wellington buses, of which there aren’t a huge number) to share with the Remuera Road buses on stop 7018. By doing that you would pretty much have most regular bus routes that service the Central Connector beginning very close to each other – enabling people to simply wander along that side of Customs Street and work out from the real-time signs which bus is due to depart next. That’d make their life a whole heap easier and make bus catching more attractive at almost no cost.

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  1. The layout of bus stops downtown is something that really needs sorting out, it can get pretty confusing to know where to go and I suspect it puts a lot of people off. I have had to visit various family members in the hospital quite a bit over the last year or so and because I only had a train pass it was easier to just catch a train to Grafton and walk 5 minutes to the hospital.

  2. Theres no reason all the buses services need to originate at Britomart, some should start in the western CBD, maybe along Nelson and Hobson somewhere. They could then stop at handful of place outside Britomart to pickup passengers before heading off down the connector.
    Dropping off people is not so much off an issue, this should be much more flexible for stops, doesnt need to have the same legibility as departures.

  3. I agree Josh – the downtown mess highlights the benefits of turning Customs street into a boulevard with a median busway down the middle. This would provide sufficient capacity for services to be consolidated around much fewer stops, rather than spread out all over the show.

    1. Agreed Customs St has to be THE east/west bus corridor and be better organised. Removing cars from Queen St will help this as it will further simplify the Queen/Customs intersection…. proper bus ROW is needed to link to the central connecter.

      1. Yeah good point – in the end that’s what Customs Street needs to be: the connection between the Northern Busway and the Central Connector: the two prime bus priority systems in Auckland.

        It seems daft to have the point with the most buses having the worst priority measures.

  4. I’ve contacted Maxx about it a number of times plus on every feedback I put comments on Customs St, because once the transfers are in place, that’s going to be exactly the thing all Northern passengers heading to Uni, Hospital, Grafton, Newton and Newmarket will want. It really wouldn’t be that hard:
    1. Buses that are parked from there simply moved to the side streets
    2. Bus Lanes and Bus Stops on both sides of the street
    That would provide more possibility of just exactly what you’re describing. Problem is probably the lack of space for buses. Hang on, didn’t we use to have bus parking on top of what’s today’s Britomart? What’s there now? Does anyone know?

    1. Stranded, bus ghettos are horrible, do you remember the Britomart one?, a clearer embodiment of the idea that PT users only deserve slum standard kit would be hard to find [except AK rail stations from the same period]. There is no need to go back to that. There is plenty of space, just have to wrestle the privilege off the private car, as ever.

      1. @Patrick R: Completely agreeing with you. I think they should allow some bus parking away from the main arterials (Custom St here). That’s all. On top of the Britomart seems to be logical place at the moment, but it’s now a carpark for cars… Ideally, I’d rather see buses continue past Britomart and not making it a terminus, but that might require way more work and AT guts.

        1. Thankfully the carparking is going from Britomart, they are building sites. This is good, more intensity, more city. Buses on streets please, not in tunnels or garages, or slum stations. When there’s too many, replace the route with trains/ LRT. Forward planning and proper use of the transport dollar is all AK needs. In the meantime let’s sort the bus routes and their privilege. Good work admin.

        2. Why do Central Connector buses have to start their runs at Britomart? Why not build a nice bus terminal near Wynward Point, and start them from there (say, the location of the current depot), via bus lanes on Fanshawe/Sturdee/Customs, passing Britomart, and onward from there?

        3. why have any sort of terminal, why ever terminate? why not run them through the centre of town instead of tying up expensive realestate to park buses on.

          fairly poor to get all the way from the shore to just get dumped at Wynyard point, keep ’em going. Incidently that’s the big problem with Britomart all round, why terminate? we’ve gotta move, Steven!

  5. I think you will find that Howick and Eastern depart stop 7012

    Stops 7026 and 7028 are used by express buses that don’t go past the hospital.

    Therefore the main stops at Britomart for the Central Connector services would be 7012 and 7019

  6. An alternative idea would be to have the real time information properly integrated. Then it could tell you which bus stop is the best one for you to be waiting at rather than you having to guess. I suppose it would effectively require everyone to have a smart phone to be useful though.

  7. Please can someone help me I have been looking for a map which shows where the stage boundries are for Auckland buses. I phoned Maxx and I was told that no such map exists, and asked why I wanted it! Does anyone know where I can find a map showing the stages for Auckland, or how I can find out the stages for each route?

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