At Transport Committee last week we finally got some more detail on both the new bus network but also finally hearing some information about integrated fares. There has been some talk about this already in the media but we deliberately held off discussing it so that we could provide you with some pictures from the presentations shown at the meeting. How AT want us to use the PT network is going to change dramatically in the next few years, this is mainly being driven by the new bus network that is expected to roll out over the next few years. One of the key features is a number of key, high frequency routes that will have buses running at least every 15 minutes for almost all of the day, 7 days a week along with a number of other supporting routes. These are being designed to form a network and much more emphasis will be put on transferring to get to a final destination. In many ways it will work in the same kind of way that things like metro systems overseas do e.g. the Paris Metro. What’s even more amazing is that everything is being down with the same number of resources, including the amount km’s travelled, as exist today so it means no increase to the amount of subsidies we have to provide (we first saw information of this new network back in April).
First here is a system diagram of what is known as the Frequent Transit Network (FTN) )
Having the FTN network services running at a minimum of one every 15 minutes, even on Sunday Morning, will revolutionise public transport use in Auckland. The only experimentation we have had with higher frequency routes has been the B Lines along Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd. Their introduction saw patronage increases of up to 20% just from the improving the marketing yet even they don’t currently meet the criteria for the FTN network due to the lack of evening and weekend services. Most of those routes will likely also have additional services during peak times so the 15 minute timeframe is just the minimum they will be.
Below the FTN network there is a secondary network running on the same principles but at a lower minimum frequency of at least one every 30 minutes (again they will likely be much more frequent in peak times). Together they form the all day network and in future it is likely that some of these secondary routes will be moved up into the FTN as demand for them grows. Both networks are shown below with blue being the FTN and green the secondary network.
But wait there’s more, in addition to the all day network there will be other routes that will run just at peak times to places like industrial areas where there isn’t the all day demand as well as other routes to those hard to get to places but that only run every now and then. Personally I think that this new network is great (and that’s not just because some of my fellow bloggers have been involved). It is a huge effort to redesign our entire bus network but something that has long been overdue and while there are bound to be a few teething problems as people get used to something new, over time this new network will profoundly change the city for the better.
Moving to this kind of system though creates a problem in a different area, our current fare structure. It works against kind of system as you have to pay a full new fare for every trip you make which means it costs you to transfer. To address this, Auckland Transport has started work on looking at integrated fares (It is important to note that integrated fares are similar but different from integrated ticketing). Integrated fares can come in a variety of flavours but the two looked at in the presentation are distance based fares where you pay for the exact distance you travel, or Zonal based where you have unlimited travel within a time period for the zones that you pay for. The committee accepted the recommendation to go with a zonal based system and Auckland Transport have been investigating this behind the scenes to model the impact it would have.
The closest we got to seeing what the zones may look like was from a presentation that Auckland Transport wanted to give to the committee confidentially however the councillors ruled that it had to be done in public. The screenshot is taken from recording of the meeting so is a little blurry unfortunately but you can see the zones that are being thought about which mainly seem to follow the old council boundaries with the exception of a separate one for the central city.
These two projects, along with our new electric trains will really transform PT in Auckland so there are some really exciting times ahead.