Today is the last Auckland Transport board meeting for the year and there is quite a bit on the agenda. Here are some of the more interesting bits, first from the main business report.

The New Lynn train station and trench won the supreme excellence award for engineering excellence, what I found particularly funny was that the award was presented by Steven Joyce

The draft Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) recieved 700 submissions and after hearings in the new year, is set to be adopted in March. That will allow AT to start working through implementating the new routes with South Auckland being the first area being set for changes. In Feb we should also see a ‘medium-term growth plan’ which will be based on the confirmed rollout of many of the ongoing projects like the new bus network, EMUs and HOP.

Further AT say they are working on some short term growth initiatives to help address the worrying patronage results we have been seeing. Here is what they are looking at and for rail in particular, some of the items are things we have highlighted a number of times before:

Rail: tracking below forecast SOI profile year-to-date at approximately -9% due to 2011/12 year end slowdown from service performance issues and deferral of Western Line peak improvements (operator risk assessment) resulted in less than forecast 2012/13 start point; greater impact than forecast from RWC2011; upcoming patronage initiatives:
– February 2013 tertiary sector campaign and rail patronage acquisition campaign, particularly off-peak travel; utilise HOP origin/destination data for targeted campaigns
– Continuing monitoring and refinement of revenue protection plan, focusing revenue protection team at key strategic locations with early 2013 AT HOP and real-time technology campaign
– Further actions with the rail operator to improve service reliability and punctuality
– Station upgrade programme (Mt Albert, Remuera and Greenlane stations completed) deferred from 2011/12
– Early 2013 Manukau HOP electronic gateline installation prior to opening of Manukau Institute of Technology in mid-2013
– Unbudgeted special events including Pukekohe V8s
– Investigate increased weekend service span and frequency
– Investigate pricing initiatives, e.g. weekend reduced HOP rates.
Bus Rapid Transit – Northern Express: real growth above RWC2011 year, however, tracking below forecast SOI year-to-date due to 2011/12 year end slowdown due to additional Busway choice for customers accessing University resulted in less than forecast 2012/13 start point; greater impact than forecast from RWC2011 during September and October; upcoming patronage initiatives:
– Re-branding vehicles and introduction of new double decker vehicle with promotional campaign in February 2013
– Early HOP launch in 2nd quarter 2013
Bus: real growth above RWC2011 year, however, tracking slightly below / against forecast SOI year-to-date due to NZ Bus industrial action and greater impact than forecast from RWC2011; upcoming patronage initiatives:
– February 2013 tertiary sector campaign
– New airport to Onehunga service launch in March 2013
– Improved timetables on Sandringham Road, Dominion Road and Manukau Road with improved frequency on New North Road from February 2013
– Timetable reliability improvements in October 2012 (Howick & Eastern) and from February 2013 with reallocation of poor performing resources; targeted promotional campaigns around service improvements
Ferry: tracking against forecast SOI target profile year-to-date; upcoming patronage initiatives:
– HOP launch on ferry from 30 November 2012
– New Hobsonville and Beachaven services from February 2013
– Seek SuperGold funding for new services from NZTA

On the issue of Ferries, users may have noticed work starting to happen at the downtown ferry terminal. It is a series of projects intended to improve the area and will culminate in the installation of fare gates like are at Britomart.

A reconfiguration of the Downtown Ferry Terminal has commenced with the launch of the HOP card on ferry on 30 November and operation of Pier 1c. The intention by June 2013 is to create an improved customer environment for ferry passengers and to open the facility and waterfront to nonferry users improving the interface between the facility and Quay Street and Queens Wharf and enhancing the overall pedestrian and user environment including:
– Maximisation of the non-paid, land-side area of the ticket lines on Pier 1, enhancing the waiting areas and creating more public access to the wharfs, including to cafés and other facilities
– Reconfiguration of the Pier 1 ticket line with the installation of electronic gates
– Opening further direct access from Queens Wharf to Pier 1
– Creation of improved waiting facilities and public space on Pier 2 with improved access to the waterfront for both ferry users and the public
– Transfer of freight and ferry refuelling operations from Pier 2 improving access from and integration with Quay Street
– De-cluttering of Piers 1 and 2 with improved signage and information
– Increased Pier 1 and 2 capacity with the new Pier 1c; enables potential decommissioning of Piers 3 and/or 4 to enable improved waterfront public access from Quay Street Agenda Item 9
– The above improvements will be implemented in a phased manner, culminating by June 2013 with the installation of electronic gates

We also have some figures as to the uptake of HOP

  • As on 30 November approximately 43,000 AT HOP cards have been sold
  • AT HOP cards will be sold at the promotional price of $5 till 7 December
  • 25,620 cards (60%) have been used at least once for travel, card users will continue to grow as monthly passes and 10-trip tickets are used up.
  • 13,006 cards have been registered online (29%). Feedback indicates that customers like the online top-up feature.
  • Failure to tag-off is currently between 3%-4% of trips.

As usual there is also an update on the EMU and depot progress. It seems that both projects remain pretty much on track. With the EMUs various parts are well into construction and testing of some of the systems has commenced. Assembly of the first train will be taking place next month.

Dec Board Meeting image 2

For those interested in the debate around where train control should be, something that really cropped up earlier in the year when a fault in Wellington caused Aucklnads network to go out, there is a report from Kiwirail looking at the option but recommends largely continuing with the current plan of centralising operations in Wellington.

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  1. Interesting post Matt, thanks.

    “- Investigate increased weekend service span and frequency
    – Investigate pricing initiatives, e.g. weekend reduced HOP rates.” = hallelujah! Would be good if they also considered this for buses

    Interesting that only 43,000 HOP cards have been sold. Although to be fair, that’s probably a reasonable chunk of train/ ferry users, and the cards don’t cover buses yet, which is the reason I haven’t bothered to buy one.

    1. Remembering that we have around 40-45k trips on a weekday which generally means just over 20k people at two trips per person. I think that HOP use is up around the 80% mark which is apparently high by international standards for this early in the roll out.

    2. As Matt said, AT HOP penitration is good given it is only trains so far. Once you add Buses in the next year, it will be a lot bigger. I use a non Snapper HOP provider and about 95% of people appear to use the 10clip ticket. These people will naturally move to AT HOP as will all the people who use the SHOP cards.

  2. It will be interesting to see how the double deckers on the northern express go next year. Given the other post so far today is about buses having insufficent capacity (Fanshawe street needing 168 buses an hour in 2021), is this a partical solution and can it be rolled out to other main routes or are they to impractical for anything other than this simple, high transit route.

    1. Double deckers are perfectly practical for our busy street corridors, although there are some design issues to be worked through. I believe the biggest issue is a combination of the height of double deckers and the camber of the road toward the kerb, meaning they can strike awnings and verandahs on shops.

      1. That is the very point I was referring to. Double deckers may solve the capacity issue but would require all the roads to be re-sealed with no camber. The bus lane and the short stretch along Fanshawe doesn’t have that issue.

        Having said that, as AT upgrades some of the other main corridors, maybe they should consider lessening the camber for future buses.

        1. I assume they must be doing that for Dominion Road when they upgrade it then, as Dom Rd is supposed to get double deckers as well.

        2. Not necessarily Harvey, they just need to check each corridor and perhaps make some localised adjustments if necessary. Generally our roads are fine for tall trucks and the like so there isn’t much to change.

  3. Given the number of bike users on the ferries, I hope that there will be some wide ticket gates as on Sydney platforms

    although I suppose the legal need to accomodate wheelchairs would make wide gates mandatory

    1. Yes every line of gates must have at least one wide gate, not just for wheelchairs but also for bikes, prams, luggage etc (very handy if you’ve got two bags of supermarket shopping in each hand too!).

    1. How does group travel work with Hop card. Can the driver input the special before you tag on?? Otherwise, the simplest could be that on weekends, one child boards free with each paying adult??

      1. They can do that with Snapper, but I’m not sure about HOP. On trains there is no driver though so that wouldn’t work anyway.

  4. Great to see the RPTP creeping into bus improvements already. Airport – Onehunga service should be really good. A combo with the train will be far cheaper that the Airbus, if the timetables match up. Especially once we get 30min frequency all day on Onehunga. Just think of it a bustitution while we don’t have a railway!
    Until now those living on the main isthmus only had the choice of the horribly expensive Airbus to get to the airport, and of course this doesn’t stop at Airport Oaks.
    However I think the Airport Onehunga service should eventually extend to New Lynn, or even to Henderson. Would enable 1 change quick journeys to airport for pretty much all of West Auckland.

    1. That would be more complicated to implement here than London – london has a flat fare. And wouldn’t dealing with debit cards take the technology back towards the Snapper place that it has just retreated away from?

  5. I went along to the board meeting today. The area with most concern and most talked about was patronage and the board are clearly wanting action to get things moving in the right direction.

    AT are also going to change the format of their meetings slight so that the confidential section is first, that way anything agreed in there can be summarised at the open session so members of the public/media can get an idea of the outcomes.

  6. Here’s hoping the Manukau-Airport-Onehunga service operates with AT-HOP from day one! The current Manukau-Airport service is either cash or a smartcard that doesn’t integrate with any other routes (let alone operators) so it’s an ideal candidate for early replacement – small in scale and connects to rail at two points (Onehunga and Papatoetoe) – this would put the Airport on a sort-of-RTN in terms of accessibility immediately.

    1. Hopefully thats one good point of the HOP card. Will allow new operators to get on board as they don’t need to come up with a new ticketing system etc, can just buy an off the shelf system. We really need to break up the virtual NZ Bus monopoly that operates across much of Auckland. Making it easier for new operators will help increase competition and reduce cost, hopefully! Although of course need strong conditions to ensure quality operators.
      Pavlovic is hopefully the best chance of a new operator. They are behind Naked Bus, and run the Hamilton urban buses, which seem to head up here to run many of the rail buses. They do operate Urban Express which is a pain at the moment with its orphan ticketing, but this is how HOP will help.

  7. Not too sure about the changes at the ferry wharves.
    From what I’ve seen they are restricting the passengers to queues which feed directly to a berth dedicated to a particular service which is the total opposite to that at Britomart for the trains. If the intention is to install gates similar to those at Britomart these could have been installed at the entrance of Pier One where the original gate was. What is happening however is an entrance per service leading to a tag post at each pontoon ramp. Why is this being done this way? My suspicion is that this is being dictated by Fullers as the (virtual) monopoly operator that they are.
    One interesting point is that the freight and refuelling is being moved to Pier One. As the only freight route is Waiheke one could assume that this service is to move from Pier Two to Pier One. I note that Pier 1C looks to be designed with the capability of berthing the Quickcat and Superflyte (when they return from prolonged engine repairs)

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