Just over a year ago Auckland Transport released the draft version of the Regional Public Transport Plan and for Auckland it was nothing short of revolutionary. It was the first time we had officially seen the plans for the new bus network has seen the entire network redesigned from scratch focusing around a series of frequent bus routes that would run with at least 15 minute frequencies for most of the day, 7 days a week.

Over the next few years Auckland Transport is moving to a simpler and more integrated public transport network for Auckland. This will deliver a New Network of buses and trains that will change the way people travel.

These changes include the need for some passengers to transfer at key interchanges. In return the New Network will allow more passengers to simply ‘turn up and go’ rather than planning trips around a timetable. It will offer flexible travel options over large parts of the city, making public transport more useful for a range of travel purposes.

Along with the new network the plan also took into account the massive improvements that will be brought about by integrated ticketing, fares and the new electric trains. Further while the network was designed to work without the City Rail Link, it also will work perfectly with it thus addressing one of the issues raised by the government and Ministry of Transport in the review of the first CRL business case. You can get a good impression of the impact of the changes from this video (if you haven’t seen it already).

After the initial draft there were some changes made to the plan and it was endorsed by the Auckland Transport board in March this year. However crucially the plan couldn’t be fully adopted at the time as many parts of it relied on the changes being made to the LTMA by the government, in particular the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) which sets out among other things how the contracting will now occur.

Now that the LTMA changes have been passed (not all of them good), AT were able to formally adopt the plan on September 23 following a few changes to better reflect the new legalisation. One of the biggest and most interesting changes is the addition to the implementation chapter to include a lot more detail about the prioritisation and funding for public transport projects over the 10 year span the plan covers.

To give a good overview of the changes this table (which was in the earlier documents) lists the key components to the new network. What you can see is that there is quite a bit going on over the next 3-4 years.

RPTP - Key Components

But the really interesting bit is the next table which goes into a lot of detail. The table shows each project, what its priority is, what it does, when it is needed by, whether it is in the current Regional Land Transport Plan and how much it is expected to cost. All up the document says that that AT need to spend $3.8 billion (excluding land costs) on PT over the next decade to support what is proposed however that does include the CRL. Without the CRL the cost is $1 billion however the vast majority of that relates to costs associated with the EMUs and new Wiri depot. In terms of prioritisation, the different categories are described as:

a. ‘Essential’ means required in advance in order to run the proposed services or the project significantly enhances patronage growth
b. ‘Highly desirable’ means crucial projects to maximise the benefits of the proposed services in terms of patronage growth and/or enhanced connection environment between services
c. ‘Desirable’ means useful projects that complement the proposed services, eg by improving customer experience.

So here is the table over multiple images

RPTP - Infrastrucure programme 1

RPTP - Infrastrucure programme 2

RPTP - Infrastrucure programme 3

RPTP - Infrastrucure programme 4

RPTP - Infrastrucure programme 5

RPTP - Infrastrucure programme 6

As you can see there is a heap of projects being planned over the next decade and most of them appear to be interchanges to make the new network work well. Getting these interchanges right is likely to be crucial for the new network and something pointed out in this post. So it is also interesting to see another new addition to the plan being Appendix 5 which provides guidelines for what facilities new or upgraded interchanges should have. There are four different types of interchange station.

  • Major Interchange – at the city centre or at metropolitan centres, where a rapid service terminates or passes through, where several or more frequent services terminate or pass through, where local and connector services terminate, where inter-regional services may terminate or pass through, or where the interchange facility is a landmark feature within its environment.
  • Intermediate Interchange – are within town centres, where a rapid service may terminate or pass through, where one or more frequent services may terminate or pass through, where local and connector services terminate, or where the interchange may be a landmark feature or integrated into other land use. A different type of interchange also fits into this category where it is a dedicated piece of infrastructure required for connection between two modes, such as ferry to bus or train to bus. In this situation, the location is fixed by the access requirements of one of the modes (ferry or train) and may often not be part of any urban centre and will thus need to be fully self-serving (i.e. no opportunity for shared facilities).
  • Minor Interchange – are at local centres, where a rapid service may pass through, where one or more frequent services may terminate or pass through, where local and connector services may terminate or pass through, or  here the interchange facility is more likely to be integrated within or subservient to surrounding land use.
  • Neighbourhood Connection – Within a neighbourhood centre, where frequent services pass across each other and provide a connection opportunity, or where the connection points are generally on-street stops and subservient to surrounding land use.

And here is the table showing what attributes each type of interchange should have. Both major and intermediate interchanges look to have some fairly significant features that will a big step up from what we have currently.

RPTP - Interchange Design 1

With all of the interchanges that will be needed,  more than anything this shows just how much work AT have to do to really get the new network humming. As always it is really going to come down to funding and with so many of the projects not even on the current funding plans it means AT are likely going to need to make some hard decisions, perhaps postponing or even just scaling some back some of the roading projects that are currently planned. With so many of the projects listed as essential or highly desirable, this could be a real litmus test as to where the organisations priorities lie as the successful implementation of the network is critical to the future of improved PT in Auckland.

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  1. Auckland Transport are doing good work on the stations and the progress has been outstanding from what I can see. My only gripe is that we havn’t targeted the routes/network itself yet (maybe only Dominion Rd) and to target congestion and get patronage to soar needs a very large counter measure and it seems this won’t happen until 2016. A mayor’s mandate would fix that. Why not do a one lane conversion on the planned high frequency routes now-even if shared with trucks? or even T3.

    1. The final exact routes for the new network haven’t been decided yet, but you’d think AT could add bus lanes on roads that are undoubtedly going to be important parts of the network anyway, e.g. New North Road, upper Symonds St or Customs St.

  2. How will the stage 1 network changes possibly work without changes to the fare structure? Great to see all the interchanges planned, but they won’t be anywhere near successful if passengers have to pay twice to transfer.

    Can AT please get on with the solution design and consultation for the fare structure? Like they should have been doing since 2010 when AIFS first started. Please?

    1. It might be included under ‘Integrated Fares’ in 2015, but I would say that you are 100% correct Cameron.

      By way of example I went through the ferry terminal this morning and saw four shiny new AT HOP gates, with not one of them being used. The reason of course is that the fare structure rushed together so poorly by AT penalises integrated transport and makes HOP cards pretty pointless.

      It is more than irresponsible that according to the schedule above they are planning on making no effort to fix this until 2015.

      1. A much bigger reason for that is that Fullers are refusing to put their monthly passes on ATHOP as they dont want to have to collect revenue from AT. Having a Fullers Galaxy card is the only way to get a monthly pass.

        As Fullers dont gte subsidies they are not part of the PTOM and so cant be forced to integrate. It is a real pain as I need to carry out my Galaxy pass plus have a loaded ATHOP card in case I need to get on a bus or train.

        1. Not an acceptable situation in my opinion. Users of the Fullers services should get subsidies just like train and bus users do, so that inner city fares are the same across the three different modes.

        2. Fullers won’t want to because it would involve them handing over their highly profitable Devonport and Waiheke runs to AT control as well, the current system works just fine for Fullers. It doesn’t work so well for Auckland PT passengers though.

        3. There has been a real lack of leadership on this from the Council and AT. I believe that Fullers (like any commercial operator) would join an integrated system if it was in their interest to do so. The fact that proposals have been put to them that are not in their interest is a failure of transport planning and management, and Fullers can’t be blamed for that. AT should by now have put together a proper package to integrate ferries that also works for Fullers.

          Council and AT need also to explain why they are subsiding all public transport users except those travelling on ferries. AT could easily achieve this through HOP cards. Trouble is, the HOP card zones are so whacked that commuters going to and from Devonport or Bayswater (both inner city) are charged as much as people going to destinations as far away as Drury and Waiwera. That is not a Fullers decision, it is an AT decision and they have provided no explanation.

          Blaming Fullers might seem the obvious thing to do, but AT are supposed to have responsibility for public transport in Auckland and our Council should be providing oversight to ensure a whole-of-city approach. I really, really hope that our new Council is more up to the task than the last one was, because leadership is what is required to sort out this urgent but very solvable problem.

  3. Bus priority ‘highly desirable’? I would put that in the essential list. Park’n’ride at West gate = essential? What?

  4. It does say ‘appropriate fare structure’ in 2014. While it seems the New Bus Network won’t be introduced in South Auckland until 2015, and the rest 2015/2016.
    Disappointed to see Panmure/Pakuranga busway not happening until 2020, seems along time away for such a small section.

  5. What I notice that a whole heap (read most) of the “Highly Desirables” have an expected delivery date in the next 2-3 years, but yet are shown to have no place in the RLTP in the next 1-10 years and are therefore flagged up in the “Not present” column (i.e. are not scheduled to occur in Years 1-3 or Years 4-10 of the RLTP) and in some cases, the costs is not even known as no scoping has been done.

    So how come if the Highly Desirables are just that, that no allocation has been made for them any time soon in the RLTP?
    Is it because this plan and the RLTP are not in alignment (and when will they ever be) or that there is some secret funding source for these projects that means the RLTP doesn’t matter or (more likely) these Highly Desirable projects are actually ‘Aspirational”/Nice to haves and so ain’t gonna happen when the plan says they need to?

    And if so, then doesn’t this mean a large chunk of the benefits can’t be realised from earlier “Essential” projects with (usually) big $$ signs against them.
    Which is really more short term thinking – if we don’t do the Highly Desirable ones in the correct order then achieving the benefits of the Essential spend is being wasted.

    Can someone clarify?

  6. $30 million for Wynyard Bus interchange? THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS? What the hell kind of interchange are they planning?

    1. The Wynyard resource consent requires a 70% non car mode share, which means a lot of people getting there by bus. It’s also the connection point between the northern busway and the isthmus bus routes, and the turnaround/layover point for the isthmus buses.

      So it’s Wynyard bus station plus a northern busway station so it needs to be large and efficient, plus it’s right between Wynyard and Victoria park so it can’t be ugly, and the access impacts on fanshawe St and the motorway.

      Seems like a good place to invest some proposer funds, why gripe at the cost when more people will use that station each day than all the roads on Wynyard put together?

      1. I wonder if they’ll take the opportunity to remove that petrol station there and use that for some of the bus interchange or whether they plan to use only the existing roadspace? I can imagine NZTA will get titchy if they think the current car-sewer to their motorway will be interfered with.

        1. There’s a need for better PT to Wynyard sooner rather than later, the roads around there are getting noticeably busier and busier. There also needs to be some enforcement by Police and Council of people driving through pedestrian areas and parking on footpaths.

      2. What I mean Nick is, are they building a $30M bus interchange and then build the tram line from Wynyard to Britomart as well? That is a $100M+ investment. $30M is a lot of money for an at grade interchange. Full stop.

        1. I’m a ratepayer. I’m going to start griping about many more things that I see as gold plated unless someone can justify the extra expenditure.

        2. If the modeshare into Wynyard remained at the more usual car focused level I think AT claimed that the Fanshawe Street intersection would need to be grade separated at a cost of several hundred million. These are the sorts of figues we’d be spending if PT wasn’t the focus here. Ironically, all that money saved doesn’t get spent on PT instead it probably just gets spent on bigger roads elsewhere and people start complaining instead about anything being spent on bus interchanges.

        3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see a $70M+ tram line anywhere on that list.

          AT are investing $30m for an off street bus interchange station that needs to support some 70% of all trips to and from Wynyard. That doesn’t actually sound gold plated to me, especially if that includes land acquisition that may be sold or developed subsequently. I doubt they’d build a station there without developing over or around it. For some context, the area will have $2B of private and public investment when complete, about $250m coming from Council/Waterfront Auckland, and over 20,000 workers.

          Ask how much the alternative of not building it is, what is the roading cost? Seriously, if you’re looking for gold plated things to gripe about, start with the roading budget. Say the $120M planned to be spent on Lake Rd, that’s four times the cost for what, maybe four hundred extra car commuters to queue up at Esmonde Rd faster? $30M for ~70% of all the transport needs of the Wynyard Quarter sounds like an absolute bargain.

        4. Is there or is there not a plan to build a tram line from Wynyard to Britomart, sooner rather than later, or has that been quietly removed?

          Also, I’m not saying it isn’t needed as it’s not all an all or nothing argument. I’m just querying the price. The New Lynn interchange was $36M and it’s massive.

          Yes, the road rebuild costs around Auckland are getting crazy. If they are to add 24hr bus lanes and cycle lanes I’m all for them but adding additional traffic lanes is nuts and a damn great waste of cash. The price to do Lake Rd is nothing short of incredible. As are many of the proposed roading plans around.

          What exactly does the Dom Rd upgrade give us, that paint and signs for bus lanes could do, apart from making it look pretty?

          Te Atatu Rd? 10’s of millions in the name of safety but it is really about moving more cars through there. Not even any bus lanes. GNR from New Lynn to Henderson will be getting an upgrade. Excellent but bikes will get some shared paths or mix with buses. Brilliant. World class, not.

        5. If the tram line proposal has been deferred for 15 or so years then yes, as the only major interchange, it will probably need to be done right.

        6. I have no idea what is up with that plan, but there are plenty of plans that don’t get funded or prioritised. Doesn’t seem to be on the list so that’s probably revealing. Regardless of any tram line, the bus station is number 1 priority, has to be. A tram would be the icing on the cake, but bus access is the cake itself.

          If New Lynn was $36m then $30m at Wynyard sounds good, i’d say it’s going to busier and needs to be at least as big, assuming the northern busway passes though.

  7. Matt L, I accept that you think that a lot is going on in the next three years, but as someone who has spent their working life in the private sector the pace just seems appallingly slow. Why is it to take so long to roll out the three stage changes? If there is a reason I have not seen it. I have heard talk that it is dependant on contracts. But surely AT is in the drivers seat? If the current operators want to secure further contracts then surely it is reasonable for them to contemplate changes now?

    Let us at least get on with the consultation process!

    I have said it before that Len Brown’s record with respect to public transport is poor. So far it is all about things that are going to happen.

    What about the bold sort of move that Curitiba made about 20 years ago that transformed that city. (I hope to see it first hand this Christmas and maybe post some photos. Their new rail system will also be interesting no doubt.)

    1. I agree it is frustrating with the pace of these changes, but if you think about probably about right.
      AT are not really in the drivers seat, and they had to wait for changes in the LTMA to commence really rolling out the bus review.
      The Southern Routes were consulted on in May, and should be finally announced soon(?). Only gives AT just over a year to build several new bus exchanges, call for tenders, assess and award routes, then the new companies need to acquire buses and train drivers.
      Don’t want the rush the tendering too much as want to give chance for new operators to get on board to give more competition to NZ Bus.
      If the system was fully public it would be much easier for AT, but has been heavily privatised for 2 decades, and for most of that time private operators in box seat.
      This is not really about ownership of the buses, but who really controls ticketing, fares, routes etc.
      Ie in proper public system would have been no Snapper HOP and no changeover mess caused by stroppy bus companies.

  8. All of the bus lanes planned for the next 10 years can be built for $40M.

    Glass half full, it shows how cost effective these improvements are. We could easily triple the number of new bus lanes planned for the region for the price of a motorway interchange upgrade.

    Unfortunately I think this just goes to show how little will there is by Auckland Transport to give buses priority on the road. We’re 3 years behind with zero new bus lanes – how about AT catch up this term by building 6 years’ worth?

    1. Well cycling is equally poor, to meet the council’s own goals requires 60km of new cycle lanes a year, this past year they managed around 10 in the entire Auckland region, that’s pretty pathetic, especially how cheap and cost effective it is. In comparison, how many road widening and new roads have we seen built in the last 3 years?

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