The Auckland Transport board meeting is next week and the documents are now online (although only through the old website, not the new one for some reason). As usual I’ve gone through and here are the parts that stood out to me.

The February board meeting felt like it was much busier compared to March which is probably due to it having been the first one since December. As usual the most interesting thing on the agendas is in the closed session where the board will be discussing ITP prioritisation. It also appears that the April meeting is going to be an incredibly interesting one with a number of key papers due then (more at the end of this post).

Electric Trains

Testing has gone well and trains have started to be provisionally accepted by Auckland Transport. Driver training has being going on. As we know the trains have started being seen out on the network including this one by Alex Burgess of one of them alongside the motorway just north of Ellerslie station. I just happened to see one at Newmarket at the end of last week so quickly grabbed the photo below. I’ve also heard that on Wednesday night one successfully ventured into Britomart for the first time.

EMU Newmarket

Road Projects

  • Tiverton/Wolverton is now 95% complete. The report does note that some changes are being made to the alternative cycle route on New Windsor Rd
  • It’s noted that the Brigham Creek Motorway interchange which was only completed a few years ago is expected to be congested by 2020 and that existing widening planned for Hobsonville Rd won’t be enough. As such they are planning to add even more infrastructure to the area to try and solve it. I wonder if this is the same modelling that predicts traffic volumes to always increase despite us knowing that hasn’t been happening. Also the motorway was meant to take the long distance traffic and congestion off Hobsonville Rd so it could become more of a local road yet it is being widened anyway. Does this suggest that a) the motorway interchange was designed badly and b) there remains a lack of decent and viable alternatives in 2020.

PT projects (other than EMUs)

  • Work continues on the Manukau Bus interchange and it will be going out for detailed design shortly. It is expected to be complete by late 2015. I seriously hope they drop the stupid sawtooth design.
  • The Otahuhu bus interchange process is a little bit ahead of the Manukau one and overall is expected to be finished by mid-2015. AT also say they have signed a 35 year lease with Kiwirail for the land the interchange will sit on.
  • The Parnell Station is progressing and there are three concept designs. The report confirms the station will be gated.
  • Work will start soon on coming up with an overall scheme for to upgrade the Half Moon Bay ferry terminal.
  • A final report from NZTA on the feasible options for bus priority and congestion reduction on all projects comprising the Western Ring Route was due early March.
  • A new journey planner is due to launch shortly (late March/early April) which will hopefully fix the horrible one that exists today.
  • AT are coming up with new bus shelter designs through a design competition. Three companies are currently building their designs and they will be trialled from April
  • AT have finally come to an agreement on leasing land at Swanson to enlarge the Park n Ride. The mention of them trying to secure the lease has been in reports for many many months.

Walking and Cycling

  • Work on Beech Rd cycleway is progressing and the intention is to have it completed by the end of this year.- what should be the first protected cycleway in Auckland
  • AT will also be looking this year at overall plans for cycleway connections of New Lynn to Waterview and Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr. While good that doesn’t mean any construction is starting this year.


You may remember that in November we covered the work done by Deloitte which looked at what kind of patronage growth we could expect based on the projects underway. This was to see how well we might perform compared to the target set by the council of doubling patronage to 140 million trips by 2022. Deloitte came to the conclusion that we would fall short of the target by at least 39 million trips. They presented two options to the board of either cutting the targets or change what’s planned to do more to achieve them. Positively the business report suggests that the board have gone for the latter and that more work is being done to look at what can be done. Some of the options include.

  • Bring forward busway investments and bus lane / prioritising the proposed high frequency bus network
  • Increase frequency and service kilometre coverage of the proposed new bus network and bring forward investment earlier than currently proposed
  • Fare price reduction and fare restructuring – a business case is proposed to be presented to the April 2014 Board meeting
  • Increase cost of PT alternatives including parking and congestion charging
  • Bring forward proposed park and ride provisions and improve other PT journey ‘first and final leg’ options.

In Feb the last of the major bus companies switched to HOP card usage of it across all modes is sitting at 56% of all trips. AT has a target of reaching 60% of all trips on HOP within the first year. The graph below shows the individual bus companies HOP usage. What’s perhaps concerning is that the companies that have been on HOP the longest (Birkenhead, NZ Bus and Urban Express) all seem to be fairly flat with lines when it comes to HOP usage. Perhaps AT need to start running some campaigns to encourage more people to use HOP. Increasing cash fares and giving HOP users bigger discounts might provide some decent encouragement.

HOP bus usage

As mentioned at the start, the April meeting is looking interesting due to a number of papers being due then although all fall in the closed session. These include papers on

  • The rail strategy for how AT plans to develop the rail network in the future.
  • Electrification to Pukekohe.
  • Infrastructure funding agreement (not sure what it’s about but could be interesting)
  • SMART (airport rail) and Mill Rd
  • Integrated Fares
  • Rail Operations tender (the Transdev contract ends mid 2016 but AT are starting to plan for what they want in the future).
  • CBD Seawall replacement
  • New paid parking machines (I believe this is to replace the existing on street parking meters which are obsolete. I hope any new machines support HOP payments)
  • A financial comparison for PT between Auckland and Wellington (I’m sure we can expect it to say something like “Auckland’s rail network costs lots to run compared to Wellington due to our old crappy trains”)

There’s also some really good news around patronage which I will cover in a separate post.

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  1. Those cash payers really slow boarding down on the buses. Maybe they dislike the AT top up transaction tax? Whatever the reason, I think cash fares should be like in London, very, very expensive. One Zone trip in London was £4.90 last year when I was there. True YOU CAN BUY A PAPER DAY PASS for about £8 but at least the incentive is there not to pay by cash.

    Suggested cash fares. Minimum fare $5, then move up in increments of $5….make it outstandingly obvious to either get a HOP or a day pass (say $15).

    1. I think that would be off-putting for potential first time users of the network; if they think the price is too high, they won’t give it a try. I doubt anyone wants to buy a hop card for their first ever trip on a train, for example.
      It would also be quite a negative experience for tourists. Cash fares should be higher, but not too significantly, at least while growing patronage is an important goal.

    2. Wellington is very expensive by cash. To get to my Dad’s place in Karori from Lambton Quay (15 minute bus ride) it’s like $4.50 by cash. Snapper is only $1.90 or so. There definitely needs to be a widening of the gap between cash and card. It’s barely worth it at the moment.

      1. Well $3.66 but yes still a difference. Wellington various fare payment cards have no daily fare caps (or discounted transfers) so it is not just Auckland in this situation

        1. Wellington does have discounted transfers – free ones between Mana & Newlands services, and between Valley Flyer services at Queensgate – but not on Go Wellington (except for the 28 Beacon Hill shuttle!).

    3. That’s stupid my at hop card just stopped working recently because it was disabled, AT couldn’t explain why and I had to buy a new card since they apparently don’t have access to their own database which is just ridiculous. This kind of nonsense needs to be all sorted before anything like increasing cash fares is even talked about, especially when tertiary students can’t even get cash tickets for their consession type.

    4. yes, totally agree.
      Should avoid changes. $5
      But ATHOP Need more fare options like day pass, weekly pass. Stupid AT removed Northern Pass! One day I bought monthly pass online before 9pm, next day I tagged on bus but the monthly pass not actived and deduct money make my Hop Money became to negative and card disabled. WTF…. I tried to request refund from AT website never get response. Fuck AT…

    5. Cash boarders always slow down my bus trip. Most buses aren’t wide enough for hop card users to get past the cash users, without pushing rudely. One person digging for coins in their bag can really slow down boarding for the rest of us with cards.

  2. One important issue with increasing HOP usage will be increasing numbers and convenience of places you can top up. I have enough income that I can trust an Auto Top-Up; many bus users don’t.

  3. As well as increasing cash fares, to encourage people to switch to HOP, they could also consider using what the Americans use which is basically a machine you throw your coins/notes in and it auto counts and prints out a ticket – no change is given. Would massively reduce the slow down which is due to the driver having to fumble around for change and counting the coins they’re given. Not fun of course if you turn up with a $20 note for a 1.90$ fare but it would push home the need to have the HOP card to those currently still paying cash.

    Also rolling it out to parking meters and the AT operated parking garages would be an ideal way, as mentioned on this blog previously, of increasing the number of people with the card.

  4. Widening Hobsonville Rd? WTH! This is nuts. What a,waste of money and a lost opportunity to improve the road. It goes right past houses and a school. No more urban arterials!

      1. What we should be doing is narrowing the lanes, adding off-road bike paths and making it more people friendly. But no, not in Auckland. The cars MUST come first. Worlds most liveable city?

  5. No mention of bus lanes or are these “in the pipeline” and if so it must a bloody long pipe! I mean, what is so hard about implementing them? Am I correct in assuming that the real reason is the lack of leadership(ie courage) needed to ignore the objectors (motorists, retailers, shoppers etc) and act in the public good.

    1. No, I suspect it’s more that AT traffic engineers, senior management (implementation) and certain AT Board members (policy) dislike the idea of bus lanes because they apparently diminish the volume and flow of general traffic.

  6. Unfortunately all the land between the motorway and Hobsonville Rd has been rezoned for commercial/industrial, so the road will end up carrying a lot of HGVs. Add in the fact that Brigham Creek Rd is the only interchange with ramps in both directions (so Hobsonville Point traffic has to use it go west), and the oversight of NZTA not fully connecting SH16 to SH18 forcing northwest residents to use Brigham Creek Rd to get to Albany.

  7. When I used a bus the other day, I was surprised how many people paid in cash. This included the main street in Henderson – perhaps AT need to put topup machines at some of these busier stops?

  8. We need to take parking machine hardware, reconfigure it to print bus tickets, and put them at key bus stops. Buy before you board if paying cash. Accepts credit cards. Normal overseas, required on some routes and areas including on some London bus routes and in the Sydney CBD in peak.

    Provide an incentive that prepaid tickets are priced in-between on-board-bought tickets and HOP.

      1. I’m thinking also for on-street bus stops. Parking meter hardware is much more compact and has all the hardware components required for it to work – accept coin and card payments, issue tickets, communicate transactions back to AT for later reconciliation.

        We already had (a measly three) of them on the Northern Busway (Northern Pass ticket machines), and an airport-hotel transfer bus here in Auckland has them too – I’ve seen the transfer bus driver refer passengers back to the at-stop ticket machines.

          1. Space, primarily. Parking meter sized machines are more compact (and I’d imagine cheaper). Perhaps full sized Hop machines would be better suited to busy bus stops with adequate space tho. Say larger machine(s) for the bus stop outside the Sky Tower, smaller machines for stops along Dominion Road. Besides, if you make a whole route prepay only, you need them at every stop – again I think the smaller machines would be more affordable. Solar powered too, whereas the HOP machines are gruntier and require connection to a power source.

          2. Actually that may trump space as the primary reason – the parking meter style machines require no wired connections to infrastructure (power, data) as they are solar for power, cellular for comms. Just stick one (or two) of them in the ground at each bus stop, then regularly refill paper and empty the coin hopper.

          3. Steady on Andrew, this is all a bit too joined up. We haven’t even got as far as putting HOP machines in the most sensible spots on the stations yet.

  9. Since the first week of uni I am yet to see a tertiary student pay cash. 35-40% discount should be wnough to guarantee cash is almost eliminated; $2.50 is enough for one stage I would say.

    Also definitely need more top up machines. Vic Park and Sturdee St a couple on Customs Street and around the civic stops

  10. Rail patronage is leaping ahead – even with rail shutdowns every evening and other weekend and extended Xmas shutdown.

    On Page 8 of the report (link below) – a normalised (excluding special events) basis,AT’s rail figures for the rolling 12 months only go to Dec 13 and thats already hitting near the projected annual numbers for the entire year to end of June 2014! With 6 months of growth to come. But they are predicting 10.9 Million a year by end of June 2014, with the target being 11.4 Million.
    But rolling 12 months to Dec 13 shows that its already at 10.9 Million (ahead of projection), and we have had two good months of growth in Jan and Feb so that rolling sum will only go up. Will it reach the 11.4M target by then? I’d bet $100 it will – any takers?

    Link below shows average day usage (see page 9) graph of Average passengers a day on Rail – the uptick in Weekday 13/14 year patronage means weekday numbers are continuing their running ahead of Weekday for the prior year as they have done for the current Financial year (from July 2013) and now weekday numbers nearly has exceeded weekday numbers from August 2013 – the previous peak.

    Big question – could March figures hit 50,000 a day peak? – I doubt the trains have capacity for that its probably crush load already.
    And its sure becoming obvious those EMUs are now coming late to the rail party, they’ll be welcomed when they do arrive in service (in April?)..

    Board paper link:

  11. If an EMU reached Britomart it must have been under tow! The Newmarket branch line is currently undergoing testing but is not permanently live yet, or handed over to AT.

    I understand that revenue services (between Onehunga and Britomart) are targeted for 28 April 2014.

  12. Maybe that Manukau bus station design can be refined a bit so that less backing is required with the station building directly opposite the train station.

      1. It’s a metro station and should be designed thus. With the accelerated growth in accompdation and urban living in Manukau, such a station as AT are suggesting is very low value use of the land. Good luck Ben.

        1. Will keep trying but even now its bit hard with the Councillors and the Deputy Mayor going very quiet (and not answering emails which is a very pet peeve)

          If the team at Transport Blog would like to lend some help that would be very much appreciative please. I am sure the team has some transport design people out there that could come up with a more effective bus station than what AT has got and is sticking too – much to the annoyance of South Auckland

  13. I know there were complaints on here when Panmure Station opened that there were no bicycle storage/parking facilities. That will be remedied with AT saying design of bicycle parking is underway. Like most things in Auckland, things eventually get done, it’s just a matter of time and a lot of patience!

    Even the rail shutdowns have lessened with just one a month, rather than one every two weeks. That should help patronage stats during the last few months of electrification works as well. Not too long to go to wave goodbye to the Railbuses 🙂

  14. Also new HOP day pass not far away by the sounds of things…

    Quote:Testing of a new AT HOP Day Pass is underway for targeted introduction by April
    2014 across bus, rail and ferry. The pass will offer greater flexibility through
    three separate geographic zones compared with the existing and to be withdrawn
    paper Discovery Day Pass

  15. Some user interface improvements of the AT Hop machines are sorely needed.
    I had a bunch of coins that I thought I’d try loading onto my card, but noo, far too complicated.
    I had to search the cash screen which shows values of $20, $100, etc, to find OTHER, then MANUALLY COUNT MY OWN COINS, to enter the value, then insert coins, and if getting the value wrong have to start all over again.

    I would say this is a major problem for those on the poverty line who cant easily just top up a couple of bucks at a time.

  16. Bring back the intercity zone too.
    Paying $1.90 – 50c is far too much just to go a few blocks within the CBD.
    And no the free link bus doesn’t help. Not only is it always full it doesn’t go everywhere.

    1. The CBD zone still exists.

      For an adult coming off another bus (with a HOP card) it is 90c – 50c = 40c.

      For children in this scenario it is only 54c – 50c = 4c! [and yes, I know this works]

      I think that the idea behind this zone should be incorporated into the new zone system with any very short distance trip (say <2km) costing less than the normal one zone fare.

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