The Public Transport offer in Auckland has a long way to go, but on some routes, especially in the inner city, it can be not only the quicker but also more pleasant option than driving, particularly once the hassle and costs of parking are considered. We look forward to this advantage being spread out to more areas and for more people as the Electric Trains, the New Bus Network, Proper Buslanes, and Integrated Fares roll out over the next couple of years.

Yet there is still the issue of people’s mindset. I understand this well as it wasn’t until I returned from living in Europe that I just didn’t unthinkingly reach for my car keys to undertake even the shortest or most ill-suited of journeys in Auckland. But also over that time PT services have improved from almost completely useless to on many occasions pretty handy. The Rapid Transit system is at last reaching utility as can be clearly seen by consistent rise in uptake, but there are also bus services like the Inner Link that I now use regularly because, once armed with a HOP card, it is often the best option for many journeys. Frequent enough, and a great place to check my messages between commitments, or just stare out into the city sailing by, perhaps even thoughtfully. It can also be pretty social:

Ride Social: On the Inner Link

My partner and I have recently had two instances that are deeply illustrative of how far many Aucklanders have to go with their car addiction. An addiction born of the environment; as for so long only one means of movement was well supported.

Both times we were happily bussing it, only to be dragged off into relatively unpleasant and time wasting car experiences by people determined to do us a favour and generously save us from perfectly efficient and enjoyable Transit trips.
The first, after a dinner out we were dragged, past our bus stop, into the limitless helllhole that is the SkyCity car dungeon, our hosts struggling to find their car on the bizarre sloping and labyrinthine parking floors, paying an absolute fortune to release it once found, seriously taking way longer and much less pleasantly than hanging on Albert St on a clear evening, even for the relatively roundabout 020. 
It was very kind of our friends but I really really would have rather had the bus trip home. The conversation, thereafter, became all about how vile SkyCity is as an experience and how expensive the parking was; which was an order of magnitude higher than our combined busfares.
The second, Maria was on Ponsonby Rd buying flowers en route to the hospital (Bhana Bros; what will we do without you?), only to bump into a mutual friend who insisted on driving her to Grafton. What ensued was a longwinded driving/parking hopeless nightmare. Compared to taking the Link, as she’d intended [directly point to point; unlike the drive], or riding, as I usually do to get to the hosp. and there’s been a lot of that over last few years, what a stupid way to cover that route! Yet this person wouldn’t have a bar of it, absolutely full of how she’d saved Maria from some kind of malady and done her a great favour…. But it actually made her late for her next appointment and robbed her of a contemplative moment on the bus.
Nick adds:

I had a similar experience not too long ago. Drinking near Britomart late at night, group decides to go to a bar in Ponsonby. They start the inevitable horse trading of who is driving what and where and whose car I have to go in the boot of.  I say bugger that and announce I’m catching a bus, the rest look at me like I’m insane. Basically begging me to cram into their car which is parked in some building like they are saving me from some huge hardship. Me and one other get the Link up no worries, and are well onto our second drink before the rest arrive complaining about nowhere to park etc. All absolutely flabbergasted we got there faster on a bus. One person didn’t believe us and said we must have run straight to a taxi. Anyway, who wants to be driving when bar-hopping?
I get this totally because if you don’t use PT at all you sort of don’t see it, except as that thing blocking your way when driving, also you don’t know how it works, where to catch a service or how long it might take, or what the hell a HOP card is. And it also means you pretty much always have your car with you piling up parking charges or nagging you about the wisdom of having that drink. I really do feel much freer in the city without my car, free to change plans, free to socialise. In the city the car is a burden.
And continued improvements to services are baked into the pie, especially now the the Transport Levy is in place. Although it is extension to the Rapid Transit Network that would be truly transformative. Here is the coming spread of the Frequent Network:
RPTP Current Network
RPTP Proposed 2018 Network
RPTP Proposed 2025 Network
Those that still only ever think of driving are clearly the majority in Auckland but there is a considerable upside to this observation because as the kinds of improvements that are available in only some places become more widespread it means that there are many more Aucklanders who will discover this advantage and add using these services to their options for movement. When and where it makes sense to.
The data supports the idea that this is already happening as the transit trips per capita figure keeps steadily advancing despite the rising poulation. It is now at 50.5 PT trips per capita from 44 in 2011, still very low compared to similar cities, and reason enough to expect ridership to keep climbing. As long as Auckland Transport keep improving services measurable.
But also thinks of new ways of getting HOP cards into more new hands. Events where PT journeys are part of the ticket price are currently the main way that AT are doing this. But with Fare Integration I think its time they started approaching major employers near good services to include HOP cards in renumeration packages. And for the government to revisit Fringe Benefit Tax rules for both PT and car parks.
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    1. I don’t believe many that visit here regularly want to force anyone else’s behaviour. But many are against continuing to subsidise the alternatives to PT, which forces many to use private vehicles and which is also far more expensive for the city and country than most people know. Patrick’s piece just highlights that many never want to go back to the car once they have tasted the better option, out of their own free will.

    2. Such a funny idea; currently almost everyone for almost all journeys in Auckland is forced to drive; it’s the only well supported mode. Outside of key Rapid Transit routes that are now improving significantly, and the central city where so many services converge, anyone who wants or needs to get anywhere efficiently is pretty much ‘forced’ to find a car. There is forcing but not in the way some seem to imagine.

  1. It makes me cringe so badly when people still see as PT as an unreliable option, sure, it still has a while to go yet, but it’s a far, far cry from, say, 10 years ago.

    1. Depends on where you are located I guess, rapid transit is definitely now really reliable and competes with congested motorway travel times. But northwest and far north still don’t have any rapid corridors yet.

      Also to be a true car replacement it needs to run 5:30am-Midnight (Like the London tubes), sure Auckland is small in comparative patronage but we if have the 5:30am right on NEX and RAIL why not the later which falls around 2 hours short on the RAIL network (but not the NEX). You might not think people travelling that late driving is a bad thing in terms of causing congestion, but think of when they come in to their shift, often in the afternoon when it is congested (NO, you cant Bus/Train in and then drive home…? Not possible, unless taxi, which is too expensive for most).

  2. Ugh! You don’t want to ride the train with those people do you? You don’t really want to ride on 19th century technology, you need freedom and modernity. Here, let me buy you another motorway and four-lane your high street. Never mind what it does to your neighbourhoods and parks, it’s faster. Honest.

  3. AT also needs to promote the HOP card to seniors. I find it tiresome watching seniors wasting the driver’s and everyone else’s time when a free trip to Britomart would see their concession loaded onto a HOP. Thereafter they could sail around on any mode, discreetly travelling for free, and never needing to get a ticket again.

      1. Exactly! Plus not to mention they wont forget their gold card if its required to be presented as proof to inspectors or etc. And it wont be confusing to setup and require initial $5 cost and $5 possibly unnecessary topup (as most may not even travel before 9)…

        My one concern though is the penalty fare for those more forgetful… and also if their service is scheduled for 9AM but shows a few minutes early, are they charged for an entire adult trip? Should have a 10-15 minute room for error. Also if your service is past midnight (in the unlikely event a gold card holder travels that late) are they charged since its before 9am the next day… because that seems silly.

        1. I think that there is a 10-minute grace period at the beginning of the pm peak (except in Auckland, of course, where there’s a 3hr 30min grace period), but I doubt if the same applies at the end of the am peak – and running early is very much a no-no.

  4. Actually, this is so relevant to the new proposed simplified zone system. A dinner outing at my local shops (5 minutes drive, 5 minutes by bus, 20 minutes walk) would cost us (two adults one child under 5 ) $1.70 *2 *2 = $6.80 for a return trip… or going to the other shops which are in another zone = $3.00 *2 *2 = $12.00. Driving the 5 minutes ride is a no brainer. I really think that AT should think of “short distance fare” that works for such short journeys for everybody and works for people so close to a zone boundary. The limited-catchment (unfair) “City Link” fare should be scrapped in favour of the “short distance fare” on all services all around Auckland.

    1. How about just moving to distance based fares, rather than zones, with daily and weekly caps to provide certainty of maximum spend?

      1. Is the HOP system able to adapt to distance based fares?
        Could a distance of less than say 3km override the zone based Charge?

        1. Is the HOP system able to adapt to distance based fares?

          Yes it is as it uses GPS to figure out which stop you’re at when you tag on/off.

        2. Singapore has distance based fares. And I believe it’s been a nightmare to manage. Sometimes they worked out that the distance between stops was not correct, so they had to refund a large chunk of users money… Other problems were that some routes were more direct than others, so the system then had to work out the shortest possible route…

          I do think that Ted F’s idea of short distance (or short time) overriding the zones is the way to go.

    2. “The limited-catchment (unfair) “City Link” fare should be scrapped”

      Catchment wise, the city link probably has one of the (if not the) highest in NZ, it runs past tens of thousands of people along quite a small run.

    3. Um, no, the best solution for a 5 minute short distance would be to make it easy to CYCLE the route. Buses should generally be for longer trips (unless you have mobility issues restricting walking or cycling easily).

    4. “Driving the 5 minutes ride is a no brainer” – really, when it’s walkable in just 20 minutes? As Jarrett Walker has said, PT shouldn’t be competing with walking, and the walk is much cheaper (and much better for you and everyone else) than the “no-brain” drive, or even the bus.

      1. Well that depends (don’t get me wrong I am a HUGE fan of practical walking – and do a lot of walking to shops, schools, libraries, PT but there are some situations when a “just” 20 min walk is a big deal), E.g those with mobility issues or little legs and also depends what you will do when you there. We can get pre-schooler to do the walk to supermarket (15 mins adult maybe more like 25 mins+ for the small one) then you gotta go around supermarket, to library etc and home – ends up 1 – 2 hour trip all up – fine for me & one in pram (apart from argh pram) but small walking legs get tired early on in the trip and even with treat/library stops it’s not met with enthusiasm. This person was talking about a family so you have to consider that factors into it too – the walk may be 20 mins but the activity there plus trip home might be not so practical with younger ones. Also you do have to consider what you are going to carry home – we are often well loaded- what we have would easily fit in a car boot and more but backpacks/prams only fit so much. So again if they wanted to go and intended to buy things that might weigh in favour of the car or a non walking options. Then another thing to consider is how pleasant is that 20 min walk – how many busy roads to cross, what are the footpaths like (safety, eveness etc), roundabouts etc. So while some people might not simply considered walking for many it’s been weighed up and does not rate maybe for reasons listed above or other reasons. Though I definitely agree that walking to somewhere is a great way to get exercise and do something practical at the same time – and that a walkable Auckland would be great for the health of us all.

        1. There will always be reasons why a particular option my not be suitable in a particular case – but there was no indication in the post to which I was responding that any of these applied, merely that a 5-minute drive was a “no-brainer” compared with a 20-minute walk. Equally, there can be factors in favour of walking (or cycling or PT) rather than driving, e.g. no car available; no driving licence; unable to drive (medical, alcohol, drugs, fatigue…); no, difficult or expensive parking; no money for petrol if needed; no car seats for kids available – all of which can apply to large numbers of people.

        2. no – no indication either way – but of course that’s not to say there is no reason nor that we can generalise as to the reason.
          And yes of course many reason not to drive – many you listed have applied quite relevantly to our family over the years – and my Mother can never drive again due to her vision impairment – certainly changes your perspective when that’s the case – sadly for her some places she now chooses not to go (consider even getting to a bus stop when its across a busy busy road with no controlled crossing of any sort – that is a huge deal but not always one that planners are aware of when routes/stops are chosen or re-routed etc). Anyway its a reason why we need to ensure our PT system etc is assessable and our city is as walker friendly as possible ( and cycling – though we have less experience with the issues involving that personally). But of course to do all this one needs to have the discussion being aware of the reasons why people choose the modes of transport they choose – what the barriers are to other modes etc – and that info needs to be communicated so that as our transport systems (walk, PT, car, cycle etc) evolve over time we integrate those considerations into it. We cannot assume someone is simply not walking because it never occurred to them to walk etc ………and of course vice versa.

        3. Definitely a no brainer. Driving hands down. Our bus services were cut, our train services have been cut, we don’t have footpaths alongside many of the main roads to even get to a connecting area or shops. There is only one option and that option is funnily enough it is the one the private public transport companies encourage out west. Next question, why do many people not cycle or walk or catch buses. I wouldn’t try superimposing our situation on that but I feel jjay has made some fair points for her case. To extrapolate the process parameters it depends on the trip (pleasure or facilitating a need like carrying large or bulky units), the family unit (seniors, adults, teenagers, preschoolers, infants, newborns), the trip distance and route quality (half hour – 6 hours over mixed terrain), the financial pressures (consider a $10 drive & park to a $35 bus cost round trip with an extra hour each way), and the available options (is PT available, is cycling an option given health/ restrictions from above, is the facility for walking available safely separated from the road, is the neighbourhood safe in general). If you had the money for alleviating many of these variables it would be easier to encourage more people towards the options you propose, i.e. underemployed or not in employment, financially unburdened, reduced family unit, capable of choosing any style of living accommodation, physically able and not sick or disabled, close to high development area (like CBD or Shore trunk line), does not require to transport any goods over a specific weight or dimension. Hmm likely in a group nicknamed the middle or upper class who could easy afford a limo, or taxi when required. Perhaps you should give money to people who are unable to fit into that category to encourage them into the system.

  5. I started writing this with the intent of discussing how, as a non-car owner how I base my ‘existence’ around my transit choices (train, ferry, rapid bus – primarily) and how that limits me. To be honest though, living centrally there aren’t really any places I’d like to go to that I can’t already. A bit of planning around shitty weekend timelines and I’m good. Expansion of the ‘frequent’ network will be a big deal for me, followed by cycle infrastructure around major transit/shopping precincts.

    It’s a similar story in Vancouver – my life exists around transit, things in walking distance and what is accessible from bike lanes. Vancouver is a more accessible city than Auckland as a result.

    I make no comment on convincing people that it’s an option for them – most of my friends live and work in the most auto-dependent parts of town, so I can’t get to them and they think transit sucks as their areas are unservicable.

  6. That PT has come in leaps and bounds in Auckland is beyond question. I can still remember my train catching fire passing Orakei and then being ejected onto the train tracks near KFC once staff FINALLY realised!

    However it baffles me how trains can continually run 10min late on a congestion free network?

    I sincerely hope Transdev get the boot!

  7. One thing that further interests me is the issue of frequency. Experientially it is my conclusion that the defining quantum is 10 minutes.

    A 10 minute frequency is, in my view, the watershed for turn-up-and-go; the maximum wait. A service every 10 minutes or less is for all intents and purposes experienced as always available. Of course 5 mins is better, but 10, for me, is the key first target.

    And in Jarrett Walker’s great phrase: ‘Frequency is Freedom’. Frequency, and reliable frequency, ie actually delivered day in day out, is the killer App for Transit utility and therefore appeal.

  8. Auckland council / AT have a ways to go to make bussing more attractive, I’m eagerly waiting for bus lanes on all arterial routes [which is now part of their next transport budget] to give bus patrons a real time advantage over drivers. I also can’t believe nzta chose to remove the bus lanes during works on sh16, this is backwards thinking.

    1. Agree, Buslanes are the low hanging fruit in the Transit space. Yes they speed the journey for the majority but also because they make journey times way more predictable and reliable. Proper joined up full time lanes on all arterials.

      Good news then, that 45km of buslanes are now funded through the Transport Levy.

  9. Just after Easter I broke my arm while riding my bike. This required me to get the bus from St Johns every day to work into the city. Mostly this was fine, I enjoyed reading my book (that I miss when riding) the busses were generally on time, I always got a seat despite the bus being full. Generally a good service. All good so far.

    There are two busses that go past my bus stop, both come within a minute of each other with a 20/30/40 minute gap in between (depending on the time of day). Why they don’t stagger these and get a close to ten minute frequency I don’t know. I find myself living life by the timetable (witch is different on the AT website to actual life).

    Secondly, the bus drivers don’t seem to be able to drive smoothly in the slightest. Its like the buses are digitally controlled, either on or off, accelerate hard, slam on the brakes. Mostly nice people (until a cyclist is involved that is).

    And lastly, the advertising on the side of the busses makes it impossible to see out of the bus at night. I have missed my stop twice due to having no idea where I am. First time users looking for landmarks will end up in the middle on no where. It seems that a few bucks of advertising is better than a happy customer.

    1. Hey Andrew,
      I can assure you that all those points you raised are known to AT, and they are being looked at.

      The elephant in the room here is the looming Frequent Network (the New Network) which will give you minimum 15 minute frequencies 7am to 7pm each day of the week and address many of your concerns.

      As for bad driving, well the fact that the buses have to tough it out with general SOV drivers doesn’t help things much.

      Again, AT know that this corridor needs full length Bus lanes not partial T3 lanes, its only the OLB which is being the stick in the mud on them, because the burghers at Remuera shops don’t want nasty smelly buses impacting their car driving customers in anyway – as its they who expect them to have a park right outside their door all day and all night regardless.

      This is High Street in a nutshell again. And its plain nuts.

  10. I have had two experiences – the first many years ago now with my eldest the second with my youngest – both walking home from the bus stop with a stroller in the pouring rain and wind.
    Both times someone stopped and offered us a lift – when I said no (they were perfect strangers, had no carseat etc) they both were quite indignant with me – questioning my parenting almost for having kids out in the teeming rain (in raincoats/jackets with hoods etc and not at all distressed I might note -given how much they like water !) – in the end all it did was result in me (who did not have a jacket in at least one of the cases) stand in the rain for an additional period to try and placate a perfect stranger concerned with me for being out in the rain with my child. Given we were only a 5-10 min walk from home, the kids were well covered in rain gear and would be having a bath and a change into PJ’s when they got home I did not think what I was doing was so bad – simply the reality of using PT and having to walk in Auckland – is you get wet sometimes – often unexpectedly as it can be fine in the morning and wet in a burst later on. Needless to say thats why my bag always contains the kids jackets even if I often forget to squeeze in my own.

    That said – the bus services etc I catch are not frequent and often I would not do the packed more central busses with little kids at rush hour too willingly – so I can sympathise with the other sentiment too. Good bus drivers make things so much more doable – our regular one is so careful with the not heavy on the brakes thing – others not so much – which is a big deal if you have someone on your lap actually – hands up to all those great bus drivers out there !

  11. in terms of convincing friend to try PT – in fact it’s the opposite – those with kids see me doing it with kids in tow and are I think more put off actually ! The comments I get are more along the lines of “why ???? seriously why “” and stuff that !” than ohh that sound like a plan. In fact I know a lot of friends who might have once used PT on the odd occasion (and some family that were heavy users) just simply give it up as too hard once child number 2 or so came along. To be fair though – those with small people who like trains have done the odd trip on the train with them for novelty sakes and those with not enough resources for a car still heavily use PT. I have to wonder if my kids as they get older will think more about using it since its been a mode they have used since they were like 6 months old or younger even or if they will be like stuff that ? I guess we have a few more years to see how PT evolves here – I always thought about using it with them while they were young it was a good way of modelling it as a viable option – but that would work better if the trips taken by PT were always fun and to be honest they are often frustrating for adults so are more so when you are 1, 2, 3 or 4 ! Of course a long commute by car is not much better – apart from a few extra things you can add in the car you can’t by train or bus.

    1. My daughter loves all her frequent trips on PT as we get to chat, enjoy the views, be together etc. I even once thought of an advert to encourage more family PT use, first scene – the classic kids carrying on in the back of the car – tag line ‘ Fed up of your kids messing about on the back seat?” second scene – tag line ‘ Well join them” with picture of a happy family on back seat of bus.

      1. Good points ! – I would have agreed with you first time around. Number 1 overall loved the 4 years of commute – and of course it does mean you can get to cuddle them and interact with them which is a big deal if you are to be on the bus or train for an hour or so each way -so if you are doing a long commute and want more face to face time each day I thought this is a good way to do it. I did however had a few situations – in particular on the train which made me think twice and a stroller thats not so popular with staff or other travellers (which I needed to for the train at least as a 20 min+ walk in both directions). When number 3 came along the balance tipped – 2 under 5 to take in – 1 with strong anti-sitting sentiment, plus driving being me in the back with the kids anyway etc.
        Anyway for those inclined I really hope future changes to PT should make it more doable with little ones and more a standard thing to see in rush hour (so you might get less this TO QUOTE): “Apparently he went to get the train manager, as next thing I had another large angry man in my face. Who told me I wasn’t entitled to be on the train with my children. When I challenged him on that, he backtracked to say that I was endangering my children by taking them on the train when there wasn’t room, and he would never take HIS kids on the train like that. ‘ FROM
        Also I would guess that such a mode shift of PT users would happen when they have familes (though I have no data someone must have ??) – so actually ensuring we do consider a PT system that is family friendly is something that has to affect patronage both short and long term – short term as you perhaps stem that mode shift and long term as you are modelling different transport options to your little ones.

  12. this aligns with my experience. I’m often in the position of turning down rides from people because I know PT will be quicker, often to the consternation and confusion of the other person. Sometimes the time it takes to walk to their car is longer than the bus ride home …

    As you note Patrick, it is partly because impressions lags reality. Many (especially older) Aucklanders have negative impressions of PT in Auckland formed from bad experiences that occurred sometime in the last 20 years. In reality, in the last 5-10 years we’ve seen large leaps forward in PT service quality, which has flowed through to large increases in patronage.

    The challenge (opportunity?) now is getting the word out; making people aware that PT in Auckland is much much better than they think and often better than driving. While there’s always room for improvement I think AT are doing a very good job of catalysing such a psychological shift through their marketing campaigns, e.g. “Wave to the bus”.

    They need some help though; I’d encourage more people to turn down car rides to use PT when it is convenient. In the long run we’re not doing the City a favour by simply accepting rides and allowing people’s misconceived notions of PT to persist for any longer. Not that I’m particularly strident about this …

  13. It’s just something most people have never seen I guess. We have the same problem with riding the bicycle. And a lot of people still have this pipe dream of having eternally congestion-free roads. It may improve now that Google Maps takes congestion into account when calculating travel time.

    One time, after I magically got to the city while my car was still at home, I got a weird look and a remark that buses were for poor people only.

    But for frustrating first experiences, count me in.

    It took me a couple of tries to actually catch a bus on the isthmus. The first try, a few years ago, was on a Sunday, from the CBD towards Blockhouse Bay. That day, there were no buses driving at all, except for the LINK.

    The next try was catching the Airbus, after a while I had to hail a taxi to the airport. Hurray for whoever decided we don’t need bus lanes on Queen Street. And look at Mayoral Drive, keeping traffic out of the city (Not).

    About costs, Once you’re not travelling alone fares will pile up way quicker than parking costs.

    1. Lack of bus lanes on Queen Street is really bad for the City Link/29_/30_/31_/39_/60_ Midtown Routes and the Airbus Express. Causes big hold-ups, especially at Peak.

      Its often faster (and more comfortable) to walk than catch the City Link… lol.

        1. It needs double decks… but not sure if easy to enable them on its route or if they have enough road space or etc. But are not the NEX double decks similar width and length to ADL’s? So shouldn’t be problem. But I guess its because they are implementing light rail… but that seems too long away to wait…?

        2. No it just needs street priority, then the demand can be met with higher frequency and speed.
          Till we get Light Rail, that is.

  14. Nightmare trip for me was returning from York to London on a cold wet winter’s night – I had a train ticket booked – but “helpful” friends insisted they give me a ride – so we carved out a space amidst the old pizza boxes etc, squeezed me into the back of their aged Renault, and then proceeded to get stuck in a traffic jam on the M1, they broke out into an argument, and I couldn’t escape. Arrived back in London on the wrong side of town after midnight, so had to get a taxi across town… …which alone cost about the same as the rail ticket i could not now use.

    But the alternative would have been so much better. The train bet the car by a couple of hours at least, and then the train station is integrated into the underground system and the night bus system. If my friends had been arguing on the train, i could have just got up and moved to another seat. If i had wanted to really get away, I could have got off and got a later train… the trains are clean and dry and warm and have toilets and…. for just sooooo many reasons, I prefer to take a decent train system. More so than a bus.

    1. no one in their right mind would swap a train ticket for a car journey between York and London, particularly if you had already bought the the ticket. The train would have beat the car by a couple of hours with no traffic. Are you telling porkies?

  15. Just an anecdote to back this up.

    I worked above Britomart and our whole office was going to a work event in Newmarket.

    My first thought of course was – train. I was right on top of the train station and the venue was a short walk from Newmarket station. My “helpful” colleagues insisted they drive me to spare me the horror of the comfortable, fast train, so I had to go all the way to the top of the Downtown car park, then suffer through a congested, stop/start drive to Newmarket, only to have to drive around trying to find a park.

    It was at least twice the time and 100x less pleasant. However, I did get to appreciate the amazing view all those empty cars enjoy every day over the harbour from the top floor of Downtown. Why are these spaces not used for hospitality? Would make amazing roof top bars.

    The same “helpful” colleague told me she never used the bus as she never had change. So I suggested she get a HOP card, to whcih she replied that she didn’t need one as she never took the bus. The circular illogicality of this apparently did not compute.

    Maybe not quite as bad as the guy I met who lives very close to the Bayswater ferry but drives every day to the ferry (despite claiming to be keen on cycling and concerned about the environment) because “I would hardly get my heart rate up it is so close”. *face palm repeatedly*

  16. PT is great up to a certain amount of people in a household because if the cost of getting a family around by car comes out cheaper people will take the car. I know in my family of 7 its cheaper to transport the kids to school by car as the bus fare getting all of them to school is slightly more expensive than how much we refuel each week. All the more when we upgrade our car to a more fuel efficient car where the fuel for 2 weeks turns out cheaper especially when we travel from Silverdale to Northcote everyday

  17. I really like most of what I read on TransportBlog, but I really do not like this article, or rather the way it seems to sugarcoat the current situation. Public transport in Auckland remains absolutely dreadful unless you are one of the lucky people who lives within walking distance of the railway lines or the NEX, or who works regular hours in the CBD.

    From my house in Mt Eden, the only convenient journey on public transport is going into the CBD, and then only during usual business hours. At night it’s much faster to drive ANYWHERE. My current job in Mt Wellington takes 15 minutes to drive, AT journey planner suggests the trip would take 1 hour and 5 minutes, and cost $7.50. My last job was in Albany, took 25 minutes to drive, AT suggested 1 hour 40 minutes for public transport, costing $11.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big public transport fan, and if the service was there I would use it. But the reality is the service is non-existent for the majority of people.

    1. I also notice that to an extent, no offense, the complete lack of RAPID (black outline) on the NW by 2025 is horrid, some of those “local” routes also seem to remain with horrible frequencies well into the future, rather than converting to at least Connector and adding some more NEW local routes in otherwise uncovered areas.

      Its of cause an improvement, but far from perfect and the time-frames proposed are way too far in the future, 2025 is 10 years away, and in reality we need at least the 2018 picture yesterday and the 2025 picture within the few couple of years, as a worse case scenario and then to be looking at other improvements.

      Been staying in Taupaki… which is only a few minutes from Massey for the past week and can see exactly why everyone here drives, there is NO PT beyond a school bus in the morning and evening, no footpath, no cycle path, nothing but a massive ditch for drainage purposes on each side. I just park and ride from Swanson (15 min drive) as the nearest train station: Waitakere is rubbish (its no wonder nobody uses it!), there also a bus about 10 minutes drive away… the 080 bus which takes forever and sits in SH16 congestion and the 081 doesn’t leave early enough to get to work on time, similar story with the 060 and there’s nowhere proper to park and ride from. Sure its “Rural” and not very dense, but there are plenty of places like this served by PT especially ones so close to non-rural areas such as Massey. Also, train tracks near by… with no passenger train, great! That makes sense right? Yes apparently, not to the average person though.

      1. More people live in the hinterlands of Auckland than live in Hamilton. They are very rarely permitted to build densely concentrated houses and public transport will therefore always be ineffective. They, and everybody who visits them, has to use a car.

        1. Yes funding is hard to get, isn’t it? Who controls that? But as you actually know, despite this constraint, this is changing all over Auckland as shown very clearly in the maps above.

        2. The government want low/medium density houses to be permitted in the areas on the city fringe, but the council says no. Lots of people will be consigned to driving cars forever as part of the council plan for a commuter friendly “compact” city. The council want the government to assist in building transport infrastructure to cope with a surge in rail commuters, but the government says no. Lots of other people will be consigned to driving cars forever as part of the governments plan for a “lowest cost” development schedule.

          We are going to be stuck here for the foreseeable future as each side blames the other and no compromise is going to be possible. One set of politicians will win (I’m betting on the government) and be vindicated. And all of us will lose.

          Why don’t they compromise? If the council immediately opened everything within 2 km of a rail line – south to Pukekohe, west to Waimauku – for medium density development. The government would be happy and the need for increase capacity on the rail line would be obvious even to them. Many more people would have access to public transport, there would be no downside – obviously it will never happen.

        3. You mean “all over Auckland” inside the MUL, for the 150,000 and increasing number of people outside who might who commute inside this is meaningless.

        4. Low density = poor transit. Simple as that. And that is what the govt seems to want, limitless autodependent sprawl, and endless motorways and new roads. Land use and transport choices are joined at the hip. If you are really in favour of greater transport choice for more people then you will oppose low density sprawl. You can’t blame any mayor or AT for not bringing a rail line to every house in country. Either you are just trolling with nonsense or you are sadly confused on the relationship between urban form and the possibilities of good quality Transit services.

        5. Yes about 90% Aucklanders live in the urban area of about 600km2, while the other 10% live in the remaining 4,440km2 of the hinterland. So one tenth the people spread across eight times the area.

          It’s not hard to do the math. Living outside the urban area is a lifestyle choice that comes with the downside of never being able to have good access to affordable public transport. It’s a simple fact of geometry.

        6. However it would be fair to say if there are viable options for PT in lower density areas its not bad to give people options of course the “bang for your buck” less in a lower density area for an extensive system but a train station and the option to commute could be doable in some of those outlying areas surely?. IN areas I watched being developed I noted PT development lagged somewhat behind (did have a real estate agent once say to me that they did not WANT PT as it might attract the wrong sort – of course this was at the time the mode I pretty much used exclusively and I had a uni-holiday job there). Anyway it seems a cycle – new houses built but unless you walked a long way (which I did to work) then you were mostly going to have to invest in car options (though cycling would have worked) so since car used no push was given for PT (perhaps there was some people like that agent who were really not keen on it but I am sure most just used the car as there was not a huge lot of options). Years later the PT there is significantly better – but the lag was a big one. Whatever happens with the whole high density v low density debate (which seems quite heated sadly) it seems to me good sense to have the transport etc infrastructure sorted before developments (be they apartments or new land being converted) go ahead. I am sure even with increase in density you will place strain on existing services -so some investment/rejigging for more people & with new developments you start from the start (though in an ideal world that gives you a chance to have input in something custom, really smart and work well).

      2. Is it appropriate to start thinking of removing a park and ride when it is becoming to congested and replace it with buses from a park and ride facility that is say 5 miles further into the hinterland and use buses to deliver from the new park and ride to the facility the crowded one is at. Whether that is a transfer or train station thus freeing up the valuable ground surrounding the facility for higher return use such as retail and reducing the walking distance to the facility.

      3. eg at Papakura, replace the park and ride with multi storey shopping and offices and relocate the park and ride to Te Hihi and Clevedon.

        1. I think with the completion of the New Network and, importantly, Fare Integration, the development of more urban PNR sites becomes viable. First step though is probably to start charging for the parking.

          Fare Integration effectively makes the feeder service free. That’s the point to charge for parking, so long as there is a good feeder service, as that becomes the free alternative.

    2. It’s the same story on the North Shore. It’s relatively easy to get into the CBD, but forget about getting anywhere else. The divide between Birkenhead Transport and NorthStar territories makes it difficult to go from the Birkenhead and Glenfield area to the Takapuna area. And the 2018 map tells you right away there’s no plans to change that soon.

      The northern busway is of course a huge improvement, but it has the limitation of not passing by any destinations, you almost always have to get a feeder bus, or do a long walk.

    3. Thomas I think I qualify my description of the quality of Auckland’s PT services pretty clearly in the post. Check out the first sentence for example. This is, above all, an ‘encouragement’ for better services to more areas more often, rather than some kind of pollyanna-ish statement of satisfaction. Far from it.

    4. I agree with various commenters that unless you are near a high frequency route, buses are not useful or convenient. I live in the western part of Mangere Bridge. We have half hour frequencies which is bearable, but it is not improving at all under the new network, not even to 20 min frequency. I work in Ellerslie and Otahuhu, the buses don’t start early enough to get me there on time, and they take twice as long as driving so I always drive and almost never use public transport. When I worked in the CBD I used the train or bus daily, but if you are going across town in many places, public transport is not fast or frequent enough.

  18. I agree with this post x1000. Ive lost count of the number of times people have been offended at my rejection of offers to drive me around in their car. I dont always feel safe the way some lunatics drive, I also absolutely hate driving around looking for a park.

  19. I belive there is a steep learning curve for bus users. If I dont take that route often, it will take me a few minutes just to use the journey planner and realised the next bus is due half hour later and there will be a 10 minutes walk. Then I get frustuated and I next time just drive my car and not bother.

    1. These are exactly the problems of not having a frequent service.

      Here’s a comparison:

      How to use a bus, no frequent network (or: how I catch a Northstar service):
      • Look up on a schedule or route planner when the next bus is due.
      • If you need a transfer, also look up which combinations don’t have a too long wait at the transfer (in some instances, the routes are so complex the route planners out there simply give up).
      • But not too short either. If you miss your transfer, you may have to wait a long time until the next bus.
      • For the next half an hour, keep a close eye on the time, and leave to the bus stop in time. Alternatively you leave now, and have a long wait at the bus stop.
      • Walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus.

      How to use a bus, frequent network (or: how I catch the NEX):
      • Walk to the bus stop (you don’t need to wait) and wait for the bus.

      That’s a big improvement, in both usefulness and learning curve. The new network should be more like the latter of the two.

    2. As someone raised the other day the “Auckland Transit” app is a great way to make PT use really effective and easy. It is a blue icon in the Google Play store with a white bus and is free.

      You can navigate on a map (centred on where you are) and find the nearest stop. That will tell you all the buses/trains/ferries at that stop and when the next one is coming. You can then save that stop into your favourites and even rename the stop to something more meaningful as well as colour coding different buses/ferries/trains at that stop.

      You can also look up a bus number and see on a map where it goes. Combined with the excellent PT search on Google maps, I now find getting almost anywhere effortless by bus, train or ferry.

      Technology will be a game changer for technology, but not electric or driverless cars like in Simon Bridges wonderful Tomorrowland. Availability of information is what will really change the way people travel.

  20. I’ve found that arriving places on time via public transit while other attendees are late due to the traffic generally results in me not having say much. Once it’s happened a few times under peoples nose they start to take notice and say things suggesting they may try the train or bus and see how it goes. At that point it’s up to Auckland Transport.

    1. Plenty of people get turned off by sardine can peak PT. PT only gets improved after years of that, where they should actually be expanding in advanced. Other things include the HOP card drama’s some people have to go through, smelly old buses that shouldn’t be used anymore and shelters that don’t even shelter you and are weatherproof only for the advert poster installed in them.

      1. Sounds like the streets with potholes, no parking, traffic jams that mean you can’t get onto the motorway for half an hour (never mind actually GO anywhere)….

        Terrible. Who’d ever drive a car? 🙂

        There is much that’s good either way. PT is getting better and better, but I absolutely agree there is a lot left that needs doing. But it’s ‘good enough’™ for me for most things.

  21. I’d like to add (unless someone’s beaten me to not) the normalising of car commuting – e.g. Radio NZ National’s “Drive Time News” (5-7pm). I’ve tried to make an official complaint to the Radio but to no joy – can you people help?

  22. Bookmarked for the next time someone “takes sympathy” on me.

    Earlier this week I had someone I was meeting drive past me at the entrance to the meeting venue and offer me a lift the final 75m which I politely declined, I then beat her to the front door by over a minute while she parked.

  23. The bus services have a long way to go. Take the example of today, when the regular train commute was cancelled (distinct lack of information besides the fact that “Not in Service” on platform 5 was cancelled due to a “track fault”). Go to take the bus, a bit longer, but should be only 30min. The regular 10min train commute turned into 80min stuck in an overcrowded bus, caught in traffic, unable to get through the lights due to other traffic across the intersection, cars parking in bus lanes, cyclists rushing alongside, banging the bus and sitting in front slowing the bus whenever it could move. The bus lanes were fantastic, but they were short and few, with lots of waiting to merge and getting stuck in other traffic. It didn’t help every single light was against the bus. Added to that was the lack of information: for a not-so-regular bus user, it is hard to determine where to hit stop as the bus stop locations are not well known and when it’s dark the ads can be hard to see through. There needs to be significant improvements in light phasing (prioritise bus lanes a bit more?), more bus lanes, better flow between bus lanes where they cannot be accommodated, much better information presentation (for every user, not just those with internet access) and (beyond AT’s control in the main) much better education for car drivers and cyclists (eg: let the bus pull out, do not queue jump, red means “stop” and don’t block the intersection).
    Hopefully the rail network improves too. It’s normally good and the number of trains on the Eastern line has gone up, but not noticeably on any other line. There also seems to have been a huge leap in “Track Faults”, “Train Faults” and “Crew matters” in the past year. Again, improving the information transfer is important: people understand why the cancellations are necessary more if the issue and current plan are explained, as opposed to simply blank boards. When the trains work, however, they are beautiful.
    Still, I’d never consider joining that queue of cars. Shudder to think how long the same route today would have been in a car…..

  24. I love the options I have now with the frequent services by train out to Pukekohe.I love riding to the station as the sun is coming up. I enjoy the company of my transit friends who share the train each day. I enjoy saying good morning to the lady who walks her dog at the same time every morning. I enjoy free wifi at the station. I enjoy reading on the train, I love the scenery and wildlife going by and the seasonal changes.I love that I can catch the train home or I can ride and get some great exercise. I love going through Paerata faster than the cars. I love going through Drury intersection and laughing at motorway traffic stuck already in their first hold up. I love riding in the rain and watching the showers and rainbows. Public transport has given me so much more than driving my car to work. Bottom lines 20 mins by car, 30 mins by bike train bike, 45 min by bike. Cost car min $6 per day, train the same, Bike $1.

  25. I remember once being picked up by a friend from a bus stop one Sunday. Once picked up he said he was not going my way but when in his suburb his route had more buses than where I was. This was true; I only waited 15 minutes in his suburb despite no checking of the time table. The problem was although there were only 4 buses a day in the other spot one was due in 5 minutes. Missed my dinner at the hostel that night!!

  26. I’d love it if public transport were better (cheaper and quicker) than driving, but if you live on the Shore it is generally not so.

    Simple example: if I take my family to the museum by public transport in the weekend I’m looking at an hour each way and the best part of $50 to get there and back.

    It’s scandalous and I live close to the city in Devonport with perfectly good infrastructure available. But AT won’t integrate fares for ferry users and won’t introduce frequent ferry services even though they want to present me with an annual surcharge for exactly that.

    And no, I don’t buy into the “blame Fullers” line for a second. HOP cards can work across modes irrespective of the underlying contracts.

    1. You can believe whatever you like, but there is nothing AT can do about the ferry companies being outside of fare integration without a change in a parliamentary Act.

      1. Sorry but I just can’t agree with that – as a public transport user I should have no knowledge of what the arrangements are between Fullers and AT.

        My HOP card should be able to tag onto a bus in Devonport, get off the bus and onto the ferry, then onto another bus or train up to the museum. All the time my only point of contact is with AT using my HOP card and it is up to them what fare they deduct from the card. With integrated fares I expect that total fare to be same as everyone else travelling the same distance, whatever modes they use.

        The legislation you refer to only impacts the underlying transactions between AT and Fullers, not between AT and its customers. As a passenger I need have no knowledge of these transactions or indeed any of the contracts that AT has with the various ferry/bus/train operators,

  27. I bike to work Parnell > Kingsland most days and it takes the same amount of time as driving in rush hour.

    Not having the stress of finding a park in the morning, and zipping past the backed-up traffic on the way home make it all the more worthwhile.

  28. An exception to the general happiness with public transport vs a lift would have to be the North Shore.

    A lift from work this morning to my destination in Birkdale would certainly have been 15-20 ride mid-morning from Apollo business park.

    As it was, the hourly 555 was 15 minutes late. So I missed the 958 by 30 seconds at Constellation… And stayed on the 555 headed to Highbury. But from there, a bus back to Birkdale would have seen me 20 minutes late, with a total trip time if about 1:30.

    Instead, I got off the 555 at Diana Cr and Hillside Dr – the nearest point to my destination and walked over Windy Ridge. I arrived one minute early after a 40 minute walk and 20 minutes ahead of public transport’s best option.

    I really could have used a lift. 🙂

    The North Shore is terrible for getting around and they won’t be fixing it for years.

  29. Yup, it took me two offers of a ride back to the CDB from the shore after work to the CDB to realise the motorway is just as congested going into town as out of in the afternoon peek. Now i say thanks, but i don’t have time for that.

    As an aside, that map of the ‘current network’, why does Dominion Road not show as frequent? Surely a route that has a bus every 5 mins or so until after 7pm is frequent? If i look right now there is one at 14:13, then 14:16, 14:17, 14:20…

  30. Frequent enough, and a great place to check my messages between commitments, or just stare out into the city sailing by, perhaps even thoughtfully.

    Or take pictures.

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