Buses equipped with WiFi, USB ports and internal screens to display messages such as route information will become standard in Auckland in the future. All three features and much more are requirements of Auckland Transports PTOM contracts which were revealed on Monday in the finally released tender documents for the new bus network in South Auckland. The routes were confirmed all the way back at the end 2013 which seems like a long time ago now.
Back then AT said that the bus routes would be implemented mid 2015 however now they’ve reached the tender stage AT say the routes themselves won’t change till October 2016. It appears that there were a number of issues that have held up this stage of the process such as the delays in the Otahuhu Interchange, getting the new PTOM contracts signed off.
In a milestone for the city’s transport services, Auckland Transport will soon be calling for tenders to operate its New Network bus services in south Auckland (including Pukekohe and Waiuku).
These will be the first tenders called under the new Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) system and the first PTOM tenders called to create the long awaited New Network. This will mean major improvements to the way people travel on bus, train and ferry.
With the southern tender process leading the way, invitations will be called progressively for bus operators to tender in other sectors; west Auckland will be next later this year.
The tenders for Auckland’s south bus services will open on 17 August and close on 28 September. The successful tenderers will be named early in 2016 and should be operating the New Network Services by October 2016.
While I’m disappointed it’s taken this long to even get to the tender stage, it’s good to finally see something happening. In South Auckland the routes have been divided up in to nine separate tenders (units), each of which contains one or more routes – including school routes. Each route has a full timetable attached so bus companies know just how many services they’ll need to run.
What I’m particularly interested in isn’t so much the tender itself but what AT requires from bus operators as that sets the benchmark for what kind of quality we can expect the services to be outside of the main one of frequency. To get this I’ve gone through the PTOM contract to see what AT have included. As you would expect, some of the requirements differ depending on the size of the bus while other requirements are universal across all bus types. First some of the non-technical ones are listed below.
Bedding in process – Once the contracts go live operators will have a three month to bedding in process to get performance right before financial penalties apply – although AT will review non performing routes before that happens.
Timetables – there are Monday to Friday timetables and separate Saturday and Sunday timetables. With a few exceptions public holidays will use Sunday timetables.
Advertising – The operators have to give control of internal and external advertising to Auckland Transport, this includes advertising on buses. AT say that internal advertising will primarily be for things like service information (e.g. route info), disruptions, PT promotions and event promotions however they don’t rule out commercial advertising. For any commercial advertising – such as on the back of the bus – AT will take 80% of the net revenue and the operator will get 20%. Another bug bear of many users is advertising along the sides of buses. AT’s guidelines suggest that this generally won’t be used but of course they leave the door open to it occurring some times.
Sustainability – Each operator has to pro-actively demonstrate to AT how they are working to support the Auckland Plan and RPTP sustainability principles. These include
(a) greenhouse gas emission reduction;
(b) reduction in emissions to air, water and soil;
(c) energy efficiency (on site, in Vehicles, and infrastructure facilities);
(d) training/up-skilling of staff in sustainability principles
(e) enhancement of the public transport experience; and
(f) support of behavioural shift towards increased levels of public transport patronage, walking and cycling.
Cleaning – cleaned as a minimum;
(A) seat cleaning as necessary;
(B) floor swept and or mopped;
(C) rubbish removed;
(D) all gums and other substances removed;
(E) graffiti removed;
(F) livery and stickers checked,
Every second day:
(A) exterior bus wash;
(B) internal passenger window wipe, including sills,
(A) clean roofline;
(B) valet drivers area;
(C) valet walls and all interior glass;
(D) valet seating area;
(E) clean and disinfect passenger hand holds;
(F) wheelchair ramp checked and cleaned;
(A) fumigate bus,
(A) full interior steam clean or equivalent;
(B) shampoo seats (A and B are to take place 6 months apart);
(C) external polish,
Mid-life update – Operators have to give all buses a mid-life update at 8-10 years of age unless AT agree that the bus is still in good condition – if it is then it gets reassessed annually. The minimum update required is below but more could be needed depending on the state of the bus.
(a) new flooring;
(b) new upholstery on seats;
(c) new wall lining and ceiling panels as required; and
(d) new lighting.
Vehicle Quality Standards – There are a number of specific and mandatory standards that AT have set – some of which are in addition to the NZTA’s Requirements for urban buses. These standards relate to the age, quality of design, manufacture and componentry of the Vehicle chassis and body. The list below is just some of the requirements for new buses.
Vehicle Age – No individual bus is allowed to be more than 20 years old – I guess that means the current bendy buses will definitely be allowed. In addition as from 1 January 2017 the average age of cannot be more than 10 years old.
Engines – have to be capable of accelerating from 0-20 km/h in ≤ 4 seconds and 0-50 km/h ≤ 30 seconds. They need to have a range without refuelling of ≥ 350 km or 15 hours. Be compliant to Euro 5, US 2007, Japan 05, or equivalent Opacity level and not omit noise greater than 80 decibels when first introduced or 84 decibels at any time during its life – even when under acceleration.
Bus Sizes – AT specify four different sizes of bus – small (≥40 passengers, ≥25 – 30 seats), standard (≥54 passengers, ≥45 seats), extra-large (≥78 passengers, ≥45 seats) and Large bus Double Deck (≥100 passengers, ≥25 – 80 seats).
Doors – Small buses can have just a single door while all other buses need double doors. In all situations there are size requirements e.g. on a large bus double doors are needed at the front and with a width of greater than or equal to 1,000mm.
Seats – Forward facing seats have to be a minimum of 690mm apart with leg room of at least 300mm (as measured from the front of the squab to the back of the seat). Singles seats need to be ≥ 425mm wide and double bench seats a minimum of 750mm wide.
CCTV – for small buses there will be a minimum of two cameras in the bus while on double deckers large double decker buses could see 10 or more cameras
Aircon – Buses should be between 18-22 degrees, have a humidity of 50% and all windows should remain mist free.
Electronic displays & announcements – small buses will need at least one screen and large buses up to four to provide “route and journey information and announcements” to those on board. AT say ideally they’ll be 20″-22″ in size. Up to eight pairs of speakers are also needed to support this.
WiFi – All buses should have WiFi.
USB sockets – Buses should have USB charging sockets. At a minimum AT say they should be on every second row on each side of the bus.
There are a number of other aspects listed in the document however I’ll stop here as the post is long enough. For existing buses some of the standards are a little bit lower.
Overall I suspect all of this means we won’t see radically different buses however those last three aspects listed above suggest a slight improvement in attractiveness and usability. I’d expect screens will be very similar to what’s on the inner link but without the ads and that is great for new users of the route/system. The USB ports in particular are likely to be popular and it’s a shame we don’t have them on our new trains – I wonder if AT are thinking of retrofitting them?
Is there anything you think AT have missed out from a customer experience perspective?