Today Auckland Transport their biggest consultation yet for the new bus network covering both Central and East Auckland. Being the largest consultation it will also run the longest with submissions open till 10 December. The previous consultations have been for South Auckland, West Auckland, Hibiscus Coast – which rolls out in a few weeks, Pukekohe/Waiuku and most recently the North Shore. Like with the rest of the New Network the focus goes is on getting more out of our existing bus resource by creating a simpler, connected network that has greater frequency.
Central Auckland already has some of the best bus services in the region thanks to much of the area originally being designed around trams. The New Network turns up the dial on buses in the central area really showing what a frequent connected network looks like. To put things in comparison, the confirmed or consulted on networks for the North, South, East and West have two or four frequent routes (running at least every 15 minutes, 7am-7pm, 7 days a week) whereas the central area has 15 including a few frequent crosstown routes. This is shown below.
I’m not an expert on the bus routes in Central Auckland but a few things that are immediately noticeable:
- There are a number of frequent crosstown routes. This will make it much easier to get locations on the other side of the city without having to go through the CBD.
- The Outer Link – now the Crosstown 4 – has been cut open runs between the Mt Albert and Onehunga via the city.
- I know Patrick will be happy his 020 route no longer takes odd detours around Freemans Bay so will be much more direct.
- The 32 route appears to be an extension to one in the Southern Network and so would go from Mangere to Glen Innes via Otahuhu, Sylvia Park and Panmure.
- Like the other new network maps, this one is considerably more legible, the current map is shown below.
One big issue is how the new network will move around the central city. Over the coming years the whole area is going to be in a state of flux thanks to the construction of the City Rail Link however AT have included this map in the consultation.
The biggest alarm bell to me the retention of buses eastbound on Victoria St. That’s because previous studies all pointed to Wellesley St being a dedicated bus corridor with Victoria St largely turned into a Linear Park. My understanding of the reason for the change is that it’s a compromise after the University strongly objected to having buses use the ramp between Wellesley St and Symonds St thereby going past their new building. I get the impression they care more about being able to show off pretty pictures to compete against other universities overseas rather than how their students actually get to their campus.
I guess one thing is that if AT build light rail it would address a lot of the problem as would get many buses off that Wellesley St route.
The maps below show just how much the networks will change. For Central Auckland it is Sundays that will get a massive boost.
In East Auckland the changes are a little less dramatic and the focus of the frequent services is on trips between Panmure and Botany or Howick. What is also harder to see is that some of the routes south of Botany aren’t shown much as they were consulted on as part of the Southern Network. There are a few things that spring to mind when looking at this map.
- There is no frequent service between Botany and Manukau.
- I wonder if the person/people who decided on where to locate Flat Bush ever thought about how buses would run (I doubt it)
Here’s the existing map.
Here’s the map of the changes which also happens to show parts of the network from other areas e.g. South Auckland.
Lastly related to the new network, recently I got to have a quick look at the first double decker bus that Howick & Eastern have purchased to run one some of these routes – NZ Bus are buying some for a few of their routes too. It was pure coincidence as I noticed it parked up on my way home. These new ones are quite nice both inside and out and it will be good to see them out on the network.