Two major changes occurred to the bus network yesterday – although most will be only have started to experience them today.
The first and most important change over the long term – although the one with the lesser impact – is the launch of the new bus network for the Hibiscus Coast. This sees some key changes such as introducing simpler more legible network and extending the Northern Express to Silverdale. The new and old networks are shown below.
One issue with the new network that I’m sure reader Bryce P will mention is that the Northern Express stops in an isolated field for which the only way to access it is either by driving (a large park & ride will eventually be built here) or via one of the connecting bus route – which in the absence of integrated fares means it will cost users extra unless they are using a monthly pass. Bryce has suggested adding a set of traffic lights making it easier to connect buses to the developing town centre.
One aspect I doubt will be missed by many is the routing of buses to and from the city via Dairy Flat Hwy rather than use the motorway – only some express buses in the morning and afternoon peaks took the more direct route. Now the main service between Silverdale and the rest of Auckland is the Northern Express which will run at least every 15 minutes at peak and every 30 off peak all week.
With the shift to the NEX another detour that has been removed is to send those non-express buses via Takapuna. That’s personally a bit disappointing only because the 895 was one of the services I often used in my commute. Not that it would have mattered now anyway thanks to the other major change – the city centre bus stop changes.
In order to accommodate the upcoming City Rail Link enabling works Auckland Transport are moving buses off part of Albert St. The actual works to dig the tunnel won’t begin until about May next year however in November works starts on moving a water pipe that is in the way.
The changes mean many buses – primarily from the North Shore, West Auckland – will be affected. If you work near the middle of town the changes will probably mean a quicker journey compared to what exists now however if like me you transfer from a train to a bus or if you work in the northern parts of the city centre then the changes will not be great. As said when these changes were first announced, I see myself as having three main options
- Walk the ~800m between Britomart and Wellesley St and then catch a bus to the Takapuna – another factor is that these buses run about every 15 minutes.
- Catch the Northern Express from next to Britomart to Akoranga and walk about 1.6km to work from there. During the peaks the NEX runs every 10 minutes counter peak.
- A combination of the two above, catch a Northern Express bus to Fanshawe St then transfer to a Takapuna bus. The risk here is in introducing yet another transfer to the journey.
I’ll have to try a few options to see what works best.
Given this is the first real day I’m expecting there to be a bit of chaos and confusion as people get to grips with the changes. I’m also not convinced that AT have done enough to explain the changes and make people aware of them. I’ll obviously be keeping a close eye on them but I’m also keen to hear your thoughts and hear your experiences so fire away in the comments.
Lastly it will be interesting to see the impact both sets of changes have on patronage. One of the big advantages AT have now over a few years ago is a rich set of trip data from the HOP system so they should be able to see just what impact these changes have.