The AT board meet next week and here are what I think are the highlights from the reports.

As always the items in the closed session. This time there isn’t too much interesting on the agenda with only the following items (non bold are my comments)

  • LRT – Approval to appoint technical advisor – Hopefully this means we’re going to start seeing some more progress on this project soon
  • CRL update – not cutting any more station entrances I hope
  • Deep Dive – Major BT Infrastructure – This is just an item for noting to do with Business Technology.

On to the main report. Items are in the order they appear in the report.

AT have a prospective purchaser for the old diesel trains and have sent them a Heads of Agreement. All of the old diesel stock has been moved to Taumaranui to reduce vandalism incidents and they’ve containerised all of the spare parts. There is no information about how much they will sell them for although NZ First claim they’ve being sold to Mozambique for just $5 million.

AT worked with Environment Canterbury on a training video for bus operators on how to better serve those with disabilities with different sections focusing on different disabilities. They say they’re also going to produce another corporate video to promote other areas they’re working on to improve the PT experience for those with disabilities.

AT and the NZTA are working together to work out what transport infrastructure will be needed over the next 30 years to support the greenfield development planned. This includes new/upgraded roads, PT and cycling infrastructure and all sounds suspiciously like forward planning – something that has been missing more often than not over many decades. Interestingly they also say that work on a business case for the Northwestern Busway and assessment for a new Northern Busway station as part of the busway extension to Albany has started. Both of these are good news.

On specific projects

  • Waterview Shared Path – Site investigations for the bridges have begun and construction is expected to begin in January 2016. This will see a shared path added through the current green space near Unitec.
  • Newmarket Crossing – The council have told AT that a decision is due in May 2016 which is roughly 4 months sooner than anticipated.
  • Parnell Station – The works on the platforms are nearly complete – as many train users may have seen. Kiwirail are working to get the old station restored and all up they anticipate the station will be open in June 2016.

AT are trying to improve their journey planning programme and as part of that they’re doing analysis so they can target areas that will enable them to be more successful. They want to focus on the areas where people are most likely to use PT which is showing in the image below. As you can see those in the inner west are far more likely to use PT – which isn’t a great surprise.

Most likely to use PT

There’s a chart and discussion in the report about rail punctuality which as I mentioned yesterday in the patronage post achieved an Auckland record 94.9% of trains arriving on time. One interesting fact to emerge from the business report is that more trains turned up on time in September than were run across the entire network prior to July. Later in the report it also mentions that the best ever day was on Monday 7 September when they had only 4 services cancelled out of 500 that were scheduled and of those that ran, 97.6% were on time.

2015-09 - Rail punctuality - board report

An update on some of the PT initiatives underway.

  • Integrated fares development continues and is due to roll out in July next year.
  • AT are still evaluating the tenders for the new bus network in South Auckland. They also say the tender will go out for West Auckland services by the end of the year and the other areas early to mid next year. Implementation of the South Auckland network will be mid-2016 with the rest in either late 2016 or in 2017.
  • The last of the new electric trains has completed its routine testing and they say it will be ready to carry passengers this month.
  • The new platform canopy’s in Ellerslie and the upgrade to Puhinui station are both due to finish this month.
  • A concept design for the Manukau bus station has been completed.
  • On the plans to improve the performance of the rail network (the increase in frequency to the Western line can’t come soon enough).
  • Resilience initiatives have been agreed with KiwiRail and Transdev and are currently undergoing assessment for time and cost benefits, however, some resilience
    initiatives may take longer to implement to align to scheduling of track works and to minimise rail closures. The Middlemore extension (freight relief road) was
    commissioned on 31 August and is operational. A review on whether this is electrified in preference to Tamaki and Southdown sidings is now being assessed.
  • Roster optimisation was conducted for 20 July timetable which resulted in 10 less drivers being required than originally planned. Driver availability for a service increase
    subject to timetable modelling of the Western Line to 6 trains per hour peak and 3 trains per hour inter-peak will follow driver school completion in April / May 2016.
  • Run time reviews are currently being conducted for the Western and Southern Lines and any benefits targeted for an optimised timetable that may be delivered early
    March 2016 or as part of any service level increase in April/May 2016.
  • ETCS reliability improvements have been progressed with ETCS filters now fitted to 14 EMU Units, with further Units to be fitted in October.
  • AT are investigating a number of ideas to improve the first and last leg of PT journeys, this includes car sharing and retail development at Metro stations (I assume this means the large stations like New Lynn).
  • A New Lynn wayfinding trial will start in November and include a trial of “enhanced Metro information for stations and stops” – whatever that means. They say it will help inform their strategy for rolling out information as part of the deployment of the New Network.
  • Also as part of the wayfinding project platform markers are being trialled at four stations (New Lynn, Fruitvale Rd, Avondale and Sylvia Park) and includes markings to show where the low floor carriages will be.
  • The road travel signs on the motorway at Oteha Valley Rd now also show a comparison with the Northern Express. They’ve also been doing this on twitter

If anyone is interested there’s also a paper in the open session on ATs IT Security Risks and Mitigation Strategies.

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  1. Bring on integrated fares! I hope they’ve decided to set the fares at a reasonable level. This huge growth in the network could either reduce their fear of revenue gaps, or encourage them to be greedy because they think that demand is strong enough that it will take fare increases without complaint.

    May 2016 for service increases for the Western Line. I appreciate that they’re doing things methodically, but they really do seem underresourced. The supply of drivers seems to be a major constraint.

    That map is interesting. Look at how under-served the East and South are! The new networks should improve this somewhat, but not quite as much as they need.

    1. They’ve already given indications as to what the prices will be and for most trips the cost will reduce. The biggest exception to this is a trip between the Orakei train and town.

    2. Agree George. 10min frequency on the Western really needs to be in place for March, not April/May. March is the recruitment month. Turning up with insufficient capacity in March when AT know what it will be like is very poor. Every effort really ought to be made to achieve this, otherwise there will be many potential new riders put off from the idea.

      The map is telling. Culturally SE Auckland and the North Shore are very similar, the difference in degree of PT use is simply the difference in the quality of the offer. It remains a huge shame that the political establishment in SE Auckland is so stuck in the past and visionless that they continue to fight for huge sums to spent on embedding their area deeper in autodependancy and congestion rather than campaigning for change. For the Rapid Transit solution that is clearly the best available weapon against increasing gridlock, and to help rebuild place quality. Busway not flyover, Pakuranga.

    3. I’m hoping for fares that vary during the day. Or rather bold discounts for off-peak. There is lots of spare capacity available off peak that costs nothing to service that should be incentivised.

      By all means make the discount available only with HOP to further drive that efficiency too.

    4. Hopefully we will see an end to the 10pm finish across all lines too (Sunday to Thursday). Even if only hourly service, at least HAVE a service at 11pm and 12am on these days. Shift workers tend to start or finish around these times and may be affected by/affecting congestion on their other journey (e.g. going to work in PM peak, finishing at midnight or going to work midnight, outbound in AM peak). The NEX has services upto midnight, surely rail can, albeit with less frequency. Especially with the new network coming where buses that run upto 11:30pm-12am that rely on connecting to rail.

      1. Hear, hear Peter. As a shift worker at a large corporate in the city myself, I’d like to be able to use PT when I have early shift starts at 7am on Saturday and Sunday. From the most recent timetable update there are now some options for getting into the city on Saturday before 7am. For the first time ever there is a train (Onehunga line service) that will do the job on Sunday morning as well if I chose to live outside the central city but really Auckland needs to be like every other average international class city and have trains 5am to 12am/1am seven days a week. Hopefully with continued growth in rail ridership that will become a reality within the next few years (soon after CRL opening at the latest).

        Patrick, how long has it been since AT or their forbears ARTA (yes it’s been that long!) promised 10 minute peak frequencies on the Western? Hopefully that “station” is about to finally come into view. Talk about a delayed service!!! And yes, just great, not in time for the months which would benefit the most from having extra services and capacity. Grrr!!

  2. Couple of comments:
    1. I suspect AT will be able to deliver these improvements (including integrated fares) while maintaining or reducing fares in real terms. Integrated fares is effectively a discount for anyone who is currently travelling; and
    2. I’m not sure whether the map is showing relatice service levels. I think it’s showing demand intensity, which is not the same thing (and even if the two are correlated, then the relationship may not be causal, i.e. high demand may be followed by high service, rather than vice versa).

    1. I believe the map shows density of people that have the characteristics of people likely to use PT. Its use is to highlight areas to target quick win PT uptake.

  3. Sunnynook is an interesting standout in the graphic above. It has the busway’s only true walk-up neighbourhood station. Shows the good outcomes of well-located walkable transit facilities.

      1. Yes, you won’t get disagreement with me from that. P’n’R has a place but stations with walk up are much more important.

  4. That map shows Mangere & the airport crying out for the rail line from Otahuhu that Patrick has proposed. A higher priority than LRT, I hope.

    1. Especially in light of this:

      These two fast growing and high performing public transport systems, Rail and Airport, clearly need connecting. There is a great synergy to be made.

      Planes go to the edges of cities; trains to the centres; perfect match.

      Via Onehunga or Otahuhu, either way needs to by proper Rapid Transit, or new clean green, attractive and efficient trains.

      1. Patrick, just came back from 2 month trip. I came into and/or went out of the following Airports: Auckland, Tokyo-Narita, Vienna, Kyiv, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Reykjavik, and Vancouver. Outside of Auckland, only Kyiv and Reykjavik (understandable for a city of it’s population size) did not have a rail service to the Airport, and sadly along with Kyiv, Auckland would be the worst of all the above-mentioned cities for its transportation to its airport(s). And of course I’m sad too for the all the people living in Mangere, and Mangere Bridge township, as well as all the workers working at the airport or the retail and other industries near it that could majorly benefit from having this piece of infrastructure.

  5. If no one traveled for free then a discount was applied so that those traveling when there was plenty of capacity that made it almost free then I feel that the load could be spread considerably and the shoulders extended with discounts as well.
    I also feel that the student fares should have the same sort of discounts so that could increase pressure for schools to spread their start times to reduce student costs and maybe reduce the driver delivery of students.

    1. Yes well there are numerous studies that indicate students would be better off starting later (mentally) so instead of 8:30/9am if schools started at 9:30am then that would help to spread the peak (since PT peak is 7:00-9:00). It would also encourage more parents to let little Johnny walk/ride/bus to school rather than getting dropped off in the middle of morning peak.

  6. Regarding the last leg thing:

    Retail development around train station should be fast tracked and council should encourage. Development around transport interchange should have a SHA alike fast track resource consent process.

    Also council should encourge the use of uber, pev(segway, unicycle, electic hover board, e-scooters), DRT(use an app to call shared van that drops to train station), and privately operated shuttles that serves area that are not covered by bus.

    Council should provide legal certainty and cooperation for those emerging solutions.

    1. AT and council have long dragged their feet on local (layer 4) connecting transport modes like shuttles. Hopefully someone can tell us that’s changing.

  7. Also there should be pick and go shopping outlets and Courier parcel pick ups at stations. Papakura station could easily cope with that type of retail on the Eastern side of the railway with car and bike parking underneath. Retail at street level with a mini supermarket. Private car access on the eastern side. Bus and pedestrian access on the western side

  8. As per NZ First the figure I heard for the SA’s including spares, brand new bogies, etc plus the SX thrown in was around that price and yes, to Mozambique. So they get an absolute daylight robbery bargin and we the ratepayers get rogered. So very easy when its NOT you money!

    1. Would have liked to see it paid forward to somewhere like Christchurch in the first instance, that the National government refuses to invest such a paltry sum in setting up a basic rail network there is just more of their blind ideological cars only policy. It’s again a representation of their complete ignorance of what cities need to flourish and of what people living in cities desire. It all boils down to them not wanting to start something that will be a runaway success.

  9. Dear AT: all those tweets you receive complaining about delays don’t actually count as trolls, so continuing to improve punctuality will work a lot better in silencing them than smug retorts

  10. What happened to the promise a frequent network with a frequency of every 15 minutes or better 7 am to 7 pm on the 3 main train lines ? The 20 July roster is planned to only have 3 trains per hour inter-peak on the Western line, and probably the same on the Eastern and Southern. Is this how they have saved 10 driver positions ? While a 20 minute frequency is OK for walk-ups it is difficult for bus connections, because the choice of frequencies is 20 min, 40 min and 60 min. A 20 minute bus frequency is usually too frequent for outer suburban feeder routes, and a 40 minute hard to remember, but there is sweet spot at 30 minutes. Perth works on a 15 minute train frequency so it can fit in with a 30 minute bus frequency. Melbourne works a 20 minute inter-peak frequency, but the lines with the greatest bus transfers have a 10 minute inter-peak frequency. Surely the 15-minute frequency should go live to coincide with the new bus networks.

    1. The service definition of the rail network [bar the O-Line] is supposed to be above that of the Frequent Network: The Rapid Transit Network and the aim is 10min or better frequencies. The southern and eastern are running at 10 min frequencies at peaks [6 train per hour] and 3tph off-peak, the western currently at 4tph/3tph. Next year, apparently April/May, the western will be upgraded to 6tp at peaks too. This is urgent, and ideally should be in place for the March rush.

      I am not sure when we might get 10min freqs interpeak too, and certainly as you say 15mins would be an improvement, but 10 mins is really required for true turn-up-and-go Rapid Transit service.

      Of course the inner southern [to Puhinui] gets higher frequencies than the above figures all day because of overlap with the three other lines; it’s primarily the western that is underserved.

      Considering the following the Western is surely where the strong growth potential lies, and it’s not from a low base. 6tph all day or at least 6tph/4tph on the Western is surely the best way to continue this years powerful performance. So long as reliability is not lost.

      Sept 2015 rail ridership

      1. It’s worth noting with the current weekday timetables the western line does quite well – while its peak frequency is lower than the other lines (15min vs 10min), peak runs for a longer period of time than the other lines.

        1. Well spotted, but really it’s only the inner eastern [+ Manukau] and the lower southern that remain comparatively infrequent offpeak because of overlap [technically called ‘interlining’].

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