Auckland Transport announced we reached a new milestone for train use in Auckland on Wednesday, clocking up more than 16 million trips over a 12 month period. I imagine it would have been close to happening in March had it not been not been for Easter falling fully within the month this year. The milestone comes around 4 months after we passed the 15 million trip mark which is a milestone rate we’ve been seeing for the last year now. It’s a good thing the government agreed to start the CRL on time as delaying it to start in 2020 like the government originally planned.

Months to pass million trips - 16m

AT also chose to make the announcement in quite a unique way because there’s another reason the 16 million trip milestone is important.

AT 16m train trip announcement

It’s worth remembering that the plans from even a decade ago and assumed projects projects like electrification would happen sooner than they did.

By the year 2016 it is envisaged that rail patronage should be around 15.7 million boardings per annum, and by the year 2030 it is envisaged that the rail system could be carrying some 30 million passengers p.a. (with the inclusion of the CBD loop tunnel), up from the current 5 million passengers p.a. These growth figures will obviously be impressive, but even more important is that these journeys will be mostly the long-distance journeys.

And here’s the timeline that was suggested in the plan. As you can see much of the stuff now going in was discussed in April last year.Auckland Rail Plan 2006-16

The growth in rail patronage has also seen rail’s share of patronage climb and now just under 20% of all PT trips take place on a train despite bus and ferry use also increasing.

Share of PT trips to total trips

So when will the next million trips milestone come? Based on recent performance it would suggest August.

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94 comments

  1. Id expect growth to tail a bit towards the end of this year as capacity constraints bind and initial impacts of hop and emus works through. But hey id be happy to be proven wrong!

    1. Yes Stu, and it’s going to happen one day. The main reasons for remaining optimistic are the frequency improvements on the western line, at last, and new interchange stations at Otahuhu and Manukau and the improved bus networks that serve them.

      Oh and integrated fares in July, that is a big moment on the whole ticketing/fares continuum….

      1. I know you’re anti park-and-ride, and pro-shuttle
        So maybe the key is to have 10 minute frequency shuttles to every station (like 15 seater vans) from say 5am-7pm each day? Maybe 3-4 loops per station

        1. EC can you try and avoid divisive language? It’s very tiring.

          From what I understand, Patrick is not “anti park and ride.” It would be more accurate to say that he supports P&R in the right place and for the right cost. As with most things interesting, there are trade-offs to be made which render simple pro/anti categorizations of people’s positions as relatively unhelpful.

          1. When I have asked for park and ride at New Lynn, PR and others have opposed this. This makes him anti park and ride (even when contextualised to a specific situation). I’d hate to give a tiresome lesson about formal logic but “pro” “anti” and “neutral” are exhaustive sets and “opposing” makes it impossible to fit into “pro” or “neutral” and as such, has to be “anti”.

            It may be a simplification but it’s also correct. If I support PT 40% of the time and oppose it 60% of the time I am “anti PT”.

          2. You also asked for frequent service buses at 5am, which I thought was a bad idea. That doesn’t make me anti-bus! And I certainly thing frequent service buses starting two hours later is a very good idea. Likewise Park and Ride (free/subsidised) at New Lynn is probably a bad idea due to the expense and the land, but at Swanson or Drury probably a very good idea.

            Anyway, I agree with the thrust of your point about frequent shuttles. The New Network will deliver that as a starter, some will be frequent, some unfortunately not, but I believe all but two stations will have regular all-day feeder bus services.

            I’m not as pessimistic about growth from capacity constraints as Stu, as we haven’t even got the connecting network yet. Yes the busiest hour or so coming in to Britomart is hitting capacity, however there is a lot more opportunities yet, like all day and most of the night, counter directions, other destinations. Of about 36 hours of service a day (counting both directions) serving 40 something stations, only two hours of that and one station are really hitting capacity. Sure that’s the peak demand point at the peak hour of demand, but still there is 90% more network out there running past homes, workplaces, shops and schools.

          3. Nb: when i said tail off i meant fall from 20% p.a. to say 10-15% p.a. rather than stop. Yes there’s capacity but it takes time to attract people.

          4. Early, not all P&R is created equal, so saying someone is pro/anti ‘P&R’ is a not-very-useful oversimplification. P&R in urban areas is a costly exercise in meeting needs that can be more efficiently met in other ways; on the other hand, P&R on the edges of the network is much less expensive and the needs are much harder to meet in other ways, so it’s a much better proposition. I suspect Patrick’s response to the suggestion of P&R at Silverdale or Swanson or Pukekohe would be more favourable.

            Edit: It’s a while since I took Logic, but I feel like there’s a fallacy in generalising from a specific instance. Hershey’s is chocolate, I dislike Hershey’s, therefore I dislike chocolate? Immediately disprovable by the bar of Whittaker’s Dark Ghana in my desk.

          1. I wouldn’t call those the sorts of feeders I mean. These are too infrequent, too big; what we need is a feeder system that resembles using a car (the alternative to get to the station), so SUPER frequent (5 minutes would be best), small (15 seats would be heaps), and flexible.

            What you need to do is make it just as quick and easy to take the feeder bus as it is to drive. Hub and spoke system.

          2. EC most of those frequent bus routes would be operating at least every 10mins in peak periods. And im not sure thay route length plays big role. If people want a more flexible option then best people wait for Uber’s shared service which can’t be far away. And is unsubsidized.

          3. 5 minute feeders would be a waste when the trains only run every ten or fifteen. Better to have timed feeders.
            Also I have to ask why you want small. Small buses aren’t really any cheaper to run, but they do fill up a lot faster! Sure don’t see the need for double deckers in local suburbs, but a minivan is too small.

        2. There is indeed a New Lynn Park and Ride. It’s called the McCrae Way car park. Park and Ride need not be free; $4 for all-day parking in a metropolitan centre is a bargain.

    2. Regarding to train operation efficieny, currently there are rooms for improvment

      Once they improves signal efficiency, review speed limit and dwell time; there would be more capacity as more trips (frequency) can be created without needing to add more trains.

  2. Congratulations to ARC – Cr. Mike Lee and his team in 2006. Mike Lee is true public transport visionary who pushed hard to get the significant improvements we had in the lead up to the EMU’s finally being approved.

    Also, congrats to the Cameron Pitches and the Campaign for Better Transport for actively getting out an pushing for re-opening the Onehunga Railway line (with Cr. Mike Lee) and for fighting for electrification (and for Labour and Green Party joining in the call).

    Thanks Winston Peters and New Zealand First for the single largest public transport initiative that has delivered millions of rail passengers each year with the Super Gold Card (which is being attacked right now by the Govt). I do hope the Green Party proves it is true to its word and supports Winston’s calls for the Govt to stop the funding cap as the senior citz population grows at 30,000 p.a. across NZ. Silence will prove otherwise.

    Auckland Transport has done much good on the rail network since it took over from the ARC. However, it certainly needs constant “pushing” to achieve more. I look forward to North Shore Rail, Airport Rail and trains to Huapai. All are logical, achieveable, and the latter just so simple.

    Without the ARC and CBT where would be today?

    1. Agree with everything except gold card and trains to huapai.

      And IMO you left a couple of significant names off list:
      – chris fletcher for britomart
      – joel cayford for integrated ticketing and fares
      – barry palmer for tireless advocacy for lrt.

      In terms of the latter, i didnt always agree with barry wrt lrt but i always agreed with his manner. A true gentleman, we could all learn a few things from him.

      1. Britomart was being built anyway in one form or other. Chris Fletcher chose a relatively cheap option (which I guess had the positive of being built quickly and serves it’s purpose to a point) however even post-CRL it will smaller than it should have been (for passengers) and could have been so much better. I note that she has opposed other PT initiatives and falls into the NIMBY bracket regarding intensification for the most part which isn’t very helpful.

        1. Really? You’re that sure it was going to built in one form or another? That confident huh?

          Boy i must have experienced a different auckland from you in the 1990s and 200s because from what i remember every single pt project was a battle.

          P.s. britomart is not under-sized when you consider crl. Plus the modelling indicated it would have higher capacity than what it does – which i dont think is something you can blame on fletcher.

          1. My recollection from that time mirrors Stu’s. The reason CF was elected was on the basis of revisiting the Britomart project. Many votors likely expected her to discard it completely.

        2. Britomart was not bring built one way or another. The original Les Mills proposed plan was opposed by a lot of people and Fletcher was elected on a rethink it campaign. She was defeated by Banks who promised to stop it completely but was thwarted by the fact Fletcher has signed contracts with large penalty clauses. The Les Mills plan was a much larger development but not for trains, only proposed having 4 tracks. Lot of the development was a 2900 space carpark and undergrounding Quay St

          1. My recollection is that Chris Fletcher signed the Britomart contract the day before the election that she lost. In my book, that made her a hero! If the contract hadn’t been signed then and there, I have serious doubts as to whether Auckland would still have passenger rail at all.

      2. Barry Palmer – he was an active member of the CBT. I remember him on getting out at public meetings to get the line open.

        Best thing was Barry was not blindsided to political alliances. He wanted trams, trains and more buses in Auckland. I spent many hours talking with him before I returned to Switzerland at the end of 2010.

    2. SuperGold hasn’t delivered millions of rail passengers, at least not yet. Here are the numbers of SG trips on the train in recent years

      2012 – 486k
      2013 – 552k
      2014 – 549k
      2015 – 679k

      Don’t know what it’s at this year but can’t see it being more than 1m

          1. Yep, true, though the original claim was that Winston Peters and NZ First have delivered millions of rail passengers, so that’s probably true. It still won’t make me vote for them though 🙂

          2. Millions of rail passengers since introduction would be accurate, but not yet a million per year in Auckland. Quick sums suggest supergold furnishes about 5% of Auckland rail patronage. Significant, but not exactly a critical driver of patronage or growth.

          3. Also be interesting to know how many would have used the train anyway if they didn’t have SG. Suspect quite a few would be even if they were paying

          4. Yeah, my father uses public transport a few times a month and uses the supergold because he can… but if he didn’t have supergold he would use it all the same. Likewise my mother who isn’t quite old enough for one uses PT at about the same rate.

        1. Building demand on shoulder and off peak services is probably the best way to increase the overall utility as people think more about using the mode as more services reduce the time taken in waiting.

          If this also assists the elderly by removing their dependence on cars and increases the amount of exercise they get by walking short distances to access or transfer between services then it’s a double bonus. Yes their will be those who can’t because of mobility issues, but the long term impact of encouraging mobility may actually reduce the longer term costs and increase the funding available for additional mobility services.

      1. Gee Matt, add those up and millions have used rail over the past few years.

        Anything which works and delivers loads of passengers to public transport and next to no cost is a good thing. The NZ First Super Gold Card, whether you’re politically biased or not, brings many new passengers to all public transport services. I don’t benefit from it, but people who paid their taxes for 50 or more years do. Fair enough when the entire cost for all of NZ is only $28 million per annum. What can you achieve to boost public transport patronage across all New Zealand for $28 million??

        I do so wish Josh Arbury was here for politically unbiased evaluations of public transport

    3. Not a fan of the gold card myself, it’s very weighted towards pensioners living in urban areas with good public transport. Personally if it’s that important that pensioners receive this amount of funding then it should be added to the pension so all pensioners benefit equally.

      It’s easy to forget that Mike Lee was once a visionary tirelessly working away to improve rail and pest free islands, when all we’ve seen of him in the last few years is supporting populist causes.

      1. I would rather see SuperGold used for those that need it but also extended to people who would benefit that aren’t old i.e. people on certain income levels etc.

        1. Agree. To not have it means tested is bizarre. Can’t understand why we have a system which allows some full time workers to travel to work for free by merit of their age.

          I also find it frustrating that many (not all) super golf card beneficiaries are from generations which drove the boom in car use/ infrastructure at the expense of PT.

          1. @ SDW –
            I suspect that the elderly petrolheads who militantly “drove the boom in car use/ infrastructure at the expense of PT”, will be continuing to drive right up to the bitter end. But there must be many elderly who passively got swept along by the motor age, perhaps even regretting the decline of PT. These people have every right to a Super “Golf” Card (was that an intentional typo of yours? 🙂 )

      2. Do you think it is heavily weighed to urban centres because…….. that is where NZ’s main population base is???

      3. I think it is funny from this blog, so called champions easy wins for pt usage or cycling ( and will invest in time blogging about easy wins), when it will actually come out opposing easily the largest and cheapest PT system enhancement in NZ, the Super Gold Card, because of an apparent cozy relationship with the Green part and the Green Party Youth Wing called Generation Zero (their so called “friends”).

        Matt Lowrie and others spit tacks over the Super Gold Card and the fact it does help 680,000 kiwis. Why? Because it appears their political party of choice wasn’t able to think of a system like it. In fact, their much blogged about “friends” politically have actually achieved nothing for public transport in NZ. Only NZ First has helped make PT accessible to so many, so easily with so few barriers. I look forward to them challenging this statement. But their own posts on this site can highlight their political tunes.

        Is this blog now an arm of one political colour which the authors have chosen? Shame, logic at Transport blog has given away to political leanings.

        1. Jon, can you just leave the bullshit for some other forum please. Stop trying to invent division just so you have someone to argue against, no need to fabricate conspiracies. Who is opposing Supergold exactly? Nobody was talking politics until you turned up to laud your own political party while complaining about political bias in the same comment (I mean really!).

        2. Jon do you know how to read or do you just try yell statements and ignore everything else? If you did read what I wrote you’ll find I said I think supergold should be used for a wider section of the community who need assistance regardless of age. There are old people who use Supergold that are financially healthy (some are even still working) and there are other sections of our society who are scraping by for whom a supergold type benefit would be hugely beneficial. As for politics, you’re the only one here who’s a member or has any allegiance to a party (that I’m aware of). If you want to continue to be an angry man then go do so somewhere else.

        3. Jon your allegations are both crazy and unfounded. You do yourself, the PTUA, and this Blog a disservice when you trot out this sort of conspiracy nonsense.

          I can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason I personally have questioned the value of the Supergold card (which was proposed by NZF) is similar to the reasons I have questioned the merits of the Tertiary Green card (which was proposed by the Green Party). Both initiatives seem 1) poorly targeted and 2) relatively ineffective.

          You may disagree with my reasons but nevertheless they stand independently of political affiliation, so please don’t bring that into the conversation as a way of writing off other people’s views.

          As others above have noted, the only person here who has stood as a candidate for a political party (NZF) is yourself. I myself am not a member of any political party and count among my friends people who vote right across the political spectrum. I suspect all the other Bloggers are the same.

  3. Ok that is pretty amazing. Not that 16 million use rail but that a transport model actually predicted the right thing! A cynic might say even a broken watch is right twice a day. But hey lets give them the benefit of the doubt. Well done!

    1. yes, it is amazing. I suspect it’s a combination of good luck and good management. While it is true that the projects that lifted patronage all happened later than modeled, and some such as integrated fares haven’t yet been implemented at all, on the other hand I suspect AKL’s population growth has been running ahead of what was forecast 10 years ago. So there’s factors working in both directions.

      And when in doubt let’s give credit – as you note.

    2. Coming from the roads side of transport as you do, I can see why you hold models with such disdain.
      After all they always over promise their congestion busting benefits and completely ignore induced demand so that in 5 years you’re back to square 1.

      As far as PT projects go, both this one and the Northern Busway (Roughan’s so-called “white elephant”).

      Both started out with tons of sceptics, but both have met or exceeded their respective models.

      And of course we can’t forget Britomart itself – it blew through all patronage projections in the first 10 years before the models even “started”.

      1. In that case they need to build HR rather than LR to the airport as numbers will likely exceed projections and HR has much greater capacity.
        Likewise for the North Shore I really do think that it should be HR (or at the least semi-HR along the lines of the Vancouver Sky Train rather than LR).

        1. There are issues with HR on the shore that have been discussed before on here such as the likely need to close the busway for a period to meet HR gradient requirements and replace the bridge at Wairau. Also I suspect it would be quite expensive extending it north of Albany, which could delay construction.

          However, I agree the next step should be sky train like light metro with HR capacity and speed, connecting into an underground station at Aotea, rather than joining the street network once it gets to the CBD.

          1. If AM units can handle the 1:26 CRL climb (such that a failed set can still be pushed uphill by a rescue-set), then there may not be too much of a problem installing heavy rail on the Northern Busway alignment.

        2. Yes! HR to the airport is vital for journey times and carrying capacity.
          And driverless Skytrain type for the Northern line sounds perfect for having low operational cost, high frequency services and long operational start/finish times.

      2. Greg I have worked with PT models as well. I think it would be more accurate to cut open a dead bird and read its entrails. (I once worked with a rail model we simply called ‘the Scottish model’ because any time anyone said its real name the damned thing crashed.)

        1. Funny you mention cutting open a dead bird and studying its entrails as being more accurate than most traffic modelling
          – I told a recent independent hearing panel exactly that about traffic modelling, it didn’t go down well 🙂

          But its sadly true.

  4. I’m still waiting for the announcement for “Moar Trains”

    My guess is that it will coincide with the Local Body elections to reduce the uplift for those who support it over those who are neutral/opposed.

  5. The Southern Line trains have been a mess since Friday……surely this must discourage people. My wife and daughter rely on the train but increasingly they have been taking the car into the CBD because the train might be on time…or no trains for most of an hour then they are jammed full. It just happened again. @11:15am, my daughter allowed 40 minutes to get into the city, but 2 trains were at least 18mins each late and a 3rd one never showed up….so she’s now down to 15 minutes to get from Greenlane to Federal St. She’s also cross with me because she HAD wanted to “just take the car”…..because the trains have been so flakey all week.

    Those millions of rides can’t happen like this.

    1. Agreed, the network has had a shocking couple of weeks on a lot of lines. They really need to sort there stuff out.

      But that shouldn’t take anything away from this magnificent achivement

    1. My friends and I had an approximately 74 minute long train this morning and they were of the opinion that it is as if there are two decision makers deciding what happens with individual train services, who don’t communicate with each other. Whatever the decisions that are made are, naturally, don’t get communicated to any passengers in the train due to the terribly quiet intercoms on the current trains, which adds to the frustration.

      1. I had a 40 minute trip from Ellerslie to Britomart last week and this morning my train terminated at Newmarket. The buses were chocker so I ended up deciding to just walk down to the CBD from Newmarket. It’s definitely been a dreadful couple of weeks.

        The communications on the trains are terrible in these circumstances. This morning the only reason I knew we were terminating at Britomart was I was near the TM and I could hear loud and clear on his radio the driver saying he needed to announce that they were terminating at Newmarket. When the TM made the announcement over the PA it was completely garbled. Not sure why the driver couldn’t just announce this directly over the PA, although I guess the TM needs this role to justify their job.

        1. The PA announcement on my train this morning was clear and intelligible (not often the case). Ditto for the station announcements at Newmarket. A marked improvement on the “good old days” on the single track western line.

  6. The “naysayers” referred to are still here; in fact they regularly pop up on this blog. They know who they are; we all know who they are. Cars must not be impeded. Remove parking? Quelle horreur! Bike lanes? Nobody in Auckland cycles: too wet, too hilly, too many bloody cars.
    Funnily enough they don’t show up on this type of post; I wonder why? They are probably in their garage sniffing the petrol fumes.
    As a regular user of the “trains” 12 years ago until the present all I can say is it’s like we’ve suddenly been transported to the 21st century!

  7. Matt L, you state that:
    “It’s a good thing the government agreed to start the CRL on time as delaying it to start in 2020 like the government originally planned”

    I would just like to call you out on your definition of “on time”!. “With slightly-less delay”, might be a more-realistic term to use. It is important to tell-it-like-it-is, and not to allow politicians or their spin-doctors to whitewash over the reality of what has happened.

    There is no way the expression “on time” can refer to the National-led government’s opposition, foot-dragging, and final, grudging capitulation to the CRL imperative. I strongly suspect that had Labour not lost to National in 2008, the CRL would be nigh-on finished by now.

    1. Quite true that the government has delayed, dragged its feet and been extremely unhelpful with regards to funding. However – thankfully – it seems to have happened in a way which hasn’t delayed the project. Even the timeline Matt has in his post only shows the CRL being completed in 2020, and that showed “investigation” for the project starting circa 2009, which didn’t happen. My understanding is that AT have been carefully working on the CRL since the council was formed in late 2010, but that it couldn’t really have started any earlier than it is going to do. Sure, if government had swung in to support it from 2010 the project might have been better resourced and that might have shaved a little off the timeframe, but it probably wouldn’t be much improved over the current expectation of 2023.

      1. I think you may be being over-optimistic John. Labour campaigned in 2011 to fund the CRL. In 2014 Labour, Greens and NZ First were all campaigning for an immediate start on the project with central govt funding of 50, 60 & 70% respectively.
        I’m glad AT have been beavering away in the background, but honestly, do you think that if the weight of central funding had been flowing from 2011, we wouldn’t have a TBM pretty much finishing it’s digging already?
        The National party have set the project back at least 5 years. Hopefully when it finally opens it won’t be a National party PM getting their name on the opening plaque given their party’s history of stalling the project.

        1. AT have said numerous times that even if the money turned up tomorrow they couldn’t start digging till 2018 anyway. There is simply so much work still to do on it on detailed design and planning. It’s a much bigger and more complex project than anything else (including Waterview) as has to thread through active CBD. As for whether the govt have delayed the project, my recollection of events is as follows:
          2007 – the Labour govt approved electrification.
          2009 – Newly elected govt review electrification delaying it by about a year however due to pestering by Mike Lee and ARC they also agree to a study on the project.
          2010 – CRL study went through three major stages, routes shortlisted, final route selection and then finally business case. Business case released by incoming mayor Len Brown just after taking office. Govt call for review by MoT.
          2011 – MoT conduct dodgy review saying no immediate case for CRL but makes sense to protect route (at council’s expense) which then starts.
          2012 – AT/AC and Govt then do CCFAS to ensure CRL is the best solution – which it is. During this time AT also refining route from line on a map to work out where it will actually be and do all of the assessment needed for RMA process
          2013 – Notice of Requirement happens with hearings and then decision at end of 2013. In middle of the year the govt says they agree the project is needed for the first time and set the 2020 date.
          2014 – AT accept the NoR and start working on detailed design work. Council agree to enabling works.
          2015 – AT focus on all the stuff needed for enabling works which started at the end of the year and focus starts shifting towards rest of project.
          2016 – Physical construction on first section starts.

          So question is whether it could have gone any faster. Yes more money could have been thrown at it but that might have only saved a year or so and no way would they be nearing completion.

          1. Matt, am I right in saying that the enabling works have been done first only or mainly because the Downtown centre building was acquired by Precinct.
            Which has avoided the need for AT to purchase it as was assumed in the original CRL business case(s).

            However this is a double edged sword, as AT is now bound to work to Precinct’s rebuild timetables – hence why the enabling works are happening now and not when it suits everyone else better.

            If that situation didn’t exist then the design and such on enabling works could be done second, with the upfront work with the TBM being done first to allow it to be ordered/delivered etc.

            While this wouldn’t get it done faster it would mean that for instance AT could have focused on the TBM tunnel route and once that was under way, switch back to details, design and tendering for the construction of the cut and cover link from Aotea to Britomart while the TBM was being built/delivered/tunnelling.

            And that could easily have shortened the overall timeframes from those suggested.

  8. What a great press release by AT.

    Appreciated that innovative approach as at times this predicted growth might have felt like a far off fairytale. Was a nice little dose of “we told you so” too, but raised a chuckle.
    It has been a truly impressive last 2 years with huge uplift in patronage. Well done AT, Transdev and KiwiRail for bringing it altogether for customers.

    The good news is there is still plenty more opportunity, but nice to celebrate big milestones on the journey!

  9. The Public Transport Users Association has been inundated with public transport users wanting to know what Auckland Transport will do to after another morning of carnage on the system.

    To keep confidence levels high, it would be nice to AT to somehow refund any fares paid this morning ( through the HOP card system) or extend any rail passes by an extra day. Some sort of gesture should be given after 3 days of issues over the past two weeks.

    Today the issue was another points failure, apparently. Is this anything to do with Kiwirail being underfunded and staff being stretched to the limits? The $200 million provided by Govt to maintain the 3,900Kms of network infrastructure certainly isn’t going far.

    1. If i was a betting man then id guess that what AT and kiwirail will do in the presence of budget constraints is to throw their resources into making the existing rail system run as efficiently and reliably as possible, rather than – you know – spending their limited dish on running new rail services. Just a hunch.

      1. Based on their current performance I suspect they’re funding the system maintenance from the winnings of lotto tickets.
        And not being so lucky.

      2. Just a hunch, but should AT and Kiwirail not review the areas they are performing badly in? But then again, they do provide you with more info and data. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you?

        1. Yes, AT and Kiwirail should review the parts of their operation where they are not delivering, and try and find ways to improve service delivery. You seem to think they’re not already doing this?

          Your last two sentences don’t make much sense at all. It appears you’re trying to cast aspersions on the blog, by suggesting that we resist criticizing AT so as to get privileged access to data and information.

          Here’s another explanation: The blog is independent. Hence, we criticize AT when there’s reason to be critical, and vice versa. And in terms of data and information, we simply ask and/or submit OIAs just like any other person or organisation does.

          What’s more likely? The blog is in cahoots with AT ***or*** we’re simply trying to do our best to call things as we see them?

          You might be interested to know that some people at AT dislike the Blog because they think it’s too critical of AT. Can you now perhaps see why your “Blog and AT” conspiracy comments come across as so absurd? We’re being criticized by some people for being too critical of AT and others for being too lenient.

          I think the old adage that criticism reveals more about the critic is rather apt in this situation.

    2. Last week I was on an EMU with around 800-1000 passengers onboard, and we were held at Morningside due to a failed set at Newmarket. After waiting a while, the TM announced that buses had been called in for passengers unwilling to wait for the train to resume its journey. So, around 500 passengers got out to await the arrival of the buses. Then the light turned green, and off the train went, now with only 300-500 onboard, for an uneventful journey to Britomart, leaving 500 of its passengers behind at Morningside for buses that were probably still in their depots. All those people who thought that getting out of the train would get them to their destinations faster because that’s what they were advised, when in fact it would have caused them to be massively delayed.

      Now those passengers certainly deserve a refund.

      1. I was on a set that was held at Morningside due to a failed set at Newmarket. The TM advised catching one of the high-frequency scheduled buses on New North Rd. Being a bit tardy, I missed the first two and had to wait 10-15 minutes for the next one. The train was still sitting at Morningside when I got on the bus, and after an easy trip down Anzac Ave, I walked into work in Parnell at the same time I normally would (having saved the walk back from Britomart). Similar thing on Friday, TM advised of the Britomart delay and advised everyone to catch regular buses to Britomart – I walked about 30 mins to Parnell and arrived at my normal time. Can’t wait for Parnell Station to open…

  10. I was feeling guilty about taking my car to work this morning instead of catching the train but reading the media reports this evening on the network failures I’m glad I did.

    I expect the three groups involved in providing passenger rail for Auckland will be blaming each other which is another reason for a need to simplify this structure and establish accountability.

  11. Curious that Mr. Nicoll credits Judith Tizard for the western line double-tracking. This project was initiated by the ARC in the absence of support from the then Labour government which kept putting off a decision, allegedly because the business case needed more work. Rather cleverly, instead of announcing the business case in Auckland and risk the media getting in the way with a garbled version before the government had a chance to digest it – Mike Lee and a few key staff went to Wellington to directly brief the Finance Minister Michael Cullen and his advisers. Faced with their compelling case the government which had been demanding a BC was virtually compelled to sign up to completion of double tracking, electrification & complete replacement of the antiquated signalling system. Judith was the Minister for Auckland issues in this period but never once attended meetings of the Regional Land Transport Committee – apparently preferring instead to take her guidance on transport issues from the business community.

  12. Once again there are critics of Chris Fletcher and the Auckland City Council for not building a bigger and better Britomart. As a close observer at the time I can attest that it was a close run thing – starting with a lack of support and even downright obstruction by senior officials who were deeply wedded to Britomart II – the massive property development masquerading as a transport centre initiated in 1995 by Les Mills and his deputy David Hay. In 1998 Chris Fletcher and a majority of Councillors were elected on a “rethink Britomart” platform and it took the entire 3 year term to scrap the scheme they had inherited (while being threatened with a $300 million law suit), design Britomart III, and sign a binding construction contract. Council had to borrow right up to its prudent limit and go begging for a sizeable government contribution – funding was so tight that some desireable features (such as a direct pedestrian link under Quay Street to the ferry terminal) had to be scrapped. Be grateful – Britomart kick-started all the other rail projects.

  13. The real visionary was Ross Rutherford who, when the Railways Corporation was determined to close the Auckland system in the 1980’s, negotiated and got approval for the ARC to subsidise its retention and improvement. The Southern line went from an irregular pattern of services to half hourly and the western line went from a handful of services a day to hourly. It has never looked back.

    1. I didnt know that. Fascinating. We should do another interview with ross – we spoke with raymond siddalls a while back and it was really interesting …

  14. I must admit I’m seeing more six-car EMUs on off-peak services too. It’s nice to get on a train when the schools are out and actually be able to find a seat. In the past it hasn’t been hard to find a seat – I haven’t been able to get on.

  15. If you want to have a look at the thinking of the 1970s in Auckland, have a look at St Lukes Road extension from New North Road to Western Springs. Designed from scratch as a major arterial route (it didn’t exist until about 1975), it was designed with just one lane in each direction, with a two laned bridge over the railway line. The planners back then just did not believe that Auckland was going to grow the way that it has. So let’s be thankful there were visionaries around who foresaw the growth in the suburban passenger system and persuaded the powers that be to build the improvements that we see today, even though they might not be all they could be taking into account the modern day growth.

  16. Didnt Lee take Cullen out onto the infamous “intersection” at New Lynn as well? Another reason why the Trench was dug?

  17. Great milestone. I’ve always been a fan of rail, but having recently returned to Auckland after 4 years away I’ve become even more of a fan. The roads are getting just ridiculously clogged, and the train service is much better than it was 4 years ago. Great to see.

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