Back in March, Auckland Transport announced a special shuttle to link a Park n Ride at Lloyd Elsmore Park to the Half Moon Bay Ferry Terminal. At the time it was announced I thought it was a silly idea but said that at least AT were trying things.

Half Moon Bay P&R shuttle route

A  LGOIMA request from reader Felix Lee has discovered just how silly the idea is.

He asked:

  1. For the 5 trips being operated each day, can you tell me the average passenger number for each trip?
  2. Can you tell me the cost to operate this service?

The response from AT is below. It covers the period from 21 March when the service started to 21 May, a total of 42 working days (which is only when the service runs).

Half Moon Bay park n ride shuttle patronage

So a grand total of just 23 trips and it would seem that about 9 people didn’t even make the return journey. That seems like an abysmal failure to me.

But then we also need to consider the cost. AT say:

Half Moon Bay park n ride shuttle Cost

So over the 42 days covered above it cost about $7650 to run services on which just 23 trips were made so just over $330 per trip. Based on a quick search, at $175 for a 12 minute flight, it would have been almost half the cost to helicopter them directly to the city.

As I’ve said a number of times before, I believe that park n rides are often over-rated and clearly this example shows that parking then taking a shuttle to catch another PT service just isn’t attractive.

As I also said when this was announced, I think using the park as a park n ride is not a terrible idea but it should really be linked to bus services along Pakuranga Rd which AT have confirmed needs bus lanes in the recent information released about the Reeves Rd Flyover.

One other thing this episode highlights is the arguments over the bus colours recently. If you recall, those opposing the changes baulked at the suggestion that it might cost $9,000 to paint a bus and claimed that money could be better spent on new services instead. Here we have a service that runs just five times a day over ~2.6km for two months costing almost the same amount. This suggests that any meaningful addition to services on other routes will cost a lot more in a year than painting a few buses, the cost of which can be spread out over multi-year contract.

Coming back to the shuttle, the whole thing seems to have been a thoroughly predictable outcome. I guess the only real question is how much longer will AT keep the service running before they finally pull the plug on it?

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  1. The idea of such a shuttle has been around for a long time, and AT was pushed hard by the Howick Local Board over this because of the very constrained parking at Half Moon Bay. However, I don’t think anyone outside of the local board really thought it would succeed.Put it down to the tyranny of political pressure. Now that it’s been tried, and failed, everyone can move on.

  2. This option doesn’t come up on the AT journey planner for Lloyd Elsmore to Britomart.

    But the 550 with a transfer at Panmure to the Eastern Line does, and it takes just 50 mins for a fare of $8 cash / $6 Hop.

    Wonder what problem the local board was trying to solve? Parking constraints at Half Moon Bay?

    1. It would be viable to have express bus from lloyd elsmore park directly to city centre via pamure train station then go motorway. If bus lane are present on pakranga road and motoway, it would be a 30minutes journey. Making it very fast and popular.

    1. Imagine how quick it would be if the Manukau railway station was a through station creating a loop through the eastern suburbs to near Panmure.

      1. Probably about the same as you would have to transfer either way, but I fully support some form of rapid transit on that corridor!!

  3. This was a dreadful idea from the start; the parking facility was simply in the wrong place. If it’d ran to Panmure railway station it may have worked.

    Meanwhile, the ferrys are rammed full

  4. Almost seems the numbers are meant to be average not total in the first chart (that was what was asked for), but still useless anyway.

  5. Could you ask the same question of AT about the bus that runs between GI and Stonefields, that would be another idea that was good but has been poorly executed.

  6. Time saving is none:
    Driving to the park early, and wait 10minutes on the shuttle bus, then take10mins ride to half moon bay, then the bus have to arrive 10min early, board the ferry and commute to city.

    The total time are not faster than just drive to a panmure and board the train.

    Then because there are only two afternoon shuttles, if you cant return at the designated time, you wont be able to get back to the car. Which means it is very inflexible.

    Cost more:
    Taking a ferry is more expensive than train, or board 550 to city. Saving no cost.

    So it concludes there is no benefit of using this mode. Since most people cant find any benefit, most people would not use it.

  7. Also see article in the local paper,

    The trial is supposed to continue until September, but from July the shuttle is supposed to charge passengers. Given the response so far, I wonder if it’s even worth carrying on until September? Hard to imagine that all the current users will stick around once they have to pay for the shuttle.

    The real question is, though, why doesn’t the Half Moon Bay Park & Ride just start charging for parking to try to manage demand? My understanding is that the Howick Local Board has opposed this, but I think they’ll have to reconsider given this shuttle trial…

  8. Shuttles to major public transport hubs are a good idea, I reckon. They just need to be done a bit better. I like the idea of a local Uber-style pic-up system run with 9-seaters that connects to train or bus (or ferry) departures. The physical infrastructure wouldn’t even need to be owned/run by AT, as I am sure there are plenty of groups (schools?) that have vehicles like this that can be used during the commuting period.

  9. Was browsing the AT website tonight and saw this announcement. Thought it would be of interest as it announces more shuttle services, despite the apparent low uptake due to ‘recent feedback’.
    “Additional shuttle services will operate from Monday 20 June for the remaining three months of the trial and will continue to be free until the introduction of the new simplified zone fares system in July/August 2016.”

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