Is Auckland Transport doing enough to improve public transport or is it resting on its laurels basking in the glow of the spectacular increases being seen on the rail network and busway. That’s a question asked by Radio NZ the other day in highlighting that patronage on the bus network outside of the busway has actually fallen recently and will mean that AT misses its PT targets for the year.

The number of trips being taken on Auckland’s public transport network looks set to miss targets this year, and a new survey shows public perception of the services is worsening.

There has been strong growth on trains and the dedicated Northern Busway but fewer people are using the general bus network, which carries 75 percent of the city’s public transport users.

With two months to go, patronage is down slightly – despite population growth – and overall bus trips are expected to fall short of the annual target of 51.5 million, by more than 4 percent.

I’m not quite sure where the 51.5 million comes from as buses already carry well more than that so it might be a year to date target but that doesn’t change the fact that patronage has dipped in recent months. The four graphs below show how we’re performing across each of the modes and the targets are based on information from the Council’s Long Term Plan debate last year. As you can see both trains and ferries have already exceeded targets but bus use has tailed off and that’s dragged the overall total down.

2016-04 - Patronage vs target

So what’s causing this drop. AT attribute to a number of factors such as charging for the City Link which they say has seen the biggest change and resulted of around 700,000 fewer trips, something AT seem fairly nonchalant about. But seeing as they’ve been doing a lot of advertising recently including large ads in Britomart and people walking around with the modern day version of a sandwich board it’s obviously trips they want back on the buses.

“If you’re transferring from another bus or another train using the AT HOP card, the service is still free,” AT Metro general manager Mark Lambert said.

“But I guess some of those people who were using the City Link for relatively short distances would rather walk a few hundred metres than pay a 50 cent fare. That’s completely understandable and that’s probably a good thing.”

Other factors likely include that people are being put off some buses as a result of the bus stop and route changes made to accommodate the construction of the CRL and possibly even lingering effects of people put off by the bus strike and March Madness a few months ago. But I suspect there are additional factors too.

Over the 18 months or so, AT plan to roll out some of the biggest changes we’ve seen for PT in the form of Integrated Fares (next month) the new bus network (South Auckland in October and the rest of Auckland some-time between then and early 2018). Both of these changes will undoubtedly be positive when they arrive and be the result of countless hours and effort put in by AT staff. Yet at the same time I also wonder if they’re hiding a little behind those projects or perhaps that they’ve just got so much resource tied up in getting those projects over the line that other improvements suffer.

AT said the bus network had suffered years of neglect, but new fares and a redesign of routes over the next 18 months were expected to provide a boost.

“As we change the bus network there may be a localised stagnation, as people get used to the changes, but we certainly expect to see strong growth as a result of those service re-designs,” Mr Lambert said.

One such example which is seemingly languishing on AT’s list of projects includes the roll out of bus lanes on which their latest report says they have under spent for this year.

Bus Priorities and Bus Lanes

Whilst we have received a number of requests from AT Metro in the last few weeks, we are still forecasting to underspend by $1.5m as undertaking any physical works this FY related to those requests will not be possible.

Just one example are the proposed transit lanes along Manukau Rd which would cut journey times for bus users and thereby making the buses along the route much more attractive and efficient. Other routes they’re looking at are shown below from their latest report but it seems the roll out of them is going far too slow.

Bus Lane Rollout

What do you think, are AT doing enough to keep patronage on buses growing or should we just hang around till October when the new network starts rolling out? If you were in charge what would you do to get that growth happening again?

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  1. To encourage general PT growth generally? Simple: off peak fares and a Hop card fare cap similar to that applied to Sydney’s Opal card ($15/day during weekdays and $2.50 on Sundays) and a proactive strategy to discourage car use in the CBD, by whatever means.

      1. I would characterise this blog as pro-car-alternatives rather than anti-car.

        I would love to be able to experience how you read this blog, because your conclusions always seem so different to mine.

      2. True. beating up on car users can bring on a backlash. That’s how Toronto elected coke-smoking Mayor Rob Ford. He was the champion of the car-burbia folk who felt they weren’t being heard by the downtown public transport ‘fanaitics’. Ford ended up supporting most of the same projects anyway (new subway line, light rail) but he ditched most of the policies around keeping cars out of the city. Years were wasted because the previous leadership got too far out in front of what voters would tolerate.

    1. The lack of hours covered by rail (I.e. 10pm curfew) and expense compared to my car off peak is a major detractor for me.

      50 mins door to door VS 25 by car
      Around $200 a month VS $50 by car

      I love the train and put up with this from time to time but… the least they could do is make it a bit more competitive for my off peak commute.

      1. What commute distance are we talking about? I’m sceptical that your total running costs (not just petrol) are only $50/mth for a 25-minute offpeak trip 10 times a week. Typical motor vehicle running costs (not incl. fixed costs like registration, insurance) are ~20c/km upwards.

        1. You are thinking of overall costs, not marginal costs. If you would own the car anyway it can be very cheap to drive additional km.

          1. It would be enlightening if someone figures this out.

            For marginal costs I’d include at least:
            – fuel (I’m going to guess that’s the biggest one)
            – tyres
            – a lot of other maintenance scales up with the distance you drive as well.
            – depreciation. Could be minor compared to getting older, but cars with more km tend to have less resale value as well.

            As opposed to fixed costs (parking, insurance, rego & wof, depreciation due to your car getting older). Most figures flying around on the internet include these, amortized over some average.

          2. That’s why I said “NOT including fixed costs”; if you included them you could start from about 35c/km and up on typical mileages. Everything else is a consumable – if you drive more then eventually you pay for it.

        2. Fixed cost are irrelevant as even if your car is parked in your driveway/garage they are still payable, it is the cost of owning a car not the cost of operating it.

          1. True, until alternatives become good enough to reduce the number of cars owned by a household. As ours has; down from two last year to one now.

            So short term yes, longer term fixed costs are highly significant.

          2. Most studies show fixed + running costs are around 10-12k pa. Obviously that’s an average, cost of vehicle chosen has a huge bearing on that. Real saving for a household.

            BTW that’s not including storage burden; an empty or emptier garage is a great resource.

    2. The AT attitude that everything starts or finishes at Britomart is the biggest barrier to more uptake of public transport.

        1. And one of the most touted benefits of the CRL is that trains from the western line can take a shorter route to Britomart. And second, we will be able to route twice (or more) the amount of trains via Britomart.

          The problem is the topology of the network, it’s right now a star pattern centred on Britomart. This becomes painfully obvious after living on Hobson Street for a while. Most journeys start with a 15 minute walk to either Britomart or Symonds Street. Nearby places like the fish market, or suburbs like Grafton or Ponsonby are practically unreachable (as in waaaaay too slow) via PT. If you for some reason become unfit to walk for a few km you’re going to hate the day you got rid of your car.

          Perhaps the most funny thing (or least, depending on your point of view) is that this pattern extends to the North Shore. Birkenhead-Takapuna usually goes via a transfer on Fanshawe Street.

          1. come on roeland, no-one will walk past Aotea or K Rd stations to get on a service at Britomart? Even if using buses or ferries from there especially with fare integration; no additional cost. Britomart will remain a centre because, if nothing else, the ferries aren’t moving inland, but Aotea + Wellesley St bus interchange will be at least as important.

          2. Yes as far as I understand the integrated fares should finally arrive in a few months. And that station on Aotea square will indeed make catching PT from there a lot easier.

            So what about the rest of the city? The isthmus gets a few cross-towns. The isthmus is also prohibitively expensive for most people. On the North Shore most frequent services will still go to Britomart, and taking the bus for instance between Birkenhead and Takapuna will not get any easier. Northcote, with all the development planned over there doesn’t get any frequent service at all.

          3. The western trains have a shorter trip but the Papakura trains will be longer as they also will come in via Mt Eden.

          4. silly comment.

            The southern line trains will take longer to get to Britomart, but journeys to most of the city centre will be much shorter. Plus people will save the walk from downtown.

          5. Stu Donovan how is that a silly comment? The Papakura to Britomart trains will take at least another 10 minutes (probably more) on what is a 54 minute trip currently.

          6. Stu’s point is that the centre of the city is not Britomart but Aotea, so in fact the route via Grafton is quicker than via Parnell [trains from the south will not stop at Mt Eden, there are no platforms on that direction].

            Where do you get your extra 10 minutes from? NM-Grafton-K Rd-Aotea, will be no slower than NM-Parnell-Britomart-Aotea. Especially as trains are very slow on the Parnell approach to Britomart.

            Also the CRL southern portal will be grade separate unlike the existing eastern portal, so it will be subject to fewer delays through conflicts.

          7. Patrick Reynolds the entrance into the CRL from the NAL is at the current Mt Eden station, whether they stop there is irrelevant to the time it will take into Britomart.

          8. It is currently 6 minutes from Newmarket to Mt Eden and you will have two stops once you are inside the tunnel so 10 minutes may even be a little conservative.

          9. So it takes roughly the same time to get from Newmarket to Britomart as it does from Newmarket to Mt Eden but you still have to go through the tunnel stopping twice (K Rd and Aotea) before getting to Britomart so yes about 10 minutes longer from Papakura via the CRL (and the same back again).

          10. it is a silly comment BigTed.

            More people are going to Aotea than Britomart. Hence average journey times for people coming from the south will reduce post-CRL.

            Your argument is stupid because you’re measuring travel-time to Britomart, which will be longer, but not considering that running southern line trains via the CRL shortens travel-times for more passengers.

            Nonsense stuff.

  2. The smartest thing to do on Mankaur Rd and other arterials is to introduce no parking 24×7 and clearly mark two lanes each way. Solely dedicated bus lanes are wasted real estate. Forget using sticks against car users, but instead use carrots. Simplify bus ticket prices to round dollars so commuters can easy understand relevant costs. If you have to use sticks then you are implying that what you have on offer is not good enough or compelling enough in its own right. Wise people know this.

    1. That’s a very conceited position RIcardo. Just one comment above you are making the call for PT to be more attractive in its own right. Then in the second you’re lamenting bus lanes as a stick to punish car drivers. Bus lanes aren’t about car drivers, they are about buses.They’re about letting buses travel at their natural speed and reliability without having them stuck in other people’s traffic. You know, like making buses more attractive.

      1. As well as ignoring the fact that bus lanes are about maximising throughout of people not volume of metal, as you’re well aware Symonds Street carries 80% of all people along the bus lanes, only 20% in the general car lanes. Despite this car drivers still get 60-70% of the road space in this corridor.
        I think the analogy should really be that if you wish to beat yourself with a stick use a car to drive to the city. If you’d prefer to eat a carrot, use transit.

        1. Absolutely agree. Transit lanes are analysed for whether they should be a T2, T3 or Bus Lane by seeking the maximum efficiency of moving people, not vehicles – ie they’re mode-neutral, but putting people first. Another counter-intuitive is that on a road with two lanes in each direction, one of which is (say) a bus lane, to change that to a T3 may actually slow traffic in the GENERAL traffic lane (as well as slowing down the transit lane), even though that lane is theoretically carrying fewer vehicles than before. Reason for this is that when buses in the T3 lane stop to pick up passengers, the following car traffic will often try to get around them by temporarily merging back into the general traffic lane, causing the kind of snarl-ups that occur anywhere where two lanes merge. So to those blinkered people who want to see bus lanes converted to T3s, and T3s converted to T2s, I say “be careful what you wish for”!

        2. This is an astonishing figure – 80% of people in Symonds Street are going by bus in only 20-30% of the road width – have I got that right? That’s a figure to be publicising more!

          1. What is unbelievable about one of the busiest bus corridors in the city moving a lot of people by bus?

            Actually the road width is about 50/50, one bus lane and one traffic lane each way effectively. But with 120 buses an hour at peak your carrying about 5-6000 passengers an hour, given they are all very full. Meanwhile a traffic lane city street would be lucky to move 1,000 vehicles an hour.

    2. I think government should also mandate that petrol prices be rounded to the nearest dollar. No one will drive anywhere otherwise as they wont understand the costs involved. The economy is suffering for this as people are put off making high value car trips. Wise people know this.

    3. It’s interesting that your discussion of ‘sticks’ is really just complaining that private cars don’t get the same treatment as buses. Talk about entitlement!

      Buses carry a lot more people in a lot less space, so they get ‘carrots’ in order to prioritise and enable the efficient movement of people. Nothing unfair about that. And if being stuck in traffic is a stick, it’s a stick that drivers make for their own backs.

      Now, a congestion charge, that would be a stick. (We should still do it.)

  3. Are they monitoring their 40km of bus lanes by 2017 target? How has that stacked up?

    I don’t see why bus priority in certain areas hasn’t been fixed years ago, there appears to be a lack of movement on what should be a core strategy for improving PT.

    1. I’m also very interested to see how AT is progressing towards this target – it’s how the council sold the Interim Transport Levy after all…

    2. Has AT ever met any target date? When was integrated ticketing first meant to be introduced? I seem to remember HOP roll out being very late too. Aren’t we meant to get light rail up Dominion Road by 2019 – can’t see that happening!
      Lots of talk, very little action…

      1. Light rail down existing roads would be a big mistake, rail light or heavy needs to be separated from other traffic and pedestrians.

        1. Bigted,

          They are planning on exclusive light rail corridors in the centre of the road. This is common practice internationally.

          1. That may be the case but due to the width of the road and how busy it currently is it doesn’t seam to be a good idea, having people getting on and off in the middle of the road is a recipe for disaster.

          2. I’m sure they wont just be jumping out into the traffic! I’ll assume the designers are competent, in which case it will be safe.

          3. Unless the light rail vehicles are going to cross over the traffic (will be as dangerous and chaotic) at ‘stations’ then having them running down the middle of the road will require passengers to get on and off in the middle of the road. Running them on the sides will become a pedestrian hazard.

          4. Not sure what you mean but they will have platforms and then crossings (zebra, signalised?) to get to the footpath.

          5. On the assumption that a LR vehicle would be as wide as a bus so would require a lane width on the road, double tracked to be able to run in both directions. Most of the road is only 4 lanes wide, 2 general transport lanes down the centre and a bus lane down each side (that also become on street parking outside bus lane operating hours) becoming slightly wider at controlled intersections. So for the LR to run down the centre the general traffic would have to run down what is currently bus lanes, so where do you fit the ‘platform’ areas and crossings to get people safely off the roads?

          6. Patrick Reynolds I have seen some of the LR on the Gold coast and there is more separated from general traffic than mixed with it, the LR areas on the Gold coast are far wider than anywhere that is available on the Dominion rd corridor.

          7. Most of the road has a median (I assume we are talking about Dominion Rd here). Plus near intersections the road is wider still. Also remember you can stagger stops on either side of the corridor. You can also narrow lanes and the footpath where required.

          8. The road has to be at least 4 lanes wide everywhere, and at least 5 lanes (with offset stops) where you have the stops. So why do you think that location shows an issue? Especially as carparks are not an immovable artefact of the universe.

          9. Errol Cavit the parked car is in what is currently a bus lane, this will be the general lane once LR takes up the centre leaving no room for platform areas.

          10. That location doesn’t look to bad but yes it is narrower in the town centres. Obviously, you don’t need stops everywhere. I think Errol is referring to the section just beyond the ped crossing in your location which is indeed plenty wide enough.

            Patrick, as for buses vs LRT, it depends on the speeds you want to run the vehicles, but for 50-60kph speeds there really is no significant difference in min widths. It’s basically around 3m either way.

          11. LRT tends to have less stops than buses. Higher value stops spaced more apart a bit like heavy rail. People will walk/travel further to higher quality PT. I’m sure they will fit them in somehow

          12. Grant so you are getting rid of the buses and replacing them with LR but not stopping in the town centres, doesn’t make a lot of sense really.

          13. Pretty sure the demolition was about maintaining general vehicle amenity. There is no capacity issue.

            Please explain though because I don’t recall having seen plans with more than two lanes dedicated to PT?

            Bigted, and you just identified a great spot for a stop in a town centre, wel done! Are you trying to increase your general understanding or just arguing for the sake of it?

          14. Not an issue for Dom Rd now or in the foreseeable future.

            Your photo is of a corridor with an order of magnitude higher capacity than Dom Rd needs. It’s a specious argument.

          15. Matthew W my original point was that Dominion rd is not wide enough for LR to be running down the middle (the point about where the stops and how the passengers will get safely across the live traffic lane is secondary) and that LR (just like heavy rail) really needs to be as separated from traffic and pedestrians as is possible, steel on steel doesn’t stop as quick and rubber on ash felt and there is no other way of avoiding a collision than stopping.

  4. T3 lane along Manakau Rd are currently getting marked up. They have marked some of paint on the road from Greenlane to Owens Rrd and they have some signs up wrapped in plastic.

    1. Given AT have committed to a median bus corridor on Manukau Road and through Newmarket they should ideally be rolling this out now, but shoulder lanes are a good stop gap.

          1. Talking of Newmarket I never cease to marvel at that handful of disruptive carparks right outside the broadway Train Station entrance, exactly where buses should be stopping… Come on AT grow a pair and manage your corridors with more confidence.

            Additionally why are the Queen St bus lanes so intermittent and short- only two blocks? Do AT want to build a case for LR there or not?

            LR in Queen means no cars, so get working towards that already, again with confidence; buslane the length of it from Customs to mayoral, that’s still only two of the four lanes.

  5. There are so many places where buses are held up simply due to AT’s lack of desire to properly implement continuous bus lanes through intersections, Symonds St/AnzacAve/beac rd is a prime example of this. It doesn’t surprise me that bus use is stagnating whilst it remains an unreliable and frequently held up in general traffic option.

    1. New North Road needs the bus lanes extended over a much longer time, particularly the end from Mostyn Street to Symonds St. “Peak time” seems to be from about 7am to 10am and then starts again about 3pm. There are bugger-all busineses on that stretch which don’t have their own parking, or where parking could not be provided with P60s in the side streets so there is no reason not to do it yesterday.

      1. I’d go 6am to 8pm on all FSN bus routes tbh, these routes are now congested all day, let’s deal with that reality.

      2. Agree with all of these.
        Need to see a shift in mentality… Even for some of the better bus routes there seems to be a piece meal approach to bus lanes, bus priority etc. Should be striving for excellence, not settling for the half measures that we seem to end up with.

  6. 1. Lack of bus lanes and those bus lanes that are there are not enforced or long enough so busses get stuck in general traffic
    2. Busses full. Seeing the seventh bus in a row go by saying bus full on a wet winter’s day is enough to send even the most hardy back to their cars
    3. Fares are too high
    4. Lack of customer service from Auckland Transport. Simply put they see the passenger as a nuisance rather than a paying customer. The current Super Gold AT-HOP situation which is both confusing the Super Gold card holders and putting them out-of-pocket $15 being prime examples of first class customer service
    5. Lack of information on whether services are running on time, late or not at all

    Might as add a 6th one one in here given the Americans often do this in High School and University level: training with actual game simulators. In the 00’s in was Sim City 4, today it is Cities Skylines as seen here #CitiesSkylines Shows Auckland Transport Bus Lanes ( ) Sure the simulators will never be like a true city in the true world but they are getting pretty close to mimicking them.

  7. Bus fares are too high compared to taking a car with 2 to 3 people. Bus takes too long because not enough bus lanes and priorities at lights. Difficult to get to a lot of places cross city because of routes and long complicated routes thus easier to take a car. For our family it is easier and cheaper to take the car and drop off everyone along the way.We tried PT many times and basically it is too hard and more expensive. When we were in Sydney for a week it was easy,cheap and made sense. Why do we pay AT large salaries for their supposed expertise and we get second rate PT and at higher fares. Until they fix it properly we will not be trying it again for a while.
    I gave a guest a timetable so that he could use a bus while he stayed with me on the shore and he said what the F—-k whats this. He couldnt understand it and said he couldnt be bothered trying to work it out. Its an embarassment as he was planning to invest significant money in NZ

    1. You pay peanuts to AT to be honest. In Sydney public transport is subsidised at about twice the rate as in Auckland.

    2. “Bus fares are too high compared to taking a car with 2 to 3 people” – yes, generally it’s hard to compete there, but the problem is that most people still tend to drive one person per car. Last time I checked, I think the average vehicle occupancy during peak times was about 1.1-1.2 people. So, for those single occupant vehicle drivers, the costs can stack up for taking PT instead (although that assumes that people factor in all the actual costs of running a motor vehicle and not just what their last petrol bill was…).

  8. From a my (a ‘standard’ bus user) perspective AT is too obsessed with big projects, so if there is no big projects near you – you see no improvement and with growing traffic volumes your bus is even less attractive than it used to be.

    There is a number of really simple ones:
    1. Make bus lane hours 6-9.30am and 3-7.30pm everywhere
    2. Actually deliver the bus lanes and bus priorities at intersections.
    3. Start taking bus priority seriously in all new project, not as an afterthought. My local example – as part of the (terrible in my opinion) New Network for West Auckland Te Atatu rd will host a number of higher frequency services. The current project give absolutely zero priority to buses so the reliability will be as it is right now. Appalling.
    4. Reliability of off-peak services. With current frequencies of many of those services (personal experience again), being 1h or worse it’s normal for the bus to be 20-30 minutes late (unfortunately for some strange reason sometimes they do arrive on time). I actually stopped complaining to AT about that since it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

    AT seems to be spinning the wheels on bus users and it shows.

  9. Roll out of bus lanes is painfully slow. Perhaps if they were also T3 lanes then there would be less resistance to them and in reality T3 would hardly be used much so buses would get a clear run.
    The new network is taking too long. As an interim measure they could offer half price HOP connecting fares.

    Main reason for drop in bus numbers however is rail. Why would you take a bus when you can take a nicer train instead? – good problem to have. That said buses are important and AT probably need to drop HOP fares (especially off peak) to encourage more usage.

  10. What a pointless move it was to introduce a 50c charge for casual users of the City Link bus! If AT knows that this has caused patronage to drop then why not reverse the move? It makes no sense to say that casual users “would rather walk a few hundred metres than pay a 50 cent fare” because who these days always has small change in their pockets?

    Incidentally making it free only for HOP card transfers hits ferry users the most, because the HOP fares are so disproportionately high on ferries that most ferry users can’t use HOP cards.

    1. I think charging 50c for the city link was a good idea.

      You’re ignoring the supply side costs: If buses are chocka then you have to run more buses or people get left behind.

      Those costs are large, and at least now they’re not being forced to run more service on a route where they don’t get any revenue (and hence the subsidy requirements are very high).

  11. The change of bus stops in the Britomart area has been poorly handled…miles to walk to the Howick & Eastern stop, and no seats or shelter provided…much easier to catch the train!

  12. The most interesting thing about the City Link fare rise is that it shows very clearly how price responsive the AKL PT user is. This suggests very firmly that in order to reach and improve targets there is a lot to be achieved with lowering direct cost. Integrated fares should help here, but may not be as visible as actual cuts. I suggest off peak and Weekend fares should be aggressively lowered. This seems possible as we have a steadily improving farebox recovery, ahead of targets, and spare capacity outside of peaks. Additionally if well marketed it could prove to be revenue neutral, insignificant, or even positive, if it leads to a sizeable behaviour change.

    And is a form of time of day pricing.

    1. Also people would be willing to pay more than $0 for the city link if it travelled faster than walking speed. Need moar bus priority!

    2. Definitely agree on off-peak fares. They should apply them to pre-peak as well as interpeak travel – some students would probably be willing to go in early and study in exchange for saving on bus fare.

    3. You are absolutely right Patrick. If AT can drop inner city car parking charges to $2 per hour then they can drop weekend fares.
      I believe the problem is that AT believe that currently public transport is largely a means for people to get to work in the city from Monday to Friday. And as far as the Shore is concerned that is probably right. I defy most Shore residents to try shopping at Albany mall, or Wairau Park; visiting the North Shore Events Centre; North Shore Stadium or the Millenium Stadium by bus and tell me that it is an easy experience.
      And the lead time until anything changes on the Shore by timetable changes -simply pathetic.

  13. Simple solutions; more bus lanes, more buses on routes. When they get complaints about overcrowding they seem to see it as a problem not a blessing.

  14. Last winter I got the bus pretty much every working day. This year I’ve caught the bus less than 10 times. The reason for this is that now the cycling infrastructure is better in the CBD and the road works near home have been completed. So now I’m cycling year-round rather than just over the daylight-savings period.

    Time wise – it’s quicker by bike than by bus (by about 20 minutes each way) and nearly as fast as the car. The main reason why it takes so long door-to-door by bus is that I’m 900m from the nearest stop at either end of the journey and the bus takes a convoluted route with stops every 200m or so (except for going over the bridge).

    Cycling costs me about half as much again as driving (only because I have free parking at work) and a little bit more than the bus (because the ferry costs so more than 3-stage bus trip).

    1. Yes. As cycling and Rapid Transit infra improves, slow bus is likely to be cannibalised.

      Slow bus needs a universal upgrade; the machines, the routes, and the service [frequency and span].

      This is a big job, but if there is one priority its the quality of the route, the other features will more easily follow route improvement, through increased demand.

      1. But bicycling cannibalizing PT is often not a big problem. You can get problems with parking where density is really high (the old European city centres with their tiny streets), but Auckland has no such high-density areas anywhere. I don’t think cycle lanes are more expensive to maintain than bus lanes.

        1. Oh completely agree; it’s not any sort of problem. Just saying that more choices help create pressure for more improvement. Competition between modes is ideal. And bike use of course is the best from and an energy use and environmental perspective. And very very good too from a spatial efficiency one. The bike rider for transport is an urban quality indicator species.

          1. Aah, so I’m a canary – that probably explains all the bright yellow clothes then.

            I wonder though, if those that have already made the transition away from the car are more likely to try cycling. meaning that cycling does cannibalise PT patronage. Still, that should free up some seats on the bus for the next lot of disheartened motorists to give the alternatives a try.

          2. Yes. Like in DC, where underfunding, and investment being diverted to new lines on the fringes from maintenance of the core of the network has caused outages, and then a bike boom. Clearly those who are already not using their car for every trip are more open to other options.

            Or, like in my case, frustration with slow bus (as I like to call our regular non Rapid bus services), means I tend to use the bike to get to a Rapid Station if leaving my immediate neighbourhood. Simply because it’s better and quicker. And as our Rapid Network is so minimal, and expansions unfunded, AT needs to expand bike catchment to the existing network as both an interim and longer term means of expanding the reach of its only competeitive service.

    2. Yeah I’m in the same boat, I used to bus everyday to work in the CBD, but thanks to new cycling infa, I ride most days.

  15. Place more dedicated Bus Lanes and extend Bus Lane times. Rush Hour in Auckland is increasing and the Bus Lane times are not adapting to this change.

    Why cant AT figure out that BUS LANES are needed to encourage more car users? Who would want to ride a bus which also gets stuck with traffic? If I was stuck in a car in this ugly Auckland winter and I see a bus that just zooms past through a Bus Lane, I would reconsider moving out of my car and into a bus.

    1. I agree absolutely about the times. The Onewa Rd. T3 starts at 6:30, and that used to be good enough but now if you don’t get down there before 6:00 then traffic is starting to back up and the early buses are getting caught in it. Coming back again, the 4-6PM is pointless, especially while there are so many cars parked in it. it needs to be 3:30 to 7PM at least, with no stopping (parking) in the lane at those times.

  16. Bus lanes bus lanes bus lanes … They should be along the length of most arterial roads. Being in a bus sitting in traffic is so frustrating.
    Great South Road
    Great North Road
    Dominion Road
    Manukau Road
    Pakuranga Road / Ti Rakau Drive
    Remuera Road
    Quay Street / Tamaki Drive
    And many many more,

    Basically all peak times into / out of the city there should be dedicated bus lanes. Off peak then sure, on street parking etc can be used.

    1. What’s critical in all those cases is that the bus lanes reach across the intersections and don’t get dropped in favour of left-turn lanes 300m before the intersection.

      AT should finally understand that their key mandate is to move volumes of people.

      1. Just a question… How are vehicles supposed to turn left if there are buses going straight ahead if there isn’t a turning lane? It is not uncommon to see 3 buses end to end… so by the time they go straight ahead through the intersection there probably isn’t any time left for anyone to turn left (or all the cars stuck behind the person trying to turn left not being able to go straight ahead).

        1. You are allowed in the bus lane if you are turning left. So just join the queue of busses and wait for the lights to turn green. You wont hold anyone up.

          1. Only for the last 50m of the bus lane, if there are buses there already you have no choice to but wait for them to pass.
            Tested on Symonds St/Grafton Rd intersection.

          2. Tested? Did you get out and measure that 3 busses were taking up more than 50 meters? Were they all that old bendy bus type?

            I guess in the very rare event there are 4 or more busses in the buslane, but the vehicle lane is clear, you can just stop around the 50 meter mark and indicate left. Otherwise take your chances queuing behind the bus. Who are you more worried about holding up, the bus carrying 80% of commuters, or one vehicle lane carring 10?

          3. which is why it does need to be more than 50m in some cases as it is quite easy for 3+ buses to be stopped end to end. Of course having traffic light priority might help make this less of an issue.

          4. Dan C, 3 buses at 12.5 metres each allowing for the gaps between the buses 50 metres would be a reasonable guess.

          5. 12.5*3 = 37.5meters. 12.5 meters for the two gaps between buses is not reasonable. You need 4 buses before it’s an issue.

            Plus if we look at the symonds / grafton/ krd cross roads specifically mentioned, the bus lane actually projects a full bus length forward of the left hand turn off, so you actually need 5 buses to be queued there before you are hitting the 50m limit. So i really don’t imagine this to be a common issue. Have people here often experienced 5 busses backed up while the general traffic lanes are empty?


          6. You are forgetting the space in front of the first bus and behind the third one, allowing just over a metre in each of these positions eats up half of your spare 12 metres so three buses being 50 metres is still a pretty close guess/estimate. I do believe there are bigger allowable dimensions for ATs new ‘H’ buses too, longer, wider, higher, heavier.

          7. Here you go, 5 busses on symonds st, and a ruler showing the point that is 50m back from the point you would exit the bus lane onto the free-turn lane.


            Behind the 4th one is plenty of space for a normal length car before you hit 50m. The 5th bus only half fits in the 50m limit, so if you ever get 5, you’d want to stop there and wait for them to get moving before entering the bus lane.

            But seriously how often do you get 5 buses backed up and at the same time a free flowing general traffic lane, such that you are actually holding people up? In fact as there are two general traffic lanes here, you need the bus lane to be backed up 50m, the left hand general lane to be free flowing, and the right hand general lane to be backed up 50m such that people cant just change lane to get past. These conditions happen so often that the government needs to change the law?

  17. Integrated ticketing will help a lot but there remains a range of issues:
    – Bus lanes : we need them to be enforced. Onewa Rd in the afternoon is not enforced and there are always several cars parked in the T3, forcing the buses to merge into the main traffic lane, often not bothering to go back into the T3 because they suspect that further along they’re going to have and repeat the exercise.
    Of course, more bus lanes are needed, even if they only operate in the rush hour – I personally hope AT sort out a bus lane on Customs Street East (southern side) because it’s been mayhem since so many bus stops have relocated.
    – Look at pricing during the weekend, a time when people tend not to use PT. If we get our kids used to using PT, then they continue to do so when adult. But to go from Birkenhead to Newmarket by bus then train with two kids ends up costing way more than taking the car. When you add convenience and travelling time, it’s a no-brainer.
    – maybe introduce express services which stop at fewer bus stops and offer time-saving to people for whom it is important.
    – Sort out the Hop card – there are still too many problems with the system, with poor synchronisation of data between the online system, the card readers and automated emailing system…
    – Make it easier for passengers to claim refunds back from AT – it is ridiculous that each passenger should have to personally claim a refund from AT when they have data for all the cards that were swiped for the journey. While you’re at it, provide real customer-focussed service.
    – Do not allow March Madness, April Foolness and May Mayhem to EVER happen again. People try PT and give up, and tell everyone how crap the service is. Major PR disaster.
    – Look at the bus stock (operators responsibility): aircon in the summer would be very nice. Also, many bus users report obstructive advertising on bus windows, which make travelling by bus quite claustrophobic.
    It’s not rocket science – make it fast, cheap and reliable, make it a positive experience, and people will use it.

  18. Why is AT behind target with their bus lane rollout? Is it lack of resources or poor estimation or unexpected issues exceeding contingency? Do they ever say why they seem to miss so many deadlines e.g. when was integrated ticketing originally supposed to go live – last year sometime?

  19. Some obvious fixes and pitfalls (from experience of growing up on the Belgian countryside)

    🙂 Integrated ticketing. Let’s see if it finally arrives. When I went to high school, we had paper tickets with some magnetic strips (basically a paper version of our HOP cards, minus the online top-up). That system had integrated ticketing. Over here, PT trips get quite expensive if you need transfers.

    🙂 Discounts for kids. A paying adult can take a child under 12 with him for free. This is no longer possible now but kids can have cheap yearly passes now. Travelling on PT gets REALLY expensive for families when all kids have to pay the full fare.

    🙁 Star topologies suck. Where I studied, all buses went to the station, which is on the edge of the city. That makes going from A to B extremely slow if the station is not roughly in the same direction. The consequence is that nobody takes the bus and everybody cycles, and some places have a real problem with too many parked bicycles.
    → In Auckland, the focus of that star is Britomart. For that reason, if you’re even a small distance away (Hobson Street for example) getting around on PT gets very cumbersome.

    Also, since the City Link came up again, the main problem with that service is that is is so extremely slow, it’s a lot slower than walking. That also appears to make it unreliable, it’s supposed to be frequent but actually it is not uncommon to have 15 minute gaps. That’s not good if you are trying to catch a train or a ferry.

  20. Agree with everyone asking for more bus lanes & priority alright. Every rapid route getting rolled out in the new network should have them unless unnecessary. They need move with longer peak times. From memory the far flung places that have already got the new network, bus use has increased at least 20%. Hoping for at least that in the more central areas, but without lanes in some areas I can see that not happening.
    Do AT want more off peak PT use or not? Used the down town parking building on Sunday & marvelled at the cheap $4.00 charge for a few hours, same price to get one adult in from home using HOP. Taking in family means it’s a no brainer to use the car and park.

  21. My daughter and niece have had trouble with the outer link bus over the last month or so. The number of services has been reduced to the point where its quicker to walk. And the express bus that used to stop near my house at 7:25am no longer runs. Now there is a gap in the schedule, no buses between 7:15 & 7:45am. With winter upon us, walking 800m to another stop is just not happening. Honestly whatever changed at Auckland Transport recently needs fixing

  22. Q.Why I used the bus and train less than I used too?
    A. Prior to the change $10.50 on bus about was the fare I liked. This gave me travel from Huapai to Pukekoke to Orewa and Maraetai on the buses, I could just off and on for loo stop or to stretch my legs.
    -Told by AT staff the ATHOP would be cheaper, I traveled to Pukekohe on the bus with change at Papakura cost $10.50 on a single trip to Papakura was $7.70 on the hop from where I lived, or $15.40 ( maybe 50 cents if I made a tag on in 30 minutes) I preferred the bus to Pukekohe as its a bit of walk over a busy road to get Pukekohe main shops.
    My regular trip costs $10.80 now take 50 mins each way and that is the quickiest on the train, on the bus I have a ten minute walk and that costs $4.10 now.
    I used to go to Browns Bay and Albany, out of the question now. Often travel to New Lynn not now. Henderson and Westgate not now. At $10.50 the Bus About pass was great and for retailers I bought in customer from other parts of the AT Network. $18 on the current Day trip is not worth it you get about the same value as a non-discount fare.
    I’m a customer and I was taught at school to use the public transport to help save our planet from those nasty gases that polluted. Soon that will change, I starting to its more economically to have a car and it will take me quickly to my destinations, I can get in and out, use the loo, go to a country town or even further. The new transport system is more about corporate looks and making a profit nothing wrong with that approach but the competition is getting tougher and this includes a private car.
    The other thing is the weekend buses start way too late now, my one starts 8 am the train gets me to my destination on a Sunday at 7:40 AM.
    Going to Britomart is a no brainer as the inner city has no real stores for locals, great for tourist and students but they be closer to where they need to go on Symond St near Wellesley St ( that the Inner Library stop I walk down hill avoid all the beggers in Queen Street).

  23. Staff at AT, or even worse NZTA, where are they recruited from?
    We want to be a world leader, how many executives and key personnel have we recruited from the countries that rank top 5 in transport policies. Say Denmark? or Holland? or HongKong, or SIngapore or even from the here so much heralded Vancouver.
    If we want to do well we have to start by bringing in people that have the skills, the experience and the knowhow.

    WHy I am really fed up with the bus service I am offered:
    1. The price. (i know that some here keeps stating that the cost of cars is higher, but marginal costs not sunk such is pretty cheap).
    2. CBD chaos – The buschaos that goes on in the city. After the third time they moved my busstop I surrendered. I have seen projects three times as large as the cityrail loop being built. I have yet to see a public transport organisation that doesn’t start with slow changes of bus-stops a year in advance and ensure that there only is ONE change throughout the project. International exposure outside NZ/South Africa wouldn’t hurt would it…
    3. Service quality – Have they checked the suspension on NZ Bus vehicles? Auckland is the only city that i have commuted in where if you sit over the tyre you often bounce like you are on a roller-coaster. How about wifi? How about ontime performance? How about enter through the front doors exit through the rear doors time saving procedures like in most other civilised cities…
    4. Frequency – I you work 9-6 and want to do anything in the city after work there is no decent service. It requires plenty of planning to leave anytime after 7pm.
    5. Bus stops. During winter, do I really want to stand outside without cover? Some fool at AT has decided that West Harbourites should travel west and not to the shore. Problem is they haven’t built any bus shelters that allow us to wait under cover in that direction. There are bus-shelters when I go in the shores direction.

    Bonuspoint. The new network – it increases my price/travel time further. The borders have been set without taking travel-patterns of residents into account. (I live in West Harbour, the route for us is West Harbour-Constellation-(Northern busway)-CBD but some AT fool want to send us sightseeing through Westgate which adds heaps to both travel-time and reduces frequency. Fools. (And if we stick to the normal route on the shore we get punished by extra costs. Thanks AT, I really like paying more for the new improved network with farezones- NOT…

    Having grown up on public transport and having it as the natural mode for a commute, its sad to see how mismanaged Auckland Transport is and how little attention thats paid to their services. If you don’t live on a busway, using public transport in Auckland is a miserable affair.
    Its truly tough love.

      1. If AT has made the decision for LR on top of the north shore busway then the NW (down the side of the motorway from what I’ve seen) should be LR and not a busway that way it will be able to link into the eventual north shore LR at both the Albany and CBD ends creating a useful loop.

    1. Perhaps parts of West Harbour area should be multi-zoned so that people are penalised for travelling via the Shore.

    2. I can understand how you might be dispirited. I was amazed in Curitiba, Brazil how so much has been achieved with relatively little. The BRT system leads to a packed, vibrant central city and initially you wonder where everyone has come from until you see a 3 unit bus arrive with seemingly a couple of hundred aboard.
      I am encouraged that at least things are changing slowly here in some areas. Takapuna, for example, has a good bus service to the City. At the moment 4 high rise developments are being sold off the plans all within easy distance of the town centre; all of which will support the existing transport infrastructure, or lead to its enhancement. At least one of these developments does not require the purchaser to buy car parking.
      Debate is occurring to remove the large central car park and replace it with apartments.
      The area seems to becoming more and more livable allowing the chance to walk freely enjoying the many enhancements occurring in the area.

  24. All of the suggestions are good. Surely though the immediate problem is just fundamental lack of capacity that means that many people who want to use pt can’t or have such an appalling experience that they try desperately to find an alternative?

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