On Monday, the Auckland Transport Board are expected to rubber stamp the outcome of the final and biggest of the major consultations for the new bus network, Central and East Auckland. The consultation was held at the end of last year and AT say they received over 3,700 pieces of feedback for the Central network and almost 1,200 pieces of feedback for the East Auckland network. For the Central network 60% of people were in support or not opposed to the proposed changes while in East Auckland that number was 64%.

As a result of the feedback AT say they they have made changes to 29 out of the 52 routes in the central area while in the east 10 out of the 15 routes had changes to them and timetable changes for 8 of them. That’s a lot of changes and not all of them appear to be good, in fact some effectively break the principles behind the new network which I think will undermine the success of it. The biggest concern is in the central area where there now appears to be much weaker cross town services thanks to most of them rerouted, downgraded, truncated or removed entirely. In the end it feels much more like an extension of the status quo than the revolutionary connected network we were promised.

Next I’ll step through the central and east networks separately. Perhaps it’s just the way the image looks in the board paper but one immediate observation of both central and east is the maps feel more cluttered and harder to read compared to those used in the consultation. This seems to be in part due to some of the changes that were made.

Central Network

Some of the major changes include:

  • The outer Link has been retained – although on a modified route between Mt Eden and Newmarket.
  • As a result of the Outer Link, the Crosstown 6 route along St Lukes/Balmoral Rd/Greenlane West has been had it’s frequency downgraded and at it’s eastern end, it no longer connects to the Orakei Train Station meaning there is no longer a frequent all day service service there.
  • The Crosstown 5 route which also served Orakei as well as proving a connection between Ponsonby, Kingsland, Valley Rd, Mt Eden and Remuera and Mission Bay town centres has been removed. Both this and the Crosstown 6 are suggested to be in part the result of people from Orakei not wanting to transfer to get to the city centre.
  • There are a number of new peak only services to the city centre
  • The frequent service along Tamaki Dr and a new route through the eastern suburbs will be branded the Blue Link

There are many other many other changes but it is hard to list them all here.

Here’s the final network

New Network Central - Final

As a comparison, here’s the network that was consulted on

Central Proposed New Bus Network

To clarify which roads have at least one frequent service to the city all day, AT have the map below. They also say

The final New Network will mean that the arterial routes listed below will continue to have all-day frequent service to and from the City Centre, with enhanced capacity and levels of service (including in most cases 15 minute or better frequencies in the evenings and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), to support the increasing level of economic and social activity in the city centre outside normal business hours. Most of these routes will also operate every 30 or 60 minutes between midnight and 3.00 am on Saturday and Sunday evenings to replace the Nite Rider services. Routes anticipated to utilise double-decker buses within the next 2 – 3 years are underlined:

  • Jervois Rd (Outer Link)
  • Ponsonby Rd (Inner Link)
  • Great North Rd as far as New Lynn
  • New North Rd
  • Sandringham Rd
  • Dominion Rd
  • Mt Eden Rd
  • Manukau Rd
  • Ellerslie Panmure Highway and Ti Rakau Drive
  • Remuera Rd
  • Parnell Rd (Inner and Outer Links)
  • Tamaki Drive

New Network Central - Final - frequents to city

East Network

As mentioned earlier, there have been a number of changes in the east, the two big ones are:

  • They’ve swapped the frequent service that will go all the way to the city from being the service from Howick (route 55) to the service from Botany (route 53). It will be interesting to see how the latter route performs in the future given that it could make services on the busway AT want to build less reliable.
  • The route down Te Irirangi Dr (35) has been upgraded to a frequent.

Here’s the final network

New Network East - Final

As a comparison, here’s the network that was consulted on

East Auckland Proposed New Bus Network


As part of the new network networks AT will need to roll out around 100-150 new bus shelters across both central and east. That’s not all that much more than just the South Auckland network which I guess is in part due to many of the main routes on the Isthmus not needing to be changed.

There is also talk of bus priority being added over the next 2-3 financial years. Where bus lanes are or are expected are shown below. AT Also say this which is promising.

bus lanes will be added on Pakuranga Rd and a start will be made on the South-eastern Busway between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany

New Network Central - Bus Lanes

I know there has been pressure from a number of sources to roll the network out sooner and positively the document says they plan to roll out the networks in two separate stages in the second half of 2017 which is promising as previously they had been saying early 2018.

I hope that AT are able to revisit some of the poor decisions they’ve made around the new network in a couple of years’ time, perhaps when the CRL opens and that they don’t just assume this is complete and doesn’t need changing.

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  1. Great to see that upper khyber buses are retained, would of been a nightmare trying to visit newmarket in my lunch break without those buses.

    138, 191, 106 & 209 are sore spots for me though, wish they were more frequent. 106 has to be one of the worst though, Howe St currently has an omnidirectional service consistent with a “connector” level of service, but with the new network that will be cut in half to a “local” level of service and cut in half again becoming only monodirectional, so it will have 1/4 of the current service. Also looks very odd as the only “local” level service specific to the city-centre.

  2. Good to see more bus lanes in the pipeline, but oh so timid! I like the Blue Link idea [I would call it Tamaki Link or Waitemata Link] but it’s hard to see how it will offer an attractive advantage on those sunny weekends when traffic grinds to a halt and the buses sit stuck with the cars.

    That gigantic road has plenty of space for bus lanes but that last map above doesn’t even show any marked for investigation.

    I have seen traffic along there being overtaken by people in kayaks.

    1. I have no idea why every other bus route has a route number but the “Blue Line” (formerly route 77) has to have a special colour? Are Tamaki Drive residents a bit special?

  3. Well, this is disappointing as hell. I’d agree with Matt that the crosstowns have been watered down so much that it’s no longer much of a connected network. It’s also radically different from what was proposed, making a lot of the consultation rather pointless. It’s hard to know how much detail to go into, or what bold changes to propose in a submission when you don’t if they’re looking for minor tweaks or a massive overhaul.

    Losing the Crosstown 5 is particularly sore. It does seem to have been partly replaced with the 202 from St Lukes to Wynyard via Kingsland and Ponsonby, but that route appears on the map but not in the legend, so can’t tell if it’s supposed to be a peak service or all-day.

    I do like the Blue Link idea, though.

  4. They’ve killed the crosstown 5? Guess ill carry on driving to ponsonby then, was looking forward to that route and wrote in in support of it. How can they claim 64% support if they have changed it so drastically? Will they have counted me in the oppose camp now that they have removed what i supported?

  5. A shame they are not even investigating Broadway through Newmarket. Good to see they are investigating Custom St by why for the love of God is there a gap between the investigation section and the bottom of Anzac Ave?

    1. I agree- Broadway needs bus lanes urgently- both for busses and to make it a bit safer for the massive volume of cyclists (by Aucklands standards) though there

  6. Hmmmm, this raises serious questions about AT’s consultation protocols. Sure it’s nice to be liked and to say yes, but to sabotage the principles of your entire plan in a context where two thirds of respondents approve of it is bonkers. Remember others who are happy are likely to have not got round to saying anything. In fact the single issue grumblers are the most likely to have responded at all.

    In a connected frequent network some one-seat rides will go, and people used to them will grumble, generally until they discover the greater freedom afforded by increased frequency, even at the cost of a transfer.

    To have abandoned frequent buses to Orakei Station is a disaster, and one that will have further knock on effects of supporting calls for more land-wasting car parking to be supplied there, yes people in Orakei will be forceful and entitled, but AT has a higher responsibility to the entire city than to certain vocal sections.

    And the Crosstown network is the greatest thing here; this is a huge shift away from the Centre City focus of the legacy network; to undo or weaken that shift is to undermine the whole ‘one network approach.

    Let’s hope the Board will view this all from a higher altitude and wind back some of the more egregious network threatening changes, and get the whole plan back together. Time for leadership and governance wisdom.

    1. Yes, I agree these aren’t small changes, and from high-level perspective it’s a really mixed bag.

      While some of the changes out east look good, large swathes of the central isthmus have lost frequent coverage altogether, primarily due to the downgrading of the crosstown routes. This seems to have been done so as to retain the Outer Link, which would seem counterproductive because iit duplicates other routes for most of its length. When you consider this network involves about 20% more bus-km than the current network (see page 8 of the document linked to), this result is rather underwhelming.

      Many of these changes will also increase bus volumes in the city centre, at a time when the latter is a construction site for the CRL. And when there is huge constraints on bus stop capacity. Changing the network to 1) have more buses terminate and/or 2) add peak services seems like a recipe for congestion and poor reliability. Just because people asked for such things doesn’t mean that they understand what it means to deliver them in terms of infrastructure and operations.

      Indeed that was one of the great benefits of the crosstown 6: By avoiding the city centre, it reduced bus volumes downtown and ensured the route could run reliably. Can’t really say that about the OL can we?!?

      All in all, I tend to agree with previous commenters: These changes are significant, and probably should be subject to another round of public consultation.

      1. Also the Outer Link is in practice so sub-optimal because of its huge orbital route requires so many lay-overs and delays… I agree its highly legible and people will be used to it now [although it is of course relatively new], but I’m sure, like me only use sections of the Links and would not be really impacted by them being divided up, especially when that means greater frequency and new destinations to choose from.

        I would certainly rather transfer than still stopped in a bus II’ve just caught with the engine off for 5 minutes; nothing is more aggravating!

    2. It strikes me that consultation on changes to bus routes is pretty useless anyway. Any change to any route will naturally create winners and losers. No matter how great the new network is overall, those people who stand to lose a super convenient bus that takes them door to door will tend to object strongly. Most of them couldn’t give a toss about the greater benefits the new routes might bring to the community as a whole.

      There should be plenty of data available to allow AT to design the best network possible. Do it and be done with it.

      1. I agree with you about the biases of consultation, and also that people don’t understand the implications of what they ask for.

        But I still think consultation is worth doing, it’s just that the justification for changing something should not be “people said”, but “we considered what people said, adjusted it for selection bias, and decided to accept it for reasons x, y, z”.

        Sometimes I think AT (and AC for that matter) do a little too much “listening” (i.e. giving a forum to disaffected people to express their feelings) and too little “processing”. Easy to say from the outside, of course, but if you look at the changes made to the NN isthmus network then they seem to add up to a whole lot of not very much.

        1. Agreed. Really the consultation should just be a mechanism to check to see if there are any unintended consequences the designers have not thought of, rather than an attempt to gain approval.

          There was a group around Mt Albert who lobbied vociferously to keep the Outer Link. When I explained to a local there that the proposed network put Mt Albert at the crossroads of 4 new frequent routes [plus high=-frequency rail] she saw the logic. I thinkshe’ll be disappointed with the outcome.

        2. Funny that the same people complain endlessly about poor reliability on the outer link and all the timing stops it has. Perhaps they don’t realise that the bad timekeeping is a product of the big loop, and that splitting it into the two halve would have fixed it.

          I’m really at a loss to see who would catch the outer link from Mt Eden to Westmere or whatever.

        3. There were some school kids in the central leader up in arms that they couldn’t get from mt eden village to westmere / pt chev without transfer.

  7. So Orakei train station went from being connected to the surrounding suburbs by two crosstown services, to a single (lower frequency) service? All this does is encourage the use of the carpark there, as that really is the only frequent feeder service to the station now.
    AT have essentially kneecapped their plan to provide multi-mode transport to get into the city at the behest of people who want to continue to just get onto a single bus and be delivered to their destination. Looks like they failed in communicating the reasons for the crosstowns before this change (slow buses feeding rapid trains), and are just going to forget they ever existed and go back to the “buses for everyone!” approach. Can only hope they realise their mistake once the CRL is here.

  8. Thanks very much for the map with the bus lanes (and all the other great posts). Does anyone have a timetable of when the future bus lanes will be built? Also are there any bus lanes outside the old (pre-2010) Auckland City?

    1. Cut you cut it in two by removing the City Centre bit? Keep the route as is itself, but as a line, not a circle – like a u-shape, or open circle that almost but doesn’t quite touch? That would remove some cross-city centre movements (crucial during CRL works) and reduce delay issues (maybe)?

        1. I supported the original proposal, specifically noting the great crosstown services! But it wasn’t what I was talking about here.

  9. I see lots of grumbles about connectivity, but this may be moot.

    From an email I got this morning (and AT webpage), the zone A pass is being eliminated, and “the majority of users would have to take more than 45 journeys a month to pay more than $140 in HOP money”

    But if a connecting journey counts as 2 (bus + train) then a daily commuter could be expected to take 4 journeys a day = 80 journeys a month. If that’s going to cost me $200 instead of $140, that tips the expenses back to driving for me at least.

    Unless there is a transfer time component in the new zonal fares?

    Slightly odd to be pushing the connected network while revising the fare structure to make transfers cost extra.

    1. A connecting journey is one trip under the new fares. If you catch a bus from zone A to a train station in zone A and then a train to another station in zone A it will cost the same as if you had caught a single bus.

  10. They seem to have left out the central-city details. I was interested to see which way the 25x buses were going to leave the city. At one point there was talk about them going via Waterloo Quadrant to Symonds St because Auckland Uni didn’t want a bus stop on Wellesley St.

    1. Is that really true? do you have more details about Uni not wanting stops there? If true, they got to be bonkers.

    2. That would be a disaster. Warterloo is so slow. Its often quicker to walk from town up to symonds st and get the sandringham buses there than it is to catch them from victoria st.

      1. Not necessarily a disaster with enough bus priority:

        With over 100 buses/hr proposed at peak through Waterloo Qt, it will definitely need a bus lane (with no bus stops) and priority at every intersection.

        Without an outbound bus stop at the northern end of UoA campus it’s likely that the Symonds St/Wellesley St set of bus stops will be overloaded to failure at peak.

  11. The Outer Link is going to be held up at the Stokes Rd/Mt Eden Rd intersection in peak hours.
    They’ve also decided to run it down the one-way section of Owens Rd, another hot-spot for congestion because of all the parents dropping their kids off at EGGS.
    And lastly, they’ve decided to run the Outer Link up Alpers Ave. Every time I’ve been past Alpers Ave it is like a parking lot, because everyone’s queuing up to go on the motorway.

  12. Does anyone know how their planning to incorporate the future bus lane along Park road past the hospital southbound? It desperately needs some bus priority, but space is very limited there.

    1. There are only two options there realy – narrow the footpaths, or remove parking. In some spots may even have to do both.

      1. If you remove the car parking at the West end and the median strip at the East end then the carriageway is already wide enough for four lanes (12m+) for the entire length, except for the Park Ave intersection. Then just close the Park Ave intersection. Voila, buslanes.

  13. Yes pity the Crosstown services have been sabotaged. I think it was the Orakei station people, particularly elderly, in our local paper were complaining about the safety (stairs and such) & security at night transferring there. I wonder if train capacity could be an issue too? Moving to the more suburb my way, for selfish reasons mainly, I like what they have changed to some degree in that our 525 loop will now go both ways and connect to Penrose or Sylvia Park (though Crosstown 7 could do that with more walking). Breaking new network rules though, it means we can stay on and connect at Ellerslie (or even Onehunga via a big winding route!) The 521 was going to provide a new Stanhope Rd section but now duplicates on Ellerslie Panmure more. Strange they noted opposition to that road I wonder why? …guess the school there didn’t want a bus down that way? I note Neilson St Onehunga was going to get a 351 bus that is now dropped also, but Crosstown 8 extended to Otahuhu. Think it’s good the frequent 32 from Sylvia Park to GI is now a non frequent 723 which seems to make more sense.

  14. The 355 service is quite odd. Now going to Manukau instead of Papatoetoe or to change at Botany, the Panmure. Bit of a pain as would be able to connect much more frequently from Papatoe.

  15. Service has been dropped in my area, and the outer link has become non-viable. I‘m not walking another 800m from my regular stop in winter. Looks like rubbish PT until CRL is open.

  16. They even wimped out on the Jervois Road issue where 101 and Outer Link bus services will need to continue past the roundabout with West End Road and double back, because rich people obviously cant walk another 200m to bus stops on the main road.

    1. The current closest bus stops are 320m away from existing, so a bit rough to ask people to use those. But plenty of room for new bus stops 150m away between the roundabout and the corner.

      The existing stop gives a comfortable, out-of-the-way space for busses to do their ‘breathers’ to catch up on the timetable. A much cozier, quieter stop for residents too..

      Don’t know if it’s worth the detour

  17. I remember the consultation

    I don’t want to transfer to a train :'(

    Little Johnny goes to school on this route, he is to lazy to walk 15mins up the road :'(

    Agree consultation should be more about informing, education and having the community pick up on things you may have not noticed which you can use to improve.

    This is cowering to people who whinge about change, personally I thought AT only did that to business owners regarding car parks, guess they have expanded there cowardice.

  18. Very disappointing outcome. The Outer Link is unreliable and indirect for crosstown trips. Crosstown 5 would have been so much better.

  19. Am I the only person who thinks that for the East Tamaki area, a bus route extension for 361H should be extended past Fisher & Paykel to go across the Tamaki river and connect up to Panama Road and/or Edgewater College on Pakuranga side?

    A priority busway like the one at Grafton Bridge during peak times would give buses another route to get to Sylvia Park instead of throttling Waipuna Road & Panmure 3-Lane bridge.

  20. With the link buses, what I think happened is that in a lot of people minds, you have the City link (red), the Inner Link (green), and the Outer Link (yellow) which kind of show up every 15 minutes, and which go in a simple to understand loop around the city. Then you have all these other buses going ‘somewhere’ with no hope of figuring out which one is going were (and which one to catch).

    Hence the conclusion, “please don’t take away the link buses”. It’s not an ideal outcome but maybe it makes sense to have a more gradual transition to a new style network.

    Some things which spring to my mind are:
    • Numbering: what about giving the frequent lines a 2-digit number, and the rest a 3-digit number? “Inner Link” and “Outer Link” are easy to recognise. So is “NEX”. On the other hand, how do you tell if 972 and 973 are frequent?
    • Maps. One of the strengths of those link buses is how simple they are when viewed on a map. Overseas, part of the strength of metro systems like the ones in Paris or London is how easy it is to figure out how to get from A to B. You cannot do that with our bus maps because it’s impossible to tell which lines are hourly and which lines are frequent.

  21. What a giant clusterbang. So no more direct St Heliers-Newmarket service (a la 770)? Instead a transfer – the grammar parents will not be pleased. And no crosstown from St Heliers to St Lukes etc. The oldies won’t like that. Auckland never even got its Link buses sorted – as if they can provide a reliable service anywhere else. I believe the last weekday timetable change on anything going to the eastern suburbs was…2001? Magnificent strides this city makes. Such vision!

    Oh well, whatever – left Auckland and never want to return. What an absolute mess of a city. 25 years was more than enough.

  22. I am surprised and disappointed at the new network for Eastern Bays. Currently there are five bus routes, three of which have somewhat decent frequencies. This has now been replaced with no less than eight routes (only one which is frequent). The new network was promoted on the basis that it would have fewer routes and more frequent services. I was hoping for two frequent routes between Britomart and Glen Innes (one via Tamaki Drive and the other via Kepa Road) and a frequent route from Newmarket that would loop around the Eastern Suburbs. However the final network is actually more complicated and less frequent (with the sole exception of the Blue Link which is quite literally the only thing AT has done right). Fairly disappointing but at least I live close to the Blue Link so it’ll become ‘my’ route when the new network goes live. I feel sorry for people living elsewhere though—the rest of the Eastern Bays network is like spaghetti.

    1. hmmm to be fair the roads are like spaghetti out there. About the worst seems Karaka Bay/Riddell Rd, only hourly, but to make up for it has 20min peak service. Perhaps the 708 one could of done with more frequency, but probably alternates with the 762 which is pretty good. Maybe the final timetabling will make or break it.

  23. Now we have access to the CBD final map I notice a number of “Easternish” buses including the Blue Link will do it’s turn around via Gore St and the non-shared space area of Fort St then Commerce St. Not so great for the shared space.

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