The monthly Auckland Transport Board meeting is on again next week so I’ve take a read through the main reports to pull out the bits that interest me.

Closed Session Agenda

Some of my thoughts about them in italics.

Items for Approval/Decision

  • CRL – PTA & QS Contracts
  • Road Stopping
  • Execution of Deed of Lease of Land
  • Route Protection for Roading Projects
  • CPO – Surrender of LRT Easements – Britomart was designed so it could also have light rail but our existing network has been too successful so is not a possibilty now
  • Transport for Future Urban Growth (TFUG) Programme Business Case – Business cases are now needed to support all of the projects needed to support the sprawl enabled as part of the Unitary Plan
  • AT designations for the Unitary Plan

Items for Noting

  • Deep Dive – Rail Infrastructure
  • MRT/Light Rail Update – I see AT are already using the Mass Rapid Transit name from ATAP
  • Rail Development
  • Bus Services March Capacity – A hint about what this is later in the post.
  • ATAP Update

Business Report

Things that interest me in the order they appear in the report.

Albany Highway – This project is nearly complete and expected to be completed in October

Glen Innes/Tamaki Shared Path – Section 1 is due for completion at the end of October. Section 2 and 3 got resource consent and section 3 will start construction in October

Franklin Rd – Works are now starting on services, although there will be no works around Christmas when the annual lights are on. The actual road works start in March next year. They say the design of the catenary lighting system has been completed and materials ordered. The lights will have a clearance above the ground of 7-8m so shouldn’t have issues with overheight trucks. They also say the lighting system is estimated to cost $900,000. I wonder what an aspiring Councillor standing on a platform of capping rates might say about that.

Franklin Rd Impression

Newmarket Crossing (Sarawia St) – AT are hoping for mediation with the Cowie St Residents in early October and if that fails an environment court hearing before the end of the year.

Parnell Station – Kiwirail have building consent and works are due to start on the foundations so the old Newmarket railway station can be moved to the site. AT also say they’re working on the design of ticket gates but that they won’t be in place in time for opening due to long lead times for them. They’re also working on getting a footpath connection down through Carlaw Park finished in time for when the station opens in March 2017 (with limited service).

Parnell pic June15

Manukau Bus Station – AT will be issuing the construction contract early next month and say the station is due to be open in early 2018, this appears to have been delayed as previously they were saying late 2017. Oddly later in the same report it once again says late 2017.

Manukau Bus Station 1

Otahuhu Interchange – This is on track to open on 29 October, just before the new network goes live. Ticket gates will be installed in the second quarter 2017 “due to a delay in receipt of the gates from the supplier

Otahuhu Interchange Sep-16 1

Bus Lanes – AT are planning on building 19.1km of bus lanes this financial year but later on they say 26km is planned. This image is from August but it still accurate.

2016-08 - Bus lane Programme

AT Parking App – Earlier this year we saw a glimpse of a mobile app to pay for parking (from 3:05). It’s currently in a live trial till the end of the month and is expected to be launched later this year

AT Park is an account based parking payment system, which will go live later this year. Customers can pay for parking directly from their phone without using a parking meter, significantly improving customer convenience through mobile payment and parking location/availability maps. Other features of the new service are: start and stop a parking session with an interactive voice recording, start stop session with texting and also with the call centre. This innovation will enable customers to pay with ease and therefore increase compliance across the network

PT Services

Supergold Cards – AT are going to transition blue HOP card holders to gold HOP cards and a campaign for it is due in November

Ferries – AT currently has a tender out for the non-commercial ferry routes – like they’re doing with buses. I understand this will likely include some additional services on some routes too. Interestingly this will also include Stanley Bay services as Fullers has advised they’re not going to run it commercially anymore. This will leave only Devonport and Waiheke as commercial routes exempt from PTOM contracts.

March Madness – It appears AT might have finally got the message about March Madness.

Every March there is a spike in patronage which results in insufficient capacity on main corridors. In order to provide sufficient capacity and an enhanced customer experience for next March, new timetables and capacity increases have been developed for main corridors. The expectation is that no customer will have to wait for more than 10 minutes (depending on advertised frequency) to be able to board a bus. This will see an approx. +6.6% peak only bus capacity increase implemented progressively between November and February.

Double Decker NEX – The Northern Express goes from strength to strength and now Ritchies are boosting capacity again with the number of double decker buses used to operate the service going from 18 to 29 in October. That will leave just 2 standard buses at peak times and all off peak services will be run by double deckers. Extra trips are also being added in Jan & Feb ahead of March.

Speeding up trains – AT say a reduction in turn back times at Papakura from late October will free up one train set enabling them to boost another peak Southern Line service in the morning and afternoon. A good example of why they need to focus on speeding up our trains.

New Network – The new bus network in South Auckland is due to go live on 30 October while new buses for the new operators have been arriving. Ritchies/Murphys buses have been arriving from China while the Go Bus buses being built mostly here but also in Malaysia have been arriving.

Station Gates – In addition to completing designs for gating Henderson, Manurewa, Middlemore and Papatoetoe, AT say they’re also now planning and designing gates for Glen Innes, Papakura and Parnell.

Click and Collect – A 6-month trial got underway this week allowing for deliveries to made to one of four AT Metro locations and one park & ride (Orakei I believe). This is positive to see and I only wonder why they didn’t trial it years ago.

Forward Programme

An indication as to what’s coming up to the board and board committees in the next month so an indication of things to keep an eye out for.

  • Northern RTN Programme Business Case
  • Roads & Streets Framework
  • Clonbern Road Carpark Redevelopment proposal
  • Bus Patronage Analysis
  • Train Capacity
  • PTOM West Tenders – the preferred tenderers were announced last week.
  • Manukau Road T3 Operational Impacts
  • Future of HOP
  • Digital / Technology impact on transport

Anything you’ve seen in the reports that I’ve missed?

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  1. Bringing those Mt Eden Road bus lanes forward is probably the cheapest and single most effective way that AT can deal to “March (and every other month, it now seems) Madness”
    Same goes for all the other Isthmus arterials – more joined up bus lanes are the remedy.

    While its nice for AT to be planning on exceeding its planned rollout of Bus Lanes for the next year, they’ve so badly dragged the chain on delivering bus lanes in the last 2-3 years that even if they doubled the bus lane km this yea – they’d still be behind where they were supposed to be by this time.

    And what is so special about our station gates that they take way longer to obtain than the actual building of the station that needs them?
    Aren’t we using a standard of the shelf design? And if not, why not?
    Surely these should almost be a stock item for any company making them, so you can order them with minimal lead times?

  2. I can’t quite believe Parnell Station will be opening next year, that’s taken like forever. I’ll be glad not to have to walk from Stanley St to Britomart to catch a train and thereby saving 40 minutes on travel time per day. Hopefully the connection to Carlaw Park overpass goes through or else why bother even opening the station? Can anyone clarify what “limited services” is in reality?

    1. Well the station was put in the wrong place due to political interference and was intended to be a faux heritage precinct centered around the old railway sheds which no longer exist.

      Limited service means only some trains will stop there, I think I heard it will only be southern line trains.

      1. Is that why it’s having some crappy old station building transplanted onto it, rather than a simple, modern, efficient one? I mean I can understand why you might want to restore a station building on its original site, but once you move it it has no context and is just stupid.

        1. Fully agree Nick. This is the personal whim of Mike Lee, the man who brought you the glory of the Wynyard noddy tram. He likes old stuff, fair enough, but doesn’t care for real history, is happy to plonk any old thing anywhere, thus actually undermining experience of the real historical pattern of the built environment. This is inauthentic Disney style approach to heritage and culture. Frustratingly bogus. And it has added delay and cost and poor locational and design outcomes to this station. A station I am very keen to see operating, for contemporary transport and land use integration reasons. This is an unnessary distraction from getting the best possible outcomes here. I just wish Mike could check his personal taste and nostalgia at the door in his advocacy for improved Transit systems in Auckland. Which has been tireless and forceful but sadly without subtlety or sophistication. Nostalgia is not the guide we need to navigate the demands of the 21stC.

          1. Parnell station in the wrong place in order to create a heritage precinct that won’t now eventuate – Mike Lee needs to be called on that.

            Its not all bad though. the retirement and student villages nearby should generate patronage. And it will probably be a pretty station (if that matters) aligned with the Domain. Now the Mainline sheds have gone, is there any potential for development there and with some of the existing properties bordering the station? I seem to recall renders of a “plaza”…

            Some thought needs to go into how to make an easy link to the Parnell business north, too.

          2. I think Mike Lee is going to be proved right on the location of the Parnell Station (and wide community of people who supported that decision) . It is going to provide a much better connection to Parnell town centre and the Domain rather than being located on the Stand.
            The image you are using of the station design is very out of date and misleading. There is going to be a massive development surrounding the station and of course Mainline Steam is no longer there.
            The Waitemata Local Board has funded the pathway connection from Nicholls Lane to the Station (through the Domain) to help get the station open. The big push now is to get it operational next year. Mike is certainly going to play a big role in making sure that happens.

          3. Hi Pippa

            The station image is the one AT currently use on their page for the project.
            I also can’t recall seeing an image of the station that doesn’t have mainline steam in it so if you have one please share.

            As for the location, while it is closer to Parnell in a direct line, the way to get to the main street is not exactly great being via narrow streets full of parking entrances and parked cars. The Heather St idea would still have had great access to the retirement development via a relatively flat route and would have had access to Parnell via an easier grade on a wide street that would have allowed for good upgrades and could have encouraged the mainstreet to spread down Heather St. It would have also had better access to a wider catchment.

      2. Ok sure, better than nothing I guess. I love the modern obsession of using the word “precinct”, every space seems to be one now days. I agree putting this old station here utterly pointless.

        1. Shame the building couldn’t have been relocated to The Strand to be used for the Northern Explorer, rather than a couple of converted shipping containers.

      3. That “crappy old building” will be renovated and likely feature a cafe. Far far better than the usual windswept rain-exposed shelters at most stations. But let’s hope they add some shelter to the other platform as well.

        The turnback speed-up at Papakura is a welcome improvement. They need to do the same at Swanson. Currently it’s 6 minutes at Swanson on weekends, but 12 minutes on weekdays. If they reduced it to 6 minutes on all days it would save several hours train-time per day, and could enable most services to dock at platform 1, saving the walk over to platform 2, and the avoiding the confusion of passengers arriving to find two trains waiting to depart but not knowing which is going first.

        1. Reducing the Swanson turnaround time on weekdays wouldn’t be enough alone to yield the extra unit and would probably cause a much larger number of delays to drag over to the next service because the Western line doesn’t have as much fat in it as the southern line, and it doesn’t have a staffed terminus to cover/correct disasters. The 2017 timetable will add the extra pieces of the puzzle to get spare units and faster trips.

      4. Southern only? Are they serious? This just seems backward again. I know the western trains stop to turnaround at Newmarket and therefore interchanging is possible, but this just seems like more unnecessary customer-unfriendly stupidity. Some wonk has decided that speed and timing of other services justifies a half-arsed service here. “Yes, I know we go right past, but we can’t just have every train stopping you know!” And what’s the betting that the timing will get such that the southern train will pull out of Newmarket just as the western train pulls in…?

        1. I assume it is due to the fleet utilization impacts. Say the stop at Parnell adds two minutes to the run time. If you stop all the southern, western and Onehunga trains that is 14 trains an hour. Times two minutes that’s 28 minutes lost, times both directions it’s about an hour. That means you lose a whole train set of capacity per peak hour.

          1. Nah 30 sec wouldn’t even cover the door open dwell time, let alone slowing down to stop and acellerating again.

            It might only be 70-80 seconds and not 120, but definitely much more than 30 seconds.

        2. The western line is painfully slow as it is so adding even more time would be a pain. Might be ok if AT actually sped up trains but who knows if that will ever happen

  3. the item on bus lanes is most interesting. It mentions distance but provides no details on hours of operation. Does anyone know what hours these bus lanes will operate for?

    Thinking about this some more, I would think that a better metric than simple kms would be kms x total hours of operation. So if they take the 5km of bus lanes on Mt Eden Rd and extend the hours of operation by one hour, then AT can claim credit for 5km-hours of bus lanes.

    As others have noted, extending the stupidly short hours of operation on the Mt Eden Rd bus lanes would probably be the single most effective public transport improvement they could make.

    1. I’m sure they have been writing a 500 page document about extending the Mt Eden road bus lane hours – must be almost complete by now. Then they will order the signs and find there is a 3 month delay on those. Then they wont have the money to put up the signs for a couple of years.
      They should have something in place by the end of the decade.

    2. The last 500m leading up to the Mt Eden lights in both directions should be bus-only 24/7. Businesses will cry “But I’ll lose all my customers because they can’t park outside my shop!” – but this is a city of 1.5 million, not Taumarunui. No longer will it be quicker to get off the bus 500m up the road and walk to the shops!

  4. Please elaborate on the bullet point: AT designations in Unitary Plan. My UP submission included a request for a designation for rail to the airport (something AT should have done) but was told that I was premature – so when exactly will this come up?. I also suggested a “point designation” for each railway level crossing to alert affected land owners and planners within say 50-100 metres that they may be affected by future grade separation works – several recent developments have already imposed limitations on what can be done. Again – no dice.

    1. it was no dice because that is something you cannot ask for as a private citizen via a submission. only a requiring authority can and it would have required significant investment with limited time from AT to prepare all the documentation required for those for the UP on top of all their existing designations.

  5. On speeding up trains, the time for the trip does not change the only change is the turn around time at Papakura cut from 16-18 minutes to 6-8.

    1. “Speeding up trains – AT say a reduction in turn back times at Papakura from late October will free up one train set enabling them to boost another peak Southern Line service in the morning and afternoon. A good example of why they need to focus on speeding up our trains.”

      A reduction in turnaround time is exactly what Matt says has happened. Reducing turn around and dwell times at stations is all part of speeding up the trains.

      1. It still doesn’t ‘speed’ the train up any, the dwell times are still limited to what the trains are capable of, the trains still depart Papakura at the same times and trip is still 54 minutes. The issue is, when like this morning the inbound trains were up to 19 minutes late but only one service left late, so with a 6-8 minute turnaround over half the peak services would have left late. This is not speeding up the trains, the only advantage is the southern line capacity increases by 134 seats but increases the potential for late then canceled services.

        1. I’d rather have the greater capacity to be honest. I don’t really care whether the train that arrives at 7:54 is actually the 7:54 or a late running 7:34, it’s still a train as far as I’m concerned.

          1. You would loose that extra capacity as if the 7:34 is running as late as 7:54 there will be at least one cancellation to keep trains in their slots, just like what happens now when there is a disruption.

          2. ‘just like what happens now when there is a disruption’ I think is the key phrase here. As a passenger I am no worse off than I am currently when there are delays, but on days when things are running well I may get an extra unit on my train depending on when I travel. This sounds like a good deal to me.

      2. The ‘skip stop counter peak’ planning that looks likely to be implemented next year will help getting the trains back to their start point quicker during peak but goes against the ‘no timetable turn up and go’ model that is being pushed by some here on Transport blog.

        1. Short of ordering more trains, thats probably one of the best ways to ensure more peak services can be run by reducing the “end to end” backhaul time for peak services.

          Yes its inconvenient for those going “counter peak” at some of the less well used stops to have to wait longer for the next train [or to have to alight early or later than their normal stop and wait for the next “all stops” trains going by to get to “their” station].

          But frankly “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” – now, and will continue to do so for many years to come. Until CRL opens – to increase throughput at Britomart and also until more trains are in service.

          By then this issue will replaced with a much bigger one, of simply coping with the success of the rail system.

          1. Skip stop is stupid and just means trains are less useful to even more people, and that’s before you start on the fact it makes a mockery of ATs new network ambitions.

            The issue has long been the teams/people planning rail deliberately put themselves in silos so ignore what the rest of the organisation want to achieve. They don’t even look at their own strategic documents see what’s planned. They’re focused on running trains, not on serving customers which is the complete wrong way to go about things.

          2. Can’t they just put some DMU’s back on until they buy more trains? Oh right that wouldn’t work because the DMU’s go too fast to be able to work in safely with the trains the cow-killers sold us.

        2. Who on earth thinks ‘skip stop’ is any kind of good thing? What an appalling idea, exactly how to rid the network of frequency and legibility. Forcing all riders back to scanning timetables, or more likely; their cars. Hopefully the board will overrule whatever rail planner cooked up that stupidity. Why are longer rides to be prioritised over shorter ones? To the point of actually nixing them? How is running trains past willing riders a good idea, or refusing to allow current users to alight at their preferred destination.

          By all means add some expresses once there’s all day 5 minute frequency (I know not possible with current track); don’t undermine your core pattern to provide a marginal improvement to only some users. Bone headed fiddling with a pattern that is currently working well. Focus energy on speeding current run times to a consistent and legible pattern, especially by fixing those slack dwells.

          1. They must be really concerned about a) their ability fix the dwell time, and b) their ability to get new trains, if they are looking at this nutty option to get greater efficiency out of the existing fleet!

          2. It is not a good thing Patrick, other than getting the trains back for another peak run quicker. The current system is hard enough for some people to understand without them trying to work out how to get to their stop when travelling against the peak flow.
            It appears to be an AT planner that came up with the idea as it has only been seen on an AT rail plan at this stage, there seams to be the same plans for the NEX buses from what I’ve heard.

          3. Maybe its a dumb idea, but if so, its not the dumbest one to date.

            Is it AT or the KR team thats silo-ed here? Or is those secretive “ops planning” folks who are acting out of turn?

            Why don’t the left hands know what the right hands are doing then?

            Yes there are many hands involved with this issue – lots of them seemingly merely waving at the problem and little else.

            Completely smacks of NZTA HNO group think to me – HNO the “cool” group of folks who it seems that many in AT operations are longing to sell their souls to become a part of – like some teenager desperately wanting to part of the “in” gang of older kids. Hence why we see AT selling land at Cooke St to NZTA for a pittance – like some kind of “show how much you want to join our gang” initiation process.

            Seems to me that none of KR, Transdev and AT can individually or collectively fight their way out of a wet paper bag. Having these 3 running the show is a real mess.

            Add in that loopy and overly cautious ETCS set up required by NZTA/MoT and its a wonder trains can even move, let alone run to timetable.

            Look how much time AT has had now to get the basic “dwell time” issue sorted – and where are we at with it? 2 years after new trains were introduced, bugger all actual progress.
            Trains still run slower than they used to and only manage to keep to timetables by fiddling the timetables to cope with the reality of poor train management.

            So given that AT who own them, can’t make the trains run faster, what options actually are there in the next couple of years to get more bums on seats at peak times in the peak direction other than maybe to, I dunno, introduce counter peak skipping of stops?

            Yeah we can avoid it by ordering more trains, but thats going to take years for them to arrive. And that horse bolted several years go.
            With Patronage at 17m Year to Date, we’ll be struggling to cope with the numbers in 1-2 years time, well before any relief from CRL or [yet to be ordered] trains is possible.

            I don’t like the idea overly much, its an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff solution – but given that AT seem unable/unwilling to control their own destiny here what other options are there?
            Maybe if AT picked KR to run the trains like they do in Wellington [instead of Transdev] and then KR fired all the TMs and let the train drivers do the doors instead, and they loosened up on the ETCS settings maybe that will restore some sanity/performance to the situation.

            KR also need to get on, sort their shit out, bite the bullet, and build the third main.
            They can afford if they don’t re-dieselise the NIMT – as the fuel savings alone from not doing that step will ensure the third main cost is easily paid for from all those higher diesel bills KR won’t have if they keep on with the electric locos. So those freights will impact the EMUs less.

            Case in point – back in the late 40’s land around old Tamaki Station was advertised as being 17 minutes [by train] from the old rail station, that was using steam powered trains.
            Fast forward to 2016, it takes a similar time to get to Britomart from Panmure by electric train with its superior acceleration and deceleration.
            The numbers of stops hasn’t changed – Panmure simply replaced Tamaki station and the distance travelled is not much longer end to end.

            If ever there was an obvious call to do something its this, and you’d think the emergency klaxons would be blaring out, down at AT.

          4. Express trains work very well in Wellington, why could an effective timetable not be implemented here?

            I would suggest using New Lynn and Otahuhu as interchanges much like Wellington uses Taita and Porirua.

          5. Alex – trains run at 20 min frequency at peak hour for most stations in Wellington. This means they can run express without catching up with the all stops service, this would not work in Auckland at present with 10 minute frequencies.

          6. Greg N,
            Transdev (not KR) operate the trains in Wellington…

            Wellington trains operate at relatively poor frequency. IMO an ‘all stations’ service every 10min (peak) on the Hutt Line would be much better than the current set up. (Need to double north of Trentham + extra platform at Upper Hutt though).

          7. “KR also need to get on, sort their shit out, bite the bullet, and build the third main.”

            They were going to build it two years ago, but AT refused to contribute their share. They are now making a second attempt, seeking funding from central government instead. AT’s share will be recouped through access fees.

            “They can afford if they don’t re-dieselise the NIMT”

            All indications are that diesels will be cheaper to operate. 17 electric locos doing the job of 7-12 diesels and maintaining all that extra traction infrastructure is likely more expensive, not cheaper. There’s currently no method of monetising environmental benefits in this country.

          8. ‘All indications are that diesels will be cheaper to operate. 17 electric locos doing the job of 7-12 diesels ‘

            Certainly seems counterintuitive. Can’t be due to more powerful DLs as EFs greater hp or more expensive loco maintenance as there always appears to be many parked up DLs at westfield and aren’t some stored EFs being brought back into service?
            . Where does this 17EF = 7-12DL come from?

          9. “Where does this 17EF = 7-12DL come from”

            KiwiRail determined in 2008 that only 7 diesels would be required to replace the 17 EF’s, due to the hours wasted with swapping locos. They’ve since amended that to 12, due to extra traffic since 2008, although a third of the trains have now been dieselised anyway.

            Currently a diesel from Auckland will be at Te Rapa for several hours before heading north again, and ditto for the EF’s from the south. Then the same process gets repeated at Palmerston North. You can end up expending close to twice as many locomotive hours to get a train from Auckland to Wellington. A single fleet eliminates that waste, doing the same job with fewer locos.

            Last year the electrics were shut down for a full month, and they got by just fine. That was also without any replacement locos being purchased.

      3. Faster turn around is good incremental improvement. However when will the dwell time reduced and speed increase to shorten journey time? AT look so long to yet to fix those issues.

        1. Dwell time will not improve without reprogramming of the trains, maybe allowing the retractable ramps to stay out as far as the as the fixed ones to reduce the door cycle time or the ‘pre-ordering’ of doors to get the door process started quicker.

          Increased speed will not happen with the current infrastructure and ETCS, more signaling and more closely spaced balise may help but the state of the track is a big problem too.

          1. Yes, there’s an annoying bit of track caution between GI and Panmure that’s been there for ages, just at the point the train could be getting some decent speed up.

          2. Dwell time will improve as soon as there is pressure to actually get on with it. The current timetable is easy to meet the targets – the next one will require some knuckling down. Even then, the door functioning won’t change much. It seems suspiciously difficult to find out what’s going on there and why. I suspect a bit of a frame job is afoot.

            There’s nothing about the current infra and ETCS stopping things from being much faster. The electrified network (including signalling) was designed to be run much faster than it is. There are plenty of tricks yet to unleashed. Some are just a matter of updating the data, some need rule changes, some need dollars, some need people. All the pieces of the puzzle are there, but some are still in the box.

            Track condition and speed restrictions are the same – they’ll jump in priority when fixing them makes a worthwhile difference. The Tamaki speed restrictions are not costing enough time at this stage to be worth coughing up the cash to get the work done. Next year, maybe it will be worth it.

      1. A heading that implies faster trains when they will not be, there will be increased capacity (134 extra seats) in time for the new feeder bus plan that also gets implemented the same day.

          1. No more services, no more frequency, the same waiting time, just 134 extra seats ie one current 3 car unit will now be a 6 car and for that a bigger risk of late and/or cancelled trains.

          2. If you looked at this from a passenger point of view (which is what the system is actually all about!) you’d see that journey times for the people who couldn’t get on a 3-car train but can get on 6-car one will be improved, so there will be faster journeys.

            It’s easy to forget that train speed is just one factor (albeit an important one) in determining overall passenger journey time.

          3. It is being looked at from a passengers point of view, one minor delay has the roll on effect of a late train (certainly not faster) or at worst a cancelled train (again not faster for those catching that train), to keep the trains running peak direction the counter peak services will be cancelled first to get the train back to it’s start point for another peak run (far from quicker for those going against the peak flow).

            This is a good thing when everything is running smoothly but makes the situation worse when they are not. Trains arriving within five minutes (possibly down to two now) are recorded as being on time, with a six minute turn around doesn’t give much room for error.

          4. Right, Bigted, so you’re focusing on the 1.9% of trains that run late rather than the 98.1% that run to time to argue that passengers overall won’t get faster journeys?

            I’m reminded of the operators who lament that they can’t run a perfect service because of all those pesky passengers getting in the way.

          5. Mike those 98% run within two minutes of their scheduled time but they don’t have 6 minute turnarounds to amplify what would currently be a minor delay.

  6. I noticed in the business report that AT are raving about their “Track my bus” app and also updated “AT Metro” app. The appalling thing is that while they’re raving about their own, they are killing apps that are created by external developers such as Android’s excellent “Auckland Transit” app – by stopping providing the data to these apps. This is not good at all, and it stifles innovation around our PT system. C’mon AT – get real – your apps are crap. Stop wasting money on developing them, instead provide a solid and transparent API for developers – so far you’re failing. Apps that are million times better than AT Metro: Google Maps (at least that part is working, except for the real-time info), Auckland Transit for real-time bus displays with excellent favourites (currently out of action, thanks to AT disabling the data interface), BusWise (excellent real-time map of buses, a much better implementation of AT’s own Track My Bus). So again…. AT – open up your API to developers, and stop developing crappy apps yourselves.

    1. Is that what happened to Auckland Transit? Bastards!

      It is so much better than the AT apps it is embarrassing for AT really. Why have they blocked access? Just to force people to use their crappy apps?

      1. Auckland Transit has now been updated to deal with whatever happened with the api/thing it was calling and is working again, thank god.

        It was a bad few weeks without it.

      2. Yes, they still aren’t providing that data officially – for all external developer keys they return { “statusCode”: 401, “message”: “Access denied due to invalid subscription key. Make sure to provide a valid key for an active subscription.” }. It appears that Auckland Transit might be using AT’s own key, which is against their policy… But with the level of support we’re getting from them, they’ll probably never notice anyway… unless they read this blog and its comments…

      3. What? Why would they do this? They need to be opening data, not closing it. Apps such as TransitApp are far superior to anything AT have developed.

      4. The Auckland Transit app used an old API hosted on that required no authentication. The official app also used this API until recently but it appears to now be down (with a weird error response). Unfortunately AT therefore no longer provides public access to the real time board data, but their private key is incredibly easy to get (at least with their v2 API launched earlier this year) so this serves little barrier and it seems that the Auckland Transit developers have taken this path in fixing their app.

        The problem with Auckland Transit (and the horrible main AT app) is that it doesn’t show you the gps locations of the buses (data which is publicly available). Since early in the year I have been developing an Android app that gives you access to both the real time board and gps locations using a native interface. I use it happily every day and it has all the main features you’d expect + more. If anyone would like a copy of the apk to try out and give feedback I am happy to provide.


          1. Hi,

            The code itself is a real mess, and when I have time (probably from late November onwards) I will be trying to clean it up. I am also working on transitioning from AT’s v1 API to v2 (currently it’s a bit of a mix). You should note that this is my first and only Android app and that I am not a professional software developer (I’m a computer systems engineer in training) so it is what it is.

            With this said I have just made it public so you can have a look if you’d like:

        1. @Hamish that looks great. How are you getting the due times? I can’t see that in the new API documentation? Or are you estimating them yourself based on the bus location? That’s why I’m complaining! 😉

          1. Hi, I get the due times from two sources:

            a) The real time board API which is not public (but as you say I don’t really think AT care).

            b) Some of the modern APIs (such as “GTFS real-time trip updates”) return a ‘delay’ field which allows you to calculate along with the scheduled time how far away the bus is.

            Interestingly the due times generated by the two methods are rarely the same, but in a year of using the app I haven’t figured out which is more accurate (I mostly skip straight to the gps location anyway).

  7. So with Stanley Bay moving to commercial, Fullers must have seen the yields on this route drop back slightly. This is why it was madness to exempt ferries from PTOM, operators can simply cherrypick commercial routes when profitable and then drop them when it suits them.

  8. My solution to the level crossing is you close it for safety reasons then wait for them to come back begging for the option provided before but I’m evil like that

      1. This is exactly one of the reasons why the better Urban Planning report says we need to replace RMA with more flexible fit for purpose rules

          1. Good question. Apparently the answer is that the state of the ground there is such that it would more or less have to be a bridge anyway. Also squeamishness about putting roads over public parks and heritage houses.

          2. There is no reason to need to bridge it, a couple of timber retaining walls down the slope would have done. Apparently the local board has veto power and objected – seems to be the main reason. Can they not just run the level crossing in a manner that doesn’t hinder the trains, eg only opening goal it once every 15 minutes in the Peak or whatever.

          3. What I mean is that the retaining walls would have to be so deep, thick and long that it would be just as much as doing a bridge. You can see retaining walls on the other side of the ridge that are collapsing for presumably the same reasons, but without anything as safety critical as a road behind them. Leaving the level crossing closed most of the time still doesn’t allow signals and crossovers to occupy the space.

          4. Do you have a link to the report on that – the SAR gives it a good BCR implying much cheaper than bridge even with conservative return wall assumptions.

        1. Why could the council just not acquire Furneaux Way (private road) and then link up a very short distance to Laxon Terrace that does away with both the need for the level crossing or a bridge?
          It looks reasonably straight forward, has it been discussed before as an option?

          1. Looks easy on a map, but supposedly involves the compulsory purchase of quite a lot of very pricey land and buildings. That whole block has a stake in Furneaux Way and many $$$$$ to say no.

          2. Furneaux Way is a separate parcel of land that is owned by the property owners of the other parcels on Furneaux Way so there is no building that need to be acquired. There is a short wide walkway (not wide enough for vehicle access) that links the Furneaux Way with Laxon Tce so surely acquiring some land while it is expensive land would still be cheaper than a bridge and related works.

          3. Absolutely correct bigted, why not come up with a good solution rather than a super big oversized costly timely option that does nothing but to massively increase the cost of these private property owners and cost the ratepayers much more than it needs to.

            Compulsory purchase, the clue is in the title. They only need to take out one property on one side of the existing access and they are done.

            Pure and simple hopeless council, not to worry its not their money they are spending so they dont care. Len brown legacy and we have another incumbent ready to do the same

          4. Expanding that connection to Furneaux Way was the preferred option and the cheapest

            After consultation on it AT caved and went with the bridge option. Basically there are some high powered/connected people in Laxon Tce who didn’t want to have to drive all the way out and through Newmarket.

            Some old posts on it

      2. And to think, when the level crossing is finally closed, the uphill trains will continue stopping there waiting for track clearance into Newmarket like they always have. The boffins at AT will no doubt be scratching their heads!

        The bridge isn’t necessary btw, there’s space for a road above the tunnel portal. The tunnel could act as the bridge, but they chose not to even consider that option.

          1. Road over the tunnel would be expensive, long road, retaining/strengthening over portal, buying land for connection to Parnell Rd ($$$) and building a new intersection.

        1. Removing the crossing allows the home signals to be relocated and more crossover options to clear Newmarket more quickly. That’s more the point of the job than the safety aspect.

  9. Interesting that NZ Bus hasn’t retained its current routes in the west, following the same outcome in the south. I would be sharpening my pencil…

    1. Only a few of the routes for West Auckland were put up for tender, the rest are being directly negotiated. Basically as part of PTOM current bus companies have the right to retain 50% of their current service kms by way of direct negotiation. I know that a number of routes out west fell into this category but not sure if it was from NZ Bus, Rithcies or both.

  10. So is a limited service to Parnell the decision because of the cost of a Sarawia Street solution? If so, fine, some service is better than none. Should have been opened about a year ago. This was such a tough decision?

    1. Limited service to Parnell because of the need to synchronise the crossing of the various lines at the various junctions. By skipping Parnell and saving two minutes for the whole process, certain services will not have to wait two minutes at a junction somewhere else. That potentially saves four minutes overall for one line, or two minutes each for two lines, depending on how the running patterns are distributed. Another tool in reducing trip times across the network.

    2. I had developed (largely from this site) the impression that Southern Line trains would utilise Parnell because the additional stop would be compensated for by the removal of Westfield as a stop.

      Of course, if you ran the Southern line ahead of the Eastern line, you would only have the pick up/drop off style stops at Wiri rather than the “wait for the junction” ones… so that’s another “stop” that can be removed (although, maybe, this is not so simple as it seems… or, of course, you could easily add the “junction” stop to the Eastern line… especially if you stuck a path in and had them walk to Puhinui from Wiri, no idea how long that would take to walk though… could just stop only on the faster to Papakura journeys and then catch the train up from Homai, if necessary, with the junction delays added to Manukau with its several station shorter + faster average speed trips).

    3. So no Parnell stop for western line commuters… I wonder how many would prefer a Parnell stop instead of Newmarket stop (and the train using the up left main section of the Newmarket triangle)
      That would significantly reduce time to Britomart.

      1. It would be good to see west-south HOP data to be sure about this. Oh and only if Parnell were transferrable as then skipping NM from the west, with a transfer for south at Parnell, would be a real option. But with no bridge and not an Island Platform that does make that a non-starter at this stage…

        1. That bridge would be essential if hop stats showed a significant number of west to south transfers, however I suspect the vast majority are travelling on to Britomart. Or we could have western trains destinations Britomart/N and Britomart/P or maybe even to Otahuhu. Those west to south commuters could then transfer at either Newmarket or Parnell.
          The Britomart/P trains would likely be 5 to 8 minutes faster. A good interim until CRL available

          1. Hmmm. Am not at all keen on tricky and illegible schedules. Anyway this is all a bit hard pre-CRL as the western line will be down to one track at various points through Mt Eden for several years through the CRL works. This will presumably restrict the possibility for more services there. And post CRL its a whole new, and better, game, with western-liners able to transfer easily at K Rd for frequent southern services. The existence or otherwise of infrequent direct west-south services notwithstanding.

          2. Yes, post CRL will be a completely different scenario, but thats a rather distant event, 7 or 8 years away. The opportunity is there with the new Parnell station to make real improvement to western line times. I dont think its too complex to organise Parnell OR Newmarket stopping trains, depends on what stats AT have on actual use of NM, western line rush hours commuters would soon figure out which train to use. No complex or illegible timetables are necessary.
            With all the discussion on getting timetables improved and higher speed trains this opportunity for western trains seems just so obvious.
            Even without Parnell there could be a case for just not stopping at NM and proceeding around the NM triangle directly to Britomart.. I can’t see it being rocket science to have a mix of NM stopping, Parnell stopping or not stopping at either western services.

          3. The biggest problem I see with that is the Newmarket and Parnell trains would then have Britomart arrival times at almost the same time.

        2. We have that in the station boarding data. Can see that 265k people got on at a western line station and alighted at Newmarket while another 71k then went to one of the stations between Newmarket and Onehunga. I assume similar numbers doing the reverse.

          1. Are those numbers per month or per year, I’m guessing that they are per year, so 71k is just less than 300 per week day (using 250 working days).

            It then becomes a question of whether the time saving and potential network effects are worth the effort.

  11. The opening of the Parnell station should about co-incide with the opening of the retirement complex being built up the hill. I’m so glad they’ll be able to benefit from this as they’ve been pushing for good rail services all their working and ratepaying lives.

  12. They’re not going fast enough with bus lanes, this should be a clear priority for each arterial. Great North Rd desperately needs one, and the NW motorway needs one until someone finds the balls to make it into a proper busway.

  13. I’m interested to know how they plan on gating a station like Glen Innes. I’m guessing it’ll include high fences and an ineffective structure like the one at the back entrance of New Lynn.

  14. MRT? Is this an elevated metro line now? I assume they will be parking this work for now? Is there anything on restarting the Dom Rd upgrade?

  15. What easements are we giving up for light rail in Britomart? As long as this isn’t something we’re going to regret in thirty years’ time…

      1. Hmmm – so places where LRT can otherwise run on Tamaki Drive or Beach Road? That I can understand, although I’d rather see a firm commitment to projects in those alternative spaces before we bin the easements we currently have.

      1. Yes, but it seems to me to be a lot of palaver for a card that has to be shown (as opposed to tagged) only very rarely, eg onboard ticket checks.

        I wonder how much money AT is spending on this, and how much time it’s requiring its passengers to spend, too? A benefit-cost analysis could be interesting!

  16. I notice in the AT business report that on-time running for the trains in August was 98.1%. That is pretty good by any measure. Auckland Transport should do more to promote the good days (i.e. most of them judging by these stats), rather than only tweeting when something goes wrong with the trains. I assume the old trains were never this reliable (despite there being far less services to brake down etc). I wonder how many potential new customers of rail network are not aware of the increased frequencies and reliability compared to the ‘old” Auckland rail service that they may have tried many years ago? I don’t see much advertising of this. Given how much has been spent on the electrification and new trains etc, it is a shame more isn’t being spent on promoting its success.

  17. Click N Collect. What are the locations? What is an “AT Metro location”? AT Metro is the brand for ATs public transport services. Does this mean i can click and collect from my local bus stop?

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