58 comments

  1. The picture makes a couple of assumptions, 1) there is only a single person in every vehicle on the right, 2) the bus is jammed to crush with with passengers.

    1. I count 61 vehicles in the circle, so for 70 people that’s 1.15 people per vehicle. Almost exactly what the NZTA research shows the occupancy per vehicle is at peak times.

      If we were looking at the Northern Busway at peak times, there would be more than 70 people on the bus. The average sits around 90 now with the double deckers.

      1. I found it hard to count as I couldn’t enlarge the picture but I had the count as 66, it still assumes the bus is jammed to crush (the bus itself doesn’t look anything special so 70 people would be at the high end and defiantly at crush) and all the others are effectively driver only.

        1. the flip side of this comment is that take all those cars in the circle out and add a second bus or a third bus (coming from alternate routes or wherever else this could be) and you have a better flow of cars and still miles of capacity for more buses in the dedicated PT lanes.

        2. A standard “large” triple axle bus seats 52. With 18 people standing it would be full yes, but I’m not sure I would quite call that crush loaded.

          1. Nick it doesn’t look like a large bus, it appears to be smaller than the 45 seater size you are referring to.

          2. Could you try any harder to miss the point? The principle is clearly the same with this bus or that, a train, a tram, a well used bike lane, a ferry, a riverboat… One of those cars may have a dog in it, or a hostage taped up in the boot….whatever.

            It doesn’t change the observation. The mode on the right takes more space to move a _broadly similar_ number of people than the one on the left. And because of that, has more spare space to keep moving.

            And that this has consequences in other not directly transport outcomes in cities.

            Furthermore, it is absolutely clear, as we all know from driving commutes in cities, those people on the right are all heading in broadly the same direction like those on the left.

            And further furthermore, as is clearly shown by the Northern Busway in AKL everyday, the more effective and attractive the parallel more spatially efficient system and more people use it, then that is the very thing that enables the system on the right to work at all, in spite of its inherent self-ruining clogging nature ~> No one needs the Bus/Rail/Ferry/Bike Network in a city more the inveterate vehicle user….

          3. Wait, you couldn’t see well enough to count the cars but you can tell the precise model and capacity of the bus in the background? Please.

            Who gives a shit, if it’s peak time on a busway, which is what that appears to be, the bus will have several dozens of people on it, quite possibly more than 70.

          4. Patrick the point is not missed, just questioned. These type of pictures are put up all the time with the assumption that the bus/train (LRV or whatever it happens to be at the time) is full to capacity but the general road vehicles are single occupant. I’m not arguing that during week day peaks there are a lot of single occupant vehicles but the rapid transit is only at or near capacity for a short time of that peak time. The timing of peak time in itself is debatable (officially 0700-0900 and 1700-1900) those times maybe correct for PT in the CBD but at the outer areas of the network it is all over 0730 and between around 1745-1830, the peak on the roads is from 0545-1100 and 1430-1930.

          5. Nick the cars are harder to count due to a combination of the size and the red line covers about five of them (there are five shadows so it would be assumed there are five cars), that may be why I got 66 and you got 61 but the bus is clear enough to tell it is very unlikely to be a larger 6 wheeler bus you are referring to.

          6. Small bus, you say? Hey that truck on the left looks foreshortened as well. Surely the photographer didn’t use a telephoto lens! #gasp

          7. Sorry Ted but you are talking out your arse. Public transport is generally full right through the peak and in the shoulders, many routes are so all day. The reason for that is there is a very high marginal cost of providing extra services and vehicles at peak times, so they don’t run any low utilised ones. In fact most of the time the economic pressures actually mean they run less service than they need to and people get crowded off. This happens in Auckland right now, and its the same around the world. Any time you see a picture of some busway at peak times you can be sure the bus is full.

            Also fun fact, did you know occupancy in traffic actually drops at peak and is higher at off peak times. Yep, it’s about 1.1 people per vehicle at peak and 1.2 off peak.

          8. Sacha where did I say it was a small bus, it is a standard 4 wheeler bus and not the larger 6 wheeler Nick is thinking of.

            Nick actual real figures disagree with you the highest count on the southern line trains departing in peak direction that departs after 0730 averages less than 180 (just after 0800, the eastern line is all over by 0740 with the low 100s, Onehunga only manages over 50 on the 0702, 0732 and 0802, The western line has higher counts at 0530 than at any time (pre afternoon peak) after 0840.

          9. Erm the morning peak isn’t measured from when a train departs empty, it’s when it arrives full about an hour later! Peak by definition is when it is used the most.

            As for the data, you appear to be full of shit. I’m looking at the data right here and Britomart see an average occupancy of 217 passengers per train across all 19 arrivals between 8am and 9am. Hardly all over, and Britomart isn’t even the peak load point. Same time south of Newmarket and the average is pushing 300 per train. Not bad considering it is an average and most of the trains can take more than about 375 people at rated capacity.

            FYI a standard bus in Auckland is a triple axle, a twin axle is a small bus reserved for the links and lightly used local routes. There are no four wheelers by the way, even the smallest have dualies on the rear axle.

          10. Good to see you got it then. Like I said peak is different times in different places and the official peak of 0700-0900 is for the CBD even though the first official peak departure at Papakura is 0706 the reality is it is 0618, Swanson, Manukau and Onehunga are all similar but start and finish at different times.

            The trains are not packed right through the peak as like motorists that drive everyone wants to be there at the same time and that same time is over a period far smaller than 2 hours.

          11. “FYI a standard bus in Auckland is a triple axle, a twin axle is a small bus reserved for the links and lightly used local routes. There are no four wheelers by the way, even the smallest have dualies on the rear axle.”

            You need to get out more as there are plenty of 4 wheeler buses feeding the train stations on the southern line, there is the occasional 6 wheeler but they are well out numbered by the 4 wheelers that you say do not exist.

    2. In NZ the average occupancy rate of a vehicle is 1.2. Not sure how they got the occupancy of the bus, however we could do the same on the Northern Busway and do a pretty good comparison. With HOP we should be able to tell the occupancy pretty easily, and it would look worse than this.

  2. An alternate caption “70 people all going to different places, 1 bus from not quite where you are to not quite where you want to go, and not a train in sight!

    1. “70 people all going to different places”

      Presumably you are talking about the people on the bus because the people driving aren’t going anywhere. :p

      1. Yet the evidence suggests the opposite. If they expected to be better off using the bus then they would have left their cars at home. Count them. All those folks decided to drive. All we can tell about the bus is that there is at least one person on it -the driver. 😉

        1. It would actually be interesting to tell, as with that one bus carrying as much as those lanes of traffic, imagine what happens over the period of the day. Are there actually more people driving or just less people taking up more room?? From the picture it would suggest overall more people over the peak period taking the bus. Unless of course all those cars are still moving at 100km/hr?

        2. You really believe that most people in Auckland ever consider taking a bus, ferry or train? Most older people in particular would never even contemplate that.

          This is illustrated by the fact the 80% of SOVs on Lake Road in the morning were heading to the CBD, despite there being three excellent ferry services operating at regular intervals.

          You really believe that after 60 years of auto dependent brain washing, people actually believe they have a choice?

          1. This is furthering the idea that AFTER you have caught the ferry/bus/train, how do you connect to your destination of choice? improved cycleways, improved footpaths, better connected networks, transport hubs to use one of the spokes to get closer. A liveable city requires several layers of integration that needs to be presented to those who think they can’t use our great and improving systems already in place. some people may be set in how they move from A to B but I would be happy to bet all 80% wouldn’t be.

          2. I simply don’t understand how you think there is no choice. There is a bus that leaves according to someone else’s timetable that you might have to walk to and wait for in the rain. You might have to stand up all the way squashed in with other unfortunates. Or there is a car that goes where you want, when you want, that might require you to sit in a queue and listen to music for a while. Pros and cons either way but everyone makes a choice. The real question the picture raises is what do you do next. Free up the traffic queue a bit, sink more into the buslane or waste a fortune on running trains on that track. Freeing up the traffic queue will attract more people to drive- some people here think that is evidence of failure. Some of us see that as a sign that it succeeded. You gave people what they wanted.

          3. definitely agree there are pros and cons to both as neither is a perfect system on its own. but as much as you are sticking to someone’s schedule to catch PT, you pick the times you want to catch. The more flexible the options are, the better the system works and can work in with the days you need private vehicles and the days you can take the public system. you need to work on all the systems in the appropriate manor for each case. some areas desperately need PT investment to free up the roads. others are ready for road improvement to go hand in hand with the PT network. the biggest issue we face in NZ is that we have been dominantly focused on the private vehicle access. by changing the investment and giving PT a massive boost we can bring the system up to speed. its no easy fix but the lack of PT investment up until now has heavily impacted on our road network.

          4. mfwic – the statement “Or there is a car that goes where you want, when you want, that might require you to sit in a queue and listen to music for a while.” is contradictory – if you are ‘required’ to sit in a queue and listen to music as there is so much traffic, the freedom to go ‘where you want, when you want” has been lost.

            as everyone else points out, no-ones forcing you to take a bus..but if it is an attractive option to others, which means they take it, it frees up the roads for you to get in your car to go ‘where you want, when you want’. one pays through a bus fare, you pay through your petrol, car depreciation, road tax, and likely in the future, road pricing charges.

            win/win surely?

          5. James I am not saying car use is congestion free. But look at the picture. Even with an expectation of congestion some/many people still choose to drive. They are not irrational or stupid, they make the optimum choice for themselves. Knowing you will queue doesn’t reduce your freedom, it just changes when you leave.

            I have no problem with providing public transport. It is particularly suited to commuter trips to dense centres. It is also needed as an essential public service for people who dont drive or cycle.

            The point I am making is people are better off if they have choices. Even with the bus in the picture and an empty buslane those drivers feel they are better off driving. I don’t much care about spatial efficiency, we are not short of space. We are short of homes and well paying jobs. Squeezing people in isn’t going to lift anybodies living standards. The original Tweetee or Twit is simply wrong. Dhaka has a higher level of spatial efficiency than we do, that doesn’t go hand in hand with urban quality or with liveabliity (the poor dude must have three hands).

          6. mfwic – giving people more of what they are currently choosing should only be considered a success if their individual incentives are well-aligned with what is socially optimal. In transport, with all it’s subsidies and non-priced externalities, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

            I agree that giving people choice is a good thing, but using only people’s choices to determine how much of each to supply is an approach fraught with danger in a market so saturated with distortions.

        3. I’ll settle for the train that someone else drives for me, which leaves and arrives at predictable times (pretty much), over the traffic jam that I need to fight and which makes me arrive at unpredictable times. (Sits back and reads book/listens to music/works on laptop/savours beers he’s just had as scenery slides by…)

    2. Yes once again you are exactly right Mfwic, just like the Western Rail line, 5,000 people all going to Swanson, and Swanson only. Something like that eh?

  3. I think you guys had an even better photo, one with an EMU next to the southern motorway gridlock. It really speaks volumes how idiotic our roading obsession is.

    1. Ironically the voiceover to the video that came said that the busway was empty when it had more people in shot than the motorway too.

    2. Waspman that only makes a better photo if you assume the vehicles on the motorway are single occupants that have the option to be on the EMU AND the EMU is as full. The southern motorway is full for a much longer part of the day than the EMUs beside them are, AT know there is still plenty of capacity in their train fleet so won’t increase the fleet and instead push the operators to use the ones they have better first.

      1. Working off the Auckland average occupancy rates of 1.2 per vehicle (actual occupancy is below but rounding up to be conservative) its pretty easy to work out. Most if not all have the option, there are park n ride stations along the southern motorway route and now buses link into the rail line for a true multi modal transport solution.

      2. Many people on the train don’t have the option to drive. Why is it necessary for something to be a perfect substitute to make a valid comparsion.

        If I compared the cost of caviar and peanuts you wouldn’t point out that some people can’t eat peanuts.

        1. It is made out to be a direct comparison (you and I both seem to know it is not). It is about time and convenience as I live 12 minutes walk from a train station, work 8 minutes from another but it requires two trains of 40 minutes plus around 6 minutes between a total of an hour 6 if everything is on time or I can choose to drive 30-35 minutes door to door (it has only taken over an hour once in 12 years), with the added convenience of being able to pick something up at lunch time or on the way home.

  4. It seems some have missed the point the tweeter makes: Spatial efficiency, urban quality, and liveability, are all interdependent factors in cities. This is demonstrably true. None will cause the others on their own but each supports and makes the others more possible. And in particular it is the first one in transport, spatially efficient transport modes, that we can invest in in order to help produce the other two.

    So, building say the CRL, will not by itself improve the urban fabric of the city or necessarily increase the liveability of Auckland’s citizens, but it will certainly provide a big necessary pre-condition for these things to happen. By enabling huge numbers of people to access the City Centre, and elsewhere, without each bringing their space hogging and place ruining cars with them, it will provide the foundations of a more intense urban economy with the rich diversity of social, cultural, and financial, exchange that flows from that. Even more directly it will allow the repurposing of currently dead carriageway into accessible new public space, and so on. Spatial efficiency and it’s related function, proximity are the key currencies of the urban world. The most important and fastest growing sector in the world today.

    It is vital we work very hard at maximising these conditions in our cities, and especially in our one city of scale.

      1. So auto-dependent sprawl-mania locks in an incredibly wasteful lifestyle, yes even if the cars are battery powered. We are using way more resources than the planet has to offer, and all ideas to slow the cooking of the planet really, really should be encouraged – but Meh, whatever.

    1. It is vital we work very hard at maximising these conditions in our cities, and especially in our one city of scale.

      Unfortunately we live in Auckland with high cost urban land and masses of car-centric exurbs. So the picture shows our future

      Unitary panned. Slow urban growth, maxxed out in exurbia.

  5. Looking at that picture makes me wonder why the northern busway doesnt have a dedicated lane over the harbour bridge,at least in the peak periods.

  6. Patrick R.. ‘It is vital we work very hard at maximising these conditions in our cities, and especially in our one city of scale’.

    What ‘we’ might that be? Certainly not ratepayers in Auckland or taxpayers in New Zealand.
    For example, how can ‘we’ have any say or prevent or even be heard where billion dollar lunatic schemes such as the East-West link just get to be rubber stamped. Do we have any rights to directly challenge the faceless bureaucrats in NZTA who propose and authorise such schemes?
    I expect they. NZTA, AT etc are just pleased to see those with any different opinion to theirs, venting in blogs such as this or organising public meetings outcomes that they can arrogantly ignore.

  7. My goodness what a load of pedantic bullshit in this comments thread. The key point is that large cities need to shift a lot of people in a constrained amount of space and therefore need good PT to make that happen.

    Get over yourselves with the such pedantic crap it’s ruining the comments on this blog.

  8. The great “paradox” of driving is that the only way to make roads better for drivers is to build more PT.

    As more and better PT comes along, more drivers switch, leaving those who love their cars on empty, free-flowing streets.

    MORE BUSES
    MORE TRAINS
    MORE ROAD FOR ME!

    1. Yup. And for that to work best the alternative has to be as attractive as possible. Separate dedicated route out of congestion, frequent turn-up-and-go service, well sited and connected stations, attractive and comfortable vehicles, long service hours. And as part of a full network.

      People are peculiar individually but basically rational en mass. Make that Transit alternative good enough and people will choose it, make it great and lots will. In this way the quality of your city’s Transit network controls the efficiency and functionality of your city’s road network. Just keep widening the motorway without a viable Transit option and it will simply clog with overuse.

      Wait and watch next year, especially March onwards; Waterview opening is going to kill the inner 16 and local roads at times. It’s not that Waterview shouldn’t have been built, it’s good that it is, but by not adding at least a separate Busway from Pt Chev out on the Northwestern means they’ve done a poor job, half a job. And their pride and joy just won’t work well. This is a poor use of capital. (oh and don’t start me on the detail design of the structures- that’s so awful, but another topic) The main thing is it needs a real Rapid Transit line for this motorway to work properly.

  9. if that stupid truck wasn’t taking up so much space changing lanes, there’d be like 8 more cars and therefore 10 more people in that picture! haha.

    The precise ‘nit-picking’ that happens sometimes is hilarious.

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