Next week Auckland Transport hold their final board meeting for the year. Coming hot on the heels of the November one there’s not a lot of new information available in the currently available reports but there are a few important items.

Closed Session

Here are the items on the closed session. Most seem fairly straight forward and probably a bit boring but there are a few that stand out, particularly talk about train capacity and allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes – the only electric vehicles that should be in bus lanes are electric buses. I also wonder why these items are even in the closed session, AT list the reason as “To protect commercial interests” but just what commercial interests are there in talking about the capacity of trains or electric vehicles using bus lanes.

  • 2017/18 Internal Budget Strategy
  • Road Stoppings and Real Estate Inventory Optimisation
  • Train Capacity
  • Rail Operator
  • Agreement relating to Huapai Triangle Special Housing Area – Deed of Novation
  • Electric Vehicles in Special Vehicle Lanes
  • Quarterly AMETI Update
  • Housing Infrastructure Fund
  • CRL Update
  • 2016/17 Budget Realignment

Business Report

Coming hot on the heels of the November one there’s not a lot of new information available in the currently available reports but there are a few important items.

Lincoln Rd – AT didn’t say publicly that submissions were open for their supersizing of Lincoln Rd but they were and have now closed. But not yet having consent hasn’t stopped AT and the report says they spent $3.3 million in November buying up some of the land needed for the widening and that in total for the year, they’ve spent a staggering $28.42 million. The project is going to end up with the cost of a small motorway, which is perhaps appropriate given the road will look a bit like one once finished.

Integrated Fares for Ferries

AT say they’re working on integrated fares for ferries.

Ferry Integrated fares approach and options are under development. Use cases are being documented for Thales review. Ferry ticketing infrastructure is being programmed to ensure cash tickets/alternative payment means are brought within the ferry integrated fares project to ensure a lasting solution

As I understand it, it doesn’t mean fares will the same price as an equivalent bus fare but that journeys will be integrated together. For example, if you were trying to get from Bayswater to Newmarket you could get off the ferry downtown and then jump on a bus or train to Newmarket without paying an additional fare, but the ferry fare itself will likely still cost more than doing the same journey by land.

Parnell Station

As we’ve known for a little while, there’s a new timetable coming in March which is intended to speed up services, which also frees some extra trains up allowing them to be used boost capacity with more 6-car trains. It appears this timetable will start on 12 March.

We now also know that the timetable will see the start of services to Parnell, but there is a catch. At least initially only Southern Line services will stop at Parnell during the day although AT say Western Line trains will do so too in evenings and weekends. That is bound to cause confusion for customers wanting to go to or from Parnell. The old Newmarket station building will be moved to the site and refurbished between Christmas and June 2017.

You may have noticed no mention of Onehugna trains, that’s because there are some big changes coming with them too. As part of the new timetable Onehunga Line trains will run express from Ellerslie to Newmarket and then Britomart. Like Parnell, the Greenlane and Remuera stations will still be served by southern line trains every 10 minutes but any passengers waiting will get to watch an Onehunga line train blast past without stopping. This appears to be being done to free up an extra train so a service on one of the main lines can be expanded to 6-cars. While we definitively want AT to speed up trains, it seems doing it this way is a cop out to fixing actual issues such as the stupidly long dwell times we have or the horrifically long driver end change at Newmarket.

There is no mention on if the new timetable includes improved off peak frequencies which are needed to comply with the new network and AT’s Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP).

Station Gating

We’ve heard before that AT were planning to install ticket gates at more stations but there was no timeframe for this other than Otahuhu in April-June. They now say gates at Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Middlemore, Henderson and Parnell stations will be installed in Quarter three of 2017 and that they’re also planning for gates at Glen Innes and Papakura but there is no timeframe for that.

New Network

AT include a few brief numbers on the new network.

Train boardings at Otahuhu and Manukau have increased, with Otahuhu doubling over the first three weeks of operation; transfers across South Auckland up by 147%, bus/bus transfer up by 94% and bus/train transfers up by 207%

This seems good but knowing if it was actually resulting in more people using PT would be more useful.

Click & Collect expansion – a few months ago, AT launched a trial of being able to pick up shopping from countdown at some stations and other locations. They say that in February that will expand to include New World and Farro. It’s not in the board report but AT have also been installing vending machines at some stations. Here is some info from a local board report

As part of ongoing efforts to further improve customer amenity and convenience at public transport facilities, Auckland Transport will be conducting a vending machine trial in partnership with Coca-Cola (Branded as Pump) and Sanitarium. The trial will begin on 9th November 2016 and run over a period of six months.

As a part of this trial, AT will seek to provide customers with a broad range of breakfast, snack and cold drink products to choose from, while promoting healthier choices. This will be achieved by ensuring that healthy options benefit from high visibility and dominate the range of products on offer.

Nine rail stations across the network will be involved in this trial; Grafton, Manukau, Manurewa, Mt Albert, New Lynn, Newmarket, Otahuhu, Panmure and Puhinui. Following the successful outcome of this trial, an open Request for Proposal process will be held to identify network wide partners to provide a longer term offering

This is the final board meeting for the year with the next one not till near the end of February. There is also currently not patronage information but we should have it next week.

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  1. I understand that the AT Board at least has to discuss allowing electric vehicles in bus/transit lanes as this is a position proposed to them by central government. However, I hope that they roundly reject it, as it would be a serious mistake. To even propose this shows a complete lack of understanding of the traffic dynamics that would arise. Electric vehicles following along behind buses would seek to change lanes every time the buses stop, forcing merge behaviour into the general traffic lane. As we can readily observe, any time merge behaviour occurs in peak traffic, congestion is created that slows down BOTH traffic lanes – the bus/transit lane because traffic will be held up by vehicles trying to merge out of that lane, and the general traffic lane because traffic will be held up by vehicles trying to merge into that lane. It’s a difficult thing for many to get their heads around, but the argument is the same when (say) converting from a T2 to a Bus Lane – counter-intuitively this can actually speed up the traffic in BOTH lanes by removing the number of merge manoeuvres that slow down the general traffic lane.

    Even if the decision is taken to allow EVs in bus lanes, it can only be a short term expedient. When the number of EVs grows substantially, as they eventually will, they will have to be kicked out of bus and transit lanes again in order to restore the viability of these lanes.

    1. I agree with you Roger. EV’s in buslanes creates a problem for us all. Do we buy one of these things so we can use the buslanes or will it be over so soon that it will leave us owning an EV we didn’t want and can’t even use it in a buslane.

  2. I have noticed the vending machines at a few stations. I know its another thing that’s never mentioned, but recycling bins (separate from rubbish) would be good at stations, the amount of plastic and cans that fill the bins, or just get thrown on the tracks is quite sad.

    Interesting about the Onehunga services … I can’t really make my mind up if I think it’s a good or a bad thing

    1. The Onehunga services is a good thing IF you are one of the few that goes from Onehunga to the CBD as you will get there faster, if you are not oh well too bad.

      1. I think there are more than a “few” people who travel between Onehunga, Te Papapa, Penrose, Ellerslie, Newmarket and Britomart. That is hardly an end-to-end fast service only serving Onehunga. Also in the morning peak I have noticed at Penrose, that trains arriving from Onehunga already have people standing before anybody gets on at Penrose, so the branch alone fills up most of a 3-car.

        The other benefit from this is freeing up a 3 car unit so one of the other lines can have another 6-car service, so there are others who benefit as well.

        It will also mean trains travelling even faster past the parked cars on SH1, which should act as a good free advert for PT.

        I also assume the timetable will have the all-stop’s Southern service follow just behind the Onehunga service, so if you change at Ellerslie to go to Green Lane you should only have to wait another 2mins, which doesn’t seem a huge price to pay to free up a $10m asset for use on another line.

        PS: I wonder if this means the business case for Rail vs LRT to the airport needs to be revisited as I bet the timings for Heavy Rail were based on all-stops current timings with long dwells.

        1. Try reading the comment properly, “IF you are one of the few that goes from Onehunga to the CBD”. There was no mention of Te Papapa, Penrose, Ellerslie, Newmarket in my comment.

          1. But you also go onto say: “…if you are not oh well too bad.” My point is that others benefit too, not just those going from Onehunga to the city, although there are quite a lot of those people these days.

          2. If Newmarket isn’t CBD, then obviously anyone going there from Onehunga, Te Papapa (plus the right Penrose platform) will benefit directly as well.
            Do you have evidence that those that benefit directly are ‘the few’ in comparison to those with the inconvenience and time penalty of a change? Users on the rest of the network get a small benefit.
            In a perfect world AT would ‘fess up and say x people a week get a time saving of a minutes, while y people get a change (if on Onehunga branch) and time penalty of b minutes on average.

        1. Yes Nick of the handful of passengers, it could be 100% but what really matters is total count and as the majority of the passengers on the Onehunga trains are not coming from or going to Onehunga (or Te Papapa) they catch that train due to it being 2-3 minutes ahead of the southern train.

    2. Yeah, I was just noticing the lack of recycling bins at Britomart yesterday. Those ones with the narrow opening to fit bottles/cans seem to be effective at keeping non-recyclables out, can’t we have some of those?

  3. “That is bound to cause confusion for customers wanting to go to or from Parnell.”

    When using public transport I am a passenger and not a customer.

    1. Originally Westfield was to close when Otahuhu was opened, I wonder if it when it finally does it becomes like the Wiri platform and continue to be used by train crews.

  4. Well explained Roger. Totally in agreement with you.

    Yes Owen! When using public transport I too, am a passenger, not a customer!

    1. Why do the cycle paths disappear south of Ponsettia Pl, and turn into shared paths?
      Those cycle paths cross a lot of vehicle entrances. I hope the cycle path is level and smooth, not like the treatment on Maioro St.
      Still no cycle bridge or underpass adjacent to the motorway.

      If EV’s get allowed in bus lanes, it may bring forward my purchase of a Leaf.

  5. In addition to the train arrangements you mention, I understood that every second Southern Line service will run express between Newmarket and Otahuhu, and every other to run express between Otahuhu and Papakura. Have they backed away from that?

  6. With Southern Line trains stopping at Parnell does this mean an extra delay will be needed when a Western line train follows a Southern line train out of Britomart?

  7. Does anyone know if AT have reached agreement to build the pathway from the University Student Accommodation at Carlaw park direcly up to the Parnell Station platforms? At present, nothing has been done, therefore foot access from the Stanley Street side of the gulley is via the long path through the lower Domain.

  8. So do we think that the item on ‘Train Capacity’ is the first board level discussion on ordering more trains? Or something else like ripping seating out or selling seats on roof (with 25kV insulating baseball caps provided free)?

  9. Yay! Parnell Station. I can handle a limited service for now. Some service is better than none. As long as it progressively improves.

  10. The widening of Lincoln Rd is a very worrying thought. The project management of Te Atatu and Edmonton Rd’s is truly abysmal. I am guessing but those works on those two roads have been going on for at least 2 years, restricted lane access, torn up footpaths and massive delays. At any one time you will be very lucky to see up to 6 workers doing something. And it does not look like it is any nearer completion or much achieved and could be another two years at this rate. Yes it is a very busy route but for Gods sake, work on it at night and crack into it off peak get it finished by early new year. It could be done!

    The thing is if AT adopt that garbage attitude shown at Te Atatu Rd project at Lincoln Rd, and this tends to be the way Auckland Council and its predecessors operates, then there will be havoc.

  11. So travelling from New Lynn to Parnell means a train change at Newmarket. I wonder if this changeover in either direction will mean the escalator nonsense rush from Newmarket platform 3 to platform 1. Or will NM platform 2 be opened? Still listening AT?

    1. The word is platform 2 will be used for ‘some services’, I’m not sure on which the ‘some’ are but it is due to start with the other March changes.

  12. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that AT allows electric cars into bus lanes with the result that the only barely acceptable bus service is also downgraded.

    I am a positive person, but I find AT’s stumbling, bumbling efforts to improve public transport make me incredibly angry. If the answer seemed to even remotely lie with projects like widening Lincoln Road for 30 million plus then I wouldn’t mind. But we spend 30 million there; 50 million on Lake Road, Takapuna; and Esmonde Road would seeming then require the same treatment. Overseas experience shows that we won’t be able to build enough roads to ever have enough.

  13. Does anyone know what the Huapai special housing issue is and what parties are involved in the deed of novation?
    just wondering if it has anything to do with the local board members wanting a swanson Huapai diesel shuttle service

    1. Parnell is going to be opened in a fairly basic state, with no overpass and no station building. Yep, upon arriving you’ll need to walk 150m up the gully to the underpass, then 150m back down the other side to get to the main exit.

      1. Wow. I guess that’s what happens when you spend all your money on motorways. Roll on the change of government later next year. We’ll put some money into PT and honouring our climate change obligations.

  14. Pleasing to hear the counter skip stop proposal for the Southern Line has been abandoned, as this indeed would have made using trains very confusing. Keep it simple.

    More EMUs for either more services or for creating more six car sets, should be freed up by instead changing the operation of the Western Line:

    1. Run every second Western Line service only as far as Henderson from Britomart and then return. The capacity and frequency on the Western Line is primarily needed between Brtiomart and Henderson, not Henderson and Swanson. This will free up some EMUs.

    2. Run all Western Line services direct between Parnell and Grafton via the direct link at Newmarket and have all Western / Southern / Onehunga Line services stop at Parnell station. Transfers between Western / Southern / Onehunga services can be made here instead (walking time between platforms very little difference to that at Newmarket station). Western Line passengers for Newmarket can either use Grafton station or transfer at Parnell station onto Southern / Onehunga Line services stopping at Newmarket. Western Line passengers for Newmarket could later use the new direct Otahuhu-Henderson services which will run via Newmarket. If deemed necessary, consideration could also be made to reinstate KIngdon Street station. Running Western Line services direct between Parnell and Grafton will speed up the Western Line timetable considerably by removing the current dwell time at Newmarket with drivers having to change ends. Removing Western Line services from Newmarket station will also provide more platform capacity at Newmarket to accommodate any future new inter-regional rail services, e.g. Hamilton, Tauranga / Mount Maunganui.

    3. Start a new Henderson-Huapai service using surplus ADL diesel units, which is now being sought after by the Rodney Local Board to serve the large new special housing accord areas in Kumeu / Huapai and provide an alternative transport option to the already slow and heavily congested SH16, which is only going to get much worse when all the new housing gets built. The DMUs from Huapai could run express between Swanson and Henderson, before crossing over into the Henderson depot siding and waiting for a time slot to return to the platform and run express from Henderson to Swanson and then onwards to Waitakere and Huapai. Operating the service in this manner would eliminate the need for capex on a third platform at Swanson and would make good use of the island platform at Henderson, which will be supplemented with a new third platform to be built to serve the proposed new Otahuhu-Henderson service. Operating the DMU service to Huapai in this manner together with operating from Henderson rather than Swanson, will provide some additional service replacement, albeit hourly initially (similar to the Pukekohe DMU service), to supplement the reduced number of EMU services running between Henderson and Swanson as proposed above in point 2.

    Doing all the above will keep the timetables and train operations simple, speed up the Western Line timetable, free up more EMUs and make use of currently surplus ADL DMUs to run new much sought after rail services to Huapai. Simple and easy to implement.

    1. These are excellent suggestions.
      The use of the newmarket triangle connection to go direct from Grafton to Parnell just makes so much sense since it would significantly decrease journey time to Britomart. I suppose it depends on the actual numbers of passengers terminating at Newmarket. The cross town western to Otahuhu if slotted in properly should, hopefully, cater for these passengers.
      With the Huapai development its great to see the local board and councillors pushing for some priority for a train service to provide some relief for the congested SH16.
      The longer term dual tracking and electrification would appear the way to go.
      Those ten DMUs owned by AT, with at least half of them spare, would be perfect for an almost immediate Huapai-Swanson service.
      The Huapai DMU going to Henderson is interesting..

  15. I’m assuming all these skipping station ideas by both AT and Robin above would only be in peak periods? No point otherwise as would have enough EMU’s, have real slow transfer times & more confusing to casual off-peak travellers.

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