Auckland Anniversary weekend, like many other long weekends, has long been associated with people packing up their car and fleeing the city, usually to beaches in places like the Coromandel Peninsula or North of Auckland. In the last few years in particular, we’ve also started to see Auckland growing into becoming an international city that is able to celebrate the anniversary weekend through a wide range of events. What’s more, many of these events are now being held in the city centre. Take yesterday for example, in the city centre we had:
- The Seeport Festival – based around Captain Cook and Marsden wharves.
- International Buskers Festival – based along the waterfront from the Viaduct to Lower Queen St/Queens Wharf
- Play AT’s Play Streets – based in Wynyard Quarter (interestingly not mentioned on their Auckland Anniversary events page, perhaps a classic case of the huge silo’s that exist within AT)
- Auckland Anniversary Regatta – various locations around the waterfront
- Laneway Festival – based in Albert Park
- Just outside of the City Centre there was also the Blackcaps vs Australia at Eden Park
The impact of this change and development of the city centre as a destination not just for work has been hugely positive and importantly popular too, going by the massive numbers of people drawn to the city to participate in the events.
Unfortunately, a cloud continues to hang over events like what took place yesterday – and the rest of the weekend, AT’s continued sole focus on the hunt for the great white commuter (the stereotypical 9-5 office worker). This is evident by the almost non-existent public transport that existed due to public holidays being treated with a Sunday timetable – with one exception, some extra trains to cater for the cricket.
But even the extra trains put on for the cricket would have been useless for most as there were only a few extra services put on at the expected start and finish time of the match. That meant throughout most of the day, the rail network continued to run with just 30 minute frequencies – a level at which most people would think makes using it just too hard.
And it’s not just the infrequent services that cause issues but also how long they run for. On Sunday, and like with New Year’s Eve, the final trains for the day left just minutes before the fireworks ended. On Monday, the same thing happened with the Laneway Festival as the last trains departed Britomart just before the festival ended.
To me this all represents a massive missed opportunity to showcase our PT network, which has been improving. It also likely means AT aren’t getting the most of their 99c child fares on weekends.
We know that by in large, most people are rational. Many are more than happy to use PT if a decent service is provided but what AT continues to provide on days like yesterday doesn’t even come close to a decent service.
Of course, the ultimate solution is for AT to not treat event days like this weekend separate at all but just to provide a decent base level of service every day. That is part of the philosophy behind the New Network but it’s notable that AT haven’t implemented the associated rail changes with it yet, these were described in AT’s Regional Public Transport Plan as:
This isn’t the first time I’ve raised issues about the provision PT and events and sadly I doubt it will be the last.
Did you have any PT experiences over the weekend and how did they go?