Tomorrow is the first Auckland Transport board meeting of 2017 and so as usual, I’ve scoured the board reports for any interesting information. The very first thing I noticed wasn’t even in a report but was the meeting timetable for the year. In past years there has always been a monthly meeting (except for January) but not it seems they’re moving to having a meeting every 6 weeks. I’m not sure of the reason for the change and one thing it could do is also mean we don’t get information like ridership data as regularly which would be a shame.
Closed Session agenda
The closed session is of course where all of the interesting discussions take place and despite being two months since the last meeting, there’s surprisingly not that much interesting on the agenda.
Items for Approval/Decision
- Draft Statement of Intent 2017/18 – 2019/20
- Advanced Bus Solution next steps
- Delivery of Transport Networks for Growth
- Quarterly report to AC
Items for Noting
- AT Rollover Designations
- CRL Update
- Speed Management Update
- AT Deliverables:
- Results for Projects completed to 31 December 2016
- Tasks for completion by 31 March 2017
The most interesting of those is the Advanced Bus Solution item. This relates to the NZTAs investigation into a bus alternative to AT’s proposal for light rail on Dominion Rd and to the Airport.
There are quite a few things from the main business report and the order of items relates to where they appeared in AT’s report.
Every month AT list the projects that were approved for funding by the NZTA. There are usually a few items but one this time stood out. Almost $40 million is going on business cases for projects in what will be greenfield growth areas. This is from the TFUG work. As a comparison, a detailed business case for improvements to Lake Rd was also approved at a cost of $630k
Transport Network for Growth (Detailed Business Cases for North, North West and South) – this activity was approved with conditions for $39.5 million
Technology – There are a number of technology updates:
- It appears AT are working on a new version of the AT Hop website
The AT HOP Web Rebuild project is on schedule to be delivered by 24 April for the rebuild of the Customer Web Portal, and the Customer Contact Centre Web Portal. This project will deliver a better online experience for our AT HOP customers.
- It appears there will be more public information available
The EIM (Enterprise Information Management) team has launched an initial instance of a public GIS (map-based information) information website and an open GIS data website. The open GIS data capability allows customers to access and download authoritative GIS datasets. The initial 20 datasets will continue to be expanded upon as we move forward with new datasets being uploaded regularly.
- And more mobile app improvements
Metro AT Mobile Application: The new AT Metro mobile application is in the final stages of end user testing prior to launch. This will be followed up with seven other items of additional functionality over the next few months including the addition of Train and Ferry services.
Newmarket Crossing – AT note they’ve got an agreement in principle with the appellants for the Newmarket Level Crossing project which will see Sarawia St closed and a bridge built between Laxon Tce and Cowie St.
Smart City – AT are going to conduct a ‘smart city’ technology trial in Devonport. It’s currently going through procurement.
A trial of smart city technologies in conjunction with UI is being developed for the Devonport Ferry Terminal, Bus Interchange and Park-and-Ride precinct.
Technologies to be trialled include, CleverCiti Parking Sensors for real time parking tracking in the Park-and-Ride area (144 spaces), SMIGHT smart poles for integrated sensor capability (including integrated cleverciti parking sensors, environmental sensors, wifi and electric vehicle charging).
Integrated analytics combining parking data, pedestrian data and AT-HOP data will help to build a picture of how people drive, walk/cycle or use buses and ferries to get to or from Devonport and improve our understanding how people integrate these modalities (e.g. arrive by car, take a ferry or a bus, arrive by ferry and then walk/cycle, arrive by ferry and then drive off in a car etc).
City Centre Roads – AT now report to each meeting how the city centre roads are coping with the disruption caused by the CRL and other road works. This is related in part to resource consent conditions for the CRL. Once again though we see that despite the disruption, most streets monitored are actually performing better than before the works (blue is the baseline). This continues to show that AT has a lot of scope to drastically change the city once the CRL is complete and refocus road corridors more towards people on foot, bike and bus.
New Network – For the first time we’ve got some information about how the new network in South Auckland is performing. It appears that the number of trips in December are up significantly on last year, including a lot more people transferring. For some reason they’re reporting on trips and transfers separately rather than just reporting on journeys which is what they should be doing. The information by suburb shows that Otahuhu has seen significant change which will almost certainly be due to the newly upgraded station
Integrated fares – over successive fare changes, AT have constantly increased the price of monthly passes well above other changes in what has felt like a deliberate attempt to be less customer friendly to some of their best customers. The report, written before the most recent increase in price suggests monthly pass numbers have been slashed by a third.
Bus train monthly pass ($200) sales have stabilised with (~5,000 per month down from 9,500 per month) many passengers migrating to stored value.
March Madness – For perhaps the first time, AT are introducing additional capacity ahead of annual March Madness. They say 34 extra peak trips will be added to the NEX this month while Birkenhead Bus are introducing double deckers to Onewa Rd. As we highlighted the other day, they’re also boosting rail capacity as part of the new timetable due mid-March. Not related to march madness but they also say double deckers will be introduced from New Lynn to the city along Great North Rd on June 11 when the new bus network rolls out in West Auckland.
Train Stations – There are a number of changes to train stations planned.
- AT have previously said they’re looking at gating a number of stations later this year. One of those was Middlemore but they’re now saying those plans are under review “to align with the planned third main line“. Hopefully that means we’ll see some progress on that project soon.
- AT plan to install a new LCD based information displays at Parnell, Remuera and Greenlane which will display additional information around approaching trains that are not stopping (as also mentioned in the post the other day). They will also eventually have automated PA announcements for this too. I hope these new displays could be rolled out elsewhere to display information like how many cars the next train has etc.
- They say a working group has been formed with Transdev and other stakeholders “to progress the opening of platform-2 at Newmarket Station for passenger use” by Easter this year. This is excellent news and well done to Harriet for pushing it.
Hibiscus Coast Station – AT have had a long battle to get resource consent for the full Hibiscus Coast Station. They now have approval and are starting by building the park & ride (till November) followed by the station building itself which isn’t due for completion till April/May 2018. In my mind they should do those projects the opposite way around.
Bus Priority – It appears AT are looking at more widespread bus priority across the city including for all frequent routes which is excellent news but that’s tempered by knowing they’ve been behind in implementing what they’ve said they would and are yet to fix what should be easy wins with extending bus lane hours.
A strategic bus priority plan is being developed to scope completion of citywide bus priority network over the next 3 years and extended over 10 – 15 years for the Frequent Network identifying high level budget requirements and key risks.
Customer Satisfaction – AT’s quarterly customer satisfaction survey is looking promising, especially for trains which they say recorded the highest result ever
City Centre Buses – AT say they’ve been reviewing the city centre experience for bus users to look for ways to improve it and improve bus use. Recommendations included:
- make existing bus stops more visual to customers
- to prototype and test new customer signage at two bus stops (two sided info-boards),
- better utilise the space on the reverse of passenger information displays to display key bus stop information.
Information Displays – AT have been trialling digital displays on a train and some buses but it hasn’t been a hit with passengers.
On-board digital screen trial (five buses and one EMU). The initial feedback from customers during the trial was mixed, which was validated with further customer centred testing via Customer Central in December. On-board journey and wayfinding content was valued more by new and irregular bus users. For regular commuters most used their own smart-device as a means of journey entertainment
There’s certainly a lot going on including a lot I didn’t cover. Have you read the report and picked up on anything else I missed?