On Tuesday, the Auckland Transport hold their next board meeting, the first with their new directors. Their board reports are usually full of interesting information so always, I’ve gone and pulled out some of the things that stood out to me in the reports available.
There are a few items on the closed agenda but the two most interesting are:
- Supporting Growth (TFUG) – Planning Alliance to deliver route protection
- Airport Access PBC
We’ll particularly keep an eye out for the Airport Access information in the future.
As usual, these are in the order they appear in the report
HOP usage is breaking records with 91.3% of all bus and train trips in March being made with HOP cards.
There are a quite a few technology items on the list but a few that stood out were:
- A tender has been released calling for options on upgrading the EMU fleet Wi-Fi to 4G. This supports increasing data requirements and a better customer experience.
- AT Metro Information Journey (Journey Impact): A project is underway to build a proof of concept that provides disruption notifications aligned to the data model developed during March. This concept is the stepping stone to allowing us to consume many data sources, create notifications, and prioritise and distribute them to teams, TOCs (Transport Operations Centres), CSRs (Customer Service Representatives), and customers.
- Ghost Buses: Hundreds of AT Metro customers are in contact with AT every month, requesting information about the location of their bus. AT staff pass complaints on to operators, but have insufficient tools at their disposal to mitigate customer anxiety. During April Customer Central developed a simple interface to allow CSRs to give useful information to customers, and ongoing testing will continue as this further develops during May, with targeted delivery in June. The formation of a customer-centric metric is also underway; this will enable AT to measure the customer experience around the bus network, alongside current operational measures
AT does seem to be putting some effort in to improving the customer experience which is good to see, but they certainly have a long way to go.
Eastern Busway – 66 submissions were received on the consent and hearings are likely in August. The next stage of the project is the busway stations and Reeves Rd Flyover and AT are working towards design and consenting for those. The flyover will of course be an interesting element to watch. They’ve told me some of the early designs for the flyover are like nothing seen in NZ before but we’ll have to wait and see.
Light Rail – Following on from the decisions made recently, work continues on a business case for the route protection from the city to the airport. They also say:
Further work will be done to assess key operational elements, required trade-offs, flow on effects, transition impacts and network resilience issues. NZ Transport Agency and AT are working together with Auckland Council to determine an integrated approach that enables a progression from bus to LRT.
Progressing the Rapid Transit Network – AT have included this image to highlight all the work being done to progress the rapid transit network. It suggests that by early-mid next year much of the network should have business cases in place, essentially working towards getting things ready. Hopefully that means it becomes much easier for this or a future government to pick up these projects and get them built sooner.
Planning and Consenting – Every meeting there is a list of projects going through the stages of the consenting process or that will soon be doing so. The section consents targeted for the next three months contains these projects amongst others
- Double Decker Buses (Dominion Road)
- Double Decker Buses (Manukau Road)
- Double Decker Buses (Pakaranga Road)
- Tamaki Drive Cycleway
It says this in the Environment Court Appeals section
Newmarket Level Crossing NoR and RC – the appeal from Cowie Street Residents Association Incorporated has been withdrawn and the Environment Court has issued a Consent Order to resolve the matter
Hopefully they can get that crossing sorted out soon.
Facilities – There are a number of comments about the management of various AT facilities but this one stood out.
Britomart tunnel restrictions put in place by KiwiRail are being resolved This includes gas and tunnel equipment and updated policy regarding the Britomart Incline (to differentiate it from KiwiRail tunnels).
Manukau Rd / Pah Rd T3 Lanes – the introduction of T3 lanes appears to be having a very positive affect in the mornings. I wonder if there needs to be more enforcement in the afternoons, any regular users to share their observations?
Additional information regarding the performance of the Manukau Road / Pah Road T3 lane shows that the T3 lane has provided significant benefits to bus movements. During the morning peak periods, average bus travel times have improved by 14 minutes from 29 minutes to 15 minutes along the route. In the afternoon peak period, there has been a more modest improvement of 3 minutes. Bus patronage has also since increased by approximately 20%, and increased numbers of T3 vehicles have been recorded, pointing to increased corridor productivity/ efficiency for the corridor. A detailed survey and assessment of corridor productivity/efficiency is currently underway for this corridor, as part of Auckland Transport’s annual review of all bus and transit lanes across the network. The review is due for completion in May and is expected to confirm the appropriateness of the existing T3 lane on this corridor
City Centre Travel – Once again, and even during March Madness, travel times in the city centre are faster than they were before the CRL works started and closed down large sections of Albert St. This once again highlights that there is capacity to add back some pedestrian priority that was removed, such as the double phasing of pedestrian crossings on Queen St, to keep traffic flowing
South New Network – AT’s numbers for the use of buses in South Auckland continue to show growth with good numbers even accounting for more people transferring – which has been increasing too.
Other PT stuff –
Ferry fares – An indicative business case is being developed for July 2017 for ferry fare integration (not fare equalisation) with bus and train zoned fares. The three potential solutions include using the single uniform discount functionality already existing, developing a supplementary charge for ferry fares or integrating only the monthly pass feature.
Parnell Station usage – The report includes these numbers on the first four weeks of use of the Parnell station. I doubt we’ll see huge numbers using the station until further work has been completed such as building an over bridge and access to Carlaw Park.
There is plenty of other info in the report should people wish to read it.
The forward programme gives an indication of stuff that will be coming to the board and it’s committees in the future. There are few items in upcoming meetings that are interesting.
- Review of ATs activities in the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) space
- Bus Frequency Priority Strategy
- IPEMU Procurement Business Case
- Special Events Integrated Ticketing
- Social Media
The most interesting are the bus frequency priority and the IPEMU business case. IPEMU stands for Independently Powered Electric Multiple-Unit, another name for battery powered trains and we know from previous information that AT have been looking at these as a cheaper way to get electric trains to Pukekohe. From what I’ve been told in the past, they’d be exactly the same trains we have now but with some seats taken out and replaced with a big battery pack.