This is a post by Mark Lambert – Auckland Transport’s Chief AT Metro Officer.

Public transport is all about numbers – literally bums on seats.

When more people use it it’s cheaper to run and there are simply fewer cars on the road, meaning less congestion.

And in Auckland those numbers keep heading skywards, reaching 87 million passenger trips in the year to March, a growth of 6.8 percent on the previous year. March itself was a record with 9.4 million passenger trips across Auckland’s bus, train and ferry services.

That’s the most trips since 1956, when most Aucklanders weren’t even born and the last Auckland tram was decommissioned.

Auckland’s new love affair with public transport puts NZ third in the world in terms of growth in average public transport use.

The UTIP (International Association of Public Transport) publishes biennial global trends and in the most recent report, Public Transport Trends 2017, New Zealand has come in third, behind Belgium and China for growth in average public transport usage rates beyond the impact of population growth between 2001 and 2014. Since 2014, Auckland’s public transport use has grown even further above the rate of population growth.

Getting the massive increase in numbers of people using buses, trains and ferries has come from years of planning and strategy.

The development of a new Auckland public transport system – AT Metro – is well underway. It focusses on providing people with public transport choices that are frequent, reliable, safe and value for money.

In the early 2000s Auckland’s train system was nearly dead, in fact the commuter rail service was in serious threat of being shut down.

After a renewed focus and major investment in electrifying the network and a whole new fleet of trains, patronage has been increasing by around 20 percent a year; the sort of phenomenal growth that very few organisations globally can match.

Trains carried 19 million passenger trips in the year to March, with 2.2 million carried in March alone.

And once the City Rail Link is built both the capacity and the convenience of the network will push it even further towards the train system Aucklanders need.

Buses are the backbone of public transport used by Aucklanders, with 61.9 million passenger trips in the year to March.

The huge success of the Northern Busway now means that more than half of the people who travel across the Auckland Harbour Bridge on a weekday do so on a bus, and they get the bonus of one of the best views in the city, especially from the top of one of the new double deckers.

To keep Aucklanders moving AT is in the process of revolutionising the city’s entire bus network.

It started in South Auckland last year and in June it rolls out to the West, then it’s on to the East, the Central suburbs and North Shore by the middle of next year.

Historically our bus network has been like a plate of spaghetti thrown against a map.

Because there are hundreds of services that don’t link together it’s very hard to understand and many services are low frequency making them not that attractive. Operating many long, winding and infrequent services between as many places as possible is a very poor use of resources.

The New Network will bring a whole new transport philosophy to Auckland. Instead of longer, direct routes, there will be shorter, more frequent routes which connect with other bus, train and ferry services at interchanges.

This way Aucklanders can take advantage of rapid transit routes such as the Northern Busway, the train network and the ferries which are unencumbered by general traffic.

By bringing in frequent and rapid services that operate at least every 15 minutes from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week we can move away from the idea that public transport is only useful in the morning and afternoon peaks. It also means there is no need to rely on a timetable – just turn up and go.

We are creating a network that people can use and rely on at all times.

The only way to really grow public transport is to provide frequent services across the whole network every day of the week.

Transfers and connections between services will be progressively made at new and purpose built facilities and stations such as the Otahuhu Station opened last year and the new Manukau Bus Station which will open next year.

New bus stops and shelters are being provided as the new bus routes of the New Network are implemented.

A number of Customer Service Centres have also been opened in recent years to enhance that critical face-to-face communication for people.

Digital technology will play a greater role in permitting people to access in real-time their public transport. The new AT Mobile app was launched in May which provides alerts for your services and tracks buses and trains. More digital experiences will be seen across the AT Metro system in coming years.

Park-and-Ride also has its part to play in proving access to the AT Metro system. More spaces are being provided across the network, particularly at the periphery where good local and feeder bus services are less economical to provide. Enhanced facilities will be provided in the next year at Silverdale, Papakura and Pukekohe with a number of other investigations underway.

The AT HOP card is used on more than 91 percent of public transport journeys, which is better than most bigger cities in the world.

The HOP card also enabled the introduction of Simpler Fares so that customers can tag-on and tag-off for each trip on buses and trains but only pay a single zone-based fare for their entire journey of up to five transfers over four hours.

Customer feedback on this initiative has been overwhelmingly positive.

With the rollout of the AT Metro New Network, new buses are being introduced and the age of the fleet is reducing with improvements in emissions and air quality. We plan to introduce the first zero emission bus into the AT Metro network in the next year.

Greater customer amenity is also being provided on buses with USB ports on the newer buses and WiFi is being trialled.

Improving the overall public transport experience is critical to encouraging more people to try public transport. New facilities such as click-and-collect are being introduced at some of our larger stations and wharves.

On one hand we are working to catch up to where we should already be because of decades of underinvestment while on the other we are working hard to keep up with the 45,000 people entering Auckland every year.

Adding that many people to the city is fantastic for the economy and for building a city we all want to live in but it does provide challenges for the transport system.

This means we can’t just think ahead one or two years, but we have to think about how we build the network over the next 10, 20, even 30 years.

AT has major improvements well underway for the short and medium term. They are all outlined under the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, which was signed by the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council last year.

At the top of the list is the Northwestern Busway, which will open up more rapid transit options for the West.

By building the busway we can provide a separated route covered by rapid and frequent services from the West right into the city.

One of the other main challenges facing Auckland is how to move the more than 33,000 people who work near the airport and the more than 17 million passengers it services every year.

For New Zealand to succeed, Auckland must succeed and for this to happen it must keep moving.

Auckland’s journey to a perfect public transport system is one that will never end because there’s no such thing as a perfect system, but we’re making huge strides in the right direction – and those bums on seats tell us we’re getting it right.

Share this

99 comments

  1. Mark – where are the 15 minute all day trains? The 2015 RPTP had them operating at that frequency by now but all we have from you (and AT) is excuses. Trains are not matching up with the busses at the big interchanges like Manukau and Otahuhu.

    Can’t go on about getting it right when you are not fulfilling the RPTP right?

    1. Actually we haven’t had any excuses that is the issue if they were up front about why they can’t do it yet then we might understand.

      1. Twisting the samantics of the English language.

        Anyhow word has it that tighter operations on the EMU doors would cut Southern Line train journeys from 53 minutes to around 45 minutes PRE CRL.

        Any reason why AT is not pressuring Transdev to bring those changes through that would free up another 5 3-car sets to be used elsewhere including more 6 car sets?

        1. Have you got examples of what Transdev can do Ben?
          To get a journey time anywhere near 45 minutes the time table needs to be redesigned one line at a time from the outside in, the current focus on Britomart doesn’t work.

          Eg set a timetable for the southern line (from the south for a start) adjust the eastern line to avoid Wiri junction clashes, then Onehunga to avoid Penrose clashes, and time the western line arrives/departs at Newmarket to reduce congestion there. Make sure it doesn’t cause congestion in the tunnel and then check the reverse, no clashes at Westfield for the eastern and southern and again at Wiri with eastern departures.

          Improved signalling would help so that trains leave platforms on more greens (yellows restrict the speed to 15 kph till they pass the signal), this will require more intermediate signals and more cost.

        2. Where does it say 15 minutes all day by 2017? I can only find a guideline recommending by the end on 2018. Also, who says AT isn’t pressuring Transdev on changes? If you don’t know what’s just been announced, you should fire your spy. Also-also, reduced trip time and increased frequency are mutually conflicting – 45 minute Southern trips are definitely workable off peak, but at five and ten minute headways with four junctions en-route, good luck with that.

          1. 1) I might go find the original RPTP again

            2) If they were it would have happened by now. Also talk to on-board train staff as that can be an enlightening experience in itself.

            3) Oh peak can handle 45 minutes easy, ETCS Level 2 or even Level 3 (driverless) with allowance for rolling block signals are your friend and should be invested towards.

          2. Ben but AT have shown (so far) no interest in upgrading ETCS and seem happy with the trains operating within the limits or ETCS1.

          3. 1. Cool.
            2. You don’t seem to know what I’m hinting at. Keep looking – you’re very close.
            3. ETCS L3 isn’t driverless, for one thing. For another, it’s not even available yet and isn’t being used anywhere because it’s so riddled with problems. And another, it’s not likely to be compatible with higher frequency metro operations. The simplified trial version is described as best for low density rural lines. Yes, driverless systems with rolling block signalling could do it, but that’s not what we have and not what we’re going to have on these lines for probably decades.

      2. The thing I don’t like is transdev spend their time to find plenty of reasons why something can’t be done.

        Instead they should spend their time on how to find a way to get around the current limitations.

        I would much prefer them to say they can fix it but this is the amount of money that will cost and the changes required, instead of saying no that can’t be done because of blah.

  2. Things are definitely moving in the right direction but far too slow. New network will be rolled out in West Auckland shortly, but:
    – no NW busway, saying now that’s top priority and putting it off past 2030 is not good enough. Everyone can see that new the timetable simply extends journey time beyond what’s there currently. It’s enough to compare Albany to CBD and Westgate to CBD – similar distance – times – world apart (32 mins from Albany, 70 minutes from Westgate). It’s not like AT didn’t know that NZTA will be upgrading SH16. Even though AT plans to have 23 buses between 7am and 8am towards CBD (at Pt Chev offramp) they’ll be stuck with general traffic as there is no bus priority there at all.
    – no new buslanes at all for the new services. The likes of Triangle rd or Te Atatu Rd are at standstill every day and so will be the buses. Great North rd should have bus lanes all the way to Henderson (part of the frequent network).
    – Western line trains will run at 20 mins intervals off-peak – this has to be 10minutes all day for transfers to make sense
    – no actual interchanges beyond New Lynn – Henderson is more of an accident that happened to be there, not to mention Westgate, exchanges at Te Atatu and Lincoln quietly pushed out.

    So yes, things are moving, but at this rate we’ll never get there.

        1. I think its arguable that Walter Nash is currently making as much progress to solve Auckland’s congestion as AT. Their stunning lack of progress can be seen in Takapuna. Here the aim of Auckland Council is to connect the town centre to the beach. An impediment to allowing that to occur safely is The Strand roadway. Residents have successfully lobbied for a pedestrian crossing, but apparently AT’s budget doesn’t allow it. However 500m away AT continues to operate a carpark where they charge the few lucky enough to secure places less than half market rates. The above article might attempt to put a brave spin on it, but at the end of the day, week, year or any time period you nominate AT are seriously under performing.

  3. Why has West Auckland been left off the list for not only the North Western bus way, when SH16 was and is being rebuilt, but for simple bus priority lanes as well? Edmonton and Te Atatu Rds upgrades (that is still to be completed incredibly), have none!

    Do the people there not matter as much?

      1. I think it’s more AT thinking than anything else. Even in their plans to upgrade Lincoln Rd they only planned for T3, even though it’s part of the frequent bus network. For Te Atatu Rd I don’t think there even were plans to put any bus priority in, at least I can’t find any trace of those.

        1. Most bus lanes are a coat of paint. Sure AT could be mucking around with this, but I suspect local resistance is the big issue, it certainly is in all the other parts of Auckland where AT want to roll out bus lanes.

          1. Mucking around? ATs No.1 asset is the multi billion dollar road network. Making efficient (and safe) use of it has to be a priority. AT promised 40km of bus lanes in 3 years, 3 years ago. They haven’t delivered. The fact Lambert has not even mentioned road space reprioritisation is telling.

    1. West Auckland was never important in the eyes of the former WCC, ARC & now it’s no different with AT. Henderson will never get a proper bus/train interchange. Neither will Westgate North. I’ve seen the large amount of new bus shelters and signage installed all around south auckland. I so far haven’t seen any brand new shelters installed in west auckland. There are two stops at westgate with older shelters installed that came from elsewhere, but that’s it. You can bet that a large amount of bus stops still won’t have any timetables. Bus stops without PID’s will no doubt get none of the new AT Metro signage (flags). The Otahuhu TC is in the process of having nice brand new bus shelters installed. Henderson will certainly not be getting these, let alone more seating. Speaking to the AT Ambassador’s at Henderson today, they couldn’t answer most of my questions about the new network flaws. They couldn’t even tell me if any facilities were going to be installed anywhere. One lady even worked closely with Mark Lambert.

    2. The reason is that a bunch of rail frothers* in the ARC didnt want another rapid transit route to “compete” with the western line. Never mind geography or what might actually be needed.

      *or maybe it was only the chief rail frother himself, I don’t know.

  4. Mark, there is one error in your post that it would be good for you to understand:

    “When more people use [PT] it’s cheaper to run and there are simply fewer cars on the road, meaning less congestion.”

    Improvements in public transport does not result in fewer cars on the road. For that, you have to actually reduce the road capacity of the city. Converting traffic lanes to bus lanes works. Improving the bus network has many important benefits, but it does not reduce vehicle kilometres travelled. For every person changing to PT you will have someone else taking their place in a car.

    AS Duranton and Turner say in their 2009 paper “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion”:

    “the provision of public transportation has no impact on vkt”

    So please, get your PR right. You need to stop the road building and actually reduce the roading capacity.

    Which dovetails nicely with the fact that the public transport and cycleways actually need space.

    1. Difference between a Good Talking Point & Academic Reality tbh sometimes you need a little spin to convince people saying PT wont solve congestion means people on the fence wont see the point. The best way to convince people is to show them which means getting the PT Network built.

      1. I can see that but the conversation has to shift more quickly. We have all these cycleways being designed and if the conversation could actually include removal of traffic lanes they could be designed well. Instead, the pedestrians, trees and cycleways are fighting it out for space. The East-West Link and Onehunga foreshore destruction surely need to be fought on the basis of the realities of induced demand.

      2. The evidence is plain to see; PT numbers have increased and road congestion has increased. Lambert is incorrect and it’s not academic. TBH you need TBH, not dishonest.

        1. Fine MFD then get nothing done be a purist, its easy to dismiss the reality of politics when you are just behind a keyboard.

          1. An oxymoron plus a non-sequitur does not make for a convincing argument. What is wrong with Lambert stating that increased provision and use of PT does not decrease road congestion but gives a portion of the population the option of not participating in it?

          2. Go out to marginal voters and say that & I guarantee they wont be convinced to vote for PT.

          3. The line should at least be “less congestion than would occur without improved PT options”.

          4. “Go out to marginal voters and say that & I guarantee they wont be convinced to vote for PT.”

            Well then let’s go out to the public with the truth, that the only answer to congestion is market clearing road pricing. Then PT will take care of itself.

          5. “Go out to marginal voters and say that & I guarantee they wont be convinced to vote for PT.”

            Then don’t say it like that. The idea of ‘getting out of gridlock’ is a bloody easy sell if you have the tiniest bit of imagination. Saying PT in itself reduces congestion simply muddies the water.

          6. increasing rapid PT options+capacity *does* reduce the congestion that people experience, as there are unencumbered alternatives. It *may not* decrease road congestion but the problem with that is government targets and media are focussing on the wrong thing. If all we can ever hope to do is reduce “lost time” estimated as a function of vehicle speed then PT is never going to acheive that nor does it set out to.

          7. The key point is in a thriving city growing PT numbers do mean traffic congestion is less severe than it would be in the absence of the PT system or its improvement. Will improving PT systems in a thriving city make traffic congestion disappear? No. But it certainly will help to contain it.

            What occurs is described as the ‘Nash Equilibrium’. Where each system attracts users from the other depending of utility, attractiveness, and cost of each service. And here cost is in time as well as money. The choice for each individual journey involves balancing push and pull factors. People will switch from driving if it is too slow or parking rare or expensive etc (usually a combination of many things) try the PT or Active alternative, if available, and if the train breaks down or is too crowded (congestion!), or doesn’t connect well with their destination, are likely to go back to driving agin, and so on.

            Ironically then, improving the PT system (in every way) in fact controls the quality of the driving alternative more than say adding another lane does. Because the former tempts drivers away from competing for motorway space, while the later incentivises more drivers. In a thriving city with one saturated mode (AKL, driving), demand side effort against traffic congestion will indeed be rewarded (build, improve, extend alternatives, intensify land use at nodes).

            This is why Waterview and SH16 will fail at the peaks. Because it included no sufficiently high quality PT alternative to entice enough marginal drivers to reduce demand on the new super-sized motorway. NZTA or their masters seem to have no grasp on how urban transport systems interplay.

            The model of the rural highway being forced on the city is the endlessly repeated failure of our highly centralised transport set up. That and ever more sprawl at the end of the widened and lengthened motorway. Dumb and dumber.

            Waterview opens -> inner SH16 will infarct.

            Meanwhile SH1 north and south will continue to be congested but much less so than it would be if there was no Northern Busway or Southern Rail Line. Both of which will continue to attract uses until there is no more capacity.

    2. I agree, Heidi. “PT reduces congestion” might be a good marketing line (in some contexts) but overselling the congestion relief impacts of PT runs the risk of disappointment and backlash.

      Then again, road-builders have been overselling the congestion relief benefits of widening, which are nonexistent, for decades and they still get away with it.

      I would prefer people to emphasise the fact that rapid transit, bus lanes, and cycleways allow people to *opt out* of congestion – meaning that they can choose to get out of the traffic jam, rather than being forced into it by a monomodal investment approach.

      A final, slightly subtle point, is that when key pieces of PT infrastructure fail, as in the case of the Hutt Valley line outage in Wellington a few years ago, traffic chaos results. This highlights the fact that useful PT systems allow a greater total level of mobility than would otherwise be possible.

      1. Yes thanks Peter. The Hutt Valley example is probably one of many that could be used in some healthy honest PR. Comparing the space taken by 120 commuters in a car and in 3 buses on the NEX is a great visual.

        The problem with only going so far as emphasising the “opt out” choices is that without reducing the space given over to cars, PT and cycling will always be suboptimal, and people will always be able to say “but it doesn’t work for me”. Giving them the real reasons for why it is suboptimal would be very empowering.

    3. I agree with Heidi, congestion charging or reducing private vehicle capacity is required to take cars off the road, not just better PT options. The fact that people are willing to sit in traffic now (and its got worse despite improvements in PT), suggests that they will continue to do so until such time as it becomes gridlock or they are charged for clogging the roads.

      1. Actually, the Duranton and Turner paper showed that one factor that does influence vkt is having fewer cars in the city. There’s a whole lot of planning around that factor we could be doing too.

    4. This debate brings me back to my youth in 1980s Sheffield. 2p kids and 30p adult flat fares across town. Not a car in sight but the bus jams were terrible. Of course bus deregulation and the free market stuffed that in the 1990s.

      Cheaper PT versus car costs, less convenience for cars, or both, make a big difference.

      1. Tell that to the Councillors out there who don’t believe general traffic lanes should be converted to a busway.

        1. Which dovetails with a couple of other comments I have made on this post. Those blaming AT for not progressing work in their suburb often need to look closer to home for the source of the problem.

          1. Yes I’m sure in each suburb there is a University of Auckland equivalent stakeholder that AT has secret meetings with and changes its plans accordingly.

        2. For that matter it dovetails nicely with why we need to actually discuss induced traffic, and that reducing road capacity – not improved PT – reduces vkt. The Councillors need to understand this. To understand this, they at least need to be told.

  5. 3 projects AT (and NZTA where they are involved) that should be aimed to be complete within the next 3 years

    1 – NW busway (open in the next 2 years)
    2 – AMETI eastern busway to Botany (open in the next 2-3 years)
    3 – Bus lanes on arterial roads in the suburbs (east, north, south and west)

    1. +1

      but knowing the way things are AT will spend more time thinking about it. Even 5 years is probably not enough for AT to get this under way. The business case for NW busway was supposed to be ready in April (then May), no word of it yet. AMETI has been going through motions for years as well. Even extending bus lane hours takes months.
      AT has to understand that their main focus must be people, not cars.

      1. Its done goes into PD in June, it was finished internally in April & went to AC + assume any other stakeholders May.

        AMETI Stage 2A is in NOR Phase, Stage 2B a tender went out to design it & provide advice to bring it to NOR phase a few months back.

    2. My understanding is that if AMETI is opened before the CRL then there will be serious capacity issues on the Eastern line, meaning people at GI, Meadowbank and Orakei would not be able to board during busy times.

      If this is correct then it is understandable, but AT need to communicate this, and also make it clear that Stage 2 to Botany will also be build at a similar time to Stage 1. The lack of communication on this project has been very frustrating.

      1. The other issue is on the other end, the CRL allows more capacity as well as Mid/Up town access meaning less Isthmus/West buses like NNR will be needed however Pre-CRL & LRT we face capacity restraints which stop us in the interim which means if the Eastern Line is full we can’t also just continue the buses onto the CBD without causing issues either.

  6. Disappointing piece by Mark Lambert – almost certainly it was written by AT’s Communications department. I’d have appreciated a more honest appraisal of the issues and problems that the organisation faces, as well as the achievements that it has undoubtedly made. Publishing puff-pieces like this does nothing for the reputation and credibility of “Greater Auckland”.

  7. What matters is not frequency (though it is a driver) nor bums on seats (though it is a driver) but rather the overall door to door time of PT.

    Let me explain. If I have 5 minute frequency trains that take 55 mins to get me to my destination X, my door to door time is 60 minutes (5+55)

    If there are 15 min frequency trains that take 40 mins to get me to my destination, it’s now 55 (40+15). So while frequency CAN reduce door to door time (5+50<15+50), the primary focus has to be on the elapsed time of any trip. And that's where expresses, bus lanes, traffic light pre-emption, perhaps even speed limit exemptions could factor in.

    1. Except you are using objective numbers while what people do is react to situations/scenarios subjectively.

      For example a 2.5m wait (Assuming even services in a 5m frequency) feels like nearly 5m from the POV of the person, while a 7.5m wait feels like 15m waiting so the difference felt is not 5m but actually more around 10m.

      People also don’t plan for everything to go perfectly some will look at every 15 & go can’t risk missing it will drive, others will feel like they need to overcompensate and will arrive early which you have to factor in for travel time. Also have to factor in stress a person with a bus every 15m will have to clock watch more & have less comfort in knowing if work overruns a little its ok or if they need to run errands they can do so.

      Also this falls in peak thinking and the fallacy of chasing the great white commuter sure that how Mr Middle Age Man in the CBD feels whose two trips are to work & from work but tbh not really representative when looking at other demos & trip data which shows that journey to work actually isn’t as important as engineers think it is. When thinking about other types of types frequency becomes much more important as things don’t run to timetable like an Office commute does.

      Not to say we shouldn’t do the above of course we should reduce trip times but never forget the importance of frequency.

      1. 15 minute frequencies do not equate to ‘turn up and go’. In my book, a bus needs to turn up every 5 minutes for it to be ‘turn up and go’ (cf. Mt Eden Road offpeak)

        1. And frequency has far more effect than journey time, as most trips in an urban area will require two services.

          1. Let’s not forget probably the most important one – reliability (which also makes transfers predicable). One of the prime example here is Inner Link – good frequency but terrible reliability, which leads to completely unpredictable service.

  8. It is true that PT has massively improved in this century. However, AT (and predecessors) have not been at the vangaurd of this transformation. In fact, it feels that AT fights tooth and nail to prevent it. Where your treasure is that’s where your heart is. Right now AT and NZTA’s treasure is in roads and, therefore, that’s where their heart is. When I see a real metro service in Auckland then I think AT Mark Lambert will be entitled to his fancy title. Right now it is at best aspirational at worst a delusion.

    1. The only way to really grow public transport is to provide frequent services across the whole network every day of the week.”

      Yes indeed, and these words would be great if only we had a transit agency interested in providing for the whole network. Instead what we have is a dogged preference for delivering decent public transport only to a privileged minority in central Auckland at the expense of the majority living to the West, East, South and North.

      Things that central Aucklanders take for granted, like integrated fares, frequent services, fare equality, cycle lanes, LRT planning, capacity improvements, even new public spaces are all unknown to me because I live on the wrong side of the harbour and AT aren’t interested. And I know that there is widespread dissatisfaction with AT further North and to the East and West as well.

      To me this ever-worsening inequality in our public transport provision and planning is a very real problem, and it reflects badly on AT, it’s unelected board and our council.

      1. Eh? The North Shore has the same integrated bus and train fares as everywhere else. It has the most regular, hyper-frequent service of them all, the NEX. There are cycle lane project being rolled out, and the north is indeed subject to LRT planning and huge capacity improvements being planned.

        The ability of people on the North Shore to cry poor me is astounding!

        1. Nick I’m not making it up and can show you on AT’s website that everything I’ve said is true for where I live in the lower North Shore. It’s only fair to let the evidence speak, so here you go:

          I’d invite you to check random addresses around Devonport on AT’s journey planner website and try to find the nearest frequent service. There isn’t one. Then try to schedule a trip including a ferry leg and see how well integrated fares are working. AT says it’s all good because it works for the buses and trains in their central Auckland, but the reality is that we have been locked out of integrated fares.

          You could make a quick guess at how much a weekend family trip to Kelly Tarlton’s or the museum might cost from the lower North Shore and compare it with the same from say Mt Eden or anywhere on the isthmus. I think anyone remotely fair-minded would be surprised at the difference in fares (we’re charged more than double), and I’d invite you to take a look in case you think I’m crying wolf on that one too.

          Check out AT’s website to see where they are funding cycle lanes if you like; 14 in central Auckland, only 4 for the West, 6 for the East, 5 for the South and just 2 for the North.

          Stay on AT’s website and jump across to Light Rail on their Projects page. It’s planned for central Auckland and nobody else. The map shows that there’s no light rail planned elsewhere in Auckland, even in priority areas with no current access to the rail network.

          All of the above are objective facts. What I’m looking for is nothing more than a sense of fairness from AT – for all to enjoy the same frequency of services, to pay the same fares as everyone else for a given distance, and not to be always excluded from essential upgrades such as light rail and safe cycling facilities.

          1. The North Shore is about to benefit from the biggest cycling project of them all – Skypath. The reason it hasn’t happened yet is because of attempts to block it by – you guessed it, North Shore residents.

            Frequency will always be correlated to population density. I could just as easily select a random Devonport address in the Unitary Plan and it would show me little scope for increasing density.

          2. Reference the comment by Jezza above: “The reason it hasn’t happened yet is because of attempts to block it by – you guessed it, North Shore residents”. This assertion demonstrates ignorance and a lack of understanding of the issues. There are many reasons why it hasn’t happened yet, but the primary sticking point at this time is the funding model. Downers have walked away from constructing NZ’s premier cycling project, despite all the seed money Auckland Council have allocated to date. Unless the PPP contract is rewritten, you’ll be asking the same questions a year from now.

          3. You need to put your neighbourhood into context, and stop conflating the Devonport peninsula with the North Shore.

            There are 280,000 people living on the North Shore. 20,000 of those live on the strip south of Takapuna.

            Yet you’re little community has three ferry lines, two main bus routes (one of which is planned to go frequent in the new network), it already has cycle lanes the full length of the main corridor, and various bits along the waterfront.

            Come out to my place in Kelston then see how much you have to whinge about fairness! Zero ferries. Zero main bus routes, Zero cycle lanes. No waterfront access at all.

            If you are so upset about being locked out with your ferries, catch a bus like the rest of us. I would love to have the option of a ferry.

            A family trip to the museum would cost you $8.28, exactly the same as from Mount Eden. Two adult two-zone fares plus two 99c child weekend fares. You’re only charged ‘double’ if you catch the ferry. Catch the bus like anyone else and you pay the same as anyone else.

            Excuse me if I don’t shed a tear for the self entitled burghers of Belmont. FYI here is the rail plan for the north shore: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/north-shore-rapid-transit-network/

          4. Sorry, I might add that I’m not saying ferry fares don’t need to be aligned or that Devenport doesn’t deserve improvements… but I am sick to death of people from that area crying poor when its one of the best served areas already.

            Auckland has a lot of work to do, but frankly there are a lot worse neighbourhoods out there to be prioritized first. If you are upset about Mangere getting a light rail study, I suggest you go try using public transport out in Mangere tomorrow!

        2. Well, to be fair, the NEX doesn’t cover the entire North Shore, in the same way the railways don’t cover the entire isthmus. And in large parts there are no planned frequent cross-town services which connect to the NEX.

  9. Just more SPIN.
    Bit of self back scratching to make the AT team feel better.
    No mention or apology of why AT continues to under estimate PT demand and project requirements.
    Great to see some figures for the airport -“One of the other main challenges facing Auckland is how to move the more than 33,000 people who work near the airport and the more than 17 million passengers it services every year”…..but what is AT going to do soon (like now) to address the problem.

    So AT’s Chief Metro Officer is backing at work this winter, SPINning the fidget wheel.

  10. Can someone please clarify who was responsible for the decision not to include bus only lanes in the redesign of the North Western Motorway? This is, in my view another myopic lack of forward planning in Auckland’s history of doing so.

  11. This is really nothing more than a collection of quotes and media releases from Auckland Transport. Why are they not dealing with the BIG concerns that people have – why are they not dealing with things like a) Dwell times on trains b) Improved train frequencies on the Western Line c) Improved bus lanes and longer bus operating hours d) planning fiasco re Victoria Linear Park and Albert Street post CRL.

    AT seem to make so many issues harder than they should be and places like Great North Road should have bus lanes now, not being rolled out in two years time. It already takes close to an hour to get into the city from New Lynn – why does AT not bite the bullet and at least trial bus lanes through Avondale and Waterview?

    We realize that there is not money for everything and that a lot of these problems are not AT’s fault and fall at the feet of a Government that is hostile to public transport, but AT is really its own worst enemy at times and fails to deliver on so many levels. Service delivery always seems to be designed for current population and train stations etc are failing to actually keep up with growth. Even small things like making stations bigger and providing more shelter seems beyond AT’s grasp.

    1. Indeed and a very significant issue is that the cost of retrofitting a solution is always vastly greater than the cost of doing it correctly in the first place. Yes it keeps people in jobs. Yes it gives repetitive contracts that are very lucrative. However it costs so much more than and takes much more time than it would if it were done correctly in the first place. See Britomart being redesigned. See an Auckland Harbour bridge that was inadequate even before it was finished. See an ARC headquarters that was an over priced white elephant that was sold for a song. See the removal of our tram system that is now so very needed.

      1. Case in point – Puhinui Peninsula. It has been zoned for warehousing.

        Where is ATs designation protecting PT route through to airport BEFORE the warehouses are built?

      2. “a very significant issue is that the cost of retrofitting a solution is always vastly greater than the cost of doing it correctly in the first place”

        That’s the Kiwi disease. A total lack of vision and confidence to do what’s truly needed, and a penny-pinching attitude to everything.

        It’s exactly the same with housebuilding, most of which consists of crappy wooden boxes with thin walls. Only very recently has double glazing been introduced. And central heating – how radical! Such things are so much cheaper when installed up front.

        But no, short-cut to save a dollar and bugger tomorrow.

  12. OK my comment has been put in the wrong place again and I apologise – not sure how to fix this problem I’m having as I definitely pressed reply to Harriet’s comment above.

    Harriet, I don’t believe our common political goal of better transport is well-served by this myth. When statements such as Lambeth’s are trotted out frequently, people believe them, and it is harder at every level to effect change. MFD’s suggestion is good.

    I had an absolutely nonsensical reply about a project from AT recently, made possible only because the writer herself did not understand induced demand. Within AT that shouldn’t be possible. Hiding from the facts for some sort of political pussy-footing is indeed one of the drivers of bad design. It is one of the drivers of bad community conversations.

    AT needs to reduce roading, and it needs to use research to explain to the public why. The longer the myths are trotted out, the harder that will be. I will continue to challenge errors when I see them, and I think that is one of the strengths of this blog.

  13. There’s a lot of truth in here, frequency is important.

    But so is passenger experience (which improved in the last decade) and speed. The “rapid transit” element is as important as the the mass transit angle. There are a few ingredients needed for a tasty PT meal.

    1. Interestingly on the rail network there has been little increase in speed in the last decade. The improvements have been in frequency and reliability, these appear to have driven significant increase in patronage.

      Speed would be good, but having a high degree of confidence my train won’t suffer significant delays and also be frequent is what I have found really valuable. I imagine people who live further out than I do would value speed more.

      1. with improved reliability the timetable shouldn’t need to be padded as much so should be delivering improved journey times – and yet it isn’t.
        The main issues I can identify are the slow doors and over-restrictive ETCS that doesn’t allow the trains to operate at speeds they are easily capable of (particularly in and around stations and crossings).
        The door situation supposedly offers around a 3-6% improvement in average speed depending on how much faster they can be operated.
        The ETCS I don’t have the figures for but imagine that could be another 5% improvement. That means you’re saving around 5 minutes on a typical journey which would be a huge improvement and over the space of a day means each train can do an extra service (greater utilisation, lower wage bills sure would help things).

  14. What happened to using Platform 2 at Newmarket?

    We know (from a usually impeccable source) that TMs are to be removed from all trains soon, to be replaced with Transit Police (or whatever they are to be called). Is that on all trains or just the ones that the Maori Wardens cover at the moment.

    What about the interesting rumour that Serco is buying out Transdev?

    1. you took the words right out of my mouth, yes FFS what is happening with Platform 2 opening at Newmarket. Today after arriving at NM from Papakura I asked the TM to open door to P2 and he refused, I told him that this was promised by AT from 15 March and his response was a slight laugh and said thats the first he heard of that and there were no plans to open P2.
      After escalatoring up/down to P1 I asked an AT clipboard wielder at P1 and again was informed there is no way platform 2 is opening.
      AT were/are definitely taking the piss despite Bigted’s assertion its happening and we need to be patient.

    2. Platform 2 Newmarket was to be all go mid April, following an acceptable safety case so it looks like there was no acceptable safety case.

      DDO is being investigated to be in place with in two years, there needs to be a lot of money spent on infrastructure (mainly CCTV that would be available to the driver) before that can happen safely, also note the TMs do more than just shut the doors. Transport officers will only be around 100 in numbers (going by ATs own figures) and multi-modal so do the math and work out how thin they will be stretched. Wait till all the anti social mongrels that ride the trains realize there is not train crew members on the trains and see what happens.

      Serco buying Transdev is a new one, Serco may be contesting the operations contract like they have in the past but Transdev currently have that until 2020.

    3. NM P2 is still closed, out of use posters still in-situ. At NM,when asked,two TMs and an AT clipboard wielder could not provide any info on projected opening of P2. That was yesterday.
      I enquired of AT last week, via email, Received the standard ‘we value your enquiry’ reply but as yet no answer to the question of when is P2 opening.
      Very frustrating for those that have to do the escalatoring up from P3 and escalatoring down to P1.

  15. Bums on seats will be improved with shorter dwell times on the trains. More efficient service. All down to the train managers doing this in a safe way. 25-30 secs is acheivable. I wonder how many drivers get frustrated by the TM’s slowness to go ‘beep beep’.

  16. Bums on seats…

    – Why are those seats narrower that many NZ males shoulder widths?
    – Why are those seats like sitting on concrete? Why is comfort not comparable to private vehicles?

    1. I believe the seats they chose, which are less comfortable than the diesel trains they replaced, were for their flame retardant properties for the crl tunnels.

      1. I travel every week from Glen Eden to Pukekohe. The emu seats are the worst for comfort I have experienced on a train. It’s a small relief to board the DMU at Papakura for the Papakura to Pukekohe trip.
        Passenger physical comfort seems low priority

    2. Realist asks why seats are so narrow, like concrete, and not comfortable like in private vehicles. I think the answer is in the ‘bums on seats’ heading: AT sees their users as bums. The goal is to put in place a public transport network, not to solve Auckland’s transport issues. When your central theme is that the users are bums, you risk making all sorts of incorrect assumptions about those users. Such language and thinking should be banned from AT.

    3. “Why are those seats narrower that many NZ males shoulder widths”
      So that the can fit them four abreast with a central aisle on our relatively narrow loading gauge.

      Personally I’d be happy to see 2+1 seating with wider seats and wider aisles myself.

      1. Hi Nick

        Yes I agree. I was actually talking about the new Dennis Alexander buses.

        I am 5 “11 and probably have a shoulder width of 470mm or similar. Numerous other NZers, including Pacific Island and Maori, have a similar build.

        We simply dont fit in the seats so we have the option of the back row or disabled area. Hardly an inclusive or competent approach to PT planning!

        Looking forward to the double deckers as I get the impression that these have wider seats on the top deck?

  17. I’ve just been over in Sydney for the weekend – rail from airport to city very easy.

    Why don’t we copy of their ideas that we could implement in less than a month to boost the numbers?

    – Make the interim north western busway next month, by just painting the bus lanes on the motorway. (See http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/images/projects/keybuildprogram/bus-priority-program-13.jpg). It’s not the outermost lane, just a random lane.

    – $2.50 cap on Sunday. This encourages lot of people to use public transport, which then makes it more familiar so that people choose it weekdays instead of a car.

      1. The bus shoulders are non-continuous. There are large gaps in them around off/on-ramps (shoulders finish 200-300m before the actual on/off-ramp). The westbound one between Patiki and Te Atatu is completely useless to buses going further out west (the bus would have to cut across 2 lanes on the Te Atatu off-ramp), so buses merge back about 300m before Patiki on-ramp and can get back to their shoulder only past Te Atatu on-ramp. Once traffic is at standstill (i.e. every day during peak) buses can only move marginally faster then general traffic because they have to merge back into the general lane (which is either not moving at all or very slowly). On top of that every car that broke down gets pushed to the shoulder so the bus has to merge back into general traffic for those as well.

        1. In Sydney the bus lanes were several lanes in, so that they didn’t stop every onramp and were not the dumping ground for broken down cars.

Leave a Reply