This is a guest post from reader Shan L.
In part one of this series I looked at PT commutes for people who use the Dominion Rd bus route, transferring to Wynyard Quarter. Here I’ll do the same, but for the Mt Eden road buses. Note this is also relevant for anyone arriving at Britomart and heading to Wynyard Quarter, whether by bus, train or ferry.
The Mt Eden Rd buses travel all the way down Symonds St, around Anzac Ave, and terminate on Commerce St outside the temporary back entrance to Britomart Station.
Option 1: Take a City Link from Britomart
Like when connecting from a Dominion Rd bus, the City Link often seems like the most obvious choice for connecting to Wynyard Quarter from Mt Eden – you just take the first bus to the end of the line, and take the friendly Red Bus to your final destination.
The City Link seems like a reasonable choice here – more so than it does when coming from Dominion, but it still suffers from reliability issues which can cause you to wait up to 15 minutes or more for it to turn up, when you should be able to rely on it running at twice that frequency at any given time.
In addition, to get to it in the first place you have to travel all the way to the bottom of the city in the opposite direction from your final destination. This makes it slow.
Option 2: Take a NEX or other North Shore bus from Lower Albert St or Quay St or Customs St near Queens Arcade or 23 Customs St East or possibly somewhere else I’ve missed
There are actually loads of buses besides the City Link which travel from downtown to Fanshawe St, and any of these can provide access to Wynyard Quarter. The problem is that there at least 4 different stops they leave from, so knowing the best one to take at any moment in time can only be done by checking a realtime app on a phone 4 times separately, then guessing which one you can make it to sooner.
You learn pretty quickly that this is far more trouble than it’s worth, and settle on only using the 2 stops near the waterfront and have the highest frequency – one for the NEX and one for some other shore buses (I don’t recall what they are, just that they leave from round the corner from the NEX and they go the same way).
The NEX leaves every 7-10 minutes so is a good baseline option. When you get to the stop, you can check whether the NEX or the bus round the corner is leaving first, and take the first one. I usually use my phone to work this out when I get off my initial Mt Eden bus.
An advantage of this option is that both of these buses seem to leave on time reliably – this is probably because it’s the beginning of their route. And if you end up on a NEX, you’ll get a new double decker, which is always a bonus.
This is like a “Better City Link” option – both buses leave from approximately the same place, have more or less the same frequency, but the NEX (and co) are enormously more reliable, making it the superior choice.
But it has a couple of problems.
1) The journey in its entirety is slow. Like with the City Link, You have to travel all the way to the harbour in the wrong direction to even get to the bus stops.
2) The return journey can be poor. Not quite as poor as the dirt bus stop next to a field in part one, but still not good.
This is one of the inbound stops on Fanshawe you can use for getting home:
Like the temporary stop round on the other edge of the park, this one has some issues:
- Has no number
- Has no timetables or maps
- Has no seat
- Has no shelter
- Has no light
- Is made from leaves
(Note the leaves were eventually cleared after a few complaints)
However, this is a permanent stop, not a temporary one. How does AT expect anyone to use it when there is no indication of what services it’s for and the experience is so poor?
It feels like AT have concentrated on providing reasonable peak direction facilities on Fanshawe, but have totally ignored them for people heading into the city – which is a big problem for those of us who need to use counter peak services to transfer to another bus in the CBD.
There are several other issues with catching inbound buses down Fanshawe:
- Drivers don’t make it easy to hail them down – they travel at speed and it doesn’t feel like they want to stop for you
- Some of the older buses have such ancient signs (think frontlit pieces of cardboard) they’re impossible to read before it’s too late. The numbers on the bus below are almost impossible to see from any sort of distance.
Option 3: Take a North Shore bus from Mayoral Drive
Looking at the map you can see how much more direct the trip is, so if all else is the same, it should be the best option.
To do this, you get off your Mt Eden Rd bus at AUT and walk 2 minutes down to Mayoral Drive where a number of shorebound buses start their route. As mentioned in part one, these have an uneven timetable with anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes between buses, so this option is only best suited to those who are OK with uncertainty in their commute.
Unfortunately, to new users of this route there is another gotcha. Take a look at the shelters:
The two stops closest to the camera have timetables for a two different sets of buses, as shown below.
Where do you think you wait for these buses?
If you guessed, “at that other shelter up there miles away where there is a school bus parked which is actually the bus you, not a schoolchild, need to take to work”, then you guessed right.
If this is your first time at Mayoral Drive Bus Club, you will miss your bus.
As mentioned in part one, these services also seem to be plagued with old buses and musically inclined drivers, so there is an ongoing cost to pay for the faster journey as well.
Finally, this option suffers from the same fatal flaw as when you take it from a Dominion Rd service: the return journey is essentially impossible, so you’ll need to find another way back.
Option 4: Take an isthmus bus from Wellesley St
Similar to in part one, you could walk down from Symonds to Wellesley St outside The Civic, and catch a bus partway to your destination. It’s a bit more of a walk, but it’s downhill and only a couple of minutes more.
Option 5: Take any bus from Wellesley St
Again from part one, this is probably what you actually want to do if you’re OK with walking. Half the time it gets you half the way, and the other half the time, all the way. Good luck getting either of these two options to show up in a trip planner though – it’s something you can only work out by experimentation.
Option 6: Walk
This is a far better option for Mt Eden Rd travellers than it is Dominion Rd ones – the walk across Te Wero Island and down North Wharf is pleasant, and takes 15-20 minutes plus the extra time for your bus to go slightly in the wrong direction before it reaches Britomart. If you’re OK with slow and you want to avoid the extra stress planning for another bus trip, it can be worth it for the scenery alone,.
Many of the same fixes from part one also apply here, with a few additional:
- Fix the ludicrous situation with the bus stop signage on Mayoral Drive. There’s no reason for it to be so incredibly customer hostile.
- Fix the poor bus stop on Fanshawe opposite Victoria Park.
- When many services converge on one street, unify as many bus stops as possible, so customers who want to take advantage of the increased frequency can do so by just turning up at any stop and hailing the next bus. I have no idea how possible this is, but from a customer’s point of view the number of stops you have to be aware of is bewildering.
- Enforce slower bus speeds inbound down Fanshawe St, and train drivers to slow down and stop for people waiting at the less visible stops
- Fix all bus signs so they can be read at night, and at a distance required to hail them down before it’s too late
The most frustrating thing about trying to get to Wynyard is not that there is no PT heading there, it’s that there’s heaps of PT heading there – but a combination of subpar facilities, strange scheduling and bus stops which don’t take advantage of converging routes make it far too hard to utilise. It shouldn’t be this hard to take a short trip in the central city and it needs to be sorted out quickly as Wynyard Quarter continues to grow. If this isn’t sorted then there is no way Wynyard Quarter will meet the modeshare target of having 70% of the trips by non-motorised means.
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