Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week, I wanted to lead off with a couple of pieces about bus networks – what works and what doesn’t.

First, three transport analysts have published an important research paper on patronage outcomes from transfer-friendly networks: “How network structure can boost and shape the demand for bus transit“. From the abstract:

The Nova Xarxa in Barcelona was designed with a different paradigm. It was designed and deployed to cover the whole city on the belief that if a bus map is easy to understand, and has direct lines with frequent service and ubiquitous transfer points then the bus system would become more appealing, people would transfer more freely and become users of the network rather than its single lines. With this design paradigm, a city can be covered with fewer lines, which can be depicted on a simple map. The lines can in turn be economically populated with sufficient buses to deliver the high frequency required to encourage transfers. Could this work?

To answer this question and see whether there is truth in the beliefs underlying the new paradigm, this paper examines data from the first three deployment phases of the Nova Xarxa (from 2012 to 2015). It is found that the Nova Xarxa is already attracting more demand than the network it replaced. This attests to its appeal. Furthermore, this demand has increased disproportionately with the number of lines opened for service in each phase, revealing that some people are using the Nova Xarxa as a network. The paper further shows that this growth is underpinned by transfers — at the end of 2015, the percentage of trips that involved a transfer was approximately 26%, and it reached a maximum of 57% for line V7. These numbers should increase considerably (to 44% and 66%, respectively) once the Nova Xarxa is completed in 2018 and passengers have even more opportunities for transferring. The numbers disprove the conventional wisdom. They strongly suggest that transit providers can attract more demand by providing transfer-friendly networks that can be used as such and not as an inefficient aggregation of individual lines.

Second, Alon Levy has written a piece on four best practices for bus networks on the Greater Greater Washington blog. It’s all intuitive stuff – but surprisingly, it tends not to be implemented consistently. I found this recommendation particularly interesting:

4. Increase bus speed with off-board fare collection, dedicated bus lanes, and signal priority

Off-board fare collection, in which passengers generally purchase their tickets before they get on the bus, is one way of increasing bus speed. In German cities, for example, buses have off-board fare collection, with random fare inspections. Passengers who have valid monthly passes or transfers can board from any door; passengers who need to buy a ticket can board from the front and pay, but in practice those are a minority. This speeds up buses, since passengers can board more quickly.

In the United States, San Francisco Muni is to date the only American agency to have implemented this systemwide, gaining two percent speed with a two percent rise in passenger numbers, where normally rising passenger usage would lead to lower bus speed because of longer total boarding time. New York has implemented off-board fare collection on a few specially branded routes, with 10-15 percent speed gains.

Third, in CityLab Laura Bliss talks about something that doesn’t work – short streetcars routes that must mix with general traffic due to a lack of dedicated lanes:

A few weeks after the city of Detroit began charging riders a few bucks per ride on its brand-new downtown streetcar, ridership dropped 40 percent, according to the Detroit Free Press. Sadly, few observers were surprised.

“The streetcar doesn’t even connect directly to the city’s primary bus station,” remarked the transit consultant Yonah Freemark on Twitter. “It runs a total of 3 miles in a huge region. Set up to fail.”

The streetcar, dubbed the QLine, is carrying 3,000 riders per day, short of the projected 5,000 to 8,000 per day required to break even. Sure, it’s still early; the line opened in May. But a similar story is playing out across the country’s other 21st century streetcars: Pokey, infrequent, and generally disconnected from other transit, line after line keeps bottoming out.

Atlanta saw a 60 percent drop in ridership after its  1.3-mile line, which opened in 2014, started asking for $1 per go. The line is in the process of being transferred from the city’s authority to the metro’s transit agency, which may consider making it free again. But it’s been bedeviled by administrative and financial issues. Since it opened in September 2016, Cincinnati’s Bell Connector line has seen about two-thirds of the daily ridership consultants predicted. Salt Lake City’s Sugar House line has fared even worse, with just about one-third of the passengers originally projected. Even Seattle, for all of its other transit successes, is seeing about the same sorry share of original predictions.

Not all streetcars underperform: Since it opened in 2001, Portland’s successful streetcar network has managed to grow to 16 miles and 16,000 riders daily, a success story that clanged the bell for a streetcar resurgence across the U.S. downtowns. Kansas City’s streetcar has been drawing considerably more riders than critics surmised, and Washington, D.C.’s H Street streetcar isn’t doing so terribly—but rides on these lines are still free.

Overall, as critics have often pointed out, the record is pretty poor when these projects are judged as transit. Which might be the wrong frame. Actual transit riders aren’t well served by them, but developers and downtown business boosters tend to be pleased.

One point I’d make is that Portland’s light rail system isn’t a bunch of mixed-traffic streetcars – it’s basically a citywide rail network with separate rail corridors. And I’m also quite sceptical of economic development claims surrounding short, mixed-traffic streetcar lines for three reasons:

  1. Most of the figures that get quoted seem to be anecdotal or based on simply counting the quantity of development applications, without attempting to address any of the tricky issues around causality.
  2. Even if there is a measurable uplift in development in the streetcar catchment that can plausibly be attributed to the project, it’s not clear that this represents a net gain for society, or whether it’s simply shifting around development that would have happened anyway.
  3. Economic models suggest that the main reason why a transit project would lead to a net uplift in development (as opposed to shifting around development) is that it would improve accessibility and hence raise the economic productivity of a place.

However, if developers think streetcars are beneficial, then they should fund them without the need for public money, provided that this does not screw up the overall transport system.

Moving on…

On a separate note, Elle magazine (a fashion magazine?) has an interesting take on world politics: “what happens when men are photoshopped out of history“. You can watch the video, but be warned that the music is annoying. Or here’s a collection of compare-and-contrast images from the project.

On a separate note, the NZ Initiative’s new transport researcher, Sam Warburton, wrote an excellent piece for Interest.co.nz highlighting our godawful road safety trends:

So, what have we been getting for all the billions – over four of them – central government spends on transport each year?

Figure 1 shows fatalities of car occupants after accounting for how much people are driving.

Figure 1: Fatality rate of car occupants relative to 2013

The historical downward trend in fatalities has ended.

Deaths on our roads among car occupants appear to have been increasing since 2013. While the road toll naturally bounces around a bit, statistical tests confirm that this is not just natural variation.

This is not bad luck. Something worrying is happening.

It is particularly worrying given that improvements in vehicle technology should otherwise mean a continued fall in the road toll.

It’s also worth taking a look at Michael Liebreich’s keynote speech at the recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit. He unpicks some of the problems with forecasting, and the orthodoxy that develops behind forecasts. While it’s focused on energy supply and demand forecasts, much of it is relevant to transport:

There is now a new orthodoxy in energy and climate, which I summed up in my Summit keynote: in the world of 2040, one third of power will come from wind and solar, one third of vehicles will be electric, and the economy will be one third more energy-efficient than today.

However, there is much more to do. In too many areas the Orthodoxy Window is still tightly shut. For instance, the majority of people I meet still believe the following: the cost of managing intermittency is prohibitive; demand rebounds to eat all the benefits of energy efficiency; industrial processes are inevitably lumbering, inflexible and fossil-fuel powered; long-distance freight can only be carried by dense liquids; those lacking modern energy services would be better off waiting for a centralized grid, rather than using distributed solutions today; advanced biofuels will never work; the answer to every long-term question is hydrogen; self-driving cars will eat the world; England will never win another football World Cup.

Most likely none of those statements will prove true in the long term, except maybe the last one. Though even when it comes to soccer, we may be surprised. And how we need to be surprised! For the past three years, greenhouse gas emissions have been flat, despite a growing world economy. At most, the current orthodoxy – despite its renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy efficiency – will result in flat or gently declining emissions. As the science behind the Paris Agreement has clearly stated, to stay within 2 degrees Celsius of warming from pre-industrial levels, emissions need to reach net zero sometime this century. That is within the expected lifetime of our children.

To close on a more whimsical note, the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino delves into “the repressive authoritarian soul of Thomas the Tank Engine“:

…spend four minutes with “The Sad Story of Henry,” a segment from “Thomas & Friends” that aired on the second episode of the first season at PBS. (In the U.S., it was retitled “Come Out, Henry!”) It begins on a drizzly day in Sodor, the fictional island in the Irish Sea that serves as the show’s setting. Henry, the curmudgeonly train, is afraid to come out of his tunnel, because “the rain will ruin my lovely green paint and red stripes.” Then Sir Topham Hatt, the railway director, who is also known as the Fat Controller, arrives on the scene. (He looks like Monopoly’s Rich Uncle Pennybags but with eyes that have almost surely witnessed murder.) The Fat Controller orders the passengers to pull Henry out with a rope, but Henry won’t budge. They push him from the other direction, to no avail. (The Fat Controller declines to physically participate in this effort, citing “doctor’s orders.”) The passengers then tell Henry that it’s not raining; Henry, perhaps noticing that everyone still has their umbrellas out, refuses to move.

Realizing that the day’s workflow is irrevocably disrupted, Fat Controller decides that Henry must be punished—for life. “We shall take away your rails, and leave you here for always and always,” he tells Henry. As Henry’s face contorts into anguish and the background music toots a series of Oompa Loompa faux-glum flourishes, railway employees build a brick prison around Henry, leaving only half of his face visible. His train friends pass by: one snubs him, and another whistles hello. Henry has no steam left to whistle back. He spends his days alone, soot-streaked, wondering if he’ll ever be allowed to go back to work. The last line of the segment is the narrator saying, “I think he deserved his punishment, don’t you?” In the U.S. version, this voice-over is tweaked so that Henry’s fate seems temporary. But the original version is still on YouTube, and it’s comically bleak. As one commenter writes, “What moral lesson are kids supposed to learn from this? Do as you’re told or you will be entombed forever in the darkness to die?”

That’s it for now – have a good weekend!

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  1. Hi Peter, one point of clarification. Portland has both a streetcar system (on-street little-tram mixed-traffic, no priority, short lines), and a separate light rail system (off-street high speed large-LRV rapid transit).

    It’s not clear if they are meaning one, the other, or both together. They’ve probably lumped them together so the data from the light rail will obscure the streetcar.

  2. “Do as you’re told or you will be entombed forever in the darkness to die?”

    That’s a tip-top line for all budding parents.

    1. I luckily haven’t found myself close to that sort of thing with my children, but several times I’ve nearly commented here on GA that I’d be willing to read some Thomas to any of the HR or LR enthusiasts while they cool off.

  3. Thanks, Peter. Interesting reading again.

    Quality of transfers, hmmm. So, I don’t think the 323 m walk from Mt Albert train station to the anticlockwise outer link bus stop (as measured by journey planner) and a rather randomly timed outer link bus qualifies for quality. This is a key bus route, presumably a feeder to the key train route. Yet this transfer has me constantly checking over my shoulder for the bus, and reasonably often, having to sprint in the hope that a/ a passenger will need to get off the bus so the bus will stop, b/ the driver will have noticed me running and c/ the driver isn’t running so late as to ignore me anyway.

    This location has had a redesign recently, but quality of PT transfers didn’t rate highly enough. The bus stops should be right outside the train station on Mt Albert Rd in the kerb-side traffic lanes. This still leaves one traffic lane in each direction.

    1. I tried that connection in March this year as a tourist. Have a look at the signs at the stop(s). There is no way to tell which direction the ring bus that comes to a particular stop proceeds around the circle. I could not read the bus destination sign as it approached but caught it anyway.
      I was trying to get to St Pauls but failed miserably with the first bus.

    2. Yes looks like they moving the Outer Link stops closer but still need to cross the road etc. I can see it’s hard because if you put them right outside the Station on Carrington Rd (I think you meant), it means getting in the way of the cycle lanes that will be going there (& it’s on a rail bridge so $/hard to widen?). Also there is only two lanes of general traffic going to be going south over the rail line and one going north as apposed to 2 each way at present/or in the recent past.

      1. Thanks Grant, you’re right. The new design is better there than I remembered. I should have done my homework.

  4. Probably increasing uptake of motorbikes is affecting our safety stats. Incredible numbers of motorbikes down at Wynyard Quarter on a weekday are a clear indicator that the supply of congestion avoiding travel modes is well short of demand

    1. And poor design of cycleways without generous buffers between cyclists and traffic will lead to higher fatality and serious injury for cyclists, as it has done in Sydney.

      But Sam Warburton’s graph is just for car occupants, not motorcyclists nor active road users. The rise in fatalities and serious injury for car occupants is pretty interesting, given – as he points out – that cars are getting safer.

      1. A disproportionate number of fatalities on rural roads: intensive farming regions like rural Waikato, Southland etc are dangerous on Friday, Saturday nights etc with young males in large fast vehicles- big Fords, utes etc. And, this is anecdotal, regions like the Far North where people from there have told me they just don’t use seatbelts.

  5. You can’t just leave Henry entombed in a tunnel forever. Incarceration stories always have a redemption story. You need to watch Henry to the Rescue. My favourite part is when the Fat Controller’s hat blows off and a goat eats it for tea.

  6. Regarding the road toll in NZ, there are a few factors in play:
    1) Large increases in population (mostly from countries where the average person doesn’t get to drive on the open road. Could add large numbers of tourists to this list too.
    2) NZTA/Police enforcement policy. The Police have such a narrow focus to road safety (particularly on the open road) which is speed speed speed. Never mind other dangerous things like reckless or inconsiderate driving, drug driving etc. Driving at 105km/h is not going to suddenly cause you to have a crash (yes we know if you do have one it makes it less survivable blah blah). On the other hand being stuck behind an inconsiderate driver plodding along at 80 who then speeds up to 100 or more when you try to pass them is very dangerous. This results in the overtaking vehicle spending considerably longer on the wrong side of the road exposed to danger (and let’s face it the majority of road fatalities occur from head on collisions). Putting the foot down to get past the inconsiderate driver as quickly as possible is magnitudes safer however the police don’t see that and generally only enforce passing lanes and/straights suitable for passing on. Instead of targeting the inconsiderate driver (which there is a law for) they are happy to let driver frustration amoung the long line of vehicles build up. Passing lanes are where it is safe to pass so instead of having 10 vehicles pass the inconsiderate driver you often have 2! At some point other drivers get fed up and pass in less safe places to pass and you get fatal accidents as a result.
    3) road safety in cities seems to be lacking with a lot of cycle fatalities. The police probably need to randomly do checks on intersections etc and pull people over for a chat etc after they have done something that would be dangerous to cyclists or pedestrians.

    1. Safety risks from being held up by slower drivers are mostly self-inflicted, how about the leadfoots breathe through their noses instead of risking lives

      The frankly animalistic campaign to raise the speed limit from 80 to 100 on the short inner western stretch is a case in point, it saves drivers only 2 minutes travel time a day but means we’ll have higher speed accidents and less capacity due to increased vehicle spacing

        1. Pity the study didn’t show how things had changed with time. Airbags have increased in this time that the road toll has increased. Don’t know about seat belt use, though that had been increasing too. So I wouldn’t imagine the increase in road toll has been related to seat belts or airbags.

          Of course the report doesn’t look at what factors could have prevented accidents, just at what factors meant the accidents that occurred resulted in death. Notably they do say:

          “Most of the crashes occurred at a relatively high speed (over 60km/h). Clearly in many instances a lower impact speed would have improved the victim’s chances of survival.”

        2. Yes good point Neville and you can add a very significant number due to some degree of intoxication of a driver. If we were in any way determined to reduce accidents and fatalities then we would have vehicles with immobilisers to prevent cars being used in either of these situations. Forget the endless millions that we spend on road re-engineering for an insignificant rate of return by comparison.
          What does it say about values in our society that we have immobilisers so that we are not deprived of the use of our car (from theft), but we don’t have them to assist with the potential loss of our life?

      1. Yes it has been fascinating to see this campaign play out when the tunnel to and from the Shore has an 80kph limit as does the whole of the harbour bridge and people seem to cope.just fine.

        1. Taka-ite that campaign was about the speed limit on the North western motorway being reduced to 80 where it was previously 100 and where the actual quality of the motorway has improved. It has overhead adjustable speed limit signs so there is ZERO reason for it to not be 100 most of the time as it can be reduced to 90/80/70/60/50 etc temporarily if needed.
          Nobody is saying that the tunnels should be 100 as any sort of accident in there could easily be both fatal and also cause a lot of damage in the event of fire. The NZTA finally came to their senses once they realised the public anger and the idiocy of their plan.

        2. I heard a great deal of grumbling in the media when drivers were told that an 80kmh speed limit would be imposed in the tunnel but I’ve yet to see any one achieve that speed.

          I’ve recently had to start using that route to and from work and invariably all three lanes of vehicles are cruising at around 70-75kmh or even slower. I cannot see any obvious reason for this but it appears drivers don’t want to go any faster even when the lanes are clear of traffic ahead.

      2. bjfoe – yup blame the victim rather than look into how to solve the problem in the first place. Good one….
        The law in NZ (as it is in other countries which have far lower rates of road fatalities and where the law is actually enforced) is to keep left unless passing, and to pull over where possible to allow others to pass you.
        If someone wants to go out and have a leisurely slow drive then they need to be prepared to pull over and keep left as far as possible and also they should not speed up (often to speeds above the speed limit) in straights and passing lanes purely to prevent others from passing them (some say people are clueless – I call bullshit they absolutely know that there is at least one person or more that is trying to pass them! If they don’t then quite frankly they are an incompetent driver and should have their license revoked).

        1. Speed is a factor in 100% of traffic crashes. Maybe people should realise that the speed limit is just that, a limit. It is not a promise that you will be able to drive at that speed nor does it require all drivers to drive at that speed.

          Frankly I think if you are driving at 80-99km/h in a 100km/h limit zone then you are doing your job. If you are going 101 km/h then you are not.

          If everyone drove at 30km/h at all times, we would likely have zero traffic crash deaths. So we need to start with that number and slowly work up until we find a balance between economics and safety. That should be the number for all residential streets.

        2. I agree regarding the speed limit, I never understand why people should expect to be able to do 107kmh in a 100kmh zone without risk of fines etc. However, there are also laws around obstructing the flow of traffic.

          There is no reason anyone should have to drive at the speed limit or take risks trying to pull over, however awareness of other vehicles on the road is a pretty basic component of getting a drivers licence. Whenever I tow a trailer I am always aware of cars who are stuck behind me and pull over when it is safe, it’s pretty easy to do even with my car effectively being twice as long as it normally is.

        3. “blame the victim” – hyperbole much? People who have lost their homes due to Hurricane Irma are victims, not reckless tailgaters frustrated at losing precious seconds that could have been spent writing a twitter rant

      3. The main risk is the slow guy speeding up when someone starts overtaking him. Then one moment you’re driving 60 or 70 behind someone, the next moment you’re driving 110 side by side. And wondering what the hell is wrong with that guy.

        Hint: if you subconsciously speed up from 70 to over 100, hand in your driver license before you get someone killed.

        1. Have a look at where we tend to put passing lanes – where it’s flat and straight. Some people who are hesitant on curves are comfortable maintaining their speed on straights. Oh and we’ve just increased the width of the road from 2 lanes to 3 or 4. All of those things lead to people consciously or sub-consciously speeding up. Yep, people should be mindful of drivers behind them at these locations, but a lot of this behaviour is not deliberate, it’s encouraged by the location.

        2. Wrong — passing lanes very often are in the uphill stretches. I assume that’s where you need them the most to overtake slow trucks.

          And there’s also a difference between subconsciously speeding up a bit, and speeding up 30 km/h, which is a lot.

          And actually, it has nothing really to do with this, because it will also happen if you overtake someone halfway a 10 km straight.

        3. That’s still flat and straight, or planar and straight at least.

          It is simply and purely people driving to the conditions. Where its one lane, narrow and windy people drive more slowly. When it’s two lanes, wide and straight people drive faster.

        4. “It is simply and purely people driving to the conditions.”

          Disagree, it’s assholes not paying attention. If you speed up *at all* when you get to a passing lane with vehicles behind you then you aren’t paying enough attention to be allowed to drive a car.

        5. Or maybe you’re paying perfect attention to the road, driving legally and to the conditions?

        6. No. And it’s not even about passing lanes and changing conditions. Even when you overtake someone halfway a long stretch of 2 lanes (eg. think driving west from Kopu), many people will still speed up, often a lot, when someone tries to overtake.

        7. True, maybe you are paying such good attention to the road that you haven’t managed to notice two tons of metal on the road 70 m behind for the last 5 km. /sarc

        8. Totally agree, nothing more infuriating and get’s you thinking how ignorant of those behind them they are. Even worse when you have a slowish van that you can’t accelerate that quickly to overtake them with! Sure you should have patience etc, but someone impatient & frustrated on a long drive will end up overtaking on a corner when the car in front is going slow again.

    2. I’d like to clarify: Most fatal crashes in New Zealand are *definitely not* caused by overtaking. Those make up about five percent. There are a lot of head-on collisions caused while not overtaking (about 25%) – but those sound more like boy-racer type behavior with lots of corner-cutting and running-wide to blame.

      By far the plurality of fatal crashes though are single vehicle run-off-road crashes – making up around 40% of fatal crashes. Interestingly, more people lost control turning right than left last year (1200 vs 900).

      The problem isn’t impatience, or poor policing, it’s people losing control of their car, probably because they were driving too fast for the conditions.

      source: MoT stats http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/roadcrashstatistics/motorvehiclecrashesinnewzealand/

    3. Speed doesn’t cause crashes most of the time, but most of the time it is the speed that will kill you. Why is this so hard for people to understand?? Drunk/Drug driving is really bad, but it probably won’t kill you if speed isn’t a factor. Same with talking on the phone or slippery roads or a cyclist appearing on a blind corner or a pedestrian running out onto the road a ditch on the side of the road. None of those factors would likely result in death if speed isn’t a factor. Reducing speed is the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to reduce most of these deaths that are happening.

      Why do people actually need to travel faster than 80kmph anyway unless you are an ambulance? Seriously? I have yet to hear a logical argument. Even for a business. Those few seconds or minutes you save by risking everyone’s lives will be wasted at some traffic lights somewhere or watching cat videos on Youtube. The economics of speed don’t really stack up at all.

      Smoking was once common and acceptable behaviour. No longer. It is time high speed travel in death machines face the same change in public perception.

      1. I’d argue that restricting speeds to 80kmh on many NZ highways would make some trips sufficiently longer that fatigue will kick in, which might negate any safety benefits.

        Agree though, there are many roads in NZ that should have an 80kmh speed limit.

        1. Any chance you could actually shoot me down rather than just claiming you will and not actually doing it?

        2. OK, driving faster is more tiring. So any time saving doesn’t lead to less tiredness but more. There you go. Now shoot me down because I made it up. But I will believe it until shown research otherwise. 🙂

    4. “Putting the foot down to get past the inconsiderate driver as quickly as possible is magnitudes safer” – But that’s not,,,what about…ffs I give up. How can someone be so ignorant about what causes crashes. No wonder our traffic crash stats are twice as bad as the UK.

      1. +1 I hope that one day we’ll look back and wonder how we ever put up with some people risking other’s lives with attitudes like this. Roads are for people, not for speedsters. Driving is a privilege, and no one has a right to expect others to go fast. Expect the slowcoach, don’t bank on a fast trip. Be courteous. Keep safe. Let everyone get home to their families. Why on earth do people think saving a bit of time is more important than this?

        1. +1 If you really want to go fast then go by plane.
          . . . or high-speed train (ha ha, not in NZ I’m afraid)

          Road un-safety is one very strong reason why govt should be prioritising rail (but again, not in NZ I’m afraid)

  7. Like one of the comments about the photoshop essay:

    ‘Like imagine if the tables were turned, women deciding on things like if insurers should cover things like prostate exams and protesting that free condoms promotes male promiscuity, making statements like “well in my day boys kept from getting girls pregnant by (xyz)” or women making decisions like getting a vasectomy equates to murder because every life starts at release, and the only representative men had were a handful of men at best.” ‘

    Have fun, boys, I’m off to see if I can make a cup of tea for my husband who’s been slaving in the kitchen all morning… 🙂

    1. No. It would have been a statistical fluctuation in 2014, but it’s now been rising for 4 years, and 40% higher than 2013. That’s way larger than the fluctuations you see in the period before 2013.

      (the article actually points this out)

    1. Pretty darn relevant! Even with rail patronage growing at a rapid rate, buses move around 70% of Auckland’s overall public transport passengers. Even with further growth in rail patronage after the CRL, plus conversion of a few busy bus routes to light rail, buses will still continue to play a large role.

      A further point is that bus and rail are just different (albeit often complementary) ways of delivering a good public transport network. The principles that make a good bus network – frequent, reliable services laid out in an easy-to-understand way, with appropriate supporting infrastructure and good transfer points – also underpin any good rail network.

      1. The argument of relative importance between bus and rail needs to be placed in context.

        First and least, if passenger-kilometres are considered rather than simply number of journeys, rail’s significance immediately becomes much greater. People travel much further by train on average.

        Second and more-importantly, because much of Auckland isn’t even served by rail, the true impact of rail *where it exists* is phenomenal. For buses to match this, they have to be on their own right-of-way like the Northern Busway.

        In Wellington, rail is the main means of public-transport access from the wider region into the city. The 2015 Regional Land Transport Plan states that PT mode-share is 45% and the vast majority of this is on rail.
        Why? Because rail is there, and it provides a quality service that buses in this situation cannot match.

        But considering Wellington city and suburbs only (largely the preserve of buses on ordinary roads, except for the Johnsonville Line), the PT modal share drops to 29%.

        Message: On-street buses only command a major share of PT patronage where there is no choice. We should be aiming to maximise rail (or segregated busway) for bulk-haul and minimise the PT- task falling to buses in general traffic.

        1. Yes, and we need someone to be doing the broad brushstroke work of which roads are going to get the segregated busways and which are going to get the safe, protected cycleways. We’ll waste money and effort putting in one ahead of a design for the other. Worse, attempting to do both will create suboptimal solutions. Eg cyclelanes without protection, and that peter out to nothing, and streets without trees, and with narrow footpaths. How many Auckland roads can fit both unless general traffic is to be excluded entirely?

    2. Buses do not become irrelevant with the introduction of rail services. The various public transport modes do not compete, they complement one another.

    3. I would say most of the best rail systems (heavy or light) rely on close coordination with connecting buses. Few cities can afford to build rail lines to every superb. With Auckland geography it is virtually impossible.

  8. Interesting that just the other day saw on news..or was it “The Project” on TV regarding fancy and sometime very big and fancy screens for in car control console thingies, ie built in GPS, audio/phone systems etc in modern cars. Some of these are quite complex. Could this new driver distraction be a factor in the recent rise in fatalities. I think it could be and also just increase of population (do we have easy accessible stats based on % or pop?) The other factor that I believe is just as bad as mild intoxicated driving, is driving tired. Our modern lifestyle, lack of sleep maybe a big contributor & is perhaps not measured in the crash stats? In fact if someone is driving alone crashes and dies is there much chance that driver distraction (say changing playlist on their built in device) will be recorded in the cause of the crash with current crash analysis methods in NZ?

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