Recently, AT decided to close a bus stop which is well used by many workers in Wynyard Quarter. It’s the one below, stop ‘A’, circled in red below.
Stop A is a City Link stop, and could be used when you wanted to travel towards the city. In particular, lots of people used it to get home after work, transferring to another service at Britomart.
However: it’s a good thing it’s closing. The stop sucked. It was in the wrong place and made the trip home for hundreds of office workers longer than necessary. This is because Stop A was serviced only by the City Link, which has a peak frequency of every 7-8 minutes.
This actually sounds quite good, and by Auckland standards it is. But, at the stop just around the corner – Stop B in red above – you can get on any bus, and enjoy a frequency of approximately ninety-bazillion buses per minute, because there are (technical term) shitloads of them.
But there’s a twist: the City Link only stopped at Stop A, not at Stop B. So if heading to Britomart, you had to choose between two stops. This was generally done by looking at the realtime tracking app of your choice, inevitably deciding that getting one of the bazillion buses at Stop B was superior, walking towards it, then swearing as a City Link sailed past as you waited helplessly at Stop “No City Links Allowed” B.
Now Stop A is gone – folded into Stop B – which means that travellers towards the Britomart can just get on any bus they see going past without having to play silly games with their phone or get frustrated when they miss services they could’ve caught, because they went to the wrong stop. All stops are equal and all is well in the world. Thanks AT for sorting it out.
This isn’t just the story of AT closing a bus stop, it’s also a story of how they closed it.
About a week ago
The first indication that anyone got that things were changing was when, a few week or so ago, the realtime board at Stop A stopped working.
Shortly after this the board itself disappeared.
As capital punishment has been abolished in New Zealand I assumed this meant the board had been taken away for repairs. But a while passed and it didn’t come back.
I looked on the AT website to see if this meant something potentially disruptive, but found nothing.
Friday 27 October – Morning
This turned up in a realtime app I use:
But there were no physical signs on the stop itself to indicate that the stop was closing. 99% of passengers would’ve been totally unaware of this change to their travel. And there was no indication of where services would move to instead.
Friday 27 October – Afternoon
A sign turned up on the stop indicating that it would temporarily close on Sunday for the Auckland Marathon.
Not sure how you remember to signpost a temporary closure but completely ignore the permanent one – which has much a bigger effect on customers – only the day after.
Monday 30 October
The stop remains the same, and buses are still picking people up, despite it being closed in at least one comms channel.
Wednesday 1 November
This sign turns up at the bus stop, 2 days after it actually closed.
But it’s a pretty good sign, and tells you where to go in future.
Going round to the stop on Fanshawe, a City Link timetable has now been attached to the previously bare bus stop pole.
This is not so good: The City Link is only one of many buses that service this stop, and the signage should clearly indicate this. What’s the good of running a bazillion buses a minute down a road if no one knows they can use them?
This is now a really useful bus stop and should have clear signage indicating, “TAKE ANY BUS TO BRITOMART”. Similar signage would be useful at Stop C (in blue in the map at the beginning of this post), as when taking buses from there I’ve noticed people wait ages for City Link to turn up, ignoring loads of NEXs and other shore buses, only to get off at Britomart – when any bus would’ve got them there. Without some clear wayfinding, exactly the same fate awaits passengers using this stop too.
And to confuse things a bit more, despite the old stop being signposted as closed, I saw some buses still stopping at it, although most users had gone round the corner to wait. And when we hailed a bus at the new stop, it refused to stop.
Additionally, the realtime board has yet to reappear at the new stop – hopefully it’s on the way.
How to Close a Bus Stop
It’s great that AT moved the old Daldy St stop to a more sensible location. But suddenly springing it on customers with no warning, and then stuffing up the move with incomplete service information, poor wayfinding and drivers not knowing about the change is less great.
One final suggestion: move the new stop slightly westward down Fanshawe St. Right now it’s awkwardly mid-block and if you’re borderline close to a bus’s arrival time, there’s nothing more frustrating than having it go flying past when you’re almost at the stop. Moving it a bit closer to the Daldy intersection would ease this frustration and put a bit more distance between it and the next stop at the AT building (ex Vodafone) which is currently only 200m away.
Extra Bonus Content
Several days after this post was originally written – almost a week after the bus stop moved – I’m hearing reports that buses are still refusing to stop at the new location.
So we have a weird situation where buses which say they will stop there don’t, and buses which don’t say they will stop there do. A couple of extra signs and a word to the bus operator would sort this out, how about it AT?