It’s Anniversary weekend and once again it seems like, despite the huge number of events going on little effort is being made to provide quality public transport options for those travelling around Auckland and going to these events.
- Buses are only operating to normal timetables, which means low frequencies on many routes and an earlier than normal end to services. Not great for those visiting events like the Laneway Festival that finish quite late.
- Trains aren’t even running on the Western Line and on parts of the Southern Line
Events are opportunities to get people to give public transport a try, which is important as our system has improved dramatically over the past decade and may be much better than people remember it. Therefore it’s important that Auckland Transport focuses more on getting public transport right for major events.
This reminded me of some observations on previous Anniversary weekends, in particular this post from two years ago, which I’ve posted below in full.
I’ve had two pieces of feedback following PT for Auckland Anniversery events on over weekend. The first is from reader Jeff
My friend started out with “Meet me at mine, Mt Eden, it should be a $15 Uber from here”.
To which I said “I was thinking of Biking to the Train station, leaving the bikes there then catching the train in, It feels silly to not use PT into the CBD”
And such was my argument to my friend Matt who kindly cycled to my place from Mt Eden, to catch the train into Britomart for Laneway Festival at 2pm on a Monday.
And it was a good experience, a short ride downhill followed by a “Feels longer than it should” train trip into the city. In no time at all we were in the usual gridlock of Te Whero Bridge. (of course Matt would have been here half an hour ago if he took an Uber)
After the festival, come 10pm, we were done, ready to board a train at Britomart, destined for Onehunga to start the cycle home. Upon entering Britomart, it was desolate. The train signs on the board read Penrose, Newmarket & Waitakere. No Onehunga, and the last train on the board was a half hour away.
We were tired, grumpy, and had work the next day. as two slightly out of our comfort zone 30 year olds, professional jobs beckoned in the morning and enough was enough – Cue Uber. Surge pricing, equally long waits – One wonders if this could have been mitigated if trains were operating at a festival appropriate frequency.
We found a cab, and I uttered the most absurd phrase I have ever uttered. “can you take us from here to Onehunga Train station please?”
Sometime later we were back in Onehunga, we grabbed the bikes, and commenced the ride uphill to our respective homes. (along the new & lovely Onehunga Mall cycle lanes). There is no way I’ll ever talk my friend into trusting the trains again.
My questions to AT are;
- Was there a PT plan for this festival?
- Do you have a planning team responsible for PT during events?
- Was there a train coming? if not, why wasn’t it on the board? There was no way to check, and ‘waiting to see’ was unacceptable.
- Is this the experience a casual train user should be confronted with?
- How can you expect to compete with Uber or generic Taxis on trust, when they often provide a better ‘turn up and go’ service?
I realise this is an anecdotal experience, but if this was my experience, what of the other 10,000+ Laneway, or other Auckland wide event attendees?
And the second is from reader who had a number of observations from Sunday
Standard anniversary weekend public transport troubles occurring again, with hopeless Sunday timetables failing to cope with CBD crowds. Saw NEX at 4.30pm leave 10 plus people behind, and Mt Eden bus at same time was jammed.
There were huge numbers of people in town for fireworks last night, though most had choice of one or 2 services to get home. Same likely tonight with Laneway finishing at 10.30pm, and all trains gone, and only handful of buses. Plus despite official Council programme saying all trains running, there was nothing past Penrose or Sylvia Park. People have learnt to use event PT now, so expect it at major events. ATEED and AT need to get their act together, as leaving new users stranded is a very bad look, and puts people off. Saga will repeat itself again for Lantern festival in a few weeks time. Another good fix would be upping Sunday timetables to meet Saturday frequencies, many 20 or 30 rather than 15 minute frequency
Getting these experience wrong has long term impacts on how people perceive PT. It’s well beyond time that that AT should have learnt this by now, as Luke pointed out, people have learnt to use PT for events now so it’s up to the authorities to respond to that and provide it to an acceptable standard.