Every few years we’ll see the media conduct a multi-modal commuter race. This is where multiple reports race between two locations, each on a different mode of transport to see what one is the fastest. Yesterday the Herald published the results of one and they were interesting for a couple of reasons. The race took place between New Lynn and their offices in Graham St involving a bike, bus, car and train. Here are the Herald’s results:
Overall, given the current state of our transport system, I found the results relatively unsurprising. For example, to get to Graham St from the Britomart involves a walk of about 1.3km so that adds quite a bit of time to the journey. That’s on top of the roughly 10 minutes extra spent travelling around to the wrong side of the city. It also didn’t help that she just missed a train so had an additional 10 minute wait. At the other end of the results, bikes always come out on top in these kinds of tests and so it’s no surprise it did again here. Bikes are the ultimate machines for gliding past congestion and providing a reliable trip and that’s even easier when there are safe cycleways to use.
Auckland has embarked on a journey of massive change in transport, and hopefully the new government will kick that up a gear even further. There are projects under construction and in the pipeline that will fundamentally change how people can get around the city. As such, if we were to run this test again in say a decade, I’d expect very different results. Here’s why:
It’s not entirely clear which route Tristan took on his ride to the city but improvements are on the way (or possible).
- the New Lynn to Avondale shared path will be the final leg in providing a safe route all the way from New Lynn all the way to the city. At Avondale it will link to the recently opened Waterview Shared Path which in turn links to the NW Cycleway. Other’s experience may vary but I find I’m able to travel faster when on a dedicated cycleway as I’m not having to ride as defensively, or dodge stopped cars. As such, I’d expect this could shave some time off the journey.
- The Ian McKinnon Dr cycleway has just started construction and is expected to take about 6 months to complete. Importantly, it will take out the nasty hill up to Newton Rd that riders currently have to climb and will whisk bikes up to Upper Queen St providing more time savings.
- Of course, it is also possible today to do this journey with an e-bike and at the current huge rates of growth they’re going to be very common in the decade timeframe we’re talking about. If you do this commute already via an e-bike let me know how long it takes but I’m assuming you could easily knock 10-15 minutes off that travel time with one.
All up, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that if conducted again in a decade and with an e-bike, that we could travel times of 25-30 minutes
Getting caught in congestion is the biggest Achilles heel of buses, something the herald reporter found out all too quickly.
I thought about this as I sat at the back of the bus, simmering with frustration over the fact Great North Rd was nearing a state of gridlock and there were not consistent bus lanes along the route.
Auckland Transport says 2.6km of bus lanes have been added to routes winding through the city over the past year.
This doesn’t sound like much and in that moment, I felt sure this should be a priority area of spending for Auckland Council. Top priority, in fact.
Thankfully, it’s one issue that is possible to solve. As great focus is brought to bear on public transport in coming years we expect to see a significant roll out of bus priority across the region. That should see the bus journey sped up a bit, although I’m not sure exactly by how much.
Of all modes, the train journey is going to see the most change over the coming decade thanks to the City Rail Link and there are a few reasons for this.
- The CRL will allow trains from the west to head straight to town and avoiding the the long way around via Newmarket. For people going to Britomart this is expected to save about seven minutes. However, ….
- The new stations on the CRL will open up more of the city. In this case, the Aotea station will be a more convenient station to use. That will increase the train time savings to 10 minutes and with Aotea being about 800m closer to Graham St, it will save about another 10 minutes
- The third time saver is that the CRL allows more trains to run so that reduces the time spent having to wait, like the reporter had to do after just missing a train.
All up, 20-25 minutes could be saved, and possibly more if AT can get trains sped up in general.
Last and least, driving. As ATAP acknowledged, we can’t build our way out of congestion, and the motorway network is basically complete with only limited scope for more widening. More space is also likely to be taken out of the local road network for continuous bus lanes too. All of this means that driving to the city isn’t going to improve. If you’re someone who still wants to/has to drive then you’re going to have to accept that it’s going to take a long time. Particularly as PT gets faster, I wonder how many will still choose to drive?