This post continues my series on how we can make big improvements to bus journeys through relatively small changes.
- In part one I looked at Khyber Pass and the need for us to be more flexible in providing better bus lanes.
- In part two I looked at how better bus priority measures can help improve the quality of our town centres.
- In part three I looked at Great South Road between Newmarket and Ellerslie
- In part four I looked at some of the changes we need to make to Link Bus services
In part 5 of this series, we are going to have a look at Transit Lanes/Bus Lane issues. Last year I wrote a post on how AT decides whether to have a T2/3 or Bus Lane
While in theory this process looks fairly sound, I do have a number of issues that might affect how some of the analysis is done. These include:
- It relies on modelling which we know from multiple experiences drastically underpredicts PT demand.
- Modelling also often done a poor job in simulating some of the micro-corridor effects or what happens in reality such as cars merging in/out as much as they do to avoid stopped buses or misuse of transit lanes.
- This thinking relies on the productivity of a corridor being solely based on people moved per hour. Another thing that should be considered is flow on effects on operational expenditure – the quicker a bus can complete a full route, the fewer buses and drivers are needed to maintain a set frequency.
- Enforcement of the lanes is also much easier when Bus Lanes compared to transit lanes as can be done like as currently been trialled on Fanshawe easily by a camera.
- It’s also not really fair to claim the process is that rigid or objective either when bus priority improvements are dropped whenever certain types of stakeholders complain.
This last point is useful to linger on a bit, especially when you think about Auckland’s longest running T3 lane – Onewa Road. I suspect if the above analysis was undertaken today, Onewa Road would be one of the best candidates in the whole city for a full bus lane. However, politically such a transition seems extremely difficult – people have got used to being able to use the T3 lane and have built their lives around it. There is likely to be substantial opposition to changing it (not that this means Auckland Transport shouldn’t push for such a change if the analysis backs it up). The lesson from Onewa Road is that while a T2->T3->bus lane transition process might make analytical sense, it’s unlikely to work in practice, which means fully jumping to a proper bus lane from the get go might be the best idea for routes with high predicted future demand (even if that demand doesn’t yet exist).
Another major issue is Bus Lane hours. I have two main issues with these:
- They are still generally far too short. Most lanes should operate 7-10am and 3-7pm, with others operating longer when required.
- They are still too peak-direction focused. As public transport use in Auckland grows, the importance of providing quality counter-peak services will grow too. Furthermore, a faster “return run” for a bus will help lower operating costs that can be reinvested into better services.