Auckland Transport’s new network is still in the middle of rolling out, with the last two key urban areas still to go. The Isthmus routes are due to start 08-July and North Shore on 30-September. Where the new network has already been implemented, the results are looking positive.
At its core, the new network is based on three key principles, frequency, connectivity, and simplicity. The design on the network covers off the last two but the frequency is ingredient that makes it all work. Within the network there are a series of routes with the minimum accepted “turn up and go” frequency of 15 minutes. Here’s how Auckland Transport describe it.
The key routes in the network are called ‘Frequent’ routes. These routes meet our ‘frequent promise’ – each route runs at least every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. These routes also run earlier and later than this, and many will run at a frequency higher than 15 minutes.
Bringing all the factors together, AT have created this map which shows all the frequent and rapid (busway/train) routes.
But the map is actually a bit misleading. As you may have noticed many, many of the routes are dotted and described as either being a reduced frequency extension, such as at the ends of Dominion, Mt Eden and Sandringham roads, or a route AT hope to make frequent in the future, such as the route over Upper Harbour. In addition, not all of the routes listed as frequent actually meet ATs frequent definition. The most notable of these is the rail network, because the Eastern, Western and Southern lines only run every 20 minutes off peak and every 30 on weekends. The next timetable change will bump weekends up to 20 minutes but that’s still not enough.
So, what would the map look like if more accurately reflected ATs definition and we took all non-frequent parts out? A lot less impressive for one thing.
The first thing I notice from this is just how much less comprehensive it feels, In many cases it’s not all that many routes that are taken out but it makes a big difference. The west, south and eastern isthmus all feel particularly void of connections thanks to the disappearance of the rail line
Next week the new Government Policy Statement should be announced and one thing we’re expecting is that it provides a lot more funding for PT services. Assuming much of it will eventually make its way to Auckland, here are list of priorities for how we think i needs to be spent:
- Boost rail frequencies to ‘frequent’ status. Rail is meant to be the backbone of the network across much of the city but it’s absurd that it is often running less frequent than the services that connect to it.
- Upgrade the ‘future frequent’ routes on the map to frequent status and maybe some of the extensions too.
- Move towards improving all frequent routes to a minimum of a 10 minute frequency. The current 15 minute frequency is good, but it’s right on the borderline of ‘turn up and go’ usefulness, especially if a transfer is involved. I have personally found that moving to a 10 minute service on the rail network at peak times made a huge difference to my perceptions of how useful the service is.