There’s been plenty of noise over the last week about the government’s transport announcement. While most of it has been focused on fuel tax changes, one of the big positives is that for the first time we also saw dedicated funding for the development of Rapid Transit. In some ways it’s surprising the government hasn’t done more around their messaging to highlight the benefit the funding will help deliver, especially because Transport Minister Phil Twyford has been very good personally at articulating transport issues. For example, at the opening of the Manukau Bus Station on Saturday (AT streamed it), he spoke about lack of transport choice creating transport poverty and then how the government’s plans would help deliver a transformation in PT in Auckland. I’ve transcribed that last part.
We’re going to build rapid transit network, starting with light rail from the city and across the isthmus and out though Mangere. It’s going to deliver 21st century rapid transit to a swathe of our city, and it will stimulate a massive surge of private sector investment in urban renewal that will create more affordable housing and a better built environment for so many of our people. Alongside that immediate priority, we’re going to run rapid bus services connecting the airport, Puhinui and Manukau, giving everybody who’s served by the heavy rail network right across our city, rapid transit access to the airport and all the jobs out here in South Auckland. That airport to Puhinui link will be the first step in a rapid transit link serving the south east, which is even worse than my beloved West Auckland when it comes to being served by public transport. So when you put those, the light rail, the south east rapid transit line alongside extension of the Northern Busway, electric rail to Pukekohe, you have the trunk architecture of a rapid transit system, and around that, you put the high frequency bus services, and ferries to support that rapid transit. Within a generation folks, we’re going to deliver Auckland a world class public transport system.
This will be nothing new to those that follow this site regularly but I suspect many in the city, and even fewer across the country, truly understand just what all of this means in reality. Showing how Auckland could have a PT network to be proud of was of course one of the reasons behind our Congestion Free Network. Since our first version of the CFN, Auckland Transport have produced some official ones at various times (although most are out of date). With the government now stepping up, and the plans looking more concrete, now could be the time to show it more publicly.
The excellent Transitmaps is currently holding a knockout tournament to determine which of 32 major world cities has the best transit map. Many cities use their metro maps to highlight not just existing services but future ones too, rather than just hiding them in obscure planning documents. One of the better examples is Istanbul, which shows all their rapid transit modes and includes all future lines. Many of the actual projects are on hold or in various phases of the planning process, which is not too different from where we are now.
AT need to develop some versions showing the future lines that will be built to help people understand what the plans are. By versions I mean both a standard metro map that is displayed prominently on the website and at every busway and train station, and a strip map for use inside buses and trains. I think this will not only help the public but may also help AT to define its design language, which currently feels a bit incoherent with different styles in use. It also means they could design the maps now and effectively just colour in the routes as they get built without having to redesign the maps each time.
Here are a couple of examples of the various maps that exist today:
The current strip map in trains shows our rapid transit lines but there’s something about the visual style which doesn’t quite seem right, although it is better than the original version. It will need a complete redesign to incorporate all the new routes being built in the coming years.
The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) decided to call rapid transit the ‘Strategic Public Transport Network’ and produced this map showing where that was. It’s useful in that it shows existing lines vs future lines but it misses the critical component of showing how the services operate.
As part of the new bus network being rolled out, AT have this map showing the Rapid and Frequent PT network. It’s a nice map but as I pointed out recently, if you took out all the services that don’t really meet the criteria it looks quite different. It also doesn’t do a great job of highlighting the Rapid Network as the lines are the same thickness as other PT routes and are all the same colour so someone new wouldn’t know the Northern Busway is any different from the rail network. It also seems to make it hard to show the future rapid network.
So how about it AT?
PS: you’re also welcome to use ours