The New Network for Auckland’s Central suburbs launches this Sunday (July 8).

While we have written about our disappointments with some areas, there are many really great changes that will help people get around our city. In my view the best changes are as follows:

1. Frequent buses until midnight every day on major corridors

One major issue with the current bus network is that evening service can be very poor. For example despite Mt Eden Road buses being very busy across the whole day, services leave only every 30 minutes after 9.45pm, which is rather inconvenient. With the new network, some routes will have frequent services departing the city every 15 minutes from 6am to midnight, 7 days per week. These routes are:

  • Tamaki Drive to Glen Innes (Tamaki Link)
  • New North Road to Avondale (22)
  • Sandringham Road to Mount Albert Road (24)
  • Dominion Road to Mount Roskill (25)
  • Mount Eden Road to Three Kings (27)
  • Manukau Road to Onehunga (30)
  • Remuera Road to Glen Innes (75)

This follows Route 18 (Great North Road to New Lynn) and Route 70 (Great South Road, Ellerslie Panmure Highway, Ti Rakau Drive to Botany) which both already have 15 minute service to midnight from when they were implemented. This is creating a kind of super frequent network tier.

2. Removal of night buses in favour of extra service on normal routes

The existing night bus network across Auckland is bizzare and confusing. Buses take different and often take circuitous, unfamiliar routes with different numbers. For example, Dominion Road and Mount Eden Road corridors are served by a single very long service, so if you want to get to Mount Eden Road near the Balmoral Rd intersection, you have to take a bus that first visits Mount Roskill, Lynfield and Hillsborough. Even then the route stops at Balmoral Road, so there is not bus service to Mount Eden at all!

All the services outlined above as having frequent service until midnight will also have buses departing the city at 1.00am, 2.00am and 3.00am early Saturday and Sunday mornings. This should help make bus travel a useful and affordable option for late night weekend trips home.

3. Frequent bus linking Newmarket, Grafton, University, Midtown, Victoria Quarter and Wynyard.

For a the last few years Aucklanders have been promised more buses to Wynyard Quarter that just the City Link. The new network finally delivers this in the form of Route 75, which is the Remuera Road corridor frequent bus.

This will provide a fast connection through to Wynyard from the University and Aotea, which as we have noted previously was a serious hole in our bus network. The service runs every 15 minutes all day from 6am to midnight, 7 days per week. Services will run every 10 minutes to Wynyard from 7.30am until 10am, and every 10 minutes from 3pm to 7pm from Wynyard. Route 75 also connects with trains at Newmarket and Grafton station, so this could be a very useful connection from the railway line to Aotea and Wynyard, especially from the Western line.

4. A Bond Street bus!

One rather strange hole on the existing bus network is the lack of a route along Bond Street linking together both sides of the motorway (with the exception of couple of peak limited stop 209 services). This is a rather important cross Isthmus connection. The new Route 20 finally fills this gap, and even better is that it is a frequent service.

Route 20 links Wynyard Quarter, Ponsonby, Kingsland, Morningside and St Lukes. This service will also be very handy for Western line users, as they will be able to transfer at outside Kingsland station to Route 20 to take them to Ponsonby and Wynard Quarter.

5. Frequent suburban crosstown routes

The southern Isthmus now has two frequent crosstown routes. Current crosstown services are very much stuck in the past, with hourly service on Sundays being standard, and very early evening finishes.

The 66 links Point Chevalier, Unitec, Mount Albert Road, Royal Oak, Penrose station and Syliva Park. This service links with nine other frequent routes as is crosses Auckland, as well as linking with all three railway lines at Mount Albert, Penrose and Sylvia Park stations.

The 68 links New Lynn to Onehunga via Blockhouse Bay via Hillsborough, connecting with most Isthmus corridor routes along the way.

Overall there are a lot of things to like about the new bus network being rolled out on Sunday. Its implementation will leave just the North Shore to go and those changes are coming September 30.

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  1. Do you know where I can find route maps with bus stops numbers, like the map you have above for Route 75? I find it confusing and frustrating when I can’t find which bus stop the bus will stop at.

    1. The timetables have those maps at the end for some routes. It’s a bit hit and miss.

      I agree a route map showing the bus stops is very useful.

      Also AT could work on the naming scheme for Timetables. How does the 20 end up under ‘Pt Chevalier, Westmere, Grey Lynn, Ponsonby’

  2. I hope for good outcomes.
    It is so important to continually improve the commute.
    Our businesses are competing in the world and companies want to employ people who can easily get to work happy and on time.
    I think we could encourage many more overseas fee paying students to Auckland if they could find accommodation close to the campuses. Traveling from Flat Bush to the city to study each day turns people off and they go elsewhere.

  3. Yes, well done AT. Great new levels of access. I had fun telling locals at a Pt Chev HNZ development info session last night that yes, the developments had enough parking, because most people don’t need a car to live here. The bus connections are so good now.

  4. If you were looking for a bus to Kingsland, as I was this morning, this was not a heading I was expecting to find this service under. There’s also no mention on WQ in the name.

  5. Why finish right on midnight though, if you have 1 extra service until 00:15 you would get those finishing work at midnight. Poor planning.

  6. Now we just need to get rid of OuterLink (at least half of it) so we can boost 650 frequency and promote it to 65.

    1. Yes, the outlink should be broke into at least 2 routes, one being 650. I’m sure i’ve heard outer link will be reviewed soon. I really hope that is the case

      1. Yes the new network brochure says: “Auckland Transport plans to review Crosstown services in the St Lukes, Mount Eden, Balmoral and Greenlane area in 2019.”

        1. Hurray! I thought one of the good, obvious improvements in the proposed central network was the Crosstown 6 from Pt Chev along Balmoral Road and on to Glen Innes. A frequent link which would connect Green Lane train station to One Tree Hill/Cornwall Park, the ASB showgrounds and the public hospital opposite made all the sense in the world to me. It was disappointing that it disappeared after consultation, along with the Crosstown 5 (which connected Remuera station to Kingsland station). Wasn’t the point to create more crosstown links, forming a public transport grid across Auckland?

  7. The Central New Network is arguably the most significant development in bus services in the region for , well, all time. That’s despite many of the routes being essentially unchanged – the real “win” is frequency (especially offpeak evenings) and route consistency – all in all, legibility. On some routes we have been moving slowly but inexorably in that direction for a number of years, but now, at a stroke, most of the remaining key routes are now addressed.

    Having said that, there’s still some way to go in frequency to match what there was in the 1960s on some routes. I remember as a small child holidaying in Auckland with my grandmother, that Remuera Road trolleybus services (the then Route 12 to Meadowbank) ran every 12 minutes offpeak in the daytime (every 15 minutes now). And the Route 10 trolleybus to Onehunga was every 10 minutes daytime offpeak (also every 15 minutes now). Maybe in time . . .

    A couple of other comments:

    (1) I welcome the “regularisation” of night services along existing routes. But what about later services inbound as well? As the inner city’s population grows, there will surely be demand for late services home TO the city. I well remember having to pick up my then teenaged sons in places like Sandringham and Balmoral and bringing them home to the city at night because although outward buses were still operating, inward services had ceased. To be fair, there are some slightly later inbound services now under the new timetable (for some routes, but bizarrely, slightly earlier “last” inward services on others) but what about Friday and Saturday nights . . . ?

    (2) Is it still the numbering “convention” that services which are identified for future transition to Frequent status have route numbers ending in “0”? I see 120, 380, 650, 670 all featured on various AT maps, and my understanding is that these will eventually become frequent (and presumably drop the “0”). But what about the Richmond Road services, which had initially been conceived of as a Frequent route but which remains at 20 min offpeak frequency? This is now the 105, rather than Route 100, which I’d have expected if it was to eventually become frequent as Route 10 – has that idea been abandoned? And will the 380 eventually become Route 38 when they finally get that frequency consistently to 15-minute all-day, instead of the present 15-20 min frequency – with some random 10-minute frequencies? My quick count shows that there are only four 20-minute “gaps” in the timetable during 7am to 7pm hours – surely this is a quick fix that could bring the 380 fully into Frequent status?

    1. Interesting history & re the drop the 0 theory, could be about right. see my comment above re future review relating to the 650.

      The current route 10 to Onehunga, is this roughly where the trolley bus use to travel along?

    2. Yeah absolutely it look likes the NEX will remain the only omni-directional night bus. They are stripping the omni-directional Birkenhead night bus under NN North though unfortunately. They also seem to be stripping the NEX to hibiscus coast station… not that getting left in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere at 2-3am in the morning is of much value though… I suppose people got a taxi or family to pick them up from there though…

      The lack of both directions has always been bizzare to me too, i.e. people going to a party or family event in say New Lynn and then wanting to go home at 1-2am on Fri-Sat to Pt Chev… bus only runs one way…

      The other thing is… workers… Fri-Sat isn’t the only night these buses would be useful. Shift workers are forced to pay RFT with no alternative, and also generally have to pay for parking for part of their shift. They also have to deal with counter-peak congestion dependent on their shift times… Where are the buses?

  8. Yes love the new 75 and 20 routes. Also the 66 which is in my backyard & services the currently dead PT zone of western part of Penrose Rd, they also put in more bus stops for this than I was expecting. Looking forward to an upgrade on all frequent routes to perhaps every 10 mins sometime.

  9. “This service will also be very handy for Western line users, as they will be able to transfer at outside Kingsland station to Route 20 to take them to Ponsonby and Wynard Quarter.”

    That transfer would mean a 230-metre walk that includes either two road crossings (one signalised, one side street) or one dash across a four-lane road. The bus stop in question, on the northern side of New North Road, is too far away from the train station to enable easy transfers.

    1. But in the other direction, it’s a breeze. A transfer to the Inner Link at Grafton (as now) is the other option but that doesn’t serve the same catchment as the 20. Anyway, 230m is not outrageous – for this passenger at least.

      1. I don’t have any problems with walking 230 metres either – yay for us able-bodied people! But this is 230 metres that includes two road crossings to a bus stop whose location isn’t clear or signposted (you can’t see it from the station), and covering a stretch of footpath notorious for footpath parking – which all in all adds about three minutes to the journey (again, for an able-bodied person). It’s just an example of a transfer sounding good on paper, but there seemingly hasn’t been put much thought or work (yet) into what this transfer would mean for people in practice.

        1. +1 For a network, we need excellent connection between routes. Lots of room for improvement possible.

        2. Way finding train to bus and vice versa – they could do what hospitals do and put those coloured lines on the ground linking stops and platforms. Use the colour ov the bus route number

        3. Second the coloured lines option Simon – they are great for finding your way around hospitals, a foolproof method when in a hurry/under stress etc., even if not used to the building.
          It would be great to see the new route colours used in wayfinding between stops!

    2. I just did this route last night for the first time: Western line train followed by the no. 20 bus (aka the Hipster Link), transfer at Kingsland. Which got me from Fruitvale Rd to Three Lamps, Ponsonby in just over 30 minutes. Brilliant. I used to have to take the Western line all the way east to Grafton or Newmarket and then double back west on the Inner Link to Ponsonby, and it took forever. The transfer from the train to the bus at Kingsland was a cinch. Not sure what you are talking about since the distance between the train station to the bus stop at 437 New North Road is only about 150 meters? There are many worse transfer journeys in Auckland (trying to transfer anywhere from Greenlane train station in the midst of traffic from the motorway roundabout comes to mind) . But sure, they should put the bus stop outside Canton Cafe (get rid of the street parking) to make for an even easier transfer, why not.

  10. One difference between the brochure, the NN map out now (& the specific timetable) is the 68 route last bit goes via the motorway just before Onehunga which is interesting.

    1. More to do with angry residents in Carlton St insisting that buses in their street are dangerous. AT is having to do a safety audit to “prove” that all will be okay.

      1. ! In other words, No thanks to a bus service thanks, AT. Committing the cyclists and pedestrians to a car-dependent street. Hardly a good move for safety.

  11. I’m looking forward to new network, overall it seems pretty positive. Change is always hard for us humans to deal with, but not heared too many complents athough ones i do hear are about poeople losing direct buses, but with high freqency/integrated ticketing changing bus isn’t that bad. I do hope AT has enought flexability in the PTOM contracts to change things, so we too stuck for ~10 year lenght of the contract.

    It doesn’t look many new buses will be introduced thought, althought i suspect many of the isthmus frequent will be converting to double deckers over the next couple of years

    1. I’ve noticed that many of the older buses have not been repainted, and I assume that come Sunday they will all be phased out (the other New Networks had exclusively AT-colour-scheme buses from Day 1). But what will replace them? Are there dozens of double-deckers waiting somewhere ready to take over Dominion Road and Sandringham Road services etc (Manukau Road?) from Sunday? If not, then what buses will be used? There surely aren’t enough buses in AT livery currently on the roads to take over the job? But there’s been no hype from AT about more double deckers either, despite various kerb works being undertaken along key routes to allow for their introduction.

      1. Not sure, meant to be under 10 years old buses. It will be the North Shores turn to get all the old dunga buses until their NN.

      2. Yes, i not sure there enought buses to take over. I assume there will a swap with north shore buses, meaning the old buses will head to the shore until their turn in september & finally get retired (to school buses in the regions)

        In wellington i gather they been allowed to not paint buses that will phased out in the next 12 months or so, i wonder if auckland will have same rule. But this breaks the 10 year age rule. This might be case especially if double coming later this year. On twitter yesterday, a MP said “#Auckland is at: 89 Double deckers with another 57 coming by the end of the year.” Some of these must be for the NX2 route

        1. ill be glad to see the back of all these ratty old auckland buses in Wellington. A metlink sticker on a waka pacific dungger does not a new bus make.

        2. Buses are allowed to be no more than 20 years old. The 10 year old limit is for the average fleet age. And yes, there will be old buses not painted running around on the new network until those 57 double deckers come in. Even then, we are still waiting for AT to clear all the routes (Dominion, Manukau, Remuera Roads).

  12. In 2011 when the New Network was first proposed it was planned to be brought in by mid-2015. It’s now 3 years late – you’d think they would be able to make some proper changes instead of just renaming the 274 to 27T and 277 to 27W.

  13. As a boy I lived on Route 7 Owairaka wth trolley buses and had a 20 minute service during the day on week days. Combined with 7W Wesley there was a 10 minute service on Sandringham Rd from Mt Albert Rd to the city. The new network timetable shows a 15 minute frequency. Admittedly, the 15 minute frequency goes all day and weekends too.

  14. That 75 will be great for getting to Wynyard from many places. For example the dominion rd bus, if i’m not on the bike for whatever reason, It’s a bit of a walk to Wynyard from the St James, or the incredibly slow CityLink.

  15. ! In other words, No thanks to a bus service thanks, AT. Committing the cyclists and pedestrians to a car-dependent street. Hardly a good move for safety.

  16. They are waiting for AT to clear the new double decker routes and for the 57 of them to be made. Thats why you will still see a handfull of unpainted buses on the central network

  17. The Tamaki Link services run but there are no services through Glendowie after a certain time on some nights. This is far from an improvement.

  18. So having just spent 6 weeks travelling through Europe and America using only Public Transport I return to NZ and will need to drive to work every day as this new network means we have lost our bus to the City and only get a 20 minute service to the train!

    1. Train faster than a lot of the buses into the city though, lot nicer ride, less stops, uncongested, breathe easier. Mine will be ~12 mins faster depending. Which bus are you comparing to?

      ps I note Google now showing the new routes if you date it from tomorrow.

  19. Used the new 105 today what a huge improvement… direct and rational, sooooo good. Lots of chat with other users too, everyone loving it.

    Also good work from the staff at the stops helping people with the changes.

    Good work AT, at least on this route.

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