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.