Yesterday Auckland Transport rolled out the new bus network on the North Shore, the final major implementation of their New Network project which began (publicly at least) back in 2012. It has seen the bus network for the entire region redesigned based around principles of frequency, connectivity and simplicity. But it’s not just changing lines on a map. It’s involved contracting every route, the introduction of new providers and updated requirements have seen a significant proportion of the bus fleet replaced with new buses, sporting a unified livery. Separately but integral to the revamp of PT in Auckland has been the introduction of HOP and integrated fares as well as improvements to the rail network.

While not everything has been perfect, what ever is, I think it’s easy to underestimate what AT have achieved. For the most part the implementation has gone smoothly, something that only really becomes appreciable when we compare it the challenges Wellington is having.

AT should take pride in reaching this milestone, but they also can’t rest on their laurels if they’re to meet the council and governments goals of giving Aucklanders true transport choice. Here are some things we think AT should be considering to make to the PT network even better. Implementing some of these should also be a bit easier with the government significantly increasing the levels of funding available for PT.

More Frequents

The core of the new network are the frequent routes that run at a minimum every 15 minutes 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. Even before yesterday’s roll out, frequent services accounted for just under 50% of all boardings, up from about 38% before the new network started rolling out. IF we include the three main rail lines, there are now 31 frequent and rapid transit routes. The structure of services is described below.

AT say that before the New Network, 215,500 Aucklanders lived within 500 metres of a frequent or rapid network route stop and that now 527,600 people do, an impressive 145% increase. But with about 1.57 million living within Auckland’s urban area, it’s only a third of the population. We need more frequent routes so that a greater proportion of residents have access to frequent public transport. The image below shows how many more frequent routes there now are, but uses different population change numbers.

The great thing about the new network is that the basic network structure for the future is now in place. While there will always be changes, especially as big infrastructure projects come on stream, for the most part AT will simply need to up the frequency of existing non-frequent routes. Many of the connector routes, which have a minimum frequency of half-hourly, already run every 15 minutes or higher on weekdays during the peaks and so to increase them to frequent status would require only improving off-peak and weekend frequencies. This map isn’t up to date but many of the dotted lines would be the first candidates to upgrade to frequent status.

More Frequent Frequents

What’s better than a bus every 15 minutes, a bus every 10. Frequency is consistently cited as the most important improvement Aucklanders would like to see, and by some margin. Frequency becomes even more important when transfers are involved.

Moving from a service every 15 minutes to one every 10 might not seem like a big difference on paper but it does on the ground for users. For example, I still recall when the peak frequencies on the rail network improved from every 15 to every 10. I used to time my departure to ensure I got to the train on time and would often end up running to ensure I didn’t miss it. Now I find it much less stressful as a 10 minute wait doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad. Perhaps one way to think about it is that 10 might only be 33% better than 15 but 15 is 50% worse than 10.

We’d like to see AT working towards improving the frequency of the frequent services with a goal of making them all every 10 minutes at minimum, especially the rapid network. The trade off to this is that it makes it that much harder to upgrade services that are not currently frequent to a frequent status.

While on the topic of frequency, the rail network is meant to be the core of the PT network but even with the latest timetable only runs every 20 minutes off peak, lower than some of the services connecting to it. AT need to sort this asap.

Longer span of hours

Similar to the issue of frequency, we’d like to see the minimum frequent operating ours lengthened. These days the city doesn’t shut down at 5pm and our PT network needs to reflect that. Like with the other issues, this is something that AT could look to incrementally improve, for example, extending services to 8pm, then 9pm etc, same towards earlier in the morning too.

Notably some services already well exceed this with 13 of those 31 frequent routes running frequently until midnight.

Market the hell out of it

AT have done some localised marketing of the new network but it has always felt constrained because other parts of the network were waiting to be rolled out. Now that the network is done and easier to understand, AT need to market it as a full network. Pushing an accurate version of the map above would be good start.

Keep improving the routes

The new network is a big improvement but it isn’t perfect. While much of it can be improved through some of the ideas above, AT need to work to improve some parts of the network. One notable example of this is the Outer Link which doesn’t adhere to the core principles of the new network with its crazy diversion to Valley Rd and Mt Eden shops which makes it slow and unattractive for cross town travellers.

There will also need to be network restructures as some of the big infrastructure pieces are delivered. One of the first will be the new Northern Busway station at Rosedale which is currently only served by an infrequent bus on weekdays.

The network in the west was particularly compromised by the lack of supporting infrastructure such as transfer stations along the SH16 corridor meaning a number of lower frequency routes have had to run all the way to the city. Whatever happens with the light rail investigations, our transport agencies need to look at how they can deliver some quick wins at Lincoln and Te Atatu roads to enable this.

As well as Rosedale, some of the big infrastructure changes in coming years include

  • City Rail Link
  • Light Rail on the isthmus and to the North-West.
  • Eastern Busway
  • Airport to Puhinui and eventually Botany busway.

There will also need to be new or extensions to services to support the greenfield growth happening in the North, Northwest and South.

Better buses

ATs requirements have seen many of the bus companies significantly upgrade their fleets which has been great for users. At the same time it feels like a bit of a lost opportunity to be even better, especially in relation to electric buses. Mayor Phil Goff has already committed Auckland to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and having the city centre emissions free by 2030. The new e-buses that AT are trialling already show a glimpse of how much nicer and quieter our streets would be without diesel buses. Bus heavy streets such as Fanshawe, Symonds and Wellesley will be notably improved by e-buses. But if we’re to meet the mayor’s pledge, we’ll need to start seeing more in service to support them.

Auckland has also moved strongly towards larger buses, in the form of double deckers, to improve capacity. I think they’ve also helped build the attractiveness of PT – there’s nothing quite brings out the inner child excitement about catching a bus like getting the front row seat. But the one downside to double deckers is they do take an awfully long time to unload. I recently timed one arriving at Albert St in the city in the morning and it took almost 1.5 minutes for all passengers to disembark.

That’s not a major issue on long distance routes but on busy routes with lots of intermediate destinations, such as Dominion Rd, that’s not ideal. For some routes, AT and the bus companies need to look at articulated buses with three or even four doors to help speed up dwell times.

Make buses faster

Auckland’s buses can be painfully slow, even when bus lanes exist. AT need to work to speed buses up which will help make buses both more attractive to users and potentially makes it easier to improve frequencies. Some of this will require infrastructure, and AT have a goal of rolling out bus priority measures to all frequent routes, but other measures can help too. These could include changes such as off-board fare payment all door boarding.

So, well done to AT on the roll out of the new network but keep the foot on the pedal to keep improving the service.

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  1. Kudos to Auckland Transport for a relative smooth implementation, albeit very late. Hope Wellington fixes their bus fiasco sooner rather than later.

    Now time to role those new bus priority lanes across all frequent routes.

  2. Best points:

    The HOP card, no mean feat to implement this across a fractured privately operated public transport system and I note the one bus company who thwarted the old ARTA from doing so is now very much a small time operator. Seamless transfers across all modes is brilliant. And since I never topped up via a direct debit, I missed the problems there.

    Swipe on and off fare payment.

    The newer bus fleet. Now air conditioned, that’s if the driver knows how to use it that is this is not a given, easy to get into unlike the old truck based buses that had horrendous stairs to climb up and down, most ride smoother as well and universally they are now correctly powered, not woefully under-powered and sluggish.

    Far better standard destination signage all round, thank God the old anything goes signs are gone.

    For the first time in memory for anyone not 3 stages or higher, the fares are actually competitive with the private car, as is the frequency of services for some. Hopefully AT don’t lose the plot and up fares.

    Not so good:

    Despite the new bus fleet the low floor vs the super low floor was a far more practical bus without the vast wasted front area space for wheel arches, and no I don’t agree that standing is cool and all Parisian metro style. All that does is make me want to drive.

    The fleet colour of dark blue and grey is depressing. Yep subjective, but its urban camouflage at its best!

    And you are right, the buses are so slow, like time never moved from the mid 20th century. Not helped by some drivers who think 40-50 km/hr over the harbour bridge and 20-30 in urban streets with clear roads is okay along with silly short spacing between stops and tiki tours into shopping centres. Ironically this issue will be compounded by AT’s 30 km/hr limit in the greater Auckland CBD. This does not make PT attractive nor competitive off peak.

    A fix to the double decker unloading times is signs to encourage passengers in reside in la la land on buses to be ready to disembark one stop from their destination, rather than remaining seated until the bus stops at their stop!

    1. The fleet colour of dullard blue high lighted with ashphalt grey must have been chosen by a committee dominated by frustrated National Party nominees.

      1. I agree its pretty dull, hard to see, etc. I guess it is just AT’s brand colours.
        I reckon bright yellow would be optimum in terms of visibility. Maybe difficult to keep clean?

        1. Your right. At some stage we ratepayers and owners of AT should move to change the colours to highlight Auckland and the new bus fleet. The opportunity exists as we slowly replace dirty and polluted diesel with new modern EBs. 2025 is too late. We want them now. The current colours are drab and uninteresting. We can do better.

    2. Double decker buses will always be slow to load/unload, it’s one of their major drawbacks along with the dangerous steep stairwell.

      1. Yes, and the dangerous steep stairwell is why Waspman’s suggestion for signage encouraging passengers to be ready to disembark a stop before their destination would have to be very carefully worded. We don’t want people feeling pressured to move while the bus is moving because the bus didn’t have to stop at the stop before their destination.

        1. How much of the unloading time is caused by tagging off issues?
          would switching to a time based fare system improve the unloading time (as they would only validate at boarding)?

        2. I know people here will defend our system, but to me, having to tag off is a fundamental flaw in the system. A time-based system would have the integrated fare advantages. Not sure what the disadvantages would be, but I would have thought the advantages of improved travel times would be pretty large, especially on the routes which are busiest, therefore the most people are affected.

        3. Tagging off sucks. There are not many services in life where the customer has to actively stop them charging once the service has been provided.

        4. You get a certain time to use services within a time period. There’ll be different approaches to zones, which is probably why you’re asking, yes?

        5. So a single trip would cost the same no matter how long or short is was and subsequent trips would either be free or if they started say 2 hours or more after the first they would cost another fare?

        6. I wonder what the main differences would be between cities where this is a successful system, and Auckland, where you see issues from it. Would it be more mixed use, more intense development in a more compact shape? Would it be less fighting over equity in fares because the decades-long investment in PT amounted to more than just the scraps left over after road investment? I honestly think the issues you mention wouldn’t be big if there was just more serious money gven to PT. Which requires the abandonment of the big vkt-inducing road projects that are taking the lion’s share of money.

    3. Waspman, is there a possibility that people moving downstairs and not intending to get off yet could create congestion amongst the people who are trying to get off? Every stop will be different, but I’m just wondering about how you would word the recommendation to be ready to disembark without further congestion sometimes, and danger sometimes.

      1. Something like, “Please prepare to alight from bus by standing at the exit door, one full stop from your destination.
        Do so when bus is stationary”

        I do so either at red lights, the previous stationary stop, or while the bus is in motion on a straight before my stop (I fully understand not all can do that last one).

        The aisle is plenty wide on the lower level between doors on the DD’s to accommodate this, I have found anyway.

        1. Meh, not there yet. It has to provide enough reason for people to stay sitting if it is better for them to do so, despite peer pressure to get ready to disembark while the bus is moving. I’m thinking of the group of twenty-somethings, one of whom has a foot in a cast. Or the group of pre-teens, one of whom is carrying a trombone. Or the family group, one of whom wants to hide the age-related knee issues… Give it another go, Waspman. 🙂

        2. 🙂 Following their friends I guess. Is there pressure on the able-bodied group to go upstairs to free up the downstairs for the elderly, etc? That’ll be why the ones who aren’t so mobile go with them. What do you think, Jezza? Leave it as it is, or alter the dynamics a bit with signs like Waspman suggests? In which case, what would you write, given the various social dynamics at play?

        3. TBH, I have little sympathy for the first two. I’m not sure we should be designing our PT system to ensure people don’t have to worry about choosing between peer pressure and common sense.

        4. Why not the third one too, Jezza? The older family member should surely have had several decades to learn to resist peer pressure. Surely they deserve even less sympathy that the 11-year-old whose very emotional life and suicide-risk is being shaped by it?

          The foot in the cast was OTT. 🙂 Maybe imagine a hand in a cast instead.

          A Vision Zero approach designs for real people. We’re just talking about a sign here, after all!

        5. Its actually forbidden to use the stairs or stand up while the bus is in motion, FYI. It seems a little draconian but a man was killed in a stair fall, so it’s for good reason.

        6. Forbidden to stand up? Is this on the double deckers? Surely not on the ones where they give you handholds? So maybe if they do put a sign up, it should be more like:

          “Please only go upstairs if you are able to descend safely. Using the stairs or standing up while the bus is in motion is forbidden. Alighting from the bus may be faster if passengers descend from the upper level at one or more stops before their destination.”

    4. All PTOM buses are now fitted with a gps system which sends a direct signal to the drivers supervisor should there be a speeding or harsh braking incident. All divers are not willing to take a chance with their job. Longer distances between vehicles is now required due to the fact that it takes longer to stop a double decker that can carry up to 75 passengers.

  3. I travelled on North Shore bus routes the very day of the implementation and it was really great to see that the display boards were showing the new routes without problems, and things seemed to be running smoothly. And this despite it being Daylight Savings day too. Well done AT.

    One problem that seems to be getting worse is the Northern Express slow trip along Fanshawe Street into the city. There’s not usually a problem at the Beaumont Street crossing – traffic light phases seem not too bad. The problems are the Halsey St and Nelson St crossings where cross traffic holds up the buses way too long for what is an important high speed route.

    When the northern half of Halsey Street was closed for road works for months a year ago, there was virtually no delay and my NEX buses would usually cruise through on a green light. Now that it’s open again, there are major problems with this intersection, and I’m wondering whether AT should think about closing the northern half of Halsey permanently. If car drivers coped while it was closed, surely they can do so again.

    1. I think traffic light removal/optimisation for buses would be the next big gain. For example Alex Evens Street could easily be closed on Symonds Street. If it saves 1 minute on average per bus, that is a big time and cost saving. There are quite a few T intersections where the bus lane could be separated from general traffic and carry on through (unless a pedestrian is crossing).

    2. Only going to get worse with the new 30km/h limit. That’s 30km/h all the way from the Fanshawe offramp through to Britomart/Quay St and same for NX2.

  4. One thing that needs urgent improvement is stop spacing along frequent routes. With the New Network roll-out, many of the frequent routes are still using closely-spaced stops from the pre-Auckland Transport days, which adds to the dwell times and overall journey times.

    1. Definitely, given the success of the busway, surely it must be time to re-evaluate the decision to leave out the Onewa Bus Station.

  5. The first map looks a bit misleading to me. There must have been many more routes that were all but frequent, maybe they didn’t have good frequency at 7am on a Sunday or something like that. It makes the improvements look more impressive than they actually are, even though they are good improvements.

    1. It’s not misleading, really. There were additional corridors that had frequent level of service, like GNR, but this was delivered by multiple services. Problem with the latter is that it is relatively complex and often doesn’t support a connected network so well. Of course, there may have been a few routes that were on the threshold of being frequent, although not many from memory.

      1. Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd have had a high quality of bus service for years and they still have split routes. The only difference is they have replace the third digit with a letter and improved the service in the evenings (outside of the frequent requirements anyway). I can’t see why those corridors are on the new map but not the old.

        Also regarding corridors, the old map shows frequent along the EP Highway to Pakuranga. This was made up of about five different route numbers, none of which would have been frequent in the past, although they combined to provide a superior service to what we have now.

        1. Depends on how you define “high quality”. In this case both Dom Road and Mt Eden Rd don’t appear to have met definition of frequent service, probably because their off-peak and weekend frequencies were too low. Believe me, people aren’t as stupid/deceptive as you seem to think: when you look at the timetables for the old network you find many instances where there are gaps larger than 15minutes, even on corridors that you might think would qualify as frequent. Unless you have some done some detailed analysis of timetables to back up your reckons I’d err towards believing the map — because I know whoever put it together would have systematically analysed all of the timetables to make.

          Basically, I reckon your reckons are unsubstantiated.

        2. I don’t doubt the accuracy of the map at all. The issue is how it gives the impression of a dramatic improvement, when a number of routes were 95 % of the way to meeting the frequent definition anyway.

          I don’t have any old timetables, but I imagine the improvements on Dominion and Mt Eden Rds would be better service early on weekend mornings and removal of random 20 min gaps between services. This is an improvement, as is this whole NN, but not as dramatic as this map suggests.

        3. Thanks Roeland. A bit different to what I thought, but basically the same, Dominion Rd was about 95 % there as a frequent route anyway, frequent for six days of the week, and as close as you can get to being frequent without being frequent on Sundays.

          This is the kind of map managers love as it is technically correct but makes the improvements look dramatic when it is just an extra service each hour on a Sunday.

        4. If you define a frequent route as operating every 15mins from 7am to 7pm 7 days per week, then (rail lines aside) the map is accurate.

          If you define frequent service as something else, then the map will change. To say the map understates or overstates is vacuous and amounts to arguing around the maypole; it depends on definitions and that’s all there is to it. The map is accurate given the definitions adopted and the timetables that were being operated.

          As an aside, the reason the NN adopted this definition of frequent service is because 15-mins from 7-7 7 days per week seems (more research required in this space) to be the minimum that people will consider when thinking about location choice (home work school etc) and their ability to use PT. And that was important for planning and marketing purposes (almost tubes don’t make it onto tube maps!).

          That’s what the map seeks to show: decent PT service all day all week, before and after NN. And while there was a 4 billion % increase in frequent network coverage, no one suggested that would lead to a commensurate increase in patronage. IIRC patronage forecasts for the NN were in the order of +10-20%. Which, as an aside, is ballpark accurate given what is emerging from the patronage data reported on this Blog.

          Honestly there’s no deception or even misrepresentation involved. The NN has delivered more or less exactly what was promised, notwithstanding changes made due to consultation.

          Much more fruitful if people applied their energy to thinking about how it can be improved further rather than nit-picking, dilly-dallying about old maps!

        5. Dominion Rd services have had a dramatic improvement with the new network.

          The bus used to take 35mins to get into town, but now you can catch the direct 252/253 buses that only take 22mins. The old routes are more than 50% slower!
          I actually timed it once and it took 16 mins, so i think the timetable is conservative.

          This is what the new network is all about, frequent grid of fast routes, instead of the silly meandering route that the 25B/25L take.

      2. I don’t think it is deliberately misleading. But there were a lot of fairly frequent services that aren’t on the old map just because of the chosen definition of frequent (especially on the central isthmus).

      3. A main drawback before the new network was the lack of frequent services in the weekends. This is what you see on those maps. So yeah those maps are true, but they’re also not very interesting.

        The more interesting comparison would be the network during weekdays. On the western North Shore the only change to the frequent services between old and new were the numbers. While on the east you’d notice that they gained the 83.

        But also: look at eg. Dominion Road, supposedly one of the busiest bus routes. Did this really not have a frequent service yet?

        To give a specific example: lines 973 and 974 were renumbered to 97R and 97B. The running pattern however is exactly the same: between the split at Verrans Corner and the city there was a regular service, alternating between the two variants. If the old lines were counted as 2 separate lines but the new pair is counted as 1 line, then yes it is cheating.

        1. Why do you imply that more frequent services in the weekend isn’t a useful measure of an improved network, though?

          Yesterday we just missed a bus but were able to jog along a block and take another on a 3-trip journey to replace the 1-trip bus we’d missed, arriving at pretty much the same time. This was only possible because of the improved frequencies, making the transfers possible.

          Resilience like this on a Sunday is a hallmark of a more advanced network, and for many people, would make it possible to get rid of the car. Not that they necessarily know it yet. 🙂

        2. It is a useful measure, just not the most interesting one to show on a map. It is true that almost all frequent services usually ran at reduced frequency on Sunday, but even casual bus users knew that already.

          A map comparing the situations on weekdays or Saturdays would tell us the more subtle but also important improvements, for instance, were any frequent cross-town services before vs. after?

  6. So if the entire central city area is to be 30km/h (and other areas GA want changed) won’t that slow down buses even more?

    1. It depends: of course, there’s a small direct negative effect on speed, although buses don’t tend to travel more than 30km at the moment due to stops and lights etc.

      On the other hand, due to the 30km limit, some car traffic may now divert around the city centre rather than through, reducing congestion in the latter.

      Which effect dominates is hard to know at the moment?

      1. Yes everything slows down. Will of course add to the AT operating costs – additional driver hours, additional fuel burn, additional engine wear and tear, additional buses needed to cover the slower route journey times.

        1. Ah, but think of the happier bus drivers – driving in slower traffic is far less stressful. And dealing with accidents where someone is hurt is very unpleasant. So sick days and staff turnover will be down, reducing those costs. And the congestion that results from speed-caused traffic accidents will be down, too, leading to faster trips on days when an accident would have happened otherwise.

          Slower speed limits have been shown to shift mode share from driving to walking and cycling, removing those road users from the traffic congestion.

          I don’t know about the additional wear and tear argument at slower speeds, AKLDUDE. Where do you get that one from?

  7. Greater population coverage with more frequent new buses to nowhere isn’t much use to anyone. It is rather subjective depending on your destination. As long as you don’t have to transfer, its not too bad. When you need to transfer to get to many places and frequency is still low enough that you sit around waiting. Just ends up taking way too long to get anywhere. A fault of city layout as much as anything else.

    1. Frequent buses to nowhere? Do tell, which routes are you talking about? I don’t really understand your attitude: many of frequents connect suburban areas to town centres, schools, rapid transit lines, and other frequent lines. In doing so, they cater for a diverse range of travel demands at the same time.

      I guess that’s why patronage on regular buses is growing so fast? If the NN wasn’t doing useful things compared to the last network, then patronage wouldn’t be growing so much IMO.

  8. Text from my other half at Constellation Drive bus station this morning: ” As all the feeder buses have to stop on the other side of the station, the queue of buses was right around the corner, blocking the motorway buses…” We are excited by the more frequent service but it seems there might be teething troubles on the station end of things.

    1. To be fair that has always happened at Constellation, was doing that three years ago when I used to transfer there.

      1. So no excuses, then.They know of the issue, surely. Not a fault of the NN team, but I can think of a number of projects that shouldn’t have received funding before something as fundamental as this was sorted. The network relies on transfers, the transfers shouldn’t be holding up the buses.

        1. This became a problem about four years ago. Construction of the solution started three years ago. What more could we ask for?

        2. Maybe putting the focus on the busway improvements without having to have a motorway expansion project to justify it and slow it down?

      2. Actually I’ll retract my earlier comment. I’ve seen some photos on twitter that it is now much, much worse that the usual peak bus congestion.

  9. Would AT please be more specific where buses are going. Stand on K Rd for a bus and there are numerous saying just “City Centre.”
    Where is that? It turns all over the place including Mayoral Drive and Albert st.
    Not helpful.

    1. Don’t worry – they won’t stop for you anyway (the drivers assume that the first bus that turns up is the one for you and will ignore your arm waving at them)

    2. From out West they pretty much all finish on Victoria St West or near the intersections with that street I think (keeps moving with CRL works). Actually looks like some Town Hall stop as well.
      For Henderson type ones more Mayoral/back of Town Hall & Aotea Ctr etc, probably one of the ones you went on by the sounds. Good point though,most wayfinding maps are all about where to catch a bus and not where it ends when it comes to the city centre.

  10. I would like to add more to the list:

    – Improvement to Bus stops such as sheltering, seating and information
    – Improvement to way finding, there should be signs and information from local town centers that points people where is the bus stops and train stations
    – Improvement to Maps. The maps should have most routes on one page, and to be understood by an average person no more than 10 seconds.
    – At transfer points, consolidate fragmented small bus stops into a smaller set of bigger bus stops to help transfer.
    -Improve transfer by having better way finding and seamless connection
    – Change the way how punctuality is calculated on turn up and go routes to get rid of the incentive to slow down in order to meet timetable.

  11. “Auckland’s buses can be painfully slow, even when bus lanes exist.”

    Careful, here. The speed of all traffic, including buses, needs to come down on many streets. Bus drivers are obviously under pressure to be on time, because the speeds they sometimes use in narrow lanes next to narrow footpaths or lines of parked cars at children-heavy sports grounds are dangerous. Then there’s the red light running and too-fast corners. Only a small percentage of drivers are doing this, but it must be stopped and messages about speeding up the buses won’t help with this.

    The best question to ask is how is AT going to maintain the overall speed when the raw bus speed needs to come down in many cases. A lower bus speed that is reliably so does actually mean able bodied people can move about in the bus to get ready to disembark, but you’d need the reliably low bus speeds first. Generally I think the answers will be lots of bus priority measures, given that faster fare payment methods are out of the question for now.

    We need to push the bus priority measures – and the other things that can improve the speed of an overall journey, like smoother transfers – not bus speed.

    1. I see as many buses running red lights in the city centre as I do cars – and usually much more egregious.

      It’s not like you’re more noble for killing me in a bus rather than in a car – if you support slower traffic speeds in the city then you support slowing buses down also.

      1. AT needs to learn from NY. There, they made it a crime, with a small prison sentence, for any driver failing to stop at any pedestrian crossing. It was the bus drivers who fought the issue, but in fact their outcry was useful – it brought the new law to the attention of the general public, and it also resulted in the pressures on bus drivers being exposed. The union managed to get much better conditions for bus drivers, technical improvements to buses to improve visibility, so safety for pedestrians improved, and the law stands. As I understood recently, no pedestrian has been hit by a bus on a crossing since.

        In Auckland, the staff at AT are taking the issue seriously, and I was quite impressed with the results of my reporting a route where the bus drivers are regularly driving too-fast-for-the-conditions. (see part of the response, below) However, something major needs to happen to relieve drivers of the pressure to go fast (and to leave stops early). I have heard that this pressure results from a punitive contract that docks the companies heavily for delayed buses. What will empower the union to demand this gets altered? How can we support them? If nothing else does it, we obviously need the same law NY had. From AT:

        “I have reached out to the Bus Services Operations Team as well as the operator for the route (NZ Bus) and they have conducted an internal investigation.

        The outcome of the investigations from both the service operator, and an internal investigation at AT are now available. NZ Bus have confirmed that they have implemented a Performance Improvement Plan for the bus drivers involved for this route, which is a structured plan with relevant training to address the behaviour you reported. Unfortunately, the outcome of this plan is confidential under the employer and employee relationship, and NZ Bus are not in a position to share this information. However, please be assured that the behaviour has been managed appropriately.”

  12. While the PT network is not perfect, we have to admit that the improvements over the last 20 years is rather spectacular. I think the days of seeing PT as a last resort or the “loser cruiser” is over. I remember when I started to catch a bus to university (20 years ago now) the system was rather poor – frequency and the quality of the buses was really bad.
    If we are to make improvements then as indicated above frequency and reliability. Nothing worse than waiting for a bus that doesn’t show. Also new technology is also a must – I seen in Germany they are using driverless trams, something we should follow very closely.

    1. You are right. But I think many other cities/countries have made bigger strides than us.
      The two big investments were the rail and busway. Both great but not exactly that amazing over a 20 year period. Both were done on the cheap.
      We also got HOP and zone pricing – most other cities have too, its just a technology upgrade.
      The bus network (non NEX) hasn’t improved much other than the quality of the buses. I remember most of the Isthmus bus lanes being put in probably 20 odd years ago. The new network is an improvement but still the buses are slow. It is probably still quicker to drive almost anywhere other than the rapid networks.
      It kind of feels like things are improving – but unless you catch the train or the NEX the improvements have been little more than incremental.

      1. Well, I can’t talk for everywhere, but the changes since I got rid of my car over a decade ago, and now, have been massive, and that’s all due to the ‘other bus’ category improvements. Then, a 7-minute drive to my sister’s took two hours by bus, because the only option was into town and then out of town. Now, the same journey takes 7 minutes by bus with similar 7 minute walks at each end. Similarly, if I wanted to go anywhere other than where our one connector bus route took me, the connecting buses were so infrequent that the whole journey was a major effort. One I still did, with lots of educational material along the way for the kids, but not something most people would be able to consider. Now, I feel connected to the vast majority of the city.

        However, I agree with the main thrust of your argument that we should be expecting much more. I think that this and safety improvements should be getting the bulk of transport funding. Any journey that takes 3 times or longer by bus than by car should have immediate attention, followed by any journey taking 2 times as long, followed by 1.5 etc. Only when it’s faster by PT everywhere, and we’re well on our way to zero DSI, should funding for improving driving anywhere be considered.

        1. “Any journey that takes 3 times or longer by bus than by car should have immediate attention, …”

          +1. That is just far too long.

          An example is Mt Wellington to Eastern Beach type areas due to nothing going over the Waipuna Bridge where driving a car you would naturally go.

  13. Can anyone answer why in the Mt Albert upgrade, which was supposed to improve bus-train connection, there was no bus stop placed outside the entrance to the train station on Carrington Rd? Carrington Rd has two lanes of traffic, so traffic flow would have been affected, but traffic wouldn’t be halted completely. But traffic flow should not be a consideration, given that the road is parallel to the Waterview Connection, and was an ideal road to have road reduction to prevent traffic induction from that project.

    As it is, the transfer from train to bus (heading to Pt Chev, ie the clockwise Outer Link and the 66, both key frequent routes in the network) is substandard.

    It’s in projects like these that improvements to transfers should be given high priority. I think this is the next step required for the network. I agree with most of Kelvin’s points.

    1. Can’t be done, as that would mean a bus stop on the bridge. The current stops are probably about as close as they can be, bearing in mind safety.

        1. Traffic flow reasons are probably enough. There’s no way that bus bays could be provided, so a bus stopped in each direction simultaneously would severely impede traffic flow and result in blockage of the nearby major intersection. Would eastbound bus passengers actually gain anything by having to walk down to the intersection, cross over, then walk back? There’s nothing more discouraging than having to walk back to a point opposite where you started from, and many would simply risk crossing immediately after getting off the bus, as they do now.

          You might have better success in pushing for a ped crossing near the existing north side stop, because peds currently have little choice other than jaywalking across the road. I know, I’ve done it.

        2. Think through the traffic flow reasons, though, Neil. They actually support doing it, when you think about the need for vkt reduction to match the induced vkt from Waterview Tunnel. Not publicly tasteful, of course, but maybe it would be if they also were upfront about the longterm safety and congestion consequences of the vkt they have induced with the Waterview Tunnel.

          Road reduction measures to accompany any road expansion measures should be mandatory.

        3. I know but couldn’t think of a better term to describe a risky crossing of a heavy traffic road.

        4. Any reason they couldn’t put a staircase on the eastern side of the bridge, down to platform level?

          Journey Planner give 5 and 6 minute walking connections between bus and train. It’s hopeless. In fact it would be more than this – to avoid having to go through the (no bus priority) intersection on the bus and then walk back, you’d get off a stop earlier than what JP recommends, but it’s a longer walk.

          There are two lanes on the bridge in each direction. Elsewhere on Carrington Rd there is only one. This is the mindshift AT has to make – increasing the number of traffic lanes at the intersection just makes the intersection more dangerous for vulnerable users. The second lanes in each direction should be bus lanes/stops.

    2. The transfer from bus to train and vice-versa at the Sylvia Park end of the 66 route could do with improvement too. The 66 bus route is great, but the bus stop is on the opposite side of the mall to the train station, requiring a hike through the mall and up over the stairs above the train line to the station, which takes at least 5 minutes at a fast walk.

      And the 66 bus is every 15 minutes, train is every 10 minutes (at peak times), so while they’re both frequent services the time to connect between them fluctuates from about 1 to 15 minutes, depending on what time it is, which makes total trip duration quite variable.

      Apparently there are plans to move the bus stop next to the train station as part of the AMETI project, which sounds good, but does anyone know when that improvement is meant to occur?

      1. It seems unclear what the plan is for this spot. I suspect just some buses may come around the back here if any as there is a huge parking building going up at the back of the mall which will really destroy bus travel time reliability especially in the weekend. There were plans for bus lanes and special bus road from Sylvia Park Rd to avoid all the congestion & traffic lights out front for eg the 32 bus route.

  14. The Eastern New Network has been working quite well, I have found transfers at Pamure from the 70 to the 72 to be very smooth, with often no waiting at all. However there will need to be a few changes over the next 10 years:

    There is a question of how Pamure Town center will be served once the Eastern Busway is open. Will the 744, 743, and 751 provide frequent enough service, between the shops and the train station?

    When the Pamure-Pakuranga section of the Eastern Busway opens in 2020, I hope that the 712 becomes the frequent 71. This would make public transport an attractive prospect for the many car dependent residents of the Farm Cove-Eastern Beach area, while providing additional capacity on Pakuranga Rd.

    The 711 may also be a candidate for becoming a frequent route, however it is constrainted by an indirect route due to the lack of a bridge across the Pakuranga Creek in the vicinity of Reeves Rd.

    Once the CRL is open, the 72x should become obsolete.

      1. CRL takes care of that, as you could transfer from a 72 at panmure, onto a train, get off at K’rd and you are at the top of the CBD.

  15. Has anyone got good ideas for how to properly service the North West between Westgate and Constellation?

    The current 120 doesn’t run frequently enough and probably isn’t busy enough to justify increased frequency, but few people use it because there aren’t really any other decent services or connections. Looking at that population coverage map the West Harbour, Hobsonville and Greenhithe areas look like they’ve been completely ignored.

    We either need to charge for P&R so these people can park at Constellation and (in the future) Westgate, or provide a decent service to these areas to reduce car dependency. It seems crazy to make a new dense suburb like Hobsonville completely car dependent.

      1. No, sat 20 minutes in a queue between Sunnynook and Constellation.
        the busdriver said ‘sorry, were in a queue. Say thanks to Auckland transport for their new great network, this is your new daily commute’.

        Hmm if this continues the PR fiasco will be enormous.

        We first had the failure that is Westgate for the Northwest (Aucklans most expansive area), where AT struggle to get 10% occupancy on its feeder network and loose a tonne of money?
        Now adding 20 minutes to any peakhour at Constellation drive due to busway jams.
        You cant make it up. Its that bad. My bus was at an almost complete standstill for 20 minutes before I got into Constellation drive. Shaking my head at the incompetency of the people that create new networks. Something tells me they have never worked at a successful local transport company outside Britain, South Africa or NZ…

        1. The problem is that most transport planners dont use public transport to get to and from work. Lets take the cars away from AT executives and staff and make using the product they want everyone else to use a part of their employment contract.

        2. As I understand it, the New Network team are PT users. They don’t seem to have any influence over transfer points and wayfinding, though. So the part of AT that needs our focus, are the ones who could direct the setting up of a transfer and wayfinding team, and the reallocation of funding to it from the distended road expansion budget.

  16. Returning to the need to tag off…. one possible solution in a variation of the one used in London. Basically all bus journeys are a single flat fare. Tag on with your Oyster Card and no need to tag off. This approach may need a bit of tweaking to suit Auckland especially on routes such the. NEX but it shouldn’t be too difficult to work up a sensible proposal.

  17. Constellation Station massive wait time getting into bus station from town. Completely backed up. Bus traffic jams

  18. OK, so is the problem that the buses can’t exit properly onto Constellation Drive? Or is it the problem that there’s not enough platform room when all the busway buses and feeder buses need platforms?

    If it’s the former, is the problem that the cars from the park and ride cut through to Constellation Drive via Parkway Drive (the bit that heads NW) and even have priority over the buses coming out of the station? If so, I hope tomorrow they block cars from this bit of Parkway Drive.

    If it’s the latter, should the feeder buses have their own platforms on the road that comes into the station, and not have to come into the station proper?

    Seems to me, that park and ride space should be reallocated to excellent bus, cyclist and pedestrian access to the station, like we’ve been asking for.

    1. Problem seemed to be every NX, even those heading northbound, seemed to now be required to loop de loop around to offload at the platforms on the busway side. So then buses trying to head off again (and circulate around again to go north!) cant move because there are queues of buses around the loop waiting for that bus to move. Too much circulation.

  19. Changes to timetabling of Devonport Loop 807 – the purpose of which is to meet ferry – means bus now leaves 1 minute before ferry arrives – so empty bus, people walking.

  20. Selection of North Shore facebook pages are showing that people’s experience today was a very mixed bag. I had a completely sweet run down from Browns Bay via Albany around 8 and smooth coming back at 4:30, and so did many others. But Albany Bus Station was clearly struggling with handling the number of buses jockeying to get a stop. My 83 had to wait 3-4 minutes to set down. But that was nothing compared to the 20+ bus jam at Constellation later tonight. Classic case of giving a lot of riders a very negative experience. I have long been sceptical that the basic design of both Albany and Constellation bus stations were flawed and insufficient if the number of buses grew. Not sure if there are any easy short-term fixes, but wondering that if frequency is to be improved further (which it needs to) then functionality of these bus stations is going to have to be seriously looked at.

    1. Lets hurry up and get either trams or rail accross the harbour and using the express way which has been designed to do just that in the future.
      Well, the future is here now!!

    2. Looking at some comments from the AT facebook pages, there are a lot of frustration from people who used to have a direct bus from the door now removed. In some case people have a much longer journey time as a result.

      1. It would be amazing if this wasn’t the case. You rarely hear from people like my partner, who’s commute to the Viaduct from One Tree Hill is much improved from the last time she had a contract there.

        1. I reckon a quick email from her to the NN team would be well-placed today, Errol. I think I might do the same, given how much the NN has improved my transport.

      2. In his book Human Transit chapter 12 Jarrett Walker says
        “What you really want is direct service to where you are going.And if you have such a service now and I take it away and require you to make a connection instead, you are going to be mad at me”

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