A New Zealand-first rideshare scheme called AT Local has launched in Devonport.
Three electric vans and three electric cars are travelling around the Devonport peninsula, picking up passengers and taking them to and from the Devonport, Bayswater or Stanley Bay ferry terminals.
AT Local aims to make the first and last leg of a public transport journey easier, giving the people of Devonport even more incentive to use the ferry services.
This is the first on-demand rideshare service in New Zealand using only electric vehicles, and among the first in the world.
Passengers can order the vehicles on the specially developed AT Local app to pick them up from a nearby corner. Passengers can either schedule a pick up or choose to be picked up immediately.
The vehicles operate within a 3km radius of the Devonport ferry terminal on the lower Devonport peninsula and it costs $2.50 per ride.
AT Local will run for a year as a trial to test whether it’s a viable way to get people to and from the ferry and other local destinations, free up parking and reduce the number of cars on the road.
The $2.50 is an introductory price with it changing to $3 from February.
Below is a map of the area covered.
Below are some of my thoughts on this.
Devonport already a captive PT market
If the congestion on Lake Rd isn’t enough to encourage people to find better ways of getting to the ferry terminal for an alternative then paying for a shuttle certainly won’t make a difference.
It doesn’t address parking
AT claim in their video that one of the reasons for needing this service is that there is limited parking around the ferry terminals, which is true, but they’re also not doing anything to try and manage that. Where parking exists, it is still free and it seems crazy that they’d charge people to be dropped off but not to park at the door. Talk about getting priorities wrong.
No HOP integration
AT have spent years and hundreds of millions to get HOP to where it is today, a transport card that can be used on any PT service in the region. They’ve been incredibly successful at it too with around 90% of all PT trips being made using HOP, although that number is just under 50% for ferries where Fullers have their own parallel fare systems. This new service doesn’t accept HOP.
There may well be valid reasons for not including it, such as the cost to make the changes to the HOP system, but it feels like they’re ignoring/breaking their own systems just to rush this out.
Devonport is one of the wealthiest areas of Auckland but even so, I can’t see too many people wanting to shell out $3 (from Feb) for a ride along with another $4.80 for the ferry trip. If I was living there and were going to pay for a service to get to/from the ferry, I think I’d rather use a more fun method such as a lime scooter.
One thing I haven’t been able to find out, is the $3 fare for the shuttle per person or per booking. While I assume it’s per person, it isn’t clear on ATs site.
The service is going to cost AT and the NZTA almost $1 million tor run for the year. AT say they expect about 1,400 trips a week from the service, that’s about 73k trips annually which means about $220k in fares. That would give a farebox of about 22% which is well below the 50% target other services need to achieve. Personally, I think they’ll be luck to get half that number of trips.
This isn’t to say the 50% farebox recovery policy is good but it will mean more pressure on AT and could mean they increase fares elsewhere to make up for it. Basically this is a nice big subsidy for one of the wealthiest areas.
On a related topic, I asked AT how AT will evaluate the outcomes to see if it’s worth continuing. Here’s what they said
Kia ora, we have four key measurements:
•Customer usage (number of trips)
•Level of customer satisfaction with the service
•Getting people out of their cars
•How this system could be used in other parts of Auckland
We are forecasting 1,400 trips per week. ^JN
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) November 23, 2018
In response to further questioning, they said that the “getting people out of their cars” will simply be a survey
Fix the network basics first
There are always competing demands for funding but in my view, getting the basics right should come a long way before trialling services like this. For example, AT still haven’t built much needed bus to bus interchange shelters. There are plenty more examples out there of what AT could be focusing on improving that would likely drive more ridership than this.
Will any changes be made to the buses that currently run the Devonport routes
Overall it feels like AT are chasing the shiny new object rather than focusing on transport policy and delivery.