Public transport fares have been a hot topic this year following Auckland Transports announcement in January that they were putting them up again to cover increasing costs, in part because more people are using PT. Increasing fares at the same time as we want a lot more people to use public transport isn’t a great strategy and in March, our friends at Generation Zero called for AT to freeze fares and for the NZTA to review their farebox policy. As part of this they also suggested some targeted ways fares could be reduced.

The Council, championed by Councillor Chris Darby, have been looking at these and other options to see what could be done to lower fares. Todd Niall at Stuff reports:

Aucklanders could enjoy cheaper public transport trips from early next year under a plan to be decided soon by councillors.

Three ideas, including free weekend travel for under-15s, have emerged from wider work aimed at boosting patronage, and make public transport more accessible.

Other proposals are to accelerate the introduction of cheaper ferry fares if combined with a bus or train trip, and offering a bigger discount to students.

The plan canvassed by councillors at a workshop on Tuesday, could lift patronage by 1.3 million trips a year, and cost $2.8 million.

Allowing under-15s to travel free on weekends would lose revenue of $643,000 but could generate 989,000 additional trips.

A proposal to lift the student discount from 20 per cent to 25 per cent would cost $1.69m but could add 124,000 trips

Providing discounted ferry fares, where they connect with a bus or train trip for electronic card users, would cost $502,000 but could add 180,000 journeys.

Ferry Fare Integration is technically possible now, but hadn’t been planned for another couple of years.

It’s not clear just how deep the analysis goes and whether the ‘lost revenue’ and extra trips takes into account that there is likely to be additional revenue from more parents travelling with their kids who are doing so for free.

Based on a quick back of the envelope calculation, the under 15s travelling for free option is also a really good example of how distorted many of the conversations around transport are. For example, building more park & ride is often touted as a great way to get more people using PT so let’s compare that. Spending $643k annually over a 30-year period (not including inflation) is $19.2 million and would generate just under 30 million trips. Instead, let’s say you could front load that and spend it all immediately. That could allow you to build about 965 at grade carparks, many fewer if a carparking building – this also doesn’t include operational costs like lights, cleaning etc. Assuming each carpark will generate about 2 trips per working day that means about 480k trips a year and about 14.5 million over a 30 year period. In other words, if our goal is to increase PT ridership, we get about twice the return on doing it this way than we would by putting it into parking.

We could also compare that to ATs subsidised taxi/rideshare trial in Devonport which is costing them $1.3 million and has just hit a record of 838 people in a week. By comparison the 989k extra trips for the under 15s would be adding just over 19k per week.

Some of the other options considered are also listed in Todd’s article:

A long list of patronage-boosting ideas remain on a future ‘to-do’ list, but many are much more expensive.

Free weekend and public holiday travel would cost more than $19m, generating an additional 3.5 million trips.

Another patronage-booster would be capping the amount that could be spent in one day – effectively an unlimited day pass – which could cost $6.43m but add 1.69 million trips.

I hope there was more to the long list than just these two, e.g. off-peak discounts, weekly caps, concessions for those on low incomes etc.

Based on this information, there does seem to be an element of what’s cheapest instead of what provides the best outcome in all of this. A quick calculation of the cost per extra ride generated shows that the student option is the most expensive by far. This is shown below.

  ProposalCost per added trip
  Under 15s free on weekends$0.65
  Ferry fare integration$2.79
  Daily Cap$3.80
  Free Weekends and public holidays$5.43
  Increased student discount$13.63

It’s not clear what the next steps are for this. Any extra funding to implement any of these would likely need to come from council or the government. However, despite learning in April that the NZTA were reviewing their farebox recovery policy, there’s no word on if or when it will change.

Even if NZTA does drop the farebox recovery policy, there might not be much available funding to help pay for services or fares. This is because, as I found out in my recent OIA of NZTA, about $200 million of cost of the Northern Busway Extension has been moved out of the state highways funding bucket, where it previously sat, and into the fund used to pay for public transport services and smaller PT improvements like bus lanes. At the very least this project should be funded from the Rapid Transit activity class, especially given they don’t appear to be doing much to deliver light rail.

Hopefully it is something that we’ll hear more about soon, including with some more depth along with how the council and NZTA will fund it.

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  1. Its presently just too expensive and often considerably slower, lately I just bike at all costs even if my bike needs maintenance or I am not feeling upto it even though I live 3 mins walk from a train station and it would be handy at times…

    $1 per zone for adults is more then enough at peak, less for off-peak as its considerably less useful outside of peak times.

    It annoys me when a bunch of people say “its fine”, obviously they are just well off and couldn’t care about everyday people who struggle to get by… if you cant get to your work, you cant get paid, transport is an extremely vital service to many people.

    1. Like everything else about Auckland’s PT system, the pricing was clearly designed for people working 9-5 white collar jobs in the CBD.

      1. I’m not sure how you can conclude that, at least not the white collar CBD bit. The pricing system penalises trips to the CBD with extra costs, so that suburban trips across town can be far cheaper.

        1. Yep and it ends up somewhat regressive for people living in the centre. (With a student fare) taking 4min 105 trip to Freeman’s Bay =$1.50 Taking 1hr train ride to Sunnyvale =$3.75

          He’s right that it’s designed for commuters though. In my opinion the city/isthmus zone boundary should be looked at for how it affects mobility of city centre residents who are less likely to own cars,and to increase pt mode of inner suburbs where there is already high SOV traffic.

        2. You’re right in that the CBD zone does penalise (in terms of price) those starting or ending their journey. However this is offset against convenience: It is far easier to start or end a journey in the CBD than anywhere else. In fact for some cross-town journeys it’s faster to travel into the CBD then back out again.

          Of course the CBD, as the densest part of the city, is always going to have the best PT access. I don’t have a problem with that. My main gripe is that the operating hours of the PT system prevent journeys outside regular office hours. For example traveling from Panmure to the airport to catch a 0700 domestic flight on a weekday shouldn’t require (according to the AT Journey Planner) catching a bus the day before.

        3. Agree with LogarithmicBear, bus service on the North Shore for example is all about connecting people via the Northern busway to the CBD. If you want to go anywhere else on the Shore then your route is often slower, less frequent and more disjointed (forced connections at the Northern busway nodes) than it was previously and relatively expensive for the distances involved.

    2. I don’t think you are the type of user they need to target as you already cycle.
      For anyone driving into the city or other high density areas, price can’t be that much of an issue because driving and parking already costs a fortune. The price difference between PT and driving is probably $10 a day or more – dropping PT fares by a few cents is unlikely to make a difference.
      For anyone driving to other areas, its quite unlikely that there would be a good door to door PT option, so dropping price isn’t going to make much of a difference when driving is so much more convenient.

  2. If the goal is improving transport in Auckland, then building patronage on-peak is worth more than off-peak. Generating an extra journey off-peak benefits the rider, who enjoys the extra journey. But off-peak, this doesn’t contribute at all to reducing congestion because roads are not congested off-peak.

    Generating an extra on-peak journey also benefits the rider but often also takes a car off very congested roads, which benefits all other travelers as well. So – I don’t know how you’d price that wider benefit – but trip-for-trip, taking one car off the road by generating one extra journey at peak times is worth more than taking a car off the road at off-peak.

    1. In your calculation, extra park-and-rides are only half as effective as the under 15s discount. But park and rides generally target peak hour travel. If they can generate new peak hour travel at $0.65*2=1.30 each, that sounds quite worthwhile.

      1. Have a look at the safety situation for kids in South Auckland, Ben, in the areas around the park and rides. The park and rides don’t offer these kids any way to get to the station – whereas investment in feeder buses, safety measures and active mode infrastructure would. Furthermore, the traffic induced to the park and rides is making the traffic safety situation worse for them. Those in the lowest socioeconomic areas have a 3 times higher risk of traffic injury than kids in the highest socioeconomic areas.

        The park and rides are hindering other people getting to the station at a rate that is unsupportable. They are PT-wash, and a sop to the car dependents. They both hinder children’s independent mobility and they use funds that could be improving their independent mobility.

        I’d love to see you campaign on this front, Ben. Have a look at Takanini School’s concerns with all the speeding, dangerous traffic… having had the traffic doubled in the last 8 years due to badly designed transport infrastructure for the badly designed sprawl, they’re now facing a park and ride at the station which will make it even more dangerous.

        1. “The park and rides don’t offer these kids any way to get to the station”

          Every park ‘n ride in Auckland has pedestrian and cycling access.

          “Those in the lowest socioeconomic areas have a 3 times higher risk of traffic injury than kids in the highest socioeconomic areas.”

          That’s because those neighbourhoods are full of families happy to leave their two year old child playing the middle of the street whilst the parents are inside watching TV. It’s a bad parenting issue, not an infrastructure one.

        2. Traffic calming around Takanini School sounds like a great idea, and I’d love to see more feeder buses around suburban train stations. I might even use it myself in Papakura when I go to visit my folks out there.

      2. Ben, park and rides don’t generate new peak hour travel. It’s a myth that they intercept these long important car trips and shift them to PT.

        Over 90% of park and ride users live within 4km of the lot. Around two-thirds of park and ride users previously or would otherwise just use PT for their whole trip.

        For the most part, park and ride reduces PT use and increase driving, they take people off feeder buses and express routes more than they take people off the road.

        1. How are those figures determined? Has AT collected P&R vehicle regos then figured out from vehicle register addresses the distances travelled by P&R users. It would be interesting to see this graphed using those stats.

        2. Yes. A combination of surveys analysing vehicle registrations (to figure our where people are coming from) and intercept survey (to find out what people would do as an alternative to pnr).

        3. So if not park ‘n ride at Swanson, what do you suggest residents up Scenic Drive or out at Bethells Beach do? Drive all the way to work?

          Or are you saying new bus routes should be developed along Scenic Drive and out to Bethells Beach?

      3. Yes based on our evaluation models peak trips are considered more valuable than off-peak ones but I think that’s thinking is somewhat flawed. Taken to it’s conclusion we wouldn’t provide any off-peak service but doing so actually harms got many peak trips you can generate. For example, I know of many who won’t use PT, even though they could, because “what if I need to pick my kid up urgently from school” (sick), or “I have a meeting and PT is too infrequent so I need my car”. Yes there are also other ways around some of these issues but not everyone has the financial ability to use them.
        I think there’s also wider issues at play here. Getting more people using PT, even on weekends, helps normalise PT use and makes it much more likely people will use it for things like peak commutes. It can also make it more viable for people to drop a car.

        On a separate note, I was speaking the developer if a large suburban office area the other day. They sell at grade carparks to people who work there for a min of $50 a week. Yet he says they lose money on them and only do it as a loss leader. Yet free P&R is considered economically good. Granted they’re assessed different ways but we probably need a bit of recalibration

        1. In other words, the reality of complex trip-linking across time periods that gives rise to tours means that you can’t arbitrarily say that off-peak PT journeys are not linked to peak journeys.

          Getting people to use PT for one journey in such a your can catalyst wider changes in travel patterns that are hard to predict.

          Analysis of improvements to evening span of bus services in Melbourne for example found they not only carried more people in the evening, but also caused more trips earlier in day, some of which were in peak.

      4. Also, given the fact that PNR is not priced, they tend to fill up very early by people who either start early or have the flexibility to start early. Hence, these cars are not removed from the peak, but from the pre-peak shoulder.

        1. OTOH they could be filling up early simply because they are not large enough to cater for numbers of vehicles wanting to use them.
          Pricing may remove short distance travelled vehicles thus making space for those from more distant locations.

    2. Yeah but PT is extremely slow compared with other modes outside of peak for the most part. As unfortunately we don’t have any high speed services… so why would people pay a premium for that? Thats why off-peak use is significantly lower, might as well charge less and have more people using otherwise near-empty services.

      1. Yes, that’s why we need to either make the travel speed faster than cars, or reduce the off peak fare to compensate it.

        The current off peak service/fare ratio is not competitive at all, that’s why the off peak patronage is low.

    3. Not so fast there Ben.
      1. Peak traffic congestion reduction is not the only, or even first goal of PT.
      2. Benefits to the user, access to to employment, education, society are indeed valuable in themselves for all of society well being and prosperity.
      3. The next peak journey is the single most expensive additional journey to provide, whereas there is both spare capacity off peak already, and adding more is much lower capex and opex cost than at peaks.
      4. Additionally, encouraging offpeak travel with incentives; better frequencies, fare discounts, can shift the load from an undesirable peaky demand pattern. Making a more reliable and efficient service and cheaper easier to provide.

      Over focus on the peak is generally considered to be a sign of a poorly performing transit agency, and, worse, a poorly structured city (over separated living and working zones, structural autodependency). And is, sadly, a chief characteristic of those US cities struggling with many problems including falling ridership… bring on off peak discounts and consistent all day 10 min frequencies.

    4. You don’t have to take a car off the road to improve transport, just giving someone the ability to travel and access things that they might not have been able to do previously is an improvement.

      1. This is my view on the matter, it’s about increasing mobility and access, not about reducing traffic. If you are asking public transport to fix traffic you are asking the wrong question.

        Take the northern busway for example. It now carries 40% of peak trips along the SH1 corridor, however it has done that by increasing the number of people that can travel at the same time.

        The motorway was full to capacity before the busway, remains full to capacity now, and presumably will continue to be. There has not been one iota of traffic reduction from busway. Certainly many individuals would have switched from driving to using the busway, I know a few myself, but equally just as many people have started driving at peak times to take their place and there is just as much traffic as before.

        Same congested traffic before and after, *but* an extra 10,000 people now travel along the SH1 corridor at peak times. So the benefits of PT are largely endogenous from and to the PT users. Do transit because you want people to be able to use transit. If you want to reduce traffic, then you have to reduce traffic capacity or limit access.

        1. Nick, that the Nortern motorway remains full to capacity is most likely due to the huge population increase on the Shore.
          I really struggle with your concept that PT won’t reduce traffic and what evidence supports it. Milan in 2015 introduced a comprehensive model to substantially change mode share.
          Surely you can’t be saying that Auckland is forever consigned to 85% mode share?

        2. London has a 20% driving mode share and heavy congestion. Other cities have even lower driving mode sahres and terrible congestion. Public transport doesn’t reduce congestion, it makes congestion optional.

        3. Sailor Boy, the last car mode share that I saw for London was 37%.
          London was making good progress in reducing congestion in the city and then they allowed Uber and taxi with no congestion charge. All components have to work together to reduce congestion.
          In Auckland we have components working against eac other. Low or no parking prices and high PT fares. Little wonder we lag the world in reducing mode share.

        4. I think an important factor Nick R & Sailor Boy aren’t saying is:
          All other things being equal is that you will get a reduced peak congestion “length of time”. Commuters generally would of had to leave earlier or later to avoid the peak peak congestion and/or the commute would just taken a real long time if there was no Northern Busway. Visualise the congested queue would of got longer and longer. Just as “congested” but would stretch throughout the day more. City growth involving trips through the area would of been stunted too, or for all of NZ for that matter in some small way. Happy to be corrected on this but I think this is correct.

        5. In saying that, there would be some sort of natural long term commute time limit that people would put up with. It could only get so bad before people would just move to another part of Auckland or NZ. This natural limit could vary by country, culture or a different sort of mentality. Some geographical areas may be so desirable that commuters would put up with more…hence the lifestyle property where people commute for 2hrs in the morning. This all sounds familiar to me now as been sort of discussed before on this blog. IIRC these is probably an international average commute time limit figure.

        6. Johnwood, no I’m absolutely not saying anything about modeshare. I’m talking about the actual amount of traffic, and my position is basically this: “we will pretty much always have exactly as much peak traffic as we provide capacity for, regardless of how little or how much public transport usage we have”.

          Modeshare can and does change with more PT use, but that doesn’t mean there is necessarily any less driving. What we’ve seen in Auckland is very strong modeshift without any less traffic.

          Take the busway for example, it now has a 40% modeshare of peak trips over the bridge, up from 7% on the bus before it opened… *but* that’s all come by growing the pie and moving more people at the same time, it hasn’t come from any less traffic at peak, just vastly increased bus usage.

          I would be interested to see how Milan changed modeshare, if they just boosted PT use that would change modeshare regardless of traffic levels. If they actually reduced traffic my guess is it came from a suite of road diets, road pricing, parking changes and other factors to push people away from driving.

          The population growth is a factor indeed, and we’ve had strong population growth across all parts of Auckland and that is unlikely to change in the forseeable future. We are starting from a base of far, far more people wanting to drive at peak than can physically fit. That’s the definition of congestion.

          So reducing traffic and increasing public transport are two fairly separate concepts with different input factors and outcomes. Either one alone can cause a change in modeshare. From what I can find there is a very poor causal relationship between increasing public transport use and actually reducing car use, and in my opinion people who try to use public transport for the goal of ‘fixing traffic’ are destined to fail. The better goal is ‘avoiding traffic in the first place” or “moving more people in the same corridors”.

          Its fair that I’m talking mostly about the level of driving at peak, and not so much about how long that peak goes for. I can see the logic whereby improving peak PT capacity can reduce the length of the driving peak. But I can’t see how it will reduce the intensity of the peak point.

          Grant, the thing you’re talking about is the Marchetti Constant. Apparently the “natural” limit on human commuting is roughly an hour, generally speaking.

  3. You want to discourage public transport use then make it too expensive vs what it’s perceived advantages are, i.e. like now.

    Make it half the price and the advantage is so great Park n Rides to attract users to give that advantage would not be needed.

    I agree with Ben, targeting off peak is pointless unless stat manipulation for the sake of it is the objective.

    And free travel in reality only attracts problem people that makes PT unattractive to the masses.

    1. Focusing only on peak public transport means focusing only on people in full time employment.
      That means not stay at home parents with young children or anyone with part time jobs or studying. It is hard enough getting out the door with small children without knowing that if you miss this train/bus that it will be another hour before the next one comes along and that’s assuming it’s not running a few minutes early. Then add on to that drivers in a rush who won’t wait for you and your child to sit down before driving off and won’t help with getting a child and a pushchair onboard, no way I’m travelling peak time unless I have to with a small child.
      When I lived in London no one bothered with timetables for the Underground because everyone knew if you turned up there would be a train along soon. Worst case scenario 12 or 15 minutes tops because you arrived at the platform just as one pulled out. All you had to remember was when the last train ran and if you missed that then you had to figure out which night bus to jump on to get home.

    2. I am in the process of examining very high ridership public transport in European cities. I haven’t yet found a model that is premised on off peak discounts. Can they all be wrong? I suspect Ben is right. The most important for growing ridership is the person who rides at least 10 times a week, the commuter. Also, induce them to travel more. What about competitively priced monthly and yearly passes?
      I wonder whether this Council initiative is based on expert advice or whether it is a feel good factor.

      1. “I haven’t yet found a model that is premised on off peak discounts.”

        London has the enormous majority of ridership off peak, largely driven by huge off peak discounts. Only about half of all passengers are commuting and many off those travel off peak.

        1. London at 37% mode share is good, but not outstanding. As you say they have not been able to fix car congestion, but from my limited experience that is due to inadequate public transport at peak.

      2. From the systems I’ve dug into they seem to be very much an “all you can eat” subscription model. Less about peak vs. off-peak and more about travel anytime, anywhere is covered.

        For example, Vienna has an annual unlimited use pass for 365 euros, while a single trip is 2.4 euros. I wouldn’t be surprised in a large majority of the residents were all on the unlimited annual pass.

  4. I hope they seriously consider a youth fare to replace the student fare. The hassle of getting the student card registered is a barrier. Research shows that many people are incorrectly understanding what their fares are – many look at the cash fare, not the HOP fare, and people who could get discounts don’t look at what those fares would be. They also calculate their car costs incorrectly, often. The more that can be made transparent, the more people will understand the financial benefits.

    Also, why would anyone think to exclude the youth who are not in school or tertiary training? Is someone imagining these youth are in cushy, well-paid jobs? They’re the kids we most need to try to re-engage by providing opportunities for connection – whether it leads to a job or just to a hobby.

    1. Heidi – I used to work at the AT customer service call centre, in part helping to load the HOP card discounts. The system was absolutely painful, especially for the Uni students, who have to go through about 4 hoops to get their discount, or the elderly that had to get to a customer service centre. Many suburbs are absolutely miles from a customer service centre. Yes, you may get some fraud, but it would just be far more efficient if the whole system was done online

      1. I think you should just be able to buy a child’s card, and to buy a youth card. Kids paying adult prices because their Mum doesn’t have a computer and doesn’t have time to go to a customer service centre… mad inequity.

        1. the likelihood is they end up paying cash – people I know have had drivers give child tickets to them aged 24 in this situation, probably because they acknowledge the sting paying through the nose for a basic necessity. Obviously doesn’t happen every time though and it must hurt a lot of people’s pockets.

        2. Snapper sell child cards, odd that AT-Hop can’t.

          Strange that the supposedly superior Hop card is so backward in a number of respects that even Snapper does better (or maybe more accurately its AT that’s backward …)

        3. Gk, you could try make your snapper boosterism a little less obvious. Its perfectly possible for AT to sell a child HOP card. AT policy prevents it, not HOP technology. The same is true of any capping system, any off peak fare system, or any concessions. Those are fare policy, not ticketing technology issues.

        4. “or maybe more accurately its AT that’s backward …”

          Sailor, I guess you didn’t read/understand this bit, which hints very strongly that some of the poor aspects of Hop are due to AT policy decisions. Given that GWRC are laughably behind in most things to do with ticketing & fares, if they can do it then no reason AT can’t…

          Sure Hop is overall better than Snapper but poor customer unfriendly decisions on the part of AT mean that isn’t as good as it should be. This badly damaged the image of Hop outside of Auckland & meant there wasn’t much public support for its deployment as a nationwide system (unfortunate as technically its not a bad system).

          These were some of the cracks that GWRC subsequent drove wedges into – Project NEXT (Never Ending, eXtremely Tedious).

        5. +1,000,000
          So much barrier their system…though very slight improvements have been made.

          Can’t just buy a child card early Saturday morning for a 99c weekend trip as you have load concession online after registering the card & wait 72 hours or something or go to a customer service centre…is this instant?

      2. When I was in uni, my school had a contract with the local PT agency so whereby every student got a free bus pass every semester. All you had to do was turn up to the student union and show your student ID. This didn’t even cost anything to the uni as it was a small amount added to student fees.
        In Auckland’s case it doesn’t have to be full system freedom, but could be -2 zones per trip or something like that.

        1. In Palmerston North your student/staff ID card is your Go card, simple as that. All Massey and UCol students (and staff) automatically get free travel. I presume it’s some RFID type thing.

          HOP is presumably much fancier, but surely the universities and schools can give them out and assist with setup.

        2. Some Wellington schools have Snapper school ID cards that give child fares when used on the bus.

      3. Sounds like AT could learn from GW. Tertiary concessions as easy as: Click on link in email inviting you to apply for concession (sent to all enrolled students), enter Snapper card number, concession applied within 24hr …

        Only need a sticker on Student ID if you want to buy cardboard 10-trips for rail or ferry (disintegrated ticketing … fun) & those are easy to get from uni/polytech/etc, no need to go to a service centre.

  5. Wish somebody would tell GWRC how expensive parknride is for how few trips it generates. Waikanae, Parematta, Petone, Waterloo are all having their potential walk up catchment areas turned into more and more carparking.

    1. I wish they could look at investment decisions through the eyes of a pre-teen or young teenager. These young people need independent mobility; they need access to their city.

      By investing in park and rides, there is:
      – less money available for feeder bus services
      – fewer passengers using the feeder bus services
      – poorer access for the feeder bus services

      so the feeder bus services end up being quite substandard, leaving the kids with no access.

      It’s investment decision-making that’s in stark contradiction to the GPS, and I hope the Ministry intervenes soon with a blanket rule. Similar reasoning around active mode infrastructure, too.

      1. Heidi I fully agree. There is a serious issue here of inter generational justice generally in Transit fares and concessions. Here’s an example:

        My 18 year old daughter is on a gap year in London, earning £9 an hour in hospo. and pays full fare to TfL, which is seriously not cheap, flats a fair way out cos even semi-affordable housing is scarce… depends on buses and trains for employment.

        My older sister also lives in London, owns a business and an inner city home within walking distance of her office. Free travel on TfL services based on age alone. (Also gets local resident subsidised parking, which is really whack, in my view).

        In this example it clearly feels a bit backwards. And I obviously wish the best for both these people. Of course there will be other elderly people for whom the free travel is a life saver, and that’s important. My point is not to attack that, but rather I think the cost on young people bad and wrong (and LND Transit is v expensive esp by European standards). And destructive for building a strong and civil society.

    2. Add Porirua to the list too. Sad to see scarce PT funding pissed away on P&R when the feeder buses are so poor (e.g. main Kapiti routes hourly base frequency).

  6. Serious question – is AT actually in any postion to manage another jump in patronage? I got caught up in the 3pm snafu at Newmarket yesterday, where a single trespasser at that station brought the entire rail network to a shuddering halt for an hour right during the school run rush, with platforms jammed with schoolkids trying to get home.

    The public announcement were, as per AT normal standards, hopelessly inaccurate – when you could hear them over over the background noise.

    One trespasser (I hope that means someone actually on the tracks rather than a serial fare evader refusing to get off a train) simply should not bring the entire rail network to a halt for an entire hour. If AT cannot swiftly restore service in a matter of minutes in such a scenario can they really, from a customer service perspective, accept another leap in patronage?

    1. I was at New Lynn travelling to Sturges Road in the “Recovery Phase”.
      The PID did not show the full train that arrived. It was showing another to arrive in 13 minutes. The one that arrived was very crowded.

  7. Good to hear that lower fares are being discussed at a Council level. Hopefully AT take note.
    Peak services are often busy, and there’s not much opportunity currently to simply add more capacity.
    Off peak there is currently plenty of capacity. And boosting off peak patronage via lower fares may even shift those currently travelling in the peak times to the off peak.
    I disagree with Ben & Waspman – targeting the off-peak is one of the easy wins AT can achieve now.
    Off peak PT often can’t compete time wise with journeys via car, so making it cheaper will then make it a more realistic option to many people.
    Families going out for whatever reasons on the weekend etc where time is not such a crucial factor for deciding travel, but cost is.

  8. I’m struggling to understand how an increased student discount could cost $13-odd per added trip. Does it relate to the fact that much student travel is at peak hours and requires disproportionate extra peak capacity? Even then, an extra peak-hour bus full of 50 students costing $650? Does that assume that is all the extra bus does all day? If so, then that may be overly conservative.

    Maybe I’ve completely misunderstood. Would be good to have more detail as to how this was calculated.

    1. That’s just the cost of providing it divided by the extra trips it generates. My guess is the model says most students are already using PT so increasing the discount won’t add that many extra trips

    2. It would be mostly less recovery from the high number of existing trips, that’s also why it seems less effective in terms of ‘trips added’

  9. Reducing off peak fares really is a no brainer. The vehicles are running anyway, with lots of spare capacity. Demand pricing is well established in most branches of transport provision, Even AT, with it’s stated objective to price parking to get 85% occupancy. Even Gold card concession is a form of demand pricing with a close out period during peak demand.
    In fact, because transport systems are sized to meet the short duration peaks, with the bulk of their availability outside of peaks, what is required is actually a peak period premium.

    1. An enhancement would be to have premium services only incur the surcharge so that counterflow services would be exempt. Airlines manage this, realising that to position an aircraft to fly a high demand route may well require it to offer bargain fares the other direction.

      1. Possibly tricky to manage in the central areas where on some routes people are going both ways, but I think it’s otherwise a great idea.

      2. We kinda do this already. The tiny CBD fare zone effectively surcharges peak commuter trips, albeit it does that all day, and also catches anyone who lives in the CBD and commutes counterpeak.

      3. Hop card generates a lot of data which surely could be correlated to peak fully loaded services. What I would envisage is still having a basic premium fare time base but then exempting certain routes and modes from premium fares for the counter flow. NEX counterflow services would be an obvious example but post CRL counterflow services perhaps excluding the Central City Zone may also qualify as well as
        counterflow bus services . Urban Public Transport needs to be more like airlines and long distance rail, charge more for peak services and discount the return but necessary positioning runs. Pricing Public Transport and provision of Park and Ride purely to avoid provision of more roading and city car parking is a continuation of Tail wagging Dog thinking.

  10. Peak is already over crowded, so no scope to reduce fares.
    I think ratepayers already pay excessive rates compared with other cities and the well above inflation increases can’t be ustified. They have already borrowed too much. There are many competing demands for money, I don’t think off peak discounts are a high enough priority, e.g. CRL, AMETI, LRT, stormwater and sewer projects, etc.

      1. That’s really inconsistent. Why is the government funding all of the Auckland LRT systems but not the CRL or the additional costs for the CRL as mayor Goff was suggesting, considering it will eventually be passed over to Kiwirail?
        While searching media articles I found Labours pledge to have the LRT built to Mt Roskill by Sept 2021, I expect construction will have to start soon but I can’t find much information about its design?

        1. Agree. It’s mostly political timing, Auckland pushed the CRL along and eventually convinced the government to pay for half of it. In contrast light rail was campaigned on by Labour and the Greens.

          There is more chance of me playing at the Rugby World Cup this year than LR being built by 2021. With consenting and detailed design still to come 2026 would be much more realistic.

          Those promises were made by Labour and the government is of course a coalition so it is inevitable that some promises of each of the parties will not happen. In saying that this promise was not realistic in 2017 when it was made, let alone now.

    1. In your list of competing demands you haven’t included the cost of providing public transport during the peak. Every increase in peak demand generally requires the purchase of a bus, train or ferry just to run two trips a day, which is not a great use of ratepayer funds.

      Sure, by all means charge people the same during the peak than off-peak, but you will have to put up with ever increasing demands on ratepayers to cover these services.

  11. Thanks for bringing up the Devonport Trial. Massive failure, and not exactly unexpectedly so. And good to see a local board member calling it out:

    “The actual figures if you use the same numbers, the subsidy per ride is $41.48 to ride which is unbelievably irresponsible to continue the trial, financially irresponsible,” he said.

  12. Wow, so someone using this service to replace a regular bus commute is being subsidised to the tune of $414.80c a week, or twenty grand a year!

    1. I agree, and I’d much rather have a regular bus service.

      Real life example: I’m about to go to Takapuna from Devonport and it’s going to take the best part of an hour to make that short trip, with nearly half an hour wasted waiting for a bus to turn up. This is unacceptable in a modern city.

  13. Research generally shows that people don’t use public transport because it’s too slow, unreliable and doesn’t take them where they want to go, much more than because it’s too expensive.

    Targeted fare reductions might help social equity, but if your goal is to get more people using PT then you should be focused on making it better rather than cheaper.

    And ever dollar you spend on making it cheaper is a dollar you could have spent on making it better.

  14. Free travel to children would allow them to build a habit to travel using PT.

    When they grown up to become adults, they will get used to it and be very comfortable to continue to travel on PT.

    However why stops at 15 years old? Why fund until at 18 years old?

    The age between 15 to 18 is very important. At that age, teenagers would like to travel and hang out with their friends.

    It would be a wasted opportunities to discourage them after 15 years old, so to encourage them to buy cars. When they grow to be adult they will forget about the PT thing and use cars instead.

    My suggestion is to continue to fund the free PT until 18 years old.

      1. Because of a few problem passengers in that age group, we can’t ban others who are well behaved.

        Perhaps they teenagers still need a hop card and still need to tag and get fined if failed to do so.

        When a few naughty kids cause serious and repeated troubles, their card will be banned.

        This stopped them using the ticket gate, and if a ticket inspector found out they also transferred to police for trespassing.

        1. Then they stop all the trains for several hours while they attempt to remove the “trespasser”. No we don’t need any more of that malarkey.

    1. Agree, I think the 15 year age limit is a strange one. Why not align it with end of secondary school (i.e. the 18 year age limit mentioned above).

  15. The fare cap option seems to be seriously under done in terms of additional trips generated. There are many trips that people would take just because it’s now free – pop down to the shops etc rather than driving, or head out at lunch time (off peak journey – knowing that by the time you do your home journey you’ll hit the cap). I’d guess it would be more like 5m extra trips (there’s a reason many cities around the world have daily or weekly caps – weekly caps should also be considered to encourage weekends usage).

    1. Agreed. Fare caps, either daily or weekly or preferably both are by far the most useful innovation for the majority of regular, full paying passengers who are the ones who the system needs to attract to ensure political support for future improvements.

      1. Fare caps have the perverse effect of rewarding the peak time users / commuters by giving them cheap/free off peak fares while non commuters have to pay full price for off peak trip.
        A fairer solution is cheap/free off peak fares for everyone, not just commuters.

        1. What’s perverse about it? Regular users/commuters are the backbone of the system and should be rewarded/encouraged far more because they provide far more revenue and also ensure continued political support for improvements. If I sign up to gym contract, I pay a lower per visit price than a casual user because, overall, I am paying a lot more towards the infrastructure.

  16. Reasonably priced monthly passes should also be considered. These are very successful in cities overseas which have a high PT share.

    1. I never understood the advantage of monthly / yearly passes. If you want caps, why not weekly or daily?

      1. Generally monthly passes are cheaper than weekly or daily passes because money upfront in a lump sum is worth more to the provider of the service.

        1. Oh the other hand, the power companies make far better offers to people considering switching to their company than they will offer to existing customers. (Mercury’s lost my custom forever because of this.) If you’re wanting to use lower fares as a mechanism for modeshift, which is what this is about, there need to be lower fares for people:
          -trying public transport for the first time (or first time in a while)
          -trying public transport for a type of trip they hadn’t considered
          -trying a new family arrangement, such as kids going somewhere by public transport alone, even if the parents them pick them up later.

          The lower fares need to reach these sorts of trips, too, or we won’t gain the benefit of these people slowly changing their minds.

        2. One way to partially achieve these objectives would be to lower or remove the AT Card charge. eg $10 for the card with $10.00 loaded Credit.

  17. How about a campaign to reduce the costs of operating public transport? Like get rid of the private bus operators all clipping the tickets and making profits at the expense of rate and taxpayers? Of course, this would be a kick to the neo-liberals, but ultimately give AT full control of all issues.

    Then, once costs come down as we completely wipe out the ticket clippers, we bring pt fares down.

    1. +100
      That is absolutely the best solution I’ve heard thus far. Unfortunately, there’s little faith that out nation will ever overcome the way neoliberalism has entrenched itself into our society.

  18. Down in Christchurch what is needed is ways to increase the fare box revenue, because that will trigger greater investment from central government. Christchurch desperately needs more investment from locals and central government because our spending on public transport is dismal and we have all the poor outcomes of auto-dependency you would expect as a result.

  19. Its been covered above, but the single best thing AT could do would be to make child and tertiary concessions far easier. The obvious way to do this is to make school and university IDs HOP cards and allow the purchase of child cards on buses and from stations.

    Wrt fare reductions, I’d rather that they invest it all into more service. Targeted upgrades to frequent service to drive total ridership.

  20. Whatever Council is considering at the moment it is just fiddling. Adding 1million trips in the face of a climate crisis is negligent. It happens at the same time that AC is spending $30 million on a new parking building in Takapuna. This is a parking building that parking surveys showed was not necessary.
    Where are the concurrent moves to get people out of cars? When we visited MIlan recently the city centre was almost deserted of cars. Parking at 6 euros per hour might have been the reason. These were Saturday rates. During week days a city toll applies.
    Does Auckland forever have to have one of the highest car mode shares in the world and as a consequence a polluted, congested city.
    It is also a pleasure here to use train stations that aren’t receptacles for drink containers. I suspect that many Europeans who visit clean green NZ say, yeah right.

    1. John, Can you take photos of the streets where cars can still drive, but are not congested? I’m interested in the cities where designing for people, environment, safety has also made driving better.

  21. Heidi, will do.
    I am amazed at the use of alternatives other than cars to travel. I visited the FLorence regional train station today and it was like Britomart on steroids. It was about 1pm. Florence has only about 400k people. High speed trains going everywhere.
    Great roads here, but high petrol prices (over. $3 per litre) and high autostrada tolls. The roads are priced to reflect their true cost apparently. It seems a much fairer system where the actual road users pay the cost. I wonder why past NAtional govts with their predilection for user pays never implemented this. It seems to have ensured most roads are congestion free.
    What about a $10 toll Akld Hamilton to pay for high speed rail? Would that be something a govt facing this generations nuclear free moment might consider.

  22. Has anyone experienced a week of bus cancellations on numerous services, buses listed as operating on the AT app or on the bus stop electronic signs but then vanishing as if they never existed and buses turning up that aren’t even on the app or signs? AT claimed in its usual PR bs spin that only 39 buses were affected by the changes in union driven breaks etc but that is simply not true. It’s a tired clique but you stop using PT when it stops being reliable and becomes stressful when you’re waiting for buses that never turn up and you have to be somewhere like work. I have had to use more Ubers this week than ever. Also why can’t something be done about the absurd 10 minute wait on the green Inner Link at Victoria Park and the common requirement you have to get off then and wait for another Inner Link. Again why would you bother with PT.

    1. Hmmmm interesting your experiences. There is so much room for improvement in Auckland. It’s getting there but seems painfully slow when in real time.

  23. Fares need to be made cheaper with bringing ferry fares into line with bus and train fares, and for the monthly option for the AT HOP card to provide unlimited travel on all modes across Auckland.

    Make the fares simpler as well as cheaper, e.g. $1, $2, $4, $8.

    Rather than making public transport free for under 15s, which will bring a great deal of unintended problems and additional expense resulting with undesirable problem youths being attracted to ride around on public transport just because it is free with more vandalism resulting, child fares should be made just $1 for 12 and under, all the time. This will encourage more kids to use public transport, particularly for getting to school, as the school run is one of the biggest causes of traffic congestion.

    Greater use should be made of providing free public transport travel with tickets to major sporting events, or having free public transport when major events are held in the central city e.g. Santa Parade, Christmas in the Park, and perhaps on election days to help encourage people to get out and vote.

    Auckland Council should sell its car parking buildings in the CBD and tolls should be introduced on the motorways which could both help subsidise public transport fares and encourage more people to use public transport, and to pay for new train service routes and ferry routes to take greater advantage of the harbours which surround Auckland.

  24. One option that would encourage more people to travel on public transport would be to drastically reduce the cost (or make it free) on the feeder bus services. From my experience, the feeder bus services are under utilised. So the lost revenue from offering this incentive would be minimal and it should encourage a lot more people to get on the bus.
    Additional (full fee) services can then be provided on the main routes from the hubs to cope with the additional passengers. This proposal should result in an overall increase in revenue with the additional passengers on the main routes.

    The other advantage of this proposal is that it would reduce the demand on the park and ride facilities at the hubs. This will also reduce traffic congestion around the park and ride facilities. Another advantage of the reduced demand on the park and ride facilities is that it would defer any capital expenditure to upgrade or increase capacity at the park and ride facilities, creating more savings.

    1. The way the pricing works if you have a HOP card is generally that the feeder bus is included in the price, because it’ll usually be in the same zone.

      I’ve heard several people suggest this, though, and so I suppose that means that AT should do a bit more to advertise it.

  25. I agree. The way the zoning works, most feeder services are within the same zone. But it is not always the case (my feeder bus adds another zone onto my journey).
    I also agree that AT could do a bit more to make people aware that the feeder bus journey is effectively free if you travel onwards.

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