Yesterday Auckland Transport held their day of free public transport to celebrate reaching 100 million trips within a 12 month period and it appears to have been a great success with services reported to be four times busier than usual and it felt like Aucklanders were out celebrating Auckland.

Hopefully AT will release some official figures but a quick back of the envelope calculation suggests it that could put usage yesterday on par with or even higher than what we see on a normal weekday. That’s impressive given fewer services run on Sundays and trains are not frequent (only every 20 minutes). That outcome certainly fits with what I saw on social media as well as a short trip I made. Unlike on a weekday where services are extremely busy at peak times when people are commuting to and from school and work, but are then much quieter off-peak, yesterday services were quite busy all through the day. On the trains it was pleasing to see that AT were running all services (except Onehunga) as 6-car trains which helped to better cope with the demand.

Henderson just after 2pm where 60-70 people were waiting to board a train towards the city.

As well as the trains the double decker buses were popular, especially with the kids, as were the ferries. Although the Devonport ferries were the only services I saw any real complaints about. They were extremely popular and where Fullers were reportedly only running some of their smallest vessels. As such, by the afternoon there were long queues on the Devonport Wharf with some people having to wait for later services.

As well as celebrating hitting the 100 million milestone, clearly one of the goals of yesterday was to get people who don’t usually use public transport to give it a try. I get the feeling they were also quite successful at this. One thing that was particularly noticeable was how many families were using PT to explore the city and in many cases possibly visiting areas they’ve never been before – for example I overheard one family talking and wondering if they should get off at the next stop for a walk/look around or carry on just riding the train to Swanson. For a lot of people/families it seemed to be the first time they’d used public transport. There definitely seemed to be a lot of smiles as well as ohhs and ahhs from the kids (young and old alike).

There were many great comments on social media, one of my favourites was this thread on Twitter

Another good thread was Alec Tang’s with his adventures with his kids

https://twitter.com/AlecTang_/status/1142536722342768640

I think one of the issues PT has in Auckland is that many people don’t realise just how much it has improved, particularly over the last few years and with the new network providing much better weekend frequencies. One example of this I saw was below after having initially saying “Pity there are stuff all buses around here on a Sunday”

With so many people out and about, it also meant that many areas were much busier and lively that usual. The city centre was reportedly buzzing with families. This helps highlight one of the big issues with PT as the pricing structure has focused on comparing a PT trip to that of a single person driving and paying for parking (in the city) and so it becomes almost prohibitively expensive for families or groups to use. At least part of this issue will disappear in September when it will become free on weekends for children under 16.

The busy city centre is something that can clearly be seen in Heart of the City’s pedestrian counts. I pulled the data for outside 45 Queen St for the same Sunday last year (24-June), for Sunday last week (16-June) and for yesterday. You can see below, the numbers for Sunday last year and last week were very similar but during the middle of the day yesterday were about 65% higher. It would be interesting to know how retailers in the city and places like Devonport did as presumably this also meant a lot more people buying things.

While I do think there was certainly a “special occasion” feel the levels of usage yesterday, if there’s one other thing the day highlighted was how much opportunity there is to grow usage off-peak and on weekends. Extending that back of the envelope calculation from earlier, even if we could just double our normal weekend usage, something we clearly now know the system can handle without needing any additional buses or trains, that is likely to add about 13 million trips a year. That’s more than two years of normal PT growth. My guess is that levels of off-peak/weekend usage is one of the big differences between Auckland and many of the cities we look up to in the international comparison I wrote about the other day.

Finally, a few additional questions/thoughts looking forward to the future.

  • AT should look to do this more often. For example imagine how great it would be if PT was free on say the last Sunday of every month and tied to a series of open streets type events around the region where key town centres were closed to traffic and opened people.
  • With so many people giving PT a go for the first time, perhaps AT needed to think about how they could get them to use PT more (other than just having given them a good experience). For example, making it easy for people to buy HOP cards (they need to do this regardless).
  • What impact does or should this have on how officials model and assess levels of usage for PT projects or the elasticity assumptions used by AT when they set prices?
  • This is bound to see calls for PT to be free all the time. While I can certainly appreciate the sentiment behind the idea, I’m not sure that would be a smart move for Auckland just yet. That’s because I think the system simply wouldn’t cope and so we’re better to put more investment into further improving them. The strategy of targeting certain groups, such as the free kids on weekends, is a better first step.

Did you get out and use the PT network yesterday? If so, what were your thoughts on it.

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89 comments

  1. Fantastic day. However…

    Fuller just gave a price gougers sneering two finger salute to the concept of integrated PT in Auckland.

    The government needs to strip Fullers of it’s monoploy rights on thew Waiheke and Devonport routes ASAP.

    And trains are still in chaos this morning from Kiwirail track work.

    Kiwirail – care but not really their problem, so yeah, tough luck, commuters. Talk to the hand.
    Transdev – utterly anonymous, they don’t have to deal with the public either.
    Auckland transport – their problem but they have zero actual power and anyway, what are all those peasants moaning about?
    Auckland Council – nominally incharge of AT and pay all the bills, but utterly impotent and completely ignored.

    You couldn’t think of a more inefficient and ridiculous operating model.

      1. More or less.

        Fullers have a legal right to operate Devonport and Waiheke as a commercial service outside of PTOM with their own fares collected directly, and AT cannot contract or subsidise any other service on those two routes.

        The routes are technically open to competition from other unsubsidised commercial operators. But as we’ve seen that is a fiction in practice, because there is a ban on new supergold subsidy to private ferries.

        So a new entrant has neither, the benefit of being the incumbent nor the supergold payments, and is forbidden from access subisdised AT Hop fares.

        Effectively they have a legally mandated private monopoly, one that is protected from commercial competition by fat public subsidies!

  2. It was really packed yesterday with lots of families. I would like to see free Sunday some time in the future and 15 minutes train frequency on the weekend (soon as possible).

    I over heard conversations about people trying out the service (oh let’s go to Pukekohe’ and Swanson. Or I have not been to x, lets go there next. Certainly lots of kids enjoyed taking the train and even though it was not the best day everyone seem to be enjoying it.

  3. This is surely a great loss-leader for PT. How many Bill Bennett’s are their out there that discovered the New Network for the first time and the fact that transit is pretty much just as good on evenings and weekends as it used to only be during the peak.

    I like the idea of doing this on the first Sunday over every month or similar. Combine that with open streets/market days, and streets closed to traffic for cyclovia or sports/fun days. You could do a cluster of them around the region, say downtown, Manukau, Henderson, Takapuna etc… and folk could try a different one each month.

    There would also be a sort of social safety net from this. It means at least once a month anyone can travel anywhere they need to be. Could be a great benefit for people that struggle to visit friends and family on the other side of town.

    1. Yes. And if AT/AC could decide to do this earlier rather than later, and let everyone know if it’ll be the first Sunday of each month, or the last Sunday of each month (or whatever) then events organisers can get busy. Because the last thing community event organisers for smaller town centres need is to have dates drip fed without the several months lead up for good planning available.

      Also, should be tied in with a super easy process for getting the town centres closed to traffic.

  4. Laingholm missed out, still no Sunday bus… and crap frequency Mon-Sat despite “new network”

    Also imagine the popularity if we had Huia and Piha buses promised by AT over 3 years ago now…

    West Auckland always seems to be at the bottom of the list…

    1. West Auckland did great, regular trains and buses humming with people.

      I think perhaps your complaint is actually that rural areas with extremely low population density are at the bottom of the list for public transport. Thats true.

      1. Extremely low population density? Clearly you don’t know that area very well, also its a destination not just a route for locals. Also there are several examples of better service routes for less populated areas.

        1. It looks pretty low density to me. I agree though, if a Saturday service is warranted then so is a Sunday service.

        2. You mentioned Laingholm, Huia and Piha. They are extremely low population density in the range 200 to 300 people per square kilometre.

          None of those places has even one tenth the population density of suburban West Auckland, which averages around 5,000 people per square kilometre.

          1. So whats your point? If you do not see the reasoning behind the services why bother commenting at all. The routes are already committed by AT and obviously are big destinations that people want to go to. I don’t live there but for a leisure bus trip that would likely be up there as a top place to go and I am sure many others are on the same page.

    2. If you want a bus on Sunday, move into the city. There seems to be a certain demographic that moves to these small isolated localities and expects all the services available in the main urban area.

      1. I don’t live there but I am sure heaps of people would of wanted to visit there. I am not expecting better service than Beachlands/Riverhead routes etc.

  5. Sounds like it was a massive win.

    My partner took our two kids (7&9) from Onehunga back to the shore to incorporate train, ferry and bus.

    The kids ran in the door when they got home excitedly shouting – daddy, you missed all the fun!

    The ferry queues sounded very long and they had to wait for the 2nd ferry and then a couple of buses at Devonport, they were the last ones to get on the 2nd bus with standing room only. Several stops along the bus was still completely full and went past a ‘middle aged white couple’ standing at the bus stop shaking their fists at the bus driver.

    So no doubt there will be some complaints (probably front page of Herald/Stuff)

  6. As a Superanuant I get free travel on public transport pretty much all the time, but I certainly do value and appreciate it. It’s great to be able to go anywhere in Auckland without having to worry about the cost.
    In that vein, we certainly need to make public transport much cheaper, preferably free. The cost should not be a problem: just use the money that is currently wasted on pandering to cars.

    1. Except it’s not free. There is an enormous cost to these policies. I’m not targeting you with this comment, but it’s my income tax money paying for old people’s no-questions-asked unemployment benefit, old people’s heating bills, old people’s free transport, old people’s increasing healthcare costs. They certainly aren’t paying for it. The old people sit on the nation’s wealth in the form of million dollar homes and not paying a cent of tax when they sell. Few people are having kids, so by the time I retire the nation will be utterly broke and totally out of other people’s money to spend. The talented people are sick of paying other people’s bills and leaving the country in droves. The country is in a slow death spiral and no one seems to notice.

      I’d be happy if there were no more talk of this utterly nonsense policy of “free” anything. Our roading policy is “free”. “Unlimited Free Roads for ALL” whether you want it or not. It is a textbook example of what you get with “free” policies like this. We need to remove the huge subsidy on road building and public transport will suddenly become far more attractive and competitive economically.

      On the other hand one-off days like this as a marketing tool is quite good. As long as it doesn’t cost extra services, then there shouldn’t be a problem making every sunday or weekend free for hop card users.

      1. As though I, even as a superannuant, do not or never have, paid tax, to help pay for your education, so that you can now earn well. Be patient, your turn will come. Don’t let the panic mongers frighten you will predictions of unaffordable super in the future.

        1. I had to pay for my own tertiary education – because my parents earned too much! So its not exactly unfair to expect some form of means testing for superannuates.
          As for the panic mungers, I think people will continue to work a lower and lower percentage of their lives. These days you probably have to study until 23 to get a job and if you retire at 65 and live until 100 that is only 42% of your life. Is that really affordable? What if we live to 130 and retire at 65, we would only be working 32% of our life. At some stage (maybe even now) it just can’t work. Imagine if they cure cancer and heart disease!

          1. I thought robots are going to take-over all the jobs. If robots are doing all the work and so creating all the wealth, just tax the robots and give the proceeds to people, so that we can afford everything that the robots are producing. That should produce enough tax income for everything for everyone.
            We wouldn’t need to increase the eligibility age for Super. Instead, it could be (gradually?) decreased, turning it into a Universal Basic Income.

        2. Can you explain why you think superannuation will continue to be affordable in the future at the rate it is paid now?

          1. It’s not, us that are currently working to pay for super and super golds and the rest have practically no chance of getting a meaningful pension in twenty or thirty years time.

            If you look at the demographic projections, the only logical conclusion is to invest in your KiwiSaver and private savings, and assume there is no super in a couple of decades.

          2. Super in NZ isn’t much money anyway, for the well off its not worth bothering with and for those that need it to survive it’s not anywhere near enough.

      2. Did you need a HOP card? I assumed that you didn’t need to have one hence new people were using PT.
        I agree about the old people subsidies. Almost every subsidy in NZ is income tested except if you are old. I know people earning 100k+ a year getting ‘free’ PT to their office jobs.

  7. Not so good north of the bridge unfortunately. My daughter and friends tried to get a bus at about 5:30, and after 20 minutes or so one finally turned up with a sign on the front saying dropoff only. It was dark and raining, and the next bus was another half hour away with no confidence that they could get on board that one either.

    When are we going to start taking public transport seriously and provide usable frequency coverage instead of forcing people into cars?

    1. There appeared to be very good service on the Onewa Road and Busway routes, are you sure things were ‘Not so good north of the bridge’?

      1. When you can’t get on a bus and there’s a half-hour wait for the next one, that’s what I would say is not so good.

        One thing that yesterday’s crowds has shown is that there is an unsatisfied appetite for affordable public transport. It would be great if public transport services could be made available and useful to much more of Auckland so that we could make a start at tackling the climate emergency.

        1. I agree, however what you are describing appears to be a local issue, it’s a bit disingenuous to try and suggest this problem is across the North Shore.

        2. The City-Takapuna and East Coast Bays services weren’t much busier than normal. NX1 was rammed though. Didn’t even look at the Devonport ferry when I saw the queue snaking out of the door and along Queens Wharf.

    2. Was that a Devonport bus trying to get people home via bus rather than the ferry?

      We caught an NX1 from Hibiscus Coast, pretty much 100% full & that one prior almost; think was drop off only at Akoranga around 3:15 pm or no one rang bell and no one signalled, someone wanted off I think..too late. The one prior was late leaving by about 15 mins as apparently one of the buses had broken down on the motorway..not sure if it was a not in service one or full of people, NIS I suspect.

  8. Can confirm floods of families in the city centre.

    Daikoku ramen next to britomart reckoned they did 6x usual Sunday (with two staff!)

    It could have been nice to have some kind of tie-in stuff at libraries or Ellen Melville to make AT a bit less faceless.

    And imagine if this had happened in summer ….

    1. Hopefully this day will help to convince retailers, and the New Zealand Herald, that access to good and inexpensive public transport has a lot more positive influence on their business success then the council providing heavily subsidised car parking and more general traffic lanes.

  9. It was a fantastic initiative and one that should be done more often. We used it to go to the movies in New Lynn and the buses were packed in both directions. Unfortunately, AT canceled some services on the 18 route which meant the timetable did not run quite according to plan. Rather frustratingly, the journey planner on the AT app did not pick up the fact the bus service had been canceled and still recommended that we trot up the road and wait for a bus that would never arrive. AT cancels buses on the route fairly frequently and it’s a shame that these sorts of issues still haven’t been ironed out on the 18 service, particularly when the first time many people would have used it.

    1. That is a pity, because that route has been a game-changer, and it would’ve been great for more people to experience it at its best.

      1. Yeah it is significantly better than the previous system which had groups of three buses arrive all together and then nothing for twenty minutes. Unfortunately it doesn’t really live up to its name when leaving the CBD – especially at peak. It is very common for two buses to leave together because one is so late that the six minute frequency becomes a ten second frequency and by the time they get to Pt Chev there are sometimes three buses traveling together. The fact there is still no shelter at Victoria Street is appalling and one of the very basic things that AT should fix. This is where the “low hanging fruit” argument applies – getting buses to enter and leave the city easily should be a no brainer and could be done fairly easily.

  10. My partner and child took the ferry to Devonport, and had to wait an hour for the return trip. Apparently the operators had to go and get a bigger boat. Talk about the problems of success.

    I took the Onehunga train and it was about weekday levels of busy – not crammed.

    1. Glad you missed me. I think it is just marvellous that AT spent our money providing free trips to people whose benefits were less than the cost. Even better that they overloaded the system with people who placed low values on their own trip to the point where buses were full and couldn’t pickup people who were trying to make trips where the their benefits exceeded the costs. I can only imagine AT did this because they figured that providing for low value car trips on our roads for years hasn’t resulted in any sort of congestion or inefficiency. Maybe they could make bread free as well but only provide enough loaves so people who get up really early get to grab one. I mean those others who actually value the stuff don’t really need it do they?

      1. “they overloaded the system with people who placed low values on their own trip” – sorry, I thought we were talking about PT users, not subsidised motorists using the motorways. I am confused.

  11. Planning his move to Wellington. Transport planning there has a lot more to offer for depressing cynical negativity!

  12. The news on3 last night had excellent coverage and talking to families that had kids that never ahd been on the trains before . But the other channel DUMB [1] had totaly nothing about it the main article about transport was about moaning trucking companies complaining about the potholes they are creating o the highways .

  13. We did an early ~7am start, Penrose train, Britomart, takeout coffee (great spot at Lower Albert St corner), NX to Hibiscus Coast, picked up a granny via local service to Red Beach, tried the newish 995 to Warkworth (see my Twitter, whole bus load arrived from there before we left), quick 10 min look around as the bus was early to there, Algies Bay service, cafe lunch in Snells Beach, quick walk to the beach & play, weather had cleared but managed one total downpour while at the beach unexpectedly which was just fun really with the kids, then return trip, & yes downtown & southern line train was very busy with people especially families, was great to see.

    All worked pretty good, for way out kind of area for PT. Only fault is 983 from Gulf Harbour in theory gives you 1 min time before the hourly Warkworth service leaves, we didn’t risk that and took an earlier one & wait at the temp station there for 20+ mins, and sure enough saw that 983 come in just as we leaving…I suspect they should hold the 995 that couple of mins more considering it arrives to Warkworth (weekend anyway) about 10 mins early.

    Also Silverdale seriously needs better centre bus stops & a set of traffic lights to allow the buses to right turn out to the main highway towards the Hibiscus Coast Station, everything is pushed to the outer extremes in typical for car fashion. Big walks for elderly users etc.

    1. One more point re the Warkworth, Kowhai Coast, Wellsford timetables. Seems no real reason the offsets from the hour are 5 or 10 mins different between weekday & weekend services? They don’t seem to relate to any connecting services being at different times at Hibiscus Coast Station with either the local or NX buses. Couple of mins here or there with peak times with the Hibiscus local ones, but that is the wrong way around anyway. So much simpler to keep all the times the same. Weirdly also the beach buses 996, 997 around midday, I think the gaps are larger weekday than on the weekend, but I suspect that is to do with driver breaks or timing it up again for “afternoon-evening peaks” if you could call a 1.5 hours frequency peak.

      ps The driver commented the 995 was picking up patronage since it’s introduction. It’s pretty good at 30 mins frequency around peak times. The Wellsford one is all perfectly 1 hrly 7 days so easy to remember except for the offset is different.

  14. That’s so great that retail was up substantially! What a success. Lets remove the part-charges on public transport and make it free all of the time for everyone. We don’t have part charges on our libraries or our parks, so why do we have them on public transport? Easily as important, if not more so than libraries or parks (not that it’s a competition :-)). Rich people just happen to enjoy parks and libraries more so they are happier with full subsidisation. Research from overseas shows when you remove part-charges from PT the poorest communities benefit the most. The poorest Aucklanders have been hardest hit by the regional fuel tax (flat taxes hit the poorest the hardest. Hello GST). Lets give something back and make it fairer. I’m not convinced the network can’t cope with removing the part-charges. I’m sure AT could get some more buses fairly quickly if need be. Trains, perhaps not so quickly…

    1. Agree partly. Free or very cheap off peak but peak fares should be charged at a commercial rate. People are getting a real benefit and should be prepared to pay.

      This Sunday has shown there is huge off peak latent demand.

  15. Yes I used the free PT ferry service and it looks quite popular.
    Also a few of my friends who never used PT actually use that and they seem to enjoy that.

    The ferry is has a long queue, however a group of passengers on the deck just having a “cruise party” and refused to get off.

    Their “camping” behavior is ruining the people who is need to board the ferry to get home.

    1. If AT had got their act together with Fullers they could have put those passengers waiting at Devonport on the Waiheke ferry heading back to Auckland . The times that would have help were the 10am 12pm 2pm 4pm and 6pm sailings from the island , they could have helped with the backlog .

      And back when I was a kid in the early 60’s Mum use to buy return fares on the Devonport service for a trip on the boats as a school holiday treat and we never got off the ferry until we returned to Auckland . And in those days we cane down from Whangarei as a school holiday treat .

      And it sounds as if those people were doing the same and not wanting to go into Devonport to waste money money at the overpriced eateries .

      And here is a newshub’s link on the ferry sailings ;-

      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/06/free-ferries-prove-popular-in-devonport-during-at-s-free-fare-day.html

      1. AT have no control over the timetable or scheduling of either the Devonport or Waiheke ferries, Fullers has a special exemption to run them as a private service for profit.

        Currently the most AT can do is ask nicely. Which they did to get fullers ferries included in the free PT day in the first place because initially they were excluded. So some credit to Fullers for getting on board with the whole deal.

    2. If the ferry is free, you can see the attraction of staying on board for a continuous cruise. The beer and wine is cheaper then the waterfront bars and the scenery much better. Unintended consequence that needs a solution for next time.

  16. I think this creates a lot of opportunities:

    For example, Annual events such as Auckland Anniversary, Lantern festival, Diwali, Christmas Parade, etc, should provide free PT from/to city. This encourage people to bring their kids to the city during weekend.

    Some venue near transport hub should provide free PT during special events. For example Sylvia park can have free PT from/to the station when there is a big sale event such as Black Friday.

    Places such as Devonport and Hobsonville definitely can draw huge amount of crowd when they have special event provided with free ferry.

    It is a win win situation in many case.
    The additional cost to fill the spare capacity during off peak and weekend would be very little.

    However the benefits are great:
    The business would make more money, which goes back to economy. The government can indirectly recapture the more tax such as GST and property valuation rates.
    The extra money can sponsor the cost of additional service AT.

    Event organizer will be helped by the extra people who can attend by PT. This allow bigger and better events to be hosted due to economic of scale.

    The social benefit are also paramount. People who never used PT may be converted. Kids and low income families who could not afford to travel will now do.

    1. I would say it is a wonderful business opportunity, AT needs to develop packages to offer local business groups for them to part fund the costs of free transport, and promotion to their event or local promotion event. If successful it could well help to overturn the reactionary negativity of so many businesses to any reduction of motoring privilege as evidenced at St Heliers recently.

  17. So the clear take away from this weekend is more people will use PT if its cheaper (obviously free is not realistic).

    Therefore where is the minister of transport sorting out the PTOM when this is as obvious as the glasses on his face? I’d love to know!

    1. What specifically is wrong with PTOM. Seems to be a lot of people claiming it is a problem but unable to say why (or saying things that aren’t true).

      1. Exactly. I see so many people complaining about PTOM though most don’t seem to actually understand how it works. The only real criticism I’ve identified is that drivers’ wages get squeezed with the competitive tendering model. OK, then all AC needs to do is to require AT to impose a “living wage” criterion on all tenders. That isn’t a PTOM issue, though – it’s a political decision that AC could easily agree to fund.

        So I say to all those negative about PTOM: what exactly is your objection? And are your memories so short that you cannot remember the huge difficulties that ARC had in trying to corral private companies into doing their bidding in the pre-PTOM era?

        By all means, let’s look at PTOM and see if it needs improvement. But let’s not throw it out without understanding exactly why!

        1. Not saying throw it out David, just a few components of it are very damaging to PT. And its the law enacted by central government so AT can’t just take tenders that are dearer than others or do what they feel like.

          And again I swear this government was supposed to take a far different approach to transport not be National lite. Twyford is obviously either comfortable with these shit features of the PTOM or his trademark dithering and do nothing is coming to the fore!

          And as comments here show Fullers do just what they want, just like the bad old days you mention and the PTOM has done nothing to sort that and frankly because they bypass subsidies, one could argue the PTOM is working to plan. None of which is helping public transport!

          1. Agree with you regarding wages, AT should be able to choose the tender they think is best, not necessarily the cheapest.

            I thought it really odd the owner of Pavlovich Coachlines was so willing to publicly declare that he has no idea how to run a bus company. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from bidding at a rate that means they can’t retain drivers and thus keep getting fined for failing to run services.

          2. The comments weren’t specifically aimed at you, but at the many that do call for PTOM to be scrapped. And apart from Fullers’ exemption (which could easily be fixed by a central government that was willing to legislate and then litigate with Fullers for several years) and the driver wage issue (which is under control of Council and probably NZTA since they help pay the bills), what EXACTLY do people take issue with?

          3. I think wages and conditions will somewhat sort themselves out over time (bit rough on the workers & families I know) even without any intervention as the bus companies etc find they just can’t retain drivers and the costs of training new staff, higher accident/sickness rates and fines will kill their profit more than lower wages.

          4. Grant, supply and demand would suggest that, yes. But we’ve seen in certain sectors that when the wages are too low for someone to be able to contribute at a basic level to society and support a family, and NZers respond to the lack of attractiveness by choosing not to take the jobs, the market doesn’t respond by putting wages up. Instead, the industry lobbies the government to allow temporary work visas for imported labour.

            Next step we have revelations about NZ slavery and dodgy conditions. Our “good labour conditions” market is rigged by the international exploitative market.

            I certainly hope we can return soon to some sort of dignity in the workforce but I don’t think we can assume it will happen unless we work towards it.

          5. Grant, you are very optimistic to the point of naiviety. They will not sort themselves out unless something in law changes and I thoroughly with Heidi’s comment.

            This is the way Ritchies is trying to deal with this issue of pesky drivers who want to survive on their crap wages and poor conditions and its bloody outrageous; (Good on Phil Twyford and Iain Lees-Galloway on this one)

            https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/391353/bus-firm-ritchies-denied-migrant-drivers-over-pay-and-conditions

          6. Allowing increased immigration to fill labour shortages in relatively low skilled, and more importantly lowly paid industries, such as driving and the hospitality and care industries, as an alternative to meeting the market price in the existing labour market, is simply an unacceptable and cynical distortion of a supply and demand based free market. A distortion that has very real detrimental effects on our most vulnerable citizens and therefore our society as a whole.

          7. Yes points taken. Was been a bit trusting in the good of human nature. I think to some degree it will improve otherwise but, yes some intervention still required. Of course AT could tend to avoid giving the companies like Ritchies the contracts based on their wage or work conditions.

      2. Mandated 50% maximum subsidy, Sydney is in the vicinity of 75. Aka Stephen Joyce’s infamous unscientific arbitrary fare box recovery designed to encourage PT as little as possible.

        The likes of AT must take the lowest tender for route services. The purpose is to ensure the least public money goes into PT, great for accountants, even better to discourage PT development. It has led to worsening driver wages and conditions. Hence Ritchie’s appeals to government to bring in migrants because the locals can’t be found or exploited to drive buses for crap money and conditions. Wellington and Queenstown are other examples of the troubles this causes.

        The government and Twyford have been pissing around doing anything about this since at least late 2017.

        Or did you miss those well published legally binding appertisers that Sailor boy?

        1. The 50 % farebox recovery has nothing to do with PTOM and it has never been enforced by NZTA even under the National administration.

          It’s just a convenient excuse used by AT to say their hands are tied.

          1. Agree. The subsidy percentage is more to do with how much funding NZTA gets coming in from road tax etc than anything else. And it’s a target, not a requirement. Other cities have different targets, and Auckland’s could easily be reset without tinkering with PTOM.

          2. The PTOM’s overall (and in my opinion) unstated goal is to ensure PT is never really the first choice so we all keep the motor trade and road building industry alive and well, oh and personal choice. God knows if its objective was to get people out of cars and take PT it has a very weird way of going about it.

            Yes the NZTA governs the farebox ratio but the PTOM has the “Commerciality Ratio” which as stated in the literature is “similar in concept to the NZTA’s Farebox recovery ratio”. To be fair and honest, it’s the same thing simply reinforcing the NZTA’s earlier version. The PTOM talks of subsidies, (like they are the Antichrist), throughout.

            I am not saying the whole thing is flawed, but one can see it was set by a conservative government who did not want to be paying tax subsidies for peasants using PT whilst I have a Maserati idling in my staff carpark.

            Take these sizeable wrinkles out of it especially its drive to reduce subsidies and we will end up delivering attractive PT that I would imagine aligns with our climate change policy goals, as flakey as they are at the moment.

    2. OK we get 4X the patronage with zero fare. What if with half fare we got twice the patronage and still achieve the 50% fare recovery target. OK this is an oversimplification of the demand curve but Sunday’s patronage seems to indicate that the fare structure is not right.

  18. Would be good if Auckland followed Sydney’s example and put a cap on Sunday PT travel (all forms). It is just AUD2.80 for the whole day. You need an Opal card which is free (as it should be).

  19. Did anyone else think the roads were a bit quieter? I had some stuff on that made more sense to bike to so I didn’t have the PT adventure of my dreams, but the roads did seem more relaxed than usual.

  20. “This helps highlight one of the big issues with PT as the pricing structure has focused on comparing a PT trip to that of a single person driving and paying for parking (in the city) and so it becomes almost prohibitively expensive for families or groups to use.”

    No, not right.
    AT city parking at some locations is $2 per hour and this bears no relationship to PT fares.
    Again not right regarding families. Kids are currently 99c a ride on weekends. So lets take a family of five on a 2 zone trip to the city and back. Cost for the kids is $5.94. Costs for the adults is $13.40. If it is unaffordable it has little to do with the price for kids.
    Let’s have a rationale rather than an emotive discussion about how to get more people on PT and reduce emissions.
    I am not convinced that adding discretionary trips to the network is helpful particularly if there is a call for better frequency based on those.

    1. Prices for the adults have gone up, John. It’s now $13.80. For the kids, it’s essentially double what you said, so $11.88, because it’s not an all-day fare, but all travel has to happen within a four hour window. Going to a show followed by a treat in a cafe, or to an exhibition followed by a walk to watch the ferries, plus the travel time, is always more than four hours.

      The cost for the kids is definitely a part of the picture of unaffordability.

      1. Heidi, thanks. I guessed at the adult price as I always pay by Hop card and couldn’t remember the price.
        Perhaps you could explain the kids price. I had assumed that three kids would travel for 99c each = $2.97, and then would return home for the same price.
        I struggle to see that parents who take their kids to a show and then off to a cafe can truthfully claim to be concerned about the affordablity of the bus fare.

        I think we have a different vision. I love the European model of cheap monthly and yearly passes that encourages adults, students and children to use the bus all day, everyday. The young people that we have hosted as homestays over the years say that is exactly what happens. Two are now into their twenties and that is still their lifestyle: they don’t own cars; say they don’t need cars; but are enormously mobile across their respective cities.

        The very high PT ridership points to these pricing models being very successful.
        Like you I believe that emissions reduction is dependent on a huge increase n PT ridership. It won’t come from free monthly Sundays or a series of adhoc measures cobled together. A more sensible way would be develop policies that are likely to deliver the best return for the financial outlay.

        1. Yes, you’re right. I added very wrong. Sorry. Plenty of free festivals and shows, but that’s irrelevant having got the price wrong for the kids.

          What’s right about the monthly pass, and wrong about the 99 cent fares at weekends, is that if you can only get the good fares at weekends, it doesn’t allow you to ditch the car. The same family going somewhere on a weekday pays the $13.80 for the adults, and $12.30 for the kids. That’s $26.10, enough to put people off.

          Weekend fares are good to get people introduced to PT and good to get kids out and about seeing their city. But something else is needed to make it affordable enough for families. A cap wouldn’t be any use. A monthly pass, maybe.

          But for most families, if they were to analyse their travel, it would have some regular trips, and then a whole lot of one-offs, or really busy weeks when there’s lots on. I’m just really keen to see a system that attracts families whether they realise in advance how much they’ll use it or not, and whether “getting rid of the car” means active plus PT, or just PT, and if they’ll be making 10 trips between them a week or 70.

          I think I just like the lowered fares across the board idea, perhaps in addition to a monthly pass and a daily cap, but not having all the extra money going into those two systems.

  21. Did anyone try out any of the other ferries out of interest & were they packed? A lot don’t run on Sunday but there is Half Moon Bay for example.

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