On Monday I wrote about the cost of more frequent of buses as improving frequency is the single biggest thing that will get people to use public transport more. Following better frequencies, the next biggest thing on the list to improve the quality of PT is to have better reliability.

Better reliability means buses that turn up on time to not only their first stop but to all their stops and is even more critical on a network like ours where transfers may be required. It’s no good having even high frequencies if it means you turn up to your bus stop and have to wait 20 minutes for a bus that is meant to come every 10, then two buses turn up at the same time.

By far the biggest thing that drives un-reliability is other road users in the form of congestion. On high-demand routes this can lead to a vicious cycle whereby once a bus gets delayed, by the time it reaches stops there are more people than expected, which increases dwell times. Once the bus fills up it slows down dwell times even more as people struggle to get off, which means even more people wanting to get on at subsequent stops and eventually slowing down enough and starts playing leapfrog with following buses.

To give an example of where better reliability (and frequency) could result in better PT outcomes, I thought I’d share an experience I had recently. Normally I catch an NX1 to the city and then transfer to a Western Line train to get me home. The NX1 has good frequency on weekdays with buses every 7.5 minutes even off/counter-peak and trains run every 10 minutes.

Leaving work, I arrived at the Smales Farm station and as I did that the 866 turned up so thought I would give that a go. The 866 travels from Albany to Newmarket via Ponsonby and by combining this with the 20, which travels from Wynyard to St Lukes every 15 minutes and which stops right beside the Kingsland station, where I could then transfer to the train home. In total the 866+20 combo is over 5km shorter than going to Britomart so could have the potential to offer a faster journey time, perhaps allowing me to shave up to 10 minutes off my commute. The map below shows these two options.

The key to making the 866+20 option work was the transfer and I knew from looking at the timetable that it might be tight but if I made it, I’d save time. Unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off so I set about waiting for the next 20 to turn up, knowing from having used it previous times that it should get me to Kingsland to catch the train I’d have caught anyway had I gone to Britomart. Only it took my bus over 20 minutes to turn up, having lost about 5 minutes in just over 1km of travel. Then, as we proceeded along Ponsonby Rd and down Gt North Rd, frequently stopping or having to dodge cars parked in bus stops. By the time the bus arrived at Kingsland it had missed the connection to the train meaning my journey would end up being slower, not faster as intended. The point of all this is that better reliability would ensure people have more trust in making transfers and therefore are more likely to try them.

This kind of route could be even more important over the coming years it could allow people to avoid disruption during the City Rail Link works at Mt Eden.

So what can be done?

Auckland Transport have plans to improve reliability on a number of routes through what they now call the Connected Communities Programme (formerly the Integrated Corridor Programme). There’s not a whole lot of detail about the programme yet other than what is mentioned below, which comes from the recently refreshed Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP).

As part of this RPTP, AT is also looking to apply some of the advantages of the RTN to the Frequent Transport Network through the Integrated Corridor Programme. This Programme will seek to extend bus-priority for the full length of key FTN routes, improving average speed and reliability and reducing operating costs.

Auckland has constrained arterial corridors and there will be trade-offs to be made around competing uses including general traffic lanes, cycle lanes, parking and median strips. AT will design and deliver whole-of-route bus priority on the FTN where:

  • current and planned services experience inconsistent travel times due to congestion
  • where travel-time savings and patronage levels justify the cost of delivery
  • where capacity exists, or new services are planned that can leverage priority infrastructure to deliver patronage growth
  • if reallocation of road space is required, where expected patronage gains are sufficient to ensure that bus priority implementation will increase overall people throughput along the corridor.

The integrated corridor programme will be critical to deliver the next wave of patronage growth for Auckland’s bus network and instrumental in providing the next major improvement in customer experience. It will also be a major mechanism by which placemaking initiatives can be instituted – leveraging the changed environment generated by the corridor programme into urban design elements that will reflect local identity and character.

They go on to say the routes to be looked at will be on the isthmus and in South Auckland, also noting “The programme includes bus priority, safety and cycling upgrades as part of the overall programme“. The maps show approximately what routes are included in this work are below.

At a high level this is good and very much needed but I so have some big concerns with it. One of those is that it puts on ice smaller and more targeted improvements. One example where this has already happened is why the plans to add a protected cycleway on Gt North Rd between Grey Lynn and K Rd. Despite having already been out for public consultation in the past, the project is now being re-evaluated again with this new lens on it.

Another concern is how this is going to be delivered as ATs doesn’t have the best history in this space. I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong but at this stage I worry the programme it will be roughly similar to the following process.

  1. AT will spend 18 months working on multiple business cases, probably one for each corridor.
  2. They will come up with some semi-decent plans and put them out for consultation.
  3. As the plans will involve changing or removing carparking, a small number of retailers will complain, but be amplified by the media. The likes of the AA will get involved too, concern trolling the project by claiming they support better PT but not if it impacts on drivers.
  4. AT will then spend the next 6-8 months analysing the feedback from the consultation, ultimately watering it down and removing the most valuable changes.
  5. They will then take 2-3 years to finalise designs before looking to start construction, by which time many people will have forgotten about it and start complaining again.
  6. So maybe, if we’re lucky, we might see some mild improvements in about five years.

AT please prove me wrong.

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  1. A crazy daily commute. People in this city need to get into their heads around dropping the expectation they can live and work with no consideration of either. Want to travel across the entire city, expect issues, that is the same for PT as it will be for cars. Live close to work and spend less time in an oil burner. Better for yourself, better for the planet, and governments don’t have to cater for excessive demands having to ensure top quality extensive networks. I have always made a point of living (relatively) close to where I work.

    1. Good oh. You could set up a campaign group called, “Personal Responsibility in Housing Choice for a Good Transport Network”, and see what outcomes you can improve. I won’t hold my breath.

      Expecting reliable public transport is not an “excessive demand”. Plenty of other demands people make of the transport network are, though.

    2. Yeah, easier said than done when the inner suburbs lock out everyone else with ‘Special Character’ overlays to retain and improve their own house values.

    3. I wouldn’t call the commute that crazy. The problems just reflect the low quality of PT when it consists of a diesel bus or buses running on crowded roads with little or no priority. I don’t see that improving as the political opposition to any meaningful bus priority in these areas is too great. Other cities worked this out a long time ago and moved on to subways/light rail.

    4. 1. People move jobs more frequently than they do houses.
      2. Moving houses to be closer to my job Matt make it harder for my wife to access her job.
      3. Housing prices prevent many people from living closer to their jobs.
      4. I’m not complaining about the commute, just noting that better reliability could make it better (and not just for me). As Heidi says, buses turning up on time isn’t an excessive demand.

    5. Yea buddy we’re all slumming it in the outer west because we just want a longer drive in the evenings.

      Of all the comments on GA, this is one of the worst (and that includes my own frequently inflammatory and incorrect musings). Let’s spell this out for the people in the incredibly expensive seats at the front:

      1) Being able to afford to live close to where you work is privilege in action.
      2) People at an individual level do not get to control land-use but have to fit their lives around it.
      3) Expecting people who have less time, money or lifestyle flexibility than you do to make irrational choices simply because they are your choices is wrong, no matter how many times you mention ‘oil’ or ‘the planet’.

      1. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst. Yes there are a large number of people who don’t have much choice. But there is also a crap load of people in Auckland that could get a job closer than they do. But because transport is so heavily subsidised, distance is not considered as carefully as it should be.

    6. As someone who is in the health profession this is extremely difficult. I live centrally which makes it easy to get to Auckland Hospital, however every few months i have to switch and sometimes go to North Shore or Middlemore. Even though i live centrally it is still extremely difficult to go north or south.

        1. Good thing all hospitals close at 530pm and all their patients and doctors go home and come back the next day at 830am.

        2. I think RS is chiming in on that it’s not always as simple as the 1st statement of ‘live close to work’.
          Work location varies, even with the same employer.

          Zippo & BW – health professional could include night work … good luck catching the train on shift work.

        3. James; I believe we are making the same point, except mine came with so much sarcasm it could barely commute under its own weight.

      1. I would think it’s pretty good these days with the new bus network & train station right outside Middlemore, unless working at very late times etc

      2. Of course in ‘real’ cities where millions of people have make all sorts of journeys to work at all sorts of times, the transport authorities have made sure that public transport developed as the city developed, or sometimes even in advance of the city developing. They didn’t do what Auckland did which was to take a PT-development ‘holiday’ for 40 years, then find to their surprise that accessibility, walkability and livability were screwed. Imagine if London had decided to run-down public transport and build only motorways from 1960-2000!
        Auckland’s negligence is likely to take several more decades of unswerving corrective action to properly fix. But it needn’t have been this way.

        1. Actually, London did decided to do exactly that, over about that time period…They just couldn’t afford it or make it work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUEHWhO_HdY
          The underground was being run down whilst I grew up there, from the 1970s right through to the 1990s, before there was a change of direction, lots of spending, and now it is fantastic.

    7. Unfortunately my place of employment, and indeed just about all the competing firms, is located in one of the most expensive areas of Auckland. Even rent is high, and a 3br house is over $1m. So just about all of us have to live a lot further afield and commute in. We can’t all easily make the choice to live near work and vice versa.

    8. Hm it probably on the longer end of commutes in Auckland, at almost 25 km. But still, being able to find a job anywhere in the city is one of the main reasons why we bother building cities at all.

      Both Henderson and Takapuna are meant to be so-called ‘metropolitan centres’, so it should be relatively straightforward on Public Transport.

      Normally for that kind of distance you’d be on regional services rather than the local all-stops train and bus. Analogous to how you’d drive on the motorway instead of the local streets by car. But it is hard to see that being built in Auckland. Usually that involves either quad-tracking, or building a dedicated track for regional level services.

      1. Mine is currently 30km (Torbay to Greenlane). Takes me 90 minutes on PT (861/NX1/South train). Smooth enough when everything goes right, but last night I must have missed the 861 at Albany by a minute. Had a 15 minute wait – which combined with the gridlock in the city made it a 2 hour commute to get home.

        I doubt driving would be much quicker. The NX1 managed to keep up with a filtering motorbike the other morning.

  2. Bus priority measures are the answer.
    1. More continuous Bus Lanes created means “Bus priority over motor vehicles”
    2. Having local roads better designed for Buses e.g. for going around corners without hitting the curbs, footpaths, etc. Also having clearways on main bus routes during peak times to reduce car parking on both sides of the road as this slows bus travel.

  3. Junctions, it’s all about the junctions! Changing the junctions on these routes so the bus lanes are continuous through them (like they’ve recently done to the bus lanes on parts of Dominion Rd) will make a huge difference. That’s where I find the delays, and bus bunching, currently happens.

    Oh, and also a new bus lane between the Symonds Street motorway bridge and K’Rd going into town NOW. Since the K’Rd works started this week that small section of mixing with general traffic can cause a 10/15 minute delay.

    AT should do these relatively small changes now, whilst they work up their improvements to the rest of the routes.

    1. I wonder how many intersections that have left turning lanes or slip lanes that would be suitable to be converted to bus lanes with the stop located right there. It’s normally the opposite with stops pushed way back away to allow for extra general traffic lanes. Transfers and pedestrian access is greatly compromised as a result.

      1. Bus stops right there might block pedestrian paths, but plenty of the slip lanes have a lane leading up to them – that would be the ideal spot. Of course, a rejig would be needed to allow people to still turn left from the currently straight ahead lane, but you’d think there could be a few standard designs made which would work in most intersections.

        1. The bus stop at the cnr of Beachcroft aveand Queenstown Rd, Onehunga is a good example that works.

        2. Ahhh yes I remember seeing that one. Makes me remember the one in Ellerslie; Main Highway & EP Highway intersection.

  4. I have the same fears about the AT process. I’ve not seen anything to indicate AT is prepared to reflect and acknowledge how its own processes are responsible for delays and weak outcomes. I’ve only seen Letters of Excuse. Yet I know they have the right intentions, so the opportunities for improvement are huge.

    AT need to adopt best practice consultation, which is a long way from what they are doing.

    First, this means not taking many months to go through the submissions, concern by concern, and craft an acceptable, non-inflammatory response to each one, as AT are doing. The delay due to this process has been extreme, and is unacceptable. They need to go through, comment by comment, to understand the concerns, and modify the design if this is possible without detracting from the benefit of the project. That’s a much quicker process, and it’s what places that are getting on with doing stuff do.

    Secondly, they need to understand that they are currently hugely favouring the status quo, because they are consulting before doing trials. People need to see the options in practice before being asked about change. Currently, AT’s processes are undemocratic, and they are running both a reputational and legal risk that citizens will take action about this.

    Thirdly, they are consulting about things that shouldn’t be consulted on. Where the city has already decided on a path at a high level, and it involves an improvement to safety, there is no ethical reason to consult. We have a right to safety, and if consultation prevents it from happening, as is the case, the consultation process itself – or AT’s response to it – was an unethical step. If AT needs to have the consultation laws changed, would they care to show us the attempts they have made to do so?

    Fourthly, they need to sort out their attitude about parking and road reallocation. These need to be acknowledged as important steps in their own right, not as something to minimise. They need to stop treating any consultation that gets kickback about loss of parking as a “Red Alert – This has to be signed off at the top level!” problem. Get with the programme, AT. Explain it to the public. Parking and road capacity induce traffic, and reducing them is the most important land use change we can make to reduce vehicle travel (as opposed to the many correlated land use changes). And stop caring when the public complain – you have a duty to children and the future generations, too, so when you listen to people you haven’t educated on the subject, you are denying our children and our descendants a good future.

    I’m sick of bad quality consultation. Step up, AT.

    1. Tend to agree with most of what you said.
      High level consultation is done by Council / AT for strategic documents like the Auckland Plan, RLTP, RPTP etc etc etc.
      Feedback overall from these consultations is that people want to see an increase in public transport, and an increase in cycling facilities.

      Time to get on and do it. Individual project by project consultations stall / delay the bigger strategic goals.

    2. Consultation is a vexed process at AT. If it’s too high-level then people complain to their politicians and the process then gets drawn out and politically charged. I’m thinking in particular of the Tamaki-Ngapipi intersection consultation. If it’s too detailed then it takes forever. People complain if they don’t get a response to their submissions ; people invoke the press and politicians even if consultation has been done but when the spades go in the ground they forget they had the chance to submit. People complain if the consultation is done too early; people complain if the consultation is done too late. Politicians forget they’ve been consulted and find 100 reasons why they need to be consulted again. Local pro-car bigots stir up resentments against AT projects based on misinformation and outright lies. If AT stands up to the bullies then they’re behaving in an authoritarian and unaccountable manner; if they give in to them they’re weak and spineless.

      Of course AT can lift it’s game – and should – but there’s no magic formula that can be applied in advance to guarantee that any given consultation will be a “success”. Whatever that means.

      1. Looking at other cities shows us that we don’t need a magic formula – we just need best practice. It’s not like this isn’t the same issue faced all over the world. Cities have over come this. Both AT and Council need to call out the bullshit. Part of AT’s problem has been that on some issues, the Mayor has been flakey. AT and AC have to respond to naysayers with strong words,

        “Our city needs change, as the current network is neither safe nor sustainable. People resisting change will be disappointed until they see the benefits. We will use evidence-based design and we will be focused on fulfilling our legal duty under the LGA, to plan for both present and future generations. We will have a special emphasis on the most vulnerable members of society. Disruption to the established order may be uncomfortable, but discomfort is not on the same level of concern as deaths, serious injuries, poor public health, poor access, and environmental damage.”

        1. I don’t disagree that we need best practice – that should be a given. However, as long as politicians are politicians, they will stir up a hornet’s nest when it suits them, and to predict the behaviour of people like the Grey Lynn car fanatics is almost impossible. If AT could count on the politicians even to restate publicly what they have told AT in private consultation that would be a giant step. But at the first sign of controversy their instinct is to back their voters, no matter how irrational that might be.

          I strongly believe that it’s often not the consultation process itself that is the problem, but the erratic and unprincipled behaviour of a minority of citizens and politicians that makes concluding the process night impossible in some instances. Yes, AT needs to be able to live with this and still move forward. But in a highly-charged atmosphere with politicians , community groups and the media flooding the ether with misinformation it ain’t easy. Just sayin’.

        2. Part of the problem is that the politicians are ALL transport experts. Like the leaders of the various community action groups. Whereas AT has no transport expertise whatsoever. In my more Machiavellian moments I sometimes think it would be appropriate to require the politicians themselves to undertake the consultation process on the projects that they’ve already supported by voting funds for. That would be a true test of character.

      2. Analysis leads to paralysis. I’m not saying AT should become like China. Bulldozing houses to make way for projects… but I think a pitfall of democracy is that the common person gets to weigh in on issues they know nothing about. This then slows down any action. The worst kind of action is in-action…

        1. I like the process of the SUMP (Sustainable urban mobility plan) structure promoted by the EU.

          It is a process of consult once on a city wide level and do it right.

          Here’s something from Milan: “The participation process consisted of an information campaign (to inform the public on the process for the development of the plan and its main themes), thematic meetings with authorities, stakeholders and citizens, and the publication on the municipality’s and mobility agency’s website of the presentations held during the meetings and their minutes and reports. ”

          And next the incredible results expected,
          • The PT modal share is expected to grow up to 63 per cent inside the city, while car share is expected to decrease by 24 percentage points.
          • The cycling network, which currently accounts for 9 per cent of the urban road network, will cover 25 per cent.
          • The average trip time is expected to decrease by 8.3 per cent (by 9.5 per cent inside the city) and road congestion, measured according to suitable network indicators[1], by 10 per cent.
          • The PT service offer (seat-km) is expected to increase by 20 per cent and PT commercial speed by 17.5 per cent.
          Environmental quality
          • Air-polluting emissions are expected to decrease by 10 to 17 per cent (in particular CO, NOx and PM10 by 14, 10 and 14 per cent respectively), while greenhouse gas emissions by 13 to 15 per cent (in particular, CO2 by 15 per cent).
          • Energy consumption is expected to decrease by 12 per cent.
          Human health and safety
          • Citizens’ average exposure to air pollutants is expected to decrease by 13 per cent.
          • As for citizens’ average exposure to acoustic pollution, 37.4 per cent of the population will experience a decrease in noise levels, 14.1 per cent an increase, and the remainder will experience no changes.
          • The number of road accidents is expected to decrease by 75 per cent between 2013 (about 10 000 accidents/year) and 2024 (about 2 500 accidents/year).”

          The implementation of such a scheme obviously requires huge leadership and a massive commitment to something other than getting re-elected.

          Consult doesn’t mean argue until there is agreement. If that was so we wouldn’t have a CRL, because the occupiers of Albert St would have blocked it. We need negotiation to achieve an evenly distributed range of outcomes that most people can live with.

          Is Auckland up for it? Do the 79% of people who are worried about climate change want to personally change their lives to make a difference? Is it better to wait for Donald Trump to invent a solution either just before or after a cure for cancer?

          As others have said, if a plan is established, will it be tinkered with by politicians? Probably there needs to be a mechanism to lock in the changes.

          Most of all Auckland just needs to get on with it. Rapidly we are becoming a joke with our increasing emissions when a good chunk of the C40 cities are reducing theirs significantly at the same time as achieving significant growth.

        2. Targets quantified. Strategies set. Mechanisms to get trajectory back on track. Consequences for short-term failure that mean no sector would fail. Simple stuff.

          Puts residential parking schemes in perspective.

        3. At least Auckland didn’t rip out a 100% electric trolleybus network in 2017 – long after the need for more electric transport was recognized. And at least Auckland is building a much-needed rail extension through its CBD – a strong vote of confidence in developing electrified rail to meet the city’s future needs.
          I wish I could say the same for witless Wellington.

    3. A fundamental problem is the imbalance of resources available between those advocating for improving any reallocation of road space that disadvantages in any way, car domination, and the resources of the large vested interests, whose function and incomes are hugely dependant providing cars, or providing for cars, or are dependant, on car transport availability.
      Our media is incredibly dependant on advertising revenue from these sources, so in self interest, freely blend news, advocacy, and political patronage. Car dependency is an integral part of our current political, economic, and social environment. This is why reducing car dependency while being vital is so hard.
      It is so much more then just a roading issue.

  5. Off topic, Matt, but why wouldn’t you have just continued on the 866 to Grafton and caught the Western Line train there instead of waiting for the 20?

    1. I’m assuming that Matt wanted out to try out the transfer, as it has the shortest distance. The whole point of a network based on transfers is that you can take a short route with multiple buses and all be reliable. It’s kind of counterintuitive to bus further on the 866, only to catch a train at Grafton (which is further away from where he lives), when he could have stopped earlier on the 866, got onto the 20, and then trained from Kingsland.

      1. I use the 866 relatively often, and find that there are always a bunch of people getting on/off at Grafton, many of them clearly connecting to/from the Western Line. I think a two-sector journey is almost always going to beat a three-sector journey, even if the actual distance covered is a little greater.

        Incidentally, I’ve been seriously impressed by the number of people who use the 866 at peak, and the off-peak loads have also grown significantly from my casual observation. AT has signalled in the RPTP that it will eventually become the NX3 (which means evening and weekend services, plus increase in off-peak frequency). Can’t happen soon enough in my view.

        So what about an NX4, AT – from the busway and through Pt Chevalier to Avondale or New Lynn? Now THAT should be something for Matt to get excited about for his morning commute from the West to the North Shore.

        1. Catching the 866 to Grafton would defeat the propose of trying the 20, which is to use the route to get a train ahead of what I would have otherwise. At best it would mean catching the same train but getting on at the busiest point instead of at Britomart where I’m more likely to get a seat.

        2. Yes there is an obvious gap there. I’d say for a NX4 (or NX3 if you replace the current one) find the fastest route from the Harbour Bridge to Kingsland station. I guess that is that yellow and red line.

  6. My recent experience last week, when one of the Britomart to Onehunga train services was cancelled was a very time consuming trip back home. I got on a Southern train to Ellerslie, then transferred to the 298 bus to Onehunga. The train trip was fine, but the bus trip took ages due to congestion at the Main Highway intersection with Campbell Road & finally Mt Smart Road back to Onehunga.
    It always looks good on the Central Auckland Network Map & Journey Planner, until you do the suggested trip & services to get home. I wonder if AT’s “top people” do these public transport trips??? Maybe public transport will improve in Auckland if they do!!!

    1. You’re absolutely right, the directors at AT have no need to catch public transport – they drive into work everyday. If they used PT for a week, it would be win win: the public would be ecstatic that these coffee drinkers making 7 figures a year actually tried out PT, and they would immediately fix some of the issues that has been bothering us for the past 5 years.

      1. It would be really great if the directors of AT were actually elected, one per ward, and had to use public transport from their wards.

        Then we might finally be able to say goodbye to the isthmus-only planning exemplified yet again by the map above.

        1. The one from Henderson to Cockle Bay that only shows isthmus routes being improved, except for just one to the south, one to the east and to the west, and zero to the north.

          Too many maps like this one from AT only include the isthmus, but Auckland is bigger now than just the old City Council boundaries.

        2. Well yes I guess you are right. Apart from the routes in east Auckland, and the one in west Auckland, and the two in south Auckland… they are indeed all on the isthmus.

        3. Well if you’re pedantic, the right way to put it is that “the majority of” the improvements will go on the isthmus. And while there are a lot of people living there, it is nowhere near a majority. It will be around a quarter, depending on how you far you count.

          And how fast is it really growing? The original version of the UP quite infamously didn’t allow growth on the isthmus outside the CBD at all. One thing you don’t have in Millwater or Westgate are heritage overlays.

  7. What happens when there are width constraints on the corridors? Will space for active transport (walk, bike, scoot, and all the emerging kinds of micromobility) be prioritised over lanes for fossil-fuelled single occupant vehicles, as befitting a climate emergency? That sort of thinking has to be integral to the business cases and contracts, surely.

    Otherwise the risk is that bike/ scoot/ e-micro users will get engineered out of the design and onto meandering ‘parallel’ routes. Last time that was tried was Dominion Road, and it doesn’t work well for anyone.

    1. Yes, quite. AT have the Roads and Streets Framework process they can follow to bring all these competing priorities to the table at the start. Council declaring a climate emergency is one such priority that must lend weight to all their other climate-conscious plans.

      I doubt they’ll do this properly; from what I’ve seen they use that framework like engineers would – ignoring the process, because engineers don’t really get cross-discipline processes, and honing in on what they do understand – the cross-sections. Unfortunately, these don’t really work for our road corridors, nor are they appropriate now we’ve declared a climate emergency.

      AT are reviewing the RASF – even though its technical guide, the Transport Design Guide – hasn’t been released yet. Let’s hope they change what they should but strengthen the need for upfront resolution of the modal priorities.

    2. That is a great idea. If we double the length of queues for cars and increase the time they all spend idling we can increase our oil consumption and use up the worlds fossil fuels and after that carbon emissions will drop. We need more long term solutions like this.

      1. You are determinedly ignoring the evidence, which is that reduction of space for general traffic and parking is the most effective land use change you can do to reduce vkt and thus fuel use and emissions.

        1. But is that true though Heidi? Making it more difficult to get around by car might just displace people from an area to a more distant area and end up increasing VKT. If people find it increasingly difficult they might just choose to leave the city altogether and move somewhere where PT will never be a choice.
          Is there truly a cause and effect relationship or is it actually a selection mechanism. ie the folks who want to walk and cycle move in and the people who don’t want to go elsewhere and increase their emissions as a result. Or in the case of the post above does removing parking to increase the speed of a bus passenger passing through just result in the loss of shopping choices in the area?

        2. Yes miffy, there really is cause and effect; it’s important to tease out what’s correlation and what’s cause. People are doing this. Here’s what the research is showing is needed, as regards land use:

          – General traffic lanes need to be given over to other modes.
          – Space used for parking needs to be given over to other uses.

          Where you are right on the money is that converting street-side parking to bus lanes is probably the easiest go-to solution AT will try to do, and it is often not the best solution. It can simply create nasty fast moving corridors.

          If that’s all the Connected Communities Programme does, it will be a failure. They need to think through all the modes, and my bet is they will be too timid to do so. It’s overall reduction in parking that’s important, not just that parking in the spot where it suits them to put in a bus lane. If they take the only parking available in a shopping centre and give it to a bus lane – when a perfectly good traffic lane next to it should have been used instead – that wouldn’t be good.

          Valid uses for the parking might be cycle lanes, wider footpaths, trees. Or bus lanes, sometimes. And the parking they most need to remove are the great big at-grade carparks that induce so much traffic and could be converted to housing and other uses.

          Instead of just bus lanes, they need to be zoning the city. Plenty of places could have the buses mixing in general traffic lanes, as long as that general traffic isn’t able to use the corridor as a through route and only the bus can, with bus gates.

        3. The problem is this isn’t a science, it is a social science. The people affected will choose to do something else and it might not be what you want. Some people will sit in longer queues and travel the same distance but create more emissions, some people will travel longer distances to do the same trip as before and again create more emissions. Some will vote with their feet and move somewhere else that wasn’t their first choice meaning they suffer a wealth affect. Some might even choose to stop driving and change mode, but they will be the minority. The flow on affect is the shops will make less money so some will fold their tent or move into a mall further away, creating more emissions. But short of prohibiting traffic, nobody expects that everyone will simply choose to ride a bike or walk. As for ‘studies’ most only focus on a corridor and not the people who were using that corridor so we really dont know what impacts we are creating, but those impacts are more likely negative rather than positive as that is what happens when you prevent people from choosing their preferred option.

        4. Um, people will all take individual paths. But you can count the effects. And you can monitor the whole project, including the effect on businesses.

          Question for you, miffy: How much are you trying to keep abreast of the traffic reduction projects that are happening in many cities worldwide?

        5. Miffy , where do you get this stuff from? There are many cities where travel by car is in the minority and people seem to manage very well and even embrace it. So we have Vienna looking to move from 27% car mode share to 20% by 2025. This is a vibrant city with a gdp much higher than Auckland.

          Vienna has a main shopping street that is car free – Mariahilfer Strasse, 1.8km long. It doesn’t need parking or cars to make it successful.

          Eventually Auckland will move on from the concept that successful shopping areas rely on people driving there.

        6. Heidi traffic reduction projects require an alternative mode. In a New World city that means a mode capable of replacing the car without causing too much inconvenience. But the subject here is Ponsonby Road. If you want it to have fewer shops then by all means rip away the parking spaces their customers use. I mean its not like they are actually used is it? The real question is should Ponsonby Road space be allocated to improving the journey time of someone who lives in Henderson and works in Takapuna?
          As for your idea Johnwoodtakapuna I would love to have Auckland be like Vienna. All we need do is conquer a host of free countries and make them our empire, tax them heavily and build a fantastic tram system and some rail lines and lots of medium density mansions. Then when our empire fails and the right wingers in Australia decide to invade, we invite them in, round up all our wealthy people and intellectuals, steal their artworks and ship them off to camps in Aussie and claim we had no idea what they were going to do to them. With the proceeds we could build an underground system rather than giving back the art. In the words of Midge Ure “Ahh Vienna”.

        7. “a mode capable of replacing the car without causing too much inconvenience”

          This isn’t the definition of “traffic reduction methods in a New World City”.

          It’s the definition someone might give, who’s digging his heels in to establish that the incumbent dominant mode requires special consideration in policy.

          People who don’t drive are inconvenienced systematically by our driving-dominated transport network. Are you suggesting you have a formula for how much inconvenience it’s ‘reasonable’ to require a driver to experience in order to mete out slight improvements in convenience to other road users?

          VKT must be reduced to allow the establishment of the mode that has been most egregiously ignored – cycling. That’s not something that can be done, initially, without inconveniencing the incumbent. Sorry about that, but things will improve.

          Priority must be given to public transport, and this will require road reallocation and lights phasing that will inconvenience the incumbent. Sorry about that, but again, things will improve.

          The faster we can make the changes, the faster we will get to a situation that provides universal access for all people, regardless of age and ability, and is safer and more sustainable. That will be a system that is better for people who drive, too, if the cities that have converted from car dependent to multimodal are anything to go by.

          We’re not discussing transfers and bus reliability to enable an Albany to Henderson commute. We’re discussing transfers and bus reliability to enable an Albany to Kingsland trip, a Wynyard Quarter to Henderson trip, and a whole lot of other trips besides.

          I’m close enough to the Ponsonby Rd area to cycle. But I don’t because of the traffic danger. My family and I go there frequently, separately and together, for family reasons. We go by bus. And my extended family who live there would bus to see my family, except that it takes too long for them, due to the lack of bus priority. So they drive. That’s two families, forced into modes that they don’t want to take, due to the priority given to general traffic over both cycling and public transport.

  8. I don’t disagree that we need best practice – that should be a given. However, as long as politicians are politicians, they will stir up a hornet’s nest when it suits them, and to predict the behaviour of people like the Grey Lynn car fanatics is almost impossible. If AT could count on the politicians even to restate publicly what they have told AT in private consultation that would be a giant step. But at the first sign of controversy their instinct is to back their voters, no matter how irrational that might be.

    I strongly believe that it’s often not the consultation process itself that is the problem, but the erratic and unprincipled behaviour of a minority of citizens and politicians that makes concluding the process nigh impossible in some instances. Yes, AT needs to be able to live with this and still move forward. But in a highly-charged atmosphere with politicians , community groups and the media flooding the ether with misinformation it ain’t easy. Just sayin’.

  9. This is not uncommon but seeing two Outer Link buses the other day, one following directly behind the other was hopeless for the travelling public. An easy fix surely is the GPS that monitors these buses can be used by a controller to tell the driver in front to not stop unless for drop off’s until the gap normalises. No need for consultations and buggering around for the next 2 to 5 years.

    It was obvious the front driver was sticking religiously to stopping at each stop, his bus crowded, the following bus semi-empty but not wanting to overtake. A ridiculous waste of resources that stuffs up the frequent service delivery.

    1. Outer link drivers already have a screen that tells them how many minutes the bus in front is ahead, and how many minutes the bus behind is back. Some drivers just don’t stick to it. Anyway the problem is with the outer link itself, they should cancel it and put the buses on other routes. In what universe did someone decide that if you wanted to go from Mt Eden to Newmarket, you first have to travel SOUTH?

      1. Apart from the route, in other words, the drivers are too blinkered to think ahead? I cannot help but wonder if there are repercussions if they don’t stop for passengers?

    2. Better fix is to replace it with the 65 and the other routes already designed. Or if they can’t do that yet, have some catch-up routes already determined; obviously directed by someone with access to real time infromation. For example:

      – Skip the dog leg of Mt Eden and Dominion Rds,
      – Replace NNR and Carrington Rd, with St Lukes Rd and GNR.
      – Use Symonds St and Khyber Pass instead of going through Parnell.

      They’d simply need to transfer any passengers from the first bus to the second if they are intending to get off along the route that the first bus will skip.

      1. Yes a frequent 650 turned into 65.

        Outerlink should be anything but a loop.

        Could run it just from St Lukes west as currently to Greenlane or perhaps only to Newmarket or bring it down Gillies Ave instead. Manukau already has the double decker 30 run.
        At St Lukes turn it around, layover the same as the 20 does.
        Not sure where you could turn it around if you go as far as Greenlane, perhaps just go as far as Parnell?

        How full are they & the InnerLink up Parnell Rd? May need bigger InnerLink buses anyway.

        1. hmmm Just looked up the original proposed central new network. Yes that was a lot better plan than now, Outerlink from Mt Albert, via Pt Chev etc to Onehunga & no route 30 (though 30 to City Centre is quite nice). Other cross towns to cover Mt Eden & Balmoral/Greenlane.

        2. I don’t remember seeing a cross-town via Mount Eden, and coincidence or not that is where a lot of the resistance against dropping that loop came from.

        3. Yes but it wasn’t frequent. Partly what the new 20 one does & other ones like the 781 at the other end. From Wynyard, across Bond st, Valley Rd, Epsom Ave, Market Rd, Victoria Ave, Kepa Rd, Kohimarama Rd all the way to Mission Bay. Also Wiliamson Ave which I see they are now redirecting something, 134 IIRC, to cover that.

        4. Yeah that one would ideally be frequent.

          The advantage of the loop is that it allows lots of single seat journeys. I think single seat journeys are still very desirable.

          A journey with 2 legs, each on a bus with 15 minutes headway is still debilitatingly slow and unreliable. You have to assign a 20 minute or so penalty to that connection. That is what Matt just found out the hard way.

  10. How about some priority for the crosstown routes? I take the 66 regularly because it links a whole bunch of places I sometimes go to. But it is insanely slow. High quality crosstown routes are crucial for making a proper PT network rather than just a city centre servicing network

    1. The map makes it glaringly obvious that the cross town routes need to be part of the Connected Communities programme, doesn’t it? I think it stems from a misunderstanding that AT should focus on prioritising commuter flows. This doesn’t stack up against the evidence, which that they’ll reduce car dependency and improve ridership by balancing the improvements to the network in all directions and times of day.

  11. Your mistake was relying on the 20 bus. This is a route I gave up on using after realising that for some reason it’s hugely prone to buses just vanishing. The “every 15 minutes” schedule actually ends up as “every 15 minutes, but we’ll just disappear 2 out of 3 of them”. After three or four goes at this bus with ghost buses every time, I’ve given up and walk up to Victoria St and catch the 24 buses. At least there are so many of them that if one disappears you don’t notice.

    1. Interestingly, I use the 20 from time to time and have never had a problem with delays or disappearances. Just luck on my part?

    2. Are you waiting at stops too late possibly? Possibly an inter/off-peak issue.
      If the bus is early you may not have seen it & they would vanish from the tracking at that stop.

      1. No, the times I’ve been affected have been during the rush hour peak (i.e. 5-6pm). The bus wasn’t early, it just never turned up – and I get that sometimes buses get cancelled, but I’ve had two waits of over half an hour for them, and my stop is only one stop away from the start. As always with Auckland public transport, confidence is easily lost.

  12. Extending bus-priority on Great North Road through the Waterview motorway interchange in such a way as to avoid holdups of buses needing to cross congested traffic lanes would be great. The short city bound bus lane prior to the interchange is almost useless due to the bus needing to cross two congested traffic lanes in order to be in the right lane to get to Pt Chev.
    Are there any plans for how the bus lanes would be configured between Pt Chev and Avondale?
    When will it happen?

  13. The root cause of the problem is that, while paying lip-service to the need for public transport, we continue to pander to the private car. That must stop. In particular, two things can, and must, be done to make the car less of an impediment to public transport.
    1) Recognize that a road is a public thoroughfare, not a private car park. Therefore, abolish ALL on-street parking. Car owners (and others) should not be allowed to insist that ratepayers/taxpayers subsidize their parking. They – householders and shopkeepers alike – should provide and pay for whatever parking they need themselves. This will free-up road space for its intended use and reduce congestion.
    2) Cars should have to give way to buses – always and everywhere. I am sick of being stuck in a bus trapped in a bus stop; prevented from getting out and continuing its journey by cars streaming past. Ditto at roundabouts and other intersections.
    We must stop pandering to cars and those who insist on using them. If the likes of the AA don’t like that, tough. It is decades of doing things their way that have got us into this mess. We won’t get out of it until cars and their fans are put in their proper place: at the bottom of the priority list, not the top.

    1. John, the problem is that about 82% of trips are by car and so these trips are important to these people to varying degrees. In the city car trips are in the minority and so more change can be effected, although the minority has a powerful voice and well organised self-interest groups.

      Auckland does need to do better and the reason is the need for emissions reductions. NZ won’t achieve targets if the agricultural sector (50%) and the transport sector (20%) are immune from change.

  14. The language in the paragraphs quoted by Matt above highlight to me that AT’s heart is not in this project. The 1st sentence says they “are looking to apply” and “seek to extend”. It is very conditional and tentative language. Sure the bullet points boldly identify the benefits that this “looking” and “seeking” will deliver and we can’t disagree. Structuring these paragraphs in this way fools our brains into thinking A will begat B. But looking and seeking never begat much.
    I would like to see the 1st two sentences recast something like this;
    “As part of this RPTP, AT is going to apply the advantages of the RTN to the Frequent Transport Network through the Integrated Corridor Programme. This Programme will extend bus-priority for the full length of 285km of FTN routes by end 2020, improving average speed and reliability and reducing operating costs.”
    NB 285km is a guess

  15. The last paragraph highlights just how much of a change should be expected from this programme:

    “critical to deliver the next wave of patronage growth”
    “instrumental in providing the next major improvement in customer experience”
    “a major mechanism by which placemaking initiatives can be instituted”

    I don’t know any of the people involved. I hope they are people who have demonstrated an ability to bring about change of this magnitude. Has AT brought new, experienced people into the organisation to work on this?

    1. Good question Heidi. We just not going to make it to the last paragraph and all the wonderful outcomes without good strong people at AT able to breeze past the dithering nature of first paragraph.

  16. It’s vital to treat better frequency and better punctuality as a single project.
    If the aim is to create a timetable-free, turn up and go network, there is no point whatever spending a lot of money on six per hour service if that means that 50 per cent of the time you wait 20 minutes then two buses come at once (because of the bunching issue mentioned in the too post).
    Bus priority measures such as queue jump intersections become all the more important as the frequency improves. It’s not primarily about speed; it’s about reducing the variability of travel time that results from being caught in traffic congestion.

  17. The indicator lights on buses need to be connected to a large illuminated sign so that when driver indicates turn all traffic behind gives way. NO Exceptions.
    No parking on any bus route, No Exceptions.

  18. Well for the North Shore people that was a bit disappointing…

    But we can always think about where improvements would make sense. For instance on the corridor to Birkenhead:

    • Northbound buses get stuck in near stationary traffic on the motorway between Fanshawe Street and the Harbour Bridge in the evening.

    • Birkenhead town centre: Mokoia Road has 24 buses per hour during the peak, and still has 2 parking lanes.

    • Onewa Road is even more busy but there is no priority for buses between the motorway and Lake Rd.

    (now given the state of leadership over here, these last two are not surprising)

  19. Actually suggested NX2 and 866 services at AT feedback day in April 2012. Response was so bad the next speaker consoled me saying” They did not listen to a word you said” . They wanted to put 100th per day into Brito mart which would not have worked as well

  20. Well, my car’s in for a service – so it’s a Link Bus from Newmarket to Ponsonby, drag out the HOP card and go – right? Wrong. The balance available isn’t enough to pay for the journey. Top up time.
    Now I know we went through hell as AT abandoned deeply flawed Snapper cards in favour of Thales’ much superior integrated solution – we’re getting it right this time, OK? No.
    I get a message with a rhetorical FAQ asking me when the $30 that just left my account might be available to use. The answer: TOMORROW.
    How on earth does AT expect people to embrace PT when the system can’t handle an instant electronic transaction? It’s not so slow to debit your card. In the end AT is simply marketing to people who already use PT – more millions of journeys from existing customers. The rest of us aren’t members of the club, because we can’t take a bus or train on impulse. We were meant to plan it yesterday. Instead, it’s easier to download, sign up and grab an Uber. And that, folks, is heresy around here.
    I’ve just been in Sydney where Opal top up machines are ubiquitous and online top ups can be done using the app. Admittedly that can take up to an hour to register. But overnight is just silly, and half-baked.

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