One of the most important things Auckland Transport need to do to improve public transport is to improve the speed and reliability of buses. This is something I wrote about a few times last year including this post where I analysed the average speed of buses in Auckland using timetable data.
The analysis I performed was a high-level but it was clear to me a lot more could be done with it to gain some real insights on where bus speeds could be improved. So a month ago it was interesting to see Wellington take a similar approach in a plan to speed up buses in the capital.
Wellington city and regional councils are to consider a plan to speed up buses’ travel times on key routes in the city.
The Bus Priority Action Plan was commissioned earlier this year by the councils with work from the Transport Agency (NZTA).
It identifies eight bus routes where changes could be made so travel times can be sped up – such as giving buses priority at traffic lights, more bus lanes, and improving bus stops so people can get on and off quicker.
It states bus journey times on some routes could be reduced by up to a third in the morning peak.
The plan also identified key issues on these routes for cyclists and pedestrians.
The action plan prioritised eight bus corridors based on the following factors:
- High daily passenger volumes
- slow bus travel times
- highly unreliable bus travel times
These are shown below with the routes through the city centre being looked at as part of Lets Get Welly Moving
Here is a summary of the features of each of the corridors.
For each of these routes they then analysed each segment of the corridor both inbound and outbound using bus and traffic data to identify how much buses were being delayed compared to optimal times along with what and where the delays were occurring. Those delays generally fit into the below categories
For each of the corridors they have also taken account of need to provide safer outcomes for cyclists.
The action plan has the details for each of the eight routes but as just one example, here is the Karori route inbound. One thing that I particularly like is that they’ve analysed routes over the entire day and not just at peak times.
There are a number of different improvements that can be made to improve speed and reliability, these are shown below and split into:
- Bus stop improvements – making it easier to get on and off the bus as well as reducing dwell times.
- Roadway improvements – reducing the conflicts between buses and other road users as well as increasing bus priority.
The improvements from that toolkit then fed into the opportunities for each route
There are shorter and longer term opportunities. For each corridor three high-level options were considered, minimal intervention, fix the worst problems and fix everything. These are shown below along with the high-level costs and benefits for doing each level of intervention across all eight corridors.
As well as buses being 3%, 27% or 33% faster, depending on the option above chosen, it was estimated that more people on buses it could take
- 200-600 cars off he road during peak hours
- prevent 1 to 3 death and serious injury crashes over a decade
- reduce CO2 emissions by 4,000 to 12,000 tonnes over a decade.
Overall it feels like Wellington City Council have done a good job here and it is pretty much what I was thinking is needed for Auckland when writing those bus improvement posts in August last year. If anything it raises the question of why haven’t AT done this kind of analysis and done so across the entire region – and if they have done it, why have they never done anything about it including just sharing it with the public.
As per the post on reliability we do know AT are working on improving priority on a number of corridors mainly on the isthmus but it’s not clear how they’re progressing with that – they have also not responded to requests to find out what’s happening. One of the things that I worry about is that given there are 12 different consultancies working on the 15 different corridors, we could end up with a different approach from each of them. Analysis like that above should have formed a basis for that.