It’s the first weekly roundup of 2020, our weekly collection of smaller pieces.

Tamaki Regeneration

I came across this excellent video released a few months ago from Tamaki Regeneration about their plans. It’s great they explicitly talk about changing streets to make them safer

One of the most interesting parts is this concept for a significantly upgraded Glen Innes Station. I’m not sure of the timeline for when it might happen or even how advanced this is but it looks great and feels like it blends design elements from some of Auckland Transports other major station upgrades such as at Panmure and Otahuhu stations.

It even shows the plan includes space for a third track and platform.

Here’s the video

I really like how we’ve been getting more and more high-quality stations like this across the RTN network and while it often doesn’t feel like it, since Britomart opened we have actually been getting them every few years

RailBus
Britomart2003Albany2005
Newmarket2010Constellation2005
New Lynn2010Smales Farm2008
Manukau2012Akoranga2008
Panmure2014Manukau2018
Otahuhu2016Rosedale2022
Puhinui2021
Aotea2024
Karangahape Rd2024
Mt Eden2024

On top of these high-quality stations we’ve also had a number of other stations not quite at the level of these but still pretty good, including Ellerslie, Mt Albert, Kingsland, Papakura, Pukekohe etc.

National Ticketing

It seems public transport ticketing projects always have issues and we’ve been seeing it again with plans for a new national system – which HOP was originally meant to be. Stuff this week published a good summary of what’s happened and is going on with the replacement project.

When Snapper announced plans to launch into the wider Wellington region in 2007, transport officials were in talks with Auckland authorities about linking up to build a smartcard system together that could be rolled out to every train and bus across the entire country.

Anywhere you went nationwide, you could hop any ride you wanted and pay with a simple scan of the same card. It would put New Zealand on the level of global cities like London and Hong Kong, with a streamlined system that would save time and eliminate the need for outdated paper tickets.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) jumped on board in 2009, enthusiastically committing to a “core centralised system” that would let transport services around the country tap into the same payment system.

Thirteen years later, Wellington commuters still use paper tickets for trains and ferries.


Vancouver Rapid Bus

From Wellington to Indianapolis, speeding up buses is the new hotness right now. And for good reason too as cities realise it’s a quick, affordable and cost-effective way to significantly improve public transport, especially compared to big infrastructure projects. The latest to join the movement is Vancouver, a city that already a bit of a role model for good public transport offerings (and usage with around 450m annual boardings).

They’ve launched four ‘Rapid Bus‘ routes which are routes with more bus priority, fewer but better stops along with larger specially branded buses that use all door boarding. It’s all about providing faster, more frequent and more reliable buses which will help get more people using them.

Auckland Transport really need to get onboard and start delivering some more rapid buses


More Scooter Hire Launches

Two more of the new scooter companies allowed in Auckland have/are launching.

Last Friday Beam started rolling out their scooters.

Auckland’s e-scooter shortage is set to end as hundreds of Beam scooters hit the city’s pavements.

The Singaporean micromobility company launched in the City of Sails on Friday, a month after Auckland Council granted it a licence to operate e-scooter rental services.

The company joins Kiwi start-up Flamingo, which became the sole shared e-scooter operator in Auckland after Lime and Wave models were pulled from streets in December after they failed to meet stricter regulations

……

During January, Beam’s scooters would be free, instead of its usual $0.45 charge, to unlock.

Today it’s the turn of Neuron with their larger scooters

So when Singapore-based micromobility brand Neuron announced it was rolling out an e-scooter with the “highest levels of safety” (according to Neuron chief executive Zachary Wang) in Auckland on Friday I decided to finally give e-scooters a chance.

On arrival, I immediately notice how much bigger Neuron’s scooters are than Lime’s or Wave’s.

The wheels measure 30cm in diameter and the foot plate appears to be nearly twice the width of other models.

……

If you want to give Neuron e-scooters a try, you can find a few hundred of them in the CBD from Friday. By the end of the month 880 will be available across the region.

They cost $1 to unlock and 38 cents per minute.

Devotees can also buy three-day, weekly or monthly subscriptions for $25, $33 or $89 respectively which allow riders to use them for up to 90 minutes per day.

I like that we’re starting to see more pricing models available – although it would be even better if they could be integrated with PT fares.


Bus to the Beach Update

Following our “Bus to the Beach” guest post just before Christmas about AT’s curious decision to inconvenience bus users instead of enforcing the parking rules, we saw a flurry of activity from elected members looking to fix the situation. Initially, it appeared the solution was solved. Freshly painted lines, the parking team in attendance, and a tow truck in action:

But the problem wasn’t solved as it seems AT have only been partially enforcing the rules. But it’s too little, too late each day to ensure the illegal parking doesn’t occur. So we’re told bus drivers are advised on a service by service basis whether they should go down to Coyle Park or not. Partial enforcement might seem like partial success to AT. To bus users, of course, it’s confusing. Some were left stranded, waiting under the “The Buses are Back” sign for buses that never came.

Enforcing parking rules to keep the bus network running is Auckland Transport’s responsibility. Are they up to the task?


And finally

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53 comments

  1. Its really getting annoying that AT seems to have so much time and money to spend on big projects like new stations, but no time or money to spend on buses which would make a massive difference for the vast majority. While I like the double deckers, it seems like a big step backwards compared to the all door boarding bendy buses we should have got. There is no good reason for buses to be travelling at ~10 km/hr in dedicated bus lanes!

    1. Also what has happened to AT’s bus lane project – it seems to have gone quiet. It believe should be finished by now; did they deliver on their promises?

  2. Great no more dark uninviting underpass at Glenn Innes.
    As usual though looks great with not much detail.
    Will the overbridge also allow an easy, well sign posted, connection to Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai Cycleway? I would hope so.
    Will there be any secure bike parking anywhere near the station? If they are going to continue to provide all day carparking then they need to use some of that space to provide secure all day bike parking. As we all know you can fit more bikes into the smaller space than is required if only cars are provided for.

  3. “I really like how we’ve been getting more and more high-quality stations like this across the RTN network”
    Matt, can you explain to me how they are the best use of resources. For example two ends of the most successful RTN route in Auckland only have covered shelters i.e. by the Civic and the former embarkation at Lower Albert St. They seem very much fit for purpose because largely those services (NEX 1 AND 2) are turn up and go, you don’t need to wait anywhere for long.
    I note that the cost of the Puhinui Station would enable AT to hold PT fare increases for four years – I remember that there was a shortfall of $15 million to cover last year. This represents an extra 4 million boardings over that period.
    When I looked at some of the best PT networks in Europe some of the stops for frequent services were just signs in an island in the middle of roadways, but it didn’t seem an impediment to patronage. Many of the extremely well patronised stops were just under building verandahs. They were adequate because of frequency as no one had to wait long.
    I know that AT is tied up because they see there needs to be certain levels of opex and capex, but this doesn’t have to be so. In my view they need to use their scarce resources in the best way possible to reduce congestion and emissions.

    1. John I don’t know if you have being to the Manukau bus station but if you haven’t then I would suggest you should as its almost a destination in it’s own right nearly rivaling the nearby Westfield mall. Surprisingly the fullest buses leaving the station are the Intercity buses to Tauranga and Hastings but local buses are gradually filling up as bus services become easier to use and free car parking is becoming more difficult to find. The Puhinui Station upgrade and rearrangement of bus services associated with the upgrade will only enhance this. It’s a pity that the Auckland CDB is that dysfunctional that it can’t have a similar facility for its bus routes. One advantage of the Manukau bus station is that it is very easy to use. I have noticed when overseas that the saw tooth design is the best for travelers who are trying to find their way around an unfamiliar city. One that comes to mind is the bus Station at Bath which is a similar design to Manukau. This is situated just across the road from the Railway Station just like Manukau.

      1. Royce
        I regularly work near the Manukau train station so I am familiar with the bus station. I absolutely agree that inter city stations need to be of good quality because invariably there is a degree of waiting for these type of services and standing exposed to the elements for long periods is not helpful. Inter city Auckland is a hell hole.
        Why have local services increased in popularity? I can tell you that my clients often complain about the lack of parking. Because of the nature of the clients I suspect that this means any parking rather than cheap parking. (Given that AT controls so much of the parking I wonder why there isn’t demand pricing applied so that spaces are always available. I am going to answer that by saying that the application of demand parking by AT is inept.)
        My guess would be that bus services are becoming more popular because of the lack of parking as you suggest and there will be some who want to reduce their emissions. I am sceptical the great building has much to do with it for local services.
        When I was writing my first post I was thinking of Westbanhoff in Vienna. The inter city train station is a bustling place like Manukau with great amenities. About 70m away is the very well patronised local tram lines with 4 or 5 services in different directions and the waiting space for all of these is a verandah near some shops. (PT in Vienna 960 million and growing; different perspectives, completely different results.)

    2. Would those two ends be so busy if the Northern busway was devoid of expensive stations and the stops just consisted of a couple of bus shelters?

      1. Zippo
        That’s the question I am posing – what works best? I used Akoranga Station for about 4 years, up until about five years ago. Use of the station was small and most people seemed simply to wait under the verandah. Little has changed with this station except it now has a ticket machine inside and a lot more feeder buses. What has caused the increasing usage of the station?

        1. Zippo
          I used it between 7-8 – there was no perceptible peak back then for boardings at Akoranga.
          Having said that if a bus comes past every two minutes and picks up 5 or 6 people it is a reasonable number per hour.

        2. New bus network would of seen an increase use I’m sure (more transfers) & the forever increasing popularity of the NX services themselves.

      2. Grand stations have being a thing ever since the beginning of the railway era. And even the Russian metro has them too raise the spirits of the traveler. I often have look inside the old Auckland Station if I happen to be walking past. Why stop now I am sure it adds to the attractiveness and patronage.

        1. I saw inside the old Auckland station before TranzRail ceased operations there when I was a lad. I must say; it was among the things in Auckland which really left a positive impression on me. As I remember it: The interior was really attractive with a glamourous 1920s/’30s decor and it really made the Wellington Terminus I was more familiar with seem more utilitarian in comparison.
          I’m of the opinion that the aesthetic pleasantness of buildings, their functional design, and facilities that the buildings offer does attract visitors.

    3. John a few comments.
      1. I think there is something different about a European city with a strong history where it is widely used and PT in Auckland where as much as anything these stations are almost advertising.
      2. I bet those european cities you’re thinking about also have some decent legacy train stations though and that is what these are. I also think there’s value in people knowing that PT just waiting on some wind-swept shelter (everywhere).
      3. I don’t think you should dismiss the capex/opex issue so easily, that capex cost is spread out over decades so we’re not paying out $60m for Puhinui right now so the actual amount you could theoretically transfer to opex spending is much smaller.
      4. All of the big stations built so far have happened as part of much larger projects and almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t happening. Most are also about connecting buses to trains and it makes sense that if you’re trying to encourage transfers you make it high-quality.

      1. The other thing is: Those grand stations you see in Europe (and North America etc) had, from the late 19th century, regular services to over ten major destinations.
        We’d be lucky if we could establish regular services from Auckland to eight minor destinations.

        Having said that; it would still be nice if the Strand could be developed as a nice intercity rail terminal (with PT connections). Even if it only has a humble ~4 platforms.
        And I’ve often thought that it would be grand if Wellington station could have a big canopy over it to block the rain and wind. Just a thought though with no rtemote expectations of it ever occurring.

  4. Will the Lower Albert Street Bus Interchange under construction to late 2020 cater for InterCity & Skip Bus services to improve connections between trains, buses and ferries? The InterCity Sky City Bus Terminal currently used doesn’t provide transfers between buses, ferries and trains.

      1. Not sure why there isn’t consultation targeted at bus users about this. Manukau is a fine location, for Manukau. It’s not fine for Auckland.

        1. We want to make as easy as possible to use long distance buses not make it harder. Imagine a traveler staying at either of the two YHAs or YWCA & YMCA in upper Queen Street area having to get down to Britomart with all their luggage to catch a train out to Manukau train station – and then walk across to the road to the bus depot.

        2. You could trip over as you come out of the Manukau train station and you would almost fall into the bus station – its so close its almost the same building.

        3. If we end up with Regional Rapid Rail then Hamilton would be logical southern terminus for most buses. If you are coming from say Hastings transfer to a train that will do the rest of the journey quite a bit quicker.

        4. Heidi and Paulc
          If you compare this to someone flying in or out of Auckland airport I don’t see what the big deal is.
          To be honest the only issue I have is when planning a route from any of the locations that Paul mentioned to the Manuaku bus depot is that AT journey planner is usless and makes stupid suggestions. Seriously a bus from Homai to Manukau bus depot because you happen to be on a Southern train instead of an Eastern one. Stepping off and getting on the correct train would be a better option in my opinion with or without bags.
          Having traveled international with children using public transport I didn’t expect to be able to connect directly to any long distance transport from where I was staying, whether that was a train journey or a long distance flight.
          Overnight stay in Hong Kong meant walking from our accommodation to another hotel which was the local stop for the free shuttle to the train station from where we took a high speed train to the airport.
          So that is no different to walking to a bus stop on Queen Street, using the City Link bus down the hill, getting on the Eastern train to Manukau. Trust me the distance from the train to the bus in Manukau would be far less than the train to the plane at Hong Kong airport.

        5. Another reason is the current arrangement gives InterCity group the exclusive use of the Sky City bus station which just entrenches their undesirable monopoly position in the long distance bus market. Manukau would introduce a level playing field for all bus providers.

        6. There are plenty of disadvantages of regional bus, so you have to take the benefits that are available. One of them is that buses can go into the centre of the city. Therefore, they should.

          Regional bus must be made more attractive and convenient. This is low hanging fruit.

          Jezza, fair point about Regional Rapid Rail and Hamilton. Have you looked at the numbers of buses coming into Auckland from the south? When there’s a rail service running at all times of the day and well into the night to connect to these we could consider that. Until then, we need a central Auckland depot.

        7. Jezza fine idea but suspect its someway off in the future. Still would need buses to Thames Waihi. And then need a Hamilton rail bus connection.

        8. Manukau Station is one big cock-up thanks to Len Brown.

          Brown didn’t want to stump up the extra money to carry the rail line under Davies Ave so the rail and bus could be on one site.

        9. The reality of saying “they should go to the centre city because they can” is getting stuck in traffic and running late, often 45 mins+ late.

        10. Zippo, that’s not solved by making everyone get off at Manukau. If the bus stops at Manukau and Auckland city, those for whom the PT network in Auckland suits them better from Manukau will get off in Manukau. Those for whom the PT network in Auckland suits them better from Auckland central need to to get off in Auckland central.

        11. Heidi and Royce – yes, I’m thinking well in the future, certainly not an excuse for not sorting something in the CBD now.

          The temporary stop that was used by Intercity on Mayoral Drive during the Sky City fire last year would probably be a decent spot once Aotea Station opens. Would need a few facilities but while it would be nice to have a proper terminal, just somewhere with said facilities and good connections would a be starting point.

        12. @Paulc “Imagine a traveler staying at either of the two YHAs or YWCA & YMCA in upper Queen Street area having to get down to Britomart with all their luggage to catch a train out to Manukau train station”.

          By the time something else is sorted the CRL will be up and running & you would only have to catch a train from the new fancy K’Rd station with entrance at Beresford Sq, only about 200m walk or the Aotea Station.

          I think Manukau is pretty good for regional buses, real issue is getting the train frequency & span improved. It would be even better as you wouldn’t have to sit in motorway traffic if it’s near peak times or there has been a snarl up.

        13. Grant – on the other hand, if you’re staying at the YMCA in Auckland on the corner of City Road, then it is the perfect location for catching the SkyBus… less than 50m away and direct to the airport.

        14. So i catch the bus from near Wellington to Auckland a couple of times a year. I do that because i want to significantly reduce my carbon footprint and the train doesnt run everyday and is super expensive. I dont have a special affection for buses. By the time I have traveled for ten hours and endured the often poor off bus facilities i arrive at Manukau about 7.30 to 8ish depending on which day bus i catch. Getting off there and transferring to a bus or train at that time of the evening (dark in winter) would be the final nail in the coffin. I agree transferring to rapid rail at Hamilton would be great. But that would require regular trains too which seems a long way away.

        15. And parents whose children come in on an Intercity bus that stops in Manukau instead of Auckland would have to go down to Manukau to pick them up instead of just into Auckland central. Which makes it a right royal PITA.

          If you’re going to rely on train from Manukau, I hope you’re also going to ensure the time when many children are using the regional buses without their parents – school holidays – that there’s no scheduled rail maintenance requiring replacement buses.

          Good outcomes come when we plan for actual users, focusing on the outliers and vulnerable first. Why shonky workarounds all the time? A central bus depot is not a big ask.

        16. I think realistically a “central” depot wouldn’t end up central right in the heart of valuable realestate but rather somewhere pushed to the side like the old City Works depot so what would we gain? Surrounded by cruddy steep dark unwalkable cityscape.

        17. Why? SkyCity is required to provide it. If they don’t want it where they are, they need to provide a replacement, at their cost. They could’ve designed a nice one into the work they’re doing at the moment, and had Council upheld their responsibilities, they would’ve insisted that any problems with the existing location were indeed resolved through the design of the new buildings.

          Auckland’s being shafted yet again.

  5. The Coyle Park problem could be solved with half a dozen flappy rubber bollards that the bus can drive right over whenever it needs the space for turning.

    Yeah, people shouldn’t be parking there. But prevention is cheaper than punishment.

    1. Yes. They’d need them in a few spots. Not sure why they painted the triangle with white paint – indicating a median strip (which you’re not allowed to park in) and not with yellow paint which is presumably even more clear… but oh well.

      As of this morning, the different bus stops are still saying conflicting things.

  6. Vancouver have got it right with their new rapid buses. An attractive bus service requires many elements to be correct. Not only does the bus need to be frequent, it must also not stop every 100m, must be easy to get on and off (rear door boarding), must have comfortable seats, dedicated lanes, etc.

    On Auckland’s most popular bus routes, such as NEX and Mt Eden Road, they need to remove the option of buying a ticket on board. 99% of the passengers are regular commuters and have a HOP card. Instead they should install a ticket machine at the stops and get people to buy a ticket while they wait for the bus. That way the time spent waiting at a bus stop is more efficiently used and they can just show the driver upon boarding the bus. I advocate for this even though I sometimes forget my HOP card and have to pay cash. It is amazing how 1 person paying cash = time taken for 10 people to tag on.

    1. Vancouver’s Rapidbus is an expanded and rebranded “B-Line” service, that they have been operating for ages,

      They typically only stopped at “major” stops on a route, which were much further apart than the regular “all stop” services…

  7. That Glen Innes video is great, complete with cute animations. I past through the level crossing secured by safety gate this morning wondering what would be done here.

    There is the question in the Tweet about Otahuhu 3rd main & platform whether Eastern line/Panmure services will use that new platform closest to the bus station side thereby negating having to walk up over the overbridge. Certainly hope this is the case & would make sense.

  8. On the topic of integrating e-scooters with PT fares, is this something happening internationally in cities with e-scooters and PT? I can’t see it how it’d work myself, but if other places have figured it out maybe it can be done.

    The scooter costs the same amount for the scooter company to provide whether the customer is using it to connect to PT or using it independently. So the only way to integrate it would be for AT to start paying subsidies to the scooter companies. And once that happens, I can see people who live on viable bus routes opting to take scooters instead for convenience and starting to undermine those bus services. Same issue as with the Devonport ferry “uber-style” service, right?

    I don’t see too much of a problem with the way things are, as long as the PT network is continually expanded and improved to ensure a walkable catchment for everyone, so that scooters will only ever be an “extra for experts” option for those who want to do that last mile a couple of minutes faster and dearer.

    1. Definitely something to consider, RA. We especially need to prevent the micromobility companies from convincing AT that they can provide the ‘last mile’ for the bus and train stations and are worthy of funding for that, if this prevents a proper feeder bus network from being funded.

  9. There is an article in the Herald outlining a list of projects that our Mayor has prioritised for the $12 billion infrastructure spend. Apparently he has outlined his list in a letter. Number one on the list is the third main from Quay Park to Wiri costed $172 million and electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe costed at $232 million. These two projects are scheduled to be completed by 2023 and 2024. So at least he seems to know whats going on. It sounds like he knows more than anyone.

  10. I have a question if/or when they triple track the Eastern Line will they widen the Meadowbank tunnel and what will happen at Panmure , will they remove one of the road lanes on the western side of the Station or will they create bottlenecks at those 2 points ?

    And the thing I noticed in the in both of the pictures if GI station there is not one darker skin person in sight . The last 2x I caught the train there we white people were the minority ,.

    And the other thing is I hope they leave the underpass in place mainly for the benefit of the diable and people with young one in prams/pushchairs as they won’t have the problem of trying to cross the busy road in front of the station . And wih the overbridge wil it have a lift and escalator at the end thats not shown ? .

    1. There is already space for three tracks at Panmure, the bridges just have false walls on them to close of part of their span, the actual span is plenty wide enough for three tracks.

    2. Good questions, David. I also wonder if the overbridge will survive all the way to actual construction. And why they didn’t make the white lines of the pedestrian crossing more visible.

      But all in all a good video.

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