Last week in our Weekly Roundup post I highlighted an interview with Councillor Richard Hills who is the chair of the Auckland Council’s Environment and Climate Change committee. One of the quotes that stood out to me is this about public transport usage.

“Theoretically we need to increase our public patronage by about 300 per cent in the next ten years, which is not small,” he said.

The roll-out of electric buses, and maybe even electric ferries were just part of that mix, along with boosting cycling and walking, he said.

I’ve been thinking more about it and in particular, just what does that look like and is it even achievable.

To start with, a few assumptions:

  • By “in the next ten years” I’m going to take it from the beginning of the year and so say this needs to be achieved by the end of December 2029.
  • As of the end of December, we’d had just over 103 million annual public transport trips. However, things tidy, I’m going to say we need to achieve 300 million trips

That 103 million annual trips in December has come on the back the most substantial period of public transport growth in Auckland since the trams were pulled out in the 1950’s with usage growing from less than 59 million trips a decade ago. That’s a compounding annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% which is also well above the rate of population growth. Much of that growth has occurred in just the last five years too – for which we’ve had a CAGR of 6.3%.

For some that rate of growth might not sound like much but it’s worth noting that it’s one of the highest rates out of the more than 50 cities around the world I’m tracking. Part of the reason that rate is high is that we’re coming off a low base compared to many comparator cities but it’s also happened because we’ve made a lot of positive improvements over the last decade or so, such as:

  • Double tracking the western line and improved rail frequencies
  • Electrification of the rail network
  • The Northern Busway which opened just outside that 10 year window.
  • Integrated ticketing and later integrated fares
  • The new bus network

Yet to reach 300 million trips by the end of the decade we’re going to have to step that rate of growth up substantially. In fact we basically need to double it as we’d need to be seeing a whopping 11.3% growth every year going forward. This graph shows our average 5-year annual growth rate over the last decade with what it would need to be over the next decade to hit 300 million.

Getting 11.3% growth annually for a decade seems a very tall ask even though there’s quite a few good projects coming through in the next few years, such as:

  • The City Rail Link
  • The Northern Busway extension
  • The Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga
  • Electrification to Pukekohe
  • The Airport to Manukau busway including the interchange with rail at Puhinui. Within the decade may be extended to Botany.
  • At least some early works to deliver a busway on the Northwestern
  • Maybe something with light rail or light metro

That’s quite a lot and is all definitely needed but I doubt it is enough to move the growth rate dial much above what it is, let’s say a CAGR of about 6.5%. That would get us to about 194 million trips in 2029, nothing to sneeze at given where we’ve come from but clearly not enough to reach what is needed. It’s also worth noting that the prediction in ATAP was for 170 million trips by 2028.

It’s at this point it’s worth asking if 300 million trips even possible for a city like Auckland. Currently our 103 million trips equates to about 62 trips per person. At 194 million that puts us at about 96 trips per person and at 300 million it’s 149 trips per person. As a comparison Vancouver is now doing over 170 trips per person while sibling cities of Calgary and Edmonton are both smaller than Auckland and both do just about 113 and 102 trips per person respectively. Closer to home Sydney does about 150 trips per person and Melbourne 128.

If we’re going to achieve 300 million trips, and it’s a good stretch target, we’re going to need to do a lot more than is currently planned. It’s also going to require us to be smarter about how we get there. Put another way we’re just not going to be able to brute force it. For example much of the focus over the last decade or two has been about getting more people to use public transport to get to the city at peak times. That’s been successful and now about as many enter the city each morning by public transport as do so by car. Projects like the City Rail Link will help further that, but we just don’t have the space on the streets in the city centre to add three times the number of buses. That means we’re going to need to get better utilisation of public transport at other times of the day and week as well as to other locations, such as Albany, Takapuna, Newmarket, Manukau and many others.

It also means Auckland Transport are really going to need to start addressing the many, often minor, issues that lead to people getting frustrated and giving up or not even trying to use PT. I’ve already got quite a list of these and will be starting to publish a handful at a time over the coming weeks but let me know the things that frustrate you the most and I’ll add it to the list if I haven’t got it already.

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  1. 1. Lack of fare capping. In many cities in the world, if I’d made a journey to work and back during the day, and then made another trip within the same zone, I’d be capped and it would be free. If I go to work and back, and then come back into the city on a Friday, I end up paying over $14, which is a real disincentive to take more PT in the evenings and weekends. It’s been talked about for years, but this is yet another reason why AT is so far behind what other cities have had for years.

    1. +1 Michael. Daily and Weekly fare caps are important as are reasonably priced monthly passes.
      Other things to consider are reduced offpeak fares (around 2/3 the peak price) to encourage usage outside of peak (frees up peak services and makes offpeak more viable).

      1. Yes, that’s true about off-peak fares: that would certainly cut down the cost, and incentivise travelling away from the busiest times (if possible)

        1. Would encourage more uptake of off-peak bus services (10am-2pm) for people especially uni students who often either miss their 8am lectures or don’t have anything on in the morning.

  2. Great to see this kind of target set out strategically as an explicit goal! If this is driven by the climate and environment imperative, then we also need to think about how to achieve it with the most carbon-efficient means.

    Public transport, particularly rail based systems, are more carbon efficient in operation but we also need to think assess the “carbon burp” involved in building infrastructure. If we have a realistic choice to achieve a similar level of service we should choose the option with less concrete and steel…

    At a day to day level, we need to assess where the biggest wins can be made most easily. One win has to be making the most of existing networks and routes, so no more stripping back buses from the New Network. Second – getting those who commute longer distances in cars into PT – the NW RTN etc. Third – “micro investments” in local walking – the infra that supports PT. Safer access to stops, better shelters, safe routes for kids to walk to schools will all enable people to shift from cars. Fourth should be an easy win – better customer service and information, eg more live service info in apps and on boards.

    1. What sort of things do you mean by more live service information on the app etc? I’m the product owner for AT Mobile and the Journey Planner and keen to understand this further.

      1. To start with I’d settle for having live information just be accurate. The recent ‘upgrade’ to the back end system has made it worse than ever. For example in frequently told an NX1 is 1 minute away from Smales Farm when it’s only at Constellation and is actually 5+ minutes away.

        1. Thanks that’s fair. We are working actively on making these better as we are aware they can understate at times. It’s tricky to get a good balance as we wouldn’t want to get this wrong on the other way and say it’s 5 min away and have it arrive in 2.

        1. Yes! Wonderful. Thanks so much. I’ve sent them before but they’ve obviously not gone through to the right people.

        2. I’m so thrilled. Yes, some of those are the places I’ve pointed out. This is responsive, safetu-focused and competent! Well done, AT, and well done, Callum.

          Would a post on it, to encourage people to send in unsafe locations, overwhelm you with too much work at the moment, Callum? Or would it set up a workstream that is useful when requesting more budget for another staff member?

          And is there any point in putting out to readers the places that are harder to fix, in case they have any ideas?

      2. Good example Callum, using the Journey Planner recently which included a transfer from the train to the 31 bus at Papatoetoe train station, the journey planner made me walk 150 meters to a bus stop 2456 and while doing so I missed 31 bus which went past, on my return I found out there was another bus stop 2313 which was only 10 meters from the train station.
        Why on earth did the journey planner what me to walk 150 meters instead of the much closer 10 meter bus stop. – A real pain.

        1. it’s probably worth me explaining briefly how our journey planner works. It first looks at the schedules and shows results that meet your settings. Then we get the real time info like predicted departure time or location and overlay it so you know when it will really arrive. In this case it’s possible that the 31 that went past was running later than schedule so wouldn’t have shown up in the results from the planner. moving to real time trip planning is on our roadmap and should significantly improve these situations.

        2. Thanks for your reply Callum, testing the Journey planner I’m not sure your answer is correct.
          From what I can tell what is happening is that the journey planner is sending users to the first bus stop in the direction of travel and not to the nearest bus stop which is 10 meters in the opposite direction of travel. Thus instead of using the closer bus stop the system defaults to continuing the journey on foot even if this leads to a bus stop which is further away.
          I would suggest that if I am correct, this should be corrected.

        3. Hi Adam, can you please email ( me the specific start and end for this journey and I’ll investigate it with our journey planning provider. I want to make sure I get the right answer for you.


      3. Callum, could you please look at the 650 service just before it crosses over SH1 at Greenlane interchange in the afternoon. It’s totally inaccurate and needs to be improved as the service is often delayed due to traffic congestion. The App says buses are arriving yet you still wait 10 to 15 minutes.

        1. Hi Callum, I just wanted to say thanks for reading and commenting back to us, great to have someone from AT here to answer some questions and let us know more about the Mystery Box that all software is to us non-software types. Thanks!

        2. No problem John. I’ve been a long time reader of the site since the TransportBlog days and happy to explain/answer questions where I can 🙂

        3. For the 650, is that in a particular direction, or at a particular stop? Any info will help with looking into this 🙂

        4. Yes its from Pt Chev towards Glen Innes from 15:00 to 17:00 (perhaps even later, I don’t catch the bus after this) in the afternoon. The relevant bus stop is 1765. Thanks for looking into this.

        5. I’ve had a look at 650, I can see what you’re referring to. The couple of trips I watched ended up about 6-8 mins later than the predicted time which was suggesting less than 1 minute. We’re actually kicking off some work on prediction improvements which should improve situations like this where the service is delayed while in between stops. We’ll use this as an example and to test against as we proceed. Thanks

        6. Thanks, thats great news. Just a note, you probably had a look at a good day. Take a look at this afternoon. Friday is usually a bad day.

        1. I can understand your desire then to move out of the sticks then. But Newtown Wellington is fairly extreme.

        2. I live in a built up part of the North Shore. The old ap used to always suggest walking to Ranui and getting the train as an alternative to going by bus.

        3. Ah. A very healthy disrespect to computerised, and other corporate bs standard answers is always required to be maintained, something I am sure you and others of our ilk have an abundance of. Keep up that healthy disrespect/ cynicism, it may not always be justified but it keeps the pr/bull shit manufacturing industry on it’s toes

      4. Hi Callum, thanks for engaging! Quick wins for me would include

        – Train info – 3 and 6 cars. It appears on station boards, add it to the app.
        – Buses – likewise, is there any reason the vehicle can’t be identified as single/double deck?
        – How full a service is. Swiss transport networks show this in apps and on webpages. I assume it is based on tag on/off data, or possibly from on-board sensors. The latter should be easy, even if not fully accurate. Really great user interface feature.
        – Google traffic overlay – really helpful to understand how much a bus might be held up!
        – Ideally, a version of the realtime vehicle map with *all* vehicles in an area visible at once. The old Buswise app did this – it’s super-helpful for an location where you have a choice of bus lines and routes to get to where you need to go. It avoids lots of clicking and pre-decisions as to what stop you are interested in.

        That’s my top list….there will be plenty more, and there are lots of good comments here already….


        1. Hey Tim, you’re welcome! I find it best to engage direct when I can, get some great conversations and ideas out of it

          Good news for you, we’re working on adding how full a service is shortly, we’re going to test it out first with our beta customers, so if you (or anyone else!) are keen, send me an email to and I’ll get you set up so you can help test it out and give us feedback as we iterate.

          Not sure about single/double deck, but 3-car/6-car is another thing I’m exploring.

          We looked at turning on the traffic overlay, it was sort of useful, but added a lot of clutter to the UI so we decided not to go with it, instead trying to get more accurate predictions so you don’t need the overlay.

          Will check out Buswise too – sounds interesting.

          Appreciate your feedback and thoughts!

        2. Cheers Callum, great to hear you’ve got goodies coming, and good to hear about the Beta program.

          Single/double should be easy from the GIS track a vehicle fleet records I suspect.

          Buswise is no more, but I did get screenshots way back. I’ll try to forward to you.

        3. On the traffic overlay, I suspect users could love it. It’s not so much for when your bus arrives, as how much it might be held up once you are on it, which I suspect you don’t factor in?

          Either way, knowledge is power and this kind of info would empower customers. Even if predictions take this into account, being able to see stuff that the time prediction is based on will help give people confidence in the data.

  3. Getting to that number means getting the workhorse of Auckland – the local bus – to perform much better than it’s doing right now. No number of mega-PT projects is going to fix the problem that only a small percentage of the population lives close enough to those high capacity corridors and can use them directly. Majority will continue to catch the bus for the first/last portion of the journey. And for the bus to work we’ll need 2 things:
    1. proper priority on the arterials, through intersections and pinch-points
    2. much better coverage with high frequency network

    The good thing is that point 1 shouldn’t be too expensive. Most of the corridors are quite wide, so it’s “just” a matter or allocating the priorities correctly. Point 2 on the other hand is where I think the real difference can be made – if the bus stop can be walked up to in a few minutes and there’s a bus there departing every 10mins or so – that’s going to make a huge difference.
    Overall – I think it’s a very doable target, but as with anything else of – it requires proper plan and execution which means proper commitment (i.e. not yielding to the loud few that believe that being able to drive everywhere (and park) is their birthright).

    1. Agree that the bus network is a very important piece of the puzzle. But I think they will need a lot more than just priority and frequency. For example from our house we have frequent routes in two directions, but in almost all cases it is still quicker and easier to drive.
      So as well as your changes I’d like to see:
      1) Longer buses (articulated buses)
      2) All door boarding
      3) Priority outside peak times
      4) No cash
      5) Central bus station(s)
      6) Electric buses (not so noisy)
      7) Off peak fares
      8) Less bus stops
      9) Direct routes without zigzags
      10) More central city roads dedicated to buses (I don’t buy the ‘there isn’t enough room city for more buses’ argument)
      11) Make better use of free marketing opportunities (for example paint bus numbers along 24×7 bus lanes so people who don’t use buses can see what buses go where)

      None of these are particularly expensive, they just need the political willpower.

      1. Electric buses are vital for reducing emissions if we are going to increase frequencies. Otherwise we will just have a fleet of near empty diesel buses running around late in the evening.

        1. The government would be better off paying to convert every bus that is running all day before subsidising personal cars that are utilised for less of the time.

        2. I still think that at some stage; battery-electric buses will be found wanting. No matter how much the manufacturers come out with new-fangled “improvement”; they’re still batteries whose performance inherently deteriorates and which at some stage need replacing altogether (which is an environmental concern).

          Maybe Auckland should also plan towards switching some routes to trolleybuses at some stage?

    2. Often problems arise within projects though – If a PT priority is looking at say New North Road, and the project includes bus lanes, moving bus stops and maybe intersection modifications for bus lanes, then often this gets caught up with other projects, the cycling team may also be looking at cycle lanes on New North Rd, one of these modes can fit without shifting kerbs, when kerbs need to be shifted, the costs skyrocket (power lines, stormwater need to be moved etc etc).
      Que and internal AT battle / stalemate that never really gets resolved.

      1. On Glenfield Road (which has also been both a strategic bicycle route, and which is part of the proposed congestion free network) this is resolved by just leaving it as it is for now.

        (I am curious about what a cross-section would look like. Outside bus lanes, or AMETI style busway? Because of the local topography it is not feasible to cut the thoroughfare for cars, but the road is quite wide)

      2. A cycle-way following the rail corridor would be better than NN Rd.
        Post CRL it’ll be interesting to see how NN Rd bus routes might be optimized, particularly encouraging transfers to/from train. e.g. Sandringham Rd buses might terminate at Kingsland Station.
        With NN Rd being largely parallel to rail, other routes are likely in more urgent need of bus lanes.

  4. The focus is on tripling PT journeys but what is really important is to remove petrol / diesel vehicles from the roads. If you live in the city centre or fringe you could walk the great majority of places, from all of Waitemata you could cycle. If new housing development is focused around transport hubs/ town centres getting to which is walkable that reduces the need of transport at all. The point I guess I am making is that the “ transport industry” will want to see economic growth for their own workforce/ earnings when they are only part of the solution. Commuting has only been a thing for 150 years or so, hasn’t it, before then cities had walkable density and horses and transport was mainly about shifting goods.

    1. Totally agree Alex. It’s like the targets of having “x million EVs on the road by 2040” or whatever. It sounds great, but just having x million fewer cars on the road is much, much better.

  5. We can do this, and more. And with climate change, the more we do, and the earlier, the better a role model we can be for the many sprawl cities that aren’t on a path of progress.

    Agree with all the comments above.

    We need to set the vision of how our transport system will be in 2030, based on what we need as a society and in response to global environmental issues, and then figure out the way to meet it.

    Time to order lots of buses.

  6. Don’t forget land use change feeds transport. Higher density in the isthmus in general and especially around transit hubs will lead to higher PT growth rates.

    1. Yes, for many of these discussions it is hard to take them serious, while the area where you actually have good public transport and the city centre within bicycling distance is covered with single housing zones and heritage areas.

      1. The Central City/Isthmus land cartels are a tough nut to crack. But South Auckland is also a major population node within Auckland.

        Any new transit villages/towns that are created in the South need to reflect land use that creates climate mitigation.

        1. I think the 15min city is a scale-able concept – both up and down. New greenfield development must be TOD.

          See what Cashmore says:

          The needs of Mangere as oriented towards Manukau City Center are different from the needs of Roskill as oriented towards the Waitemata City Center.

          We need to reflect this in our debates and planning.

          In terms of the isthmus, I think that we should zone the whole isthmus as medium density. Single House Zoning has not place in a dense core. We can keep one or two streets for heritage.

          This is what radical climate action demands.

        2. Thanks for that clip. He’s right about needing a focus on the south. He’s right about the aggregate. That doesn’t mean Mill Rd should be built for through-running general traffic.

          We should have a conversation sometime about where Cashmore’s economy argument fits with Ha-Joon Chang, what jobs are involved in a circular economy in a place with a growing population, and how to create a live work play city in the south without greenfields.

          People find all sorts of excuses for greenfields development, but they will never provide climate mitigation opportunities in the same way that regeneration in brownfields can.

        3. Ben has a better handle on this. But as I understand, Mill Road (north) is about the transit lanes. And Mill Road (south) is about freight/industry.

          Definitely needs debate, but it’s not a black and white issue.

          I’ve very much against sprawl. All new greenfield developments need to be build-up developments. But the transition to density within the city is not going to be fast enough to meeting the housing demand. Especially given the land cartels.

          So what is the most equitable path? The just transition?

        4. This is probably first off the rank for a Citizens’ Assembly, Nicholas.

          The only things holding us back from ditching greenfields altogether is the public and politicians not being up to speed on the actual options nor on the evidence about the climate and liveability impacts. There is no substantive reason we have to include any greenfields development in our plans at all.

          And I’m saying this is from the perspective of planning for people in the south as much as anywhere.

        5. The census estimated South Auckland is now more densely populated than the isthmus. If that is accurate they don’t seem to have the PT network to show for it.

        6. @roeland I’ve been arguing that A2B needs to grow into the core of a RTN for South Auckland.

          Whether or not CC2M goes ahead is something else.

          However, A2B could easily be extended to Onehunga as a BRT (upgradeable to LRT later) over the SH20 bridge.

        7. @Roeland, I really find it hard to see how south Auckland could possibly be denser than the isthmus except possibly due to the number of parks on the isthmus. Isthmus has almost all of the apartments in Auckland. It also has the most brownfield development (which typically quadruples density – if not more). It has lots of rental flats (all rooms occupied by flat mates rather than a family with spare room/s), existing density (higher than the burbs).

        8. It is easy to imagine. Very restrictive zoning for most part. Lack of families living in garages.

          But indeed I can’t tell from here how accurate that is.

        9. South Auckland is larger and apart from the City Centre is now more denser than the Isthmus – and is also growing faster than the Isthmus as well.

          That will happen when the Isthmus NIMBY’s its Unitary Plan zones out.

          As for Mill Road, it is divided into two separate projects; Mill Road North which if NZTA is doing right is 2 general lanes and 2 HOV/Transit like SH20B while Mill Road south is 4 general owing to a heavy industrial complex in the area and drawing cars away from Settlement Road and Beach Road in Papakura itself.

  7. Perhaps they could upgrade the electric trains to coal fired steam trains to reduce the travel time from Papakura to central Auckland.

    1. It would be good if they could make our trains more fun. Back in the day before the introduction of the electric trains it was a lottery as to what would turn up. It could be a carriage train with a DF loco or a DC loco or even a DBR and then there were to different types of DMU. It added a bit of variety and after all its meant to add spice too life. Going back even further to the days of the red carriage trains it used to be hilarious when there was a shortage of locomotives due most likely to a block of line which resulted in freight locomotives not arriving back in Auckland from their overnight duties. It was not uncommon for the DH shunter to be used on suburban trains. There used to be one guard who would turn out the lights in the carriages to give the kids a bit of a thrill when the train was in the tunnel.
      I am not advocating a Thomas the tank engine but surely something could be done to try and recreate some of the grandeur and quirkiness of our rail past.
      Same who would want to climb into a red bus to travel at walking pace up Queen Street when you could ride on a modern retro tram. Or wouldn’t it be good to have a modern electric powered replica of our classic Auckland harbour ferry.
      I think a bit of novelty would attract new customers to at least try out public transport.

  8. Matt, I hate to be picky, but a 300% _increase_ on an existing 100m, is an _increase_ of 300m, taking the total to 400m. 400m trips pa is going to be even harder to achieve than 300m pa.

    1. I wondered how long and who would be first to raise that. I’ve gone with 300m as I believe that was the intent of the quote and is going to be hard enough to achieve as it is. A 400m target in a decade would need a 14.9% annual increase

  9. Great to have these goals for the environment. And I think public transport’s great.

    Meanwhile everyone seems to be driving bloody double cab utes and big off road vehicles that don’t look like they ever leave the city. The air was cleaner when I was pushing a pram a few years ago. Now my kids and me have to walk through fumes wherever we go.

    How do we get people out of these stupid dangerous stinky vehicles and back into something smaller and more reasonable when they do drive?

    1. Easy, the Government [‘cos IRD won’t do it on its own] needs to direct the IRD to enforce the Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) on these vehicles asit does for all other business vehicles used in a personal capacity and they will disappear faster than the dinosaurs did when the meteorite hit Earth.

      Money (or in this case, taxes) will do the bidding for us, if the *existing* tax rules are properly enforced.

      1. Don’t expect this to happen before the election. They could, however, offer FBT exemptions for employer provided PT passes like they do in more enlightened countries without any political blowback.

        1. Indeed, start by coupling FBT exemptions for PT passes with actually charging FBT on employer-provided carparks (which the IRD tried to do a few years back and gave up on) to turn the incentives from driving to PT.
          It’s mad in this day and age that the tax system encourages driving to work in Auckland. Utterly mad.

  10. I have loads of minor gripes which come and go, but off the top of my head

    1. I live an 8 minute walk from the train station but have to cross THREE pedestrian crossings and waiting for each light to change takes so long that I just jaywalk each one which is easy enough since I know the traffic light phases by heart
    2. Round trip commute is $10 per day. Since my work has free parking, it would be cheaper to drive
    3. Infrequent late night trains
    4. Conflicting information whenever there is a disruption. The boards and staff might say cancelled/no trains for an hour/take a bus, but then one will turn up within five minutes

    Of course many many positives as well. Compared to ten years ago, trains and buses are clean and quiet. The on peak turn up and go frequency has been a game changer for me. And I have taken my dog out on the train – although why the train manager forced me to muzzle her when she is the size of a cat is beyond me, all it did was overheat her as she couldn’t breathe freely

    1. Yeah, number 2 is a big one for me.
      I’m considering buying ebikes to give to staff on permanent loan, and then pay them a set rate for each km they add to the odo. Seems fair to me… they wouldn’t need onsite parking, so it’s fair they get reimbursed in some way. Plus we get healthier, happier staff.
      Still got to pay income tax on their odo earnings, but it seems like a reasonable idea. I’d be interested if anyone else knows other companies doing something similar.

    2. Yep – Te Atatu Peninsula to North West shopping centre – 11 minutes by car, 1hr 15 by bus according to google or 34 mins by bike. So many of our destinations are like this.

      1. And it’s not just the time it takes, it’s also the really poor frequency. I tried to catch the train (peak frequency 10mins) to transfer to a local bus (peak frequency 30mins). Gave up the second time I didn’t make connection in time (either the bus left early or didn’t show up) and had to wait for the next one. Of course I could catch an earlier train, but that would make the trip even longer.

  11. Those new apartments close to the stations will and are making a big difference. Just 2 developments I noticed yesterday; a new large 8? story block at Panmure about to open and a large group of multistory apartments at Onehunga opening in a few months. Both will give a boost to ridership.

  12. A Sydney level of per capita patronage requires a Sydney level of public transport patronage. Sydney rail patronage is 20x Auckland with a population of about 3x Auckland. Sydney has main rail lines with 6-8 tracks, Auckland is still to get the 3rd main project going.

      1. Actually a Sydney level of per-capita patronage requires a 1/3rd Sydney public transport infrastructure, given that the population is three times Auckland. By that measure our three main lines is comparable to Sydney’s nine main lines, per capita.

        Sydney has four times as many train stations as Auckland, so we’re not far off having the right level of infrastructure there. The main difference is they have about four times as much patronage per station than we do.

        Sydney has 600 bus routes and and about 25,000 bus stops, Auckland has about 160 routes and 11,000 stops. So for bus infrastructure, we are ahead. Actually Auckland already has more bus passengers and more ferry passengers per capita than Sydney.

        1. Exactly, how many train stations in Auckland have medium density apartment buildings ina 500m radius? Certainly nothing west of Kingsland other than New Lynn, nothing on the Southern or Eastern line. Densification is where we are behind Sydney, not on needing extra rail lines, although we need to do this as well

    1. Why any comparisons between Auckland and Sydney? They’re pretty different city=ies.

      If you’re really looking for some Australian city to compare to Auckland; wouldn’t Brisbane make more sense? Similar size, similar urban development patterns & timeline…

      1. I guess Sydney is more of the city to look up to, most of us are inspired by its infrastructure mostly built before car dependency.
        Brisbane is just to much like Auckland.
        Even though it’s unreasonable to compare Auckland and Brisbane to a city with much higher population.

  13. Speeding the buses up requires bus lanes and bus priority at signals. But it also means having the buses stuck in less general traffic everywhere else. For that, we need to focus on traffic reduction.

    Reduced parking supply, pricing, low-traffic neighbourhoods. Etc.

    And wherever we have road reallocation to the sustainable modes, which reduces vkt along a particular corridor, it reduces the network load. As long as the ratruns are blocked.

    1. Much shorter traffic light phases… good for buses . Also as part of increased bus priority…. more chances to override the signal sequences.

      1. And some of the reasons that AT don’t use sensors for buses to trigger a phase for them, enabling an otherwise maximum 30 second wait times for pedestrians (and bus passengers crossing to the bus stop), is that the buses aren’t in bus lanes in the critical places. So there might be a bus lane on an arterial, but when it comes to the town centre or intersection area, the buses suddenly have to share with general traffic. And that means the signal phasing has to prioritise all traffic over pedestrians just to get the buses through.

  14. I am thinking that we are trying to measure the wrong thing. For example if people are walking and cycling for their journey then they are not on the train, bus or ferry so the good works of our council and govt is not being measured. So maybe the goal should be to measure and try to stabilise or decrease car trips. One more suggestion if the likes of google maps could provide data on all forms of people movement not just people in cars it would be helpful. Not that I am advocating constant surveillance but a person without the data is just another person with an opinion.

  15. I am at Middlemore Hospital this year. I started the year off taking a 650 to Greenlane Station and getting on a train to Middlemore. Extremely convenient, given that the train stops right outside the hospital.

    However, now, I take the car, even though it is more expensive, because bus + train is just too slow. On a ‘good’ day, when I don’t miss any buses/trains, it takes about 40 minutes. On a ‘bad’ day, when I seem to miss every bus/train by 1 minute, it can take up to an hour.

    By car, it takes 25 minutes on a ‘good’ day, and 40 minutes on a ‘bad’ day. So if I take the car, I am guaranteed to always get home earlier than if I took PT. I haven’t even factored in disruptions to trains etc.

    So how can PT become more attractive to me?
    1) Improve the Greenlane train station/bus stop transfer, so it doesn’t take me 10 minutes to walk from the train station to the bus stop
    2) Improve the frequency of the 650 feeder bus, so I don’t have to wait so long for a bus
    3) Improve the frequency of the trains (not currently possible until CRL complete)

    If my commute could be consistently 40 minutes, then I would always take PT, even if driving was 25 minutes only. I can work with consistency, I cannot work with huge variability in my day-to-day timetable.

    1. +1

      AT, I’m looking forward to the 650 improvement to a 65.

      But when does the Greenlane area get sorted for bus – train transfers? It’s diabolical.

      1. Central vs Local Govt – NZTA and Greenlane roundabout area due to SH1.

        AT can’t do much there without affecting on-off ramp performance – or lack of performance

        All just excuses of course

      2. Yes, Greenlane is a total mess. Needs a serious rethink. Maybe now with the NZTA board in charge, things at that end will change.
        Apart from easing bus to train transfers, there needs to be new exits from the train station at both the north and south ends.
        At the moment, people working to the north (e.g. in the huge new office development in Marewa Road) have to walk all the way west to the GSR intersection and then all the way back to safely cross the road, adding lots of time to their journey. An exit directly off the train station between the Carfe and Fruit World would make this trip so much quicker.
        To the south, people living on Adam St and Woodbine Ave face a longer walk than they should have to. A path exiting the station onto Adam St and ideally also Woodbine/MItchelson would make train travel more accessible, and hence much more attractive.

        1. This is just one example of the many local projects which are needed to make PT more accessible. Pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, traffic calming, AT has been far too timid.
          E.g. try crossing this undulating, twisting racetrack of a four lane road to get to the bus stop on the other side. An awful experience any which way you put it.

        2. Not hard to see why our children aren’t independent, leading to our teenagers being depressed, is it?

          This is a deficient transport network that doesn’t meet the basic needs of our people.

    2. The whole Greenlane interchange area is a mess.
      Planning needs to start with bus lanes on Greenland Rd and stops immediately adjacent to the station. Some additional bridges would be needed

    3. Yes 650 sucks. Did you ever try the 321? It showed up today with the rail failure south of Penrose how this one should be at 20 min frequency all day at least and weekend service if you ask me. Many waiting at Penrose trying to get south.

        1. One seat ride should take about 59 mins depending on the time. Also outerlink to Newmarket is better than 650 than train perhaps with more right of way.

  16. From where I’m sitting, 300-million PT trips p.a. is impossible without road pricing.

    All of the improvements mentioned above (fares, frequencies etc) won’t get us anywhere close. 200-million by 2030 will be hard enough …

    1. Yup. I will buy an EV to help with the carbon bit and because I’m over ICE unreliability and petrol companies, but I’ll still be on the road at 5pm going home (I’m in pretty early in the morning), so I’ll still be part of a congestion problem. I don’t see a problem with having to pay for that bit – it makes sense to me.

      1. Yes, and to carry 300-million trips p.a. we’re going to have a lot more buses moving a lot faster than they do now. That means we’re going to need to ration road space, for which pricing is the most effective tool.

        1. Bus lanes are are a very effective road space rationing tool that does not require the implementation of an entirely new and expensive administration behemoth with all the risks that entails. It is a tool that AT is far to timid to increase the usage of in the meantime inspite of proven effectiveness.

        2. Well said Don – road pricing also has huge equity problems, assigning further privilege to those parts of Auckland favoured with access to frequent public transport at the expense of those who don’t.

    2. It is almost unimaginable in Auckland that road pricing will do anything else than just have people stay home instead of going out. The difference in utility between driving and other modes is just too large. You can’t take the non-existing or planned-in-far-future bus to somewhere.

      Maybe we will get a a very dramatic improvement in PT. Maybe not. About a year ago there was a consultation for a few 100 metres of bus lane on Birkenhead Ave, but it hasn’t materialized yet. At that rate we won’t even get there within this century.

      1. If that’s true, it’s because they won’t also implement measures to make the other modes attractive at the same time, including using all the traffic reduction levers they can, not just the pricing ones.

        But a more positive way of looking at it is there are so many things they can do to improve the situation, there is loads of modeshift that will happen when we do them.

    3. Stu
      and yet Vienna has achieved patronage of 965 million and no road pricing. (Other European cities have similarly high PT penetration.) It does have very low monthly PT and even lower annual passes. It has achieved a very low car ownership.

      We won’t achieve 300 million by just focusing on PT trips to the city; it will have to become an always used mode of transport for many, when they aren’t biking or walking.

  17. I really think that the 4 busways should take priority, especially the still-uncommenced north-Western Busway. Buses are still the backbone of any public transport network. They should take priority over anything else.

    As far as rail goes; the station at Drury needs to happen ASAP along with the 3rd main. And of course, the CRL should continue. Electrification to Pukekohe should be after these on the list.

  18. It is of course not going to happen unless we actually have a PT network.

    I see a lot of talk for instance about how Takapuna should not have so much parking, but little action in making it reachable in other ways. There are no frequent cross-town services to Takapuna. Taking the bus will be a lot more appealing if you don’t have to wait up to 30 minutes for one to show up.

    1. Totally agree. Getting even from Castor Bay to Takapuna by bus these days is just ridiculous (25+ mins on the infrequent 856 via the dreaded hospital/Smales Farm switchback) or take your chances on 856+82 from Milford. I can walk there in 45 minutes but that’s not something everyone can do, nor would want to do.

      1. Yeah, it would be an interesting exercise to serve both the NEX station and the hospital without otherwise crippling the affected bus line for other uses.

        We can start by not sending local buses around that gyratory — we’re not in the middle of nowhere; buses should just make a loop around the block. (or, let me guess, are those ‘private’ streets?)

  19. I agree with everything said above.

    A focus on how and where people transfer between modes or between buses. One thing that really makes metro systems in big cities attractive is the transfers available are a easy walk down another tunnel or you are whisked to street level with comfortable bus seating.

    Making transfers comfortable and logical can really help increase the spread of the RTN and increase how people perceive public transport.

  20. Lots of talk about carrots (which is fair enough) but no one talking about the stick – which is congestion pricing. Making it expensive for people to drive will naturally push more people onto public transport.

  21. The math is all wrong. Increasing 100 million by 300% would mean 400 million trips and an annual increase of 14.8% for a decade.

  22. Last winter, travelling in the EMU’s, I was surprised at the number of passengers who
    have minor winter ailments, and are constantly coughing and sneezing. Few people
    these days seem to cover their mouth – I guess that is not taught now.
    Just the thought of the AC units sucking up all the airborne greeblies, then heating
    them up and blowing them out all over us – yuck !
    With the corona virus problem looming, its going to be back to the SOV for me.

    1. I’m pretty sure that the air conditioning units take in air from the outside of the train just like your car air conditioner does.

    2. When you were taught to cover your mouth as a child, Grumpysmurf, what were you taught to cover it with (assuming you didn’t have a handkerchief)?

      1. We always had handkerchiefs – in the mid fifties we had a handkerchief
        inspection at the start of lessons in the morning. There was also a
        fingernail inspection.
        The boys were often watched by a teacher in the toilets to ensure no
        boys games were going on – but this was because polio was a problem
        at the time.

  23. Better wayfinding around train stations and major bus stops. There should be wayfinding signs from and to town center and maps with point of interests.

    This is lacking in most of the stations. For example when you hop off the station you just feels like you arrive in the middle of no where.

    It need signs and pleasant walkway / cycleway directly from the train station to nearby main street, schools and parks with how many meters/minutes walk required.

    In the local main streets, there should be a sign to the train, ideally with a electronic display to shows the estimated arrivals time and meters/minutes to walk. (similar to the one inside sylvia park)

    I think council and AT need to spend some money on these little things.

  24. Also we are still waiting for improvements to train. Doesn’t seem to heard any updates or any progress.

    – I think we need to reduce dwell time, like the delay for door opening/closing and the train start moving.

    – invest in ETCS improvements, to increase average line speed.

    – Close off some crossing so it can achieve higher line speed.

    – Maintain and upgrade the tracks so the train can corner faster safely

    – Higher off peak frequency. Train is the backbone of rapid transit, 20min off peak is not acceptable.

    – More late service on Friday and Saturday nights and better security.

    – Cheaper off peak pricing to fill the unused capacity

  25. I agree with many, as much as I would love to see it happen, I don’t think 300 million trip’s would be possible, even if we all decided to leave the car at home on our way to work, I don’t even think it would be physically possible even with many projects like CRL coming on line.
    It could be possible if we all used off peak much more, but our off peak rapid transit can’t compete with off peak driving for speed although having nearly a whole bus to yourself can be nice.
    Off peak is usually the domain of the elderly and students, I sometimes use it when I know I’m going to have a few drinks and avoid taking the car.
    I do see a massive increase in active mode’s like cycling especially with the advert of E bike’s E scooters and more bike lanes coming on line, these modes are often much faster than our public transport. And can compete with driving and rapid transit for speed.
    At the end of the day speed followed by comfort and then price will dictate our choice of mode.
    Unfortunately that’s why the car and planes became King in the transport would.
    On a positive note high speed rail is quickly catching up.
    And for Auckland I think our rapid transit needs to be built to a much higher standard. Our governments are still very scared of big

    1. Public transport can mostly never compete with transport by private car timewise. There is no way that PT, timewise, can match four or five steps from your back door to your car and then a similar number of steps at the other end. And don’t tell me that high speed rail is the answer because to be economically viable most of these lines need many stops to make them economically viable.
      The European systems that I used had relatively short distance connects for metro lines, but more to connect to external surburban trams or buses. People cope and use them extensively.
      I struggle when people say they can’t manage longer journey times and it is better that the environment suffers.

      1. I am not advocating that we have high speed rail for commuter rail especially not 150 mph fast, I’m more referring to a greener technology now being able to compete with planes especially for shorter trips that are still to far to drive.
        And it’s well known that people are constantly in a rush today, often working 10 hrs a day, going to the gym studying hobby’s and house work leaving a few hours for sleep, so you don’t want to spend 2 hours plus getting to work.
        That’s why I ride an E scooter from Glenfield to Takapuna every day taking 15 minutes versus 30 minutes on a bus.

  26. More than two HOP readers at Onehunga Station would be great. There’s literally a 50 person line of people when the train empties, and I’ve missed my connecting bus plenty of times because of it.

  27. Heidi – This is way off topic, but here goes:

    Are you aware of the “eye” technique you can use to stop a sneeze ?

    1. No… I’ve definitely squeezed the bit above the bridge of my nose, above my eyes, to try to stop one… is that it? Or is there something better; maybe a trick with light, since plays of light can make you sneeze?

  28. What I was told to do (and it works for me) when you feel a sneeze coming on, is
    to use the muscles around your eyes to hold the eyes open. You would have to
    experiment a bit, but when you do it your eyes are wide open, and you can’t blink.
    It makes you look very startled and its a bit embarrassing if somebody sees you,
    but who cares if you are doing 100 km/h down the motorway at the time.
    It’s based on the theory that when you sneeze you always close your eyes, so keep
    your eyes open and you won’t sneeze.

    1. Excellent. I’ll try it. And if anyone asks me what I’m doing, I’ll say that Grumpysmurf taught me how to stop a sneeze.


  29. One thing that Vancouver (and I’m sure many other cities) do is include mandatory and heavily subsidised transit passes for Uni students. There were exemptions if you could prove you couldn’t take transit but generally it had the effect of having almost all students taking pt.

  30. And bingo.

    I ride an ebike to work in perhaps a third of the time the bus would take.

    How many are in this situation but are still on a bus until open season on bicycle riders ends?

  31. I’m surprised not to see much discussion here about linking walking and cycling better with public transport if you want to improve the growth rate. Perth has applied this approach fairly well around its train stations, and the integration of bike and train in the Netherlands is brilliant. Some years ago, the Copenhagen train operator also worked out that the best way to grow their market further was to make it easier for potential customers to bike & ride. I see that there has also been some very recent discussion on Bike Auckland about having enough cycle parking at Northern Busway stations –

    So how about AT focus a bit more on making it easier/safer to walk and bike (and scoot these days) to the various train/bus stops/stations , and also bump up the provision of bike parking at these locations? Auckland also continues to be the major hold-out in NZ to providing bike racks on buses, when they are virtually standard everywhere else now.

  32. A bike rack on a bus is ok… Until more than 1% of people take up cycling and it turns out that you can’t put 20 bikes on that double decker. If you want your bicycle on a bus you’ll need to get a foldable.

    But yeah, bike parking at stations. If we can do it for cars…

    Or even the more basic things. Most mornings on Glenfield Road I can see someone on a traffic island, waiting for a gap in a stream of cars coming off a roundabout, to cross to his bus stop. That’s a quite annoying barrier to taking the bus.

    Reminds me of that story that someone bought a can of white paint for a DIY crossing.

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