With COVID-19 impacting things, February represents the current high-point for public transport use in Auckland. In the 12-months to the end of Feb, 103.6 million boardings took place on the network and almost three quarters of those, 75.3 million, took place on buses.

A few months ago Auckland Transport published a fascinating dataset, called the AT Metro Bus Performance Report, breaking down bus the performance of every public bus route. The report is from the beginning of January 2019 till the end of February 2020 and for year to the end of Feb, covers 70.5 million trips, the rest being from school buses and special events as well as the privately run Skybus services. For each of the routes it has:

  • Boardings
  • Boardings per service hour
  • Punctuality
  • Reliability

The first two metrics are the most interesting and what I’ll focus on in this post – also because the punctuality and reliability metrics are effectively pointless given they only look at if a bus departed the first bus and do so on time, not whether buses arrive at their destination on time.

Boardings

For each route, the report has the number of boardings for every day, providing a number of fascinating ways to break it down. This is just a couple of them.

The biggest problem with it is that ‘for each route’ means for every variation, so for example, instead of just being 25 that runs on Dominion Rd, it has both the 25B and 25L separately, as well as the peak only 252 and 253. In total there are 207 routes in the report – although some of these routes have since been cut or changed and so no longer run.

To get a better idea as to our busiest corridors, I’ve grouped the routes together where possible. As a general rule, I’ve grouped any services with the same base number or that share the same corridor for more than 50% of their length. There are a few exceptions to this to this though. In total there are still 150 PT corridors and the graph below shows the results for the top 60 of them, but those 60 represent 89% of all trips so there’s a long tail of lowly used buses. The colours and descriptions are how AT describes them in the report, and from the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP).

Here are some of what I think are the most interesting things from this:

  • The impact of the busway is immense. As you can see, the NX1 alone is busier than any other service and the NX2 by itself is only just behind all the Dominion Rd buses combined and so would otherwise be 4th on this list.
  • The 70 (Botany to Britomart) is a surprise standout for usage, although if you think about the route perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. Effectively it’s serving a few different types of trip, such as a feeder to Panmure and Ellerslie Stations for a faster trip to parts of the city, trips to the University, it serves trips along the Gt South Rd corridor and also shopping trips to Pakuranga and Botany. The route will also be the prime service using the Eastern Busway once it is completed.
  • The central isthmus buses all perform fairly well which is unsurprising given they’re all largely following the same tram routes that established those roads.
  • I’ve combined all the Northwest services as most trips on them would likely be to/from the city and in future they’re instead likely to feed into a NW rapid transit route. This shows there is already a good ‘core’ usage to kick things off that RTN and we could expect usage to grow quickly if implemented. It is possible some of the usage here might be from Gt North Rd between Pt Chev and the City though.
  • The 72 group of routes (Howick to Panmure) are the highest for a route that doesn’t go to the city centre (assuming most 72X users are also going to Panmure). This is a great example that people are prepared to transfer.
  • Likewise, the 83 (Takapuna to Albany via Browns Bay), does well and it too doesn’t touch the city. I suspect most of the usage is flowing to/from the busway stations. I was surprised it even outperformed the 82 from (Milford and Takapuna to the city).
  • I’ve grouped all the Waiheke routes together although it’s worth noting that most of the ones included here don’t exist anymore as were changed when the New Network went live in October.
  • The 120 (Henderson to Constellation Station via Westgate) should probably be made a frequent route given it already outperforms a number of existing frequent routes and is meant to be a future Upper Harbour rapid transit route.
  • The 20 is the poorest performer of the frequent routes, although it is probably one of the shortest too. It’s a route that is perhaps undervalued a bit and I suspect many people don’t realise how useful it is in linking the Western Line to Ponsonby Rd and Wynyard. It could certainly do with a bit of marketing from AT.
  • Finally it’s worth noting that the figures for the year include the impacts from the NZ Bus industrial action in December. Based on other routes, a rough estimate is that this cut ridership by about half in the month. This is unlikely to have any major impact on the order.

Another interesting aspect to look at is the busiest day of the week. Over the period, Thursdays average out as the busiest weekday, only slightly ahead of Wednesdays. There is a significant difference between weekends and weekdays.

Looking at individual routes, one of the more interesting observations is that while the NX1 is by far the busiest route overall, on Weekends the 70 is actually busier highlighting its diverse trip types.

Boardings per service hour

Looking at pure boardings is important but it’s also useful to compare that to how much resource is being thrown at the route. For example, the Outer Link carries more people than the Inner Link but it also has a much longer route. So AT have included this metric to give an indication of that. The service hours for each route is the scheduled ‘in service’ time of all services on weekdays i.e. if you have a bus that takes 30 minutes to run and it it is run four times a day, that’s two service hours.

When designing a PT network, some routes will be needed for carrying lots of people, such as the busway services, while others are just there to provide coverage in case someone needs them – these are usually the ones that run at low frequency and wiggle through suburban streets. As part of the RPTP, AT set out what kind of performance they expect each route to achieve. At the low end, a few routes are only expected to achieve 2-4 boardings for every hour they run, while the busiest routes are expected to see 37-47 boardings per service hour.

The figures are reported on monthly for each individual route and of the 197 routes that ran in February

  • 77 (42%) were above the target range
  • 89 (48%) were within the target range
  • 24 (13%) were below the target range

That seems a pretty decent strike rate to me.

The best performer here is once again the NX1. It is expected to achieve 37-47 boardings per service hour but in February achieved 80.8. However, in percentage terms, the best is the 126 which was introduced as result of funding from a targeted rate by the Rodney Local board and runs from Westgate to Albany via Rivershead and Coatesville. It was only expected to achieve 2-4 boardings per service hour and as of February it was doing 13.6, 245% above the upper end of the range. In fact, all three of the Rodney services that were introduced as a result of the targeted rate are performing better than expected.

Though not too far away from the 126 is the worst performer (not including the night buses), the 114 which runs from Westgate to Hobsonville Point via Whenuapai and Herald Island. It is expected to achieve 7-17 boardings per service hour and instead it is achieving just 3.5 boardings per service hour, and that’s in a good month.

While not universal, one group of services that seem to be frequently underperforming are peak only services. Of the 24 routes below their target range, 11 are in this category and include the 125X, 171X, 221X, 223X, 22A, 243X, 248X, 24W, 333X, 504, 72X. Given these services are often some of the most expensive to operate and with AT potentially needing to cut back some routes, these are surely some of the prime candidates.

Coming back to the busiest routes, in the graph below I’ve worked out the annual boardings per service hour for the 60 busiest routes. Because many are made up of individual routes each of which can have different target ranges I haven’t added a target but it does at least give an idea of the relative performance of each route.

Like the NX1, both the NX2 and the 886 are performing above expectations, although not quite as high as the NX1. The busway remains the best performing route. Likewise, despite having a long journey, the 70 is performing well under this metric.

The 380 is the lowest performer here at just under 14 boardings per service hour and is closely followed by the 670 at just over it. I suspect most of the usage is on the Airport to Manukau section which will be split off next year to become the Airport Link.

As I mentioned at the start, there’s plenty more that could be potentially be done with this data. I know there was an intention to release updates to it fairly regularly but that would understandably not be a priority with the disruption caused by COVID. However, if as a result of the Council’s emergency budget they need to look at cutting services, AT should use and highlight this data to help explain their rational.

Finally, if there’s any specific analysis from this data that readers really want to see, let me know and I might add it depending on how much work is involved.

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86 comments

    1. Average boardings per bus per hour it’s in service.

      In other words, for every bus and driver there is out on the road collecting passengers, how many passengers do they pick up.

      1. Hi so does that mean for example for a bus running every 15mins you divide the boardings by 4 to calculate average number per bus? Do you know what # represents a break even point?

        1. It depends on how long those buses run for. Say a bus runs every 15 minutes and does that for 12 hours a day. That’s 180 services that will run.
          Now if that route is 30 minutes long, that’s a total of 90 hours of time the bus is operating for. So you divide the boardings over that period by 90 to the boardings per service hour.

    2. Buses don’t run 24/7 so it would be the number of passengers for each hour the bus was in service rather than divided by 24.

    3. Thanks Matt for explanation. My youngest uses the 670 service from New Lynn when he goes to the cinema.It’s a slow service (nearly 60mins from New Lynn to Onehunga) but it’s always reliable. Really interesting data AT have shared. Observations on AT analysis: The 670 is considered to be ‘under performing yet carries an average of 30% more people per trip than the 68. Over 2019 (against published timetables) the 670 had close to 4 boardings per trip one way trip between New Lynn & Onehunga compared to the 68 which achieved an average of just 2.9 boardings per trip one way trip between New Lynn & Onehunga . A very uneducated observation but neither service appear to be very impressive. Why is one considered as ‘meeting expectations’ and the other ‘under-performing’?

  1. The 70 being the most popular non busway route doesn’t surprise me as i ride it most days to works. It’s incredibly frequent, running every 8 mins at peak, and is well connected to the rest of the PT network

    1. Same here. I only use it on weekends but it’s a turn-up-and-go service so incredibly useful. There have been Saturdays when I’ve had to work and the trains don’t start early enough for me to get to work on time but I can ride the 70 all the way to Britomart. Otherwise it’s great for getting to Newmarket to go shopping.

      1. Yes and the Eastern Busway can’t come soon enough as that high frequency took a hit Friday night counter peak when I had family members waiting for Around 40 mins to get one 70 towards the city. The works at Panmure seemed to be consuming all the buses. I won’t bother complaining as we know it just the busway built really. I wonder if they kept turning the buses around at panmure to go back to Botany.

  2. Thanks, Matt. Great analysis. The NW routes are so much lower than they should be. I hope when they design the busway or LR or whatever is actually going to be implemented there, that they look at all the ways to make it attractive and functional for users. Ability to walk and cycle to the stations along safe cycle lanes is something they could be putting in now.

    1. Agree- and some of that can be improved by looking at trips people want to do and accomodating them. On Saturday I rode my bike from Te Atatu to Westgate bought something and left all in 30 mins. The bus journey from Te Atatu would have been 1hr 15 mins plus walk to shops.

      1. Yes, instead of AT just being focused just on the commuters. Not that commuter peak hour trips aren’t important, they are. But people will shift mode if they lose their dependence on the car, and that can only come about as their interpeak and counterflow and cross town trips are all catered for well by the sustainable modes.

    2. I guess the issue with NW buses is the overall quality of the service. By that I mean the time it takes to travel, reliability and frequency. Currently the routes are fragmented which results in poor frequency for each individual one (particularly off-peak). There’s hardly any bus priority as well, which makes the service really slow and unreliable during peak. It takes an hour to travel around 16km, even the bus lanes on Great North Road don’t really help that much – it’s still about 30mins in peak from Pt Chev to the city.
      If any form of PT with right of way is ever built it will undoubtedly perform much better.

      1. Yes all the motorway at peak unreliability would put people of using them. Could get to work etc very early or very late one day to the next….mind you same for a car trip too perhaps..thank goodness for the cycleway.

        1. Yeah, I switched to a bike over 2y ago now. The unreliability is particularly bad along Te Atatū Rd (from both Peninsula and South sides for the 132/133/134) and Triangle Rd (for 110). There’s no bus priority there, which means that you get the worst of both worlds when travelling there – not only you’re still stuck in traffic but also have to work around the infrequent timetable (having expresses buses going all the way along the motorway is great if you work in the city, but otherwise it reduces frequency).

      2. The other issue with Northwest is that they don’t go anywhere people want to go. The Northwest bus-stop is tucked in behind the warehouse on the opposite side of the small NW mall.
        No one likes to go there, it doesn’t feel safe or attractive to change buses there.
        Why did someone decide that it was a good place to send all NW buses?
        It cant be because it offers a fast route to the city, it doesn’t there are no busways and commuting using public transport takes longer than using a car (same traffic, just that the bus stops).

        For Northwest, the best they can do is run frequent shuttles to Constellation for commuters, 120 is an attempt but it doesn’t link much of the NorthWest instead its a thoroughfare for people living further away, like Henderson.
        Right now they have 4 or 5 commuter lines that departs (not connected to the city buses) every 30 mins or every hour from Westgate to the surrounding suburbs. Issue is that since these don’t link to the city, offers a connection to an undesirable location thats exposed to wind and crime not many use them. Instead the majority living in the Northwest attempts to go to Constellation when they go to the city, that costs more since it adds another stage but its both faster and more pleasant.

        I fear the reason for this is silo-mindset at AT, they assume that Northwest should go to Westgate because previously this was under the Waitakere hence Northwest should go towards west and not towards the shore despite the shore offering the best commute.

        1. Yes the 120 as Matt says should be made a frequent service.

          re The bus stop locations at Westgate. From memory there was a problem from the initial better location AT wanted due to the big sign for the shopping centre and difficulty/safety of turning right into the entrance near it apparently.

  3. The 309 (my local bus) has more boarding than several frequent services – 380, 66, 82- but is still only half hourly. Unless its getting people who would otherwise catch a 30.
    I’ve always thought it should be at least every 20 mins.

  4. This data just emphasizes the importance of good infrastructure to improving service quality and thus patronage. The Northern Busway already has a dedicated right of way over most of its route. The 70 service is getting something similar with the Eastern Busway.

    About time other corridors got similar treatment. Particularly the major routes that radiate out from the CBD. Maybe Dominion Rd could even get trams again? AT should look into it.

  5. The NX route, Build it and they will use it. 🙂
    Now for an underground under and following Dominion Road.. #JustSaying

    1. They can’t do anything on Dominion Rd now for a generation. AT turned over a rock and found a crocodile, now if any politician promotes change the crocodile will bite them on the arse. Sorry but the silly way AT introduced light rail followed by the inept posturing by the two governments has killed an project dead for some time.

      1. The airport idea should have been kept quiet. Built the Dominion Rd section first, prove that LR can work (or can’t), then recommend an extension to the airport.

        1. ” ….should have been kept quite”. Yes that’s the way, keep it quite. “Open and transparent” are just weasel words when it comes to the left spending other folks money.

      2. Yes the process has been thoroughly bungled. But the fundamental factors that make light rail on Dominion Rd a good idea haven’t gone away. In fact the more time passes the stronger the case for light rail gets (due to housing intensification in the Mount Roskill area).

        If light rail hasn’t been progressed by around 2022 then another issue will be raised: City Rail Link is due to finish in 2024 but what capital works project(s) come next? There’s a looming hole in the pipeline of new projects and the industry will be very publicly complaining about it. LRT isn’t exactly shovel ready but it’s much closer to being ready than any other >$1B project that Auckland needs.

        1. Mount Roskill intensification is better served by a previous transport blog idea, the Roskill Spur (heavy rail from Mt Roskill to Avondale). Most of the intensification is along that corridor, no where near the proposed light rail. The land is already mostly there and designated for heavy rail (Avondale Southdown line). Station placement may need to be modified to better suit the intensification.
          Even better continue it on to Onehunga and make a circle line!

        2. Linking up to Onehunga would be ideal because, in turn, you get direct access to the Southern Line at Penrose.

          But I think, short of tunneling, there is no obvious designation between the proposed Mt Roskill station and The Big O?

        3. Given the costs are so much higher than they were when the last light rail business case was published I think the rationale for doing it ahead of what I am sure are many other worthy transport investments should be refreshed. There is nothing in Matt’s bus route usage chart that screams out $6 billion plus priority for Dominion Road.

        4. @Sherwood
          I thought the ~$6B was for both the Airport Line & Northwestern Line. Got a (credible) source for this being just for Dominion Rd to City?

        5. Is there a recent firm source for any of the numbers at present? Which is part of what I was getting at. It just seems like every little while another billion or so gets added onto the unofficial costs being talked about and we don’t know where it is going to end up.

          I am not sure which figures I have seen in the media vs comments on here but this article https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/119863249/government-splits-three-ways-on-light-rail-as-more-details-emerge-of-dramatic-super-fund-plan talked about $20 billion amortised just for the city to airport project. I haven’t reversed the capex figures out but I’m sure it would work out much more than say $1.5b to $2b for the leg from the city to Mt Roskill. Are you disputing the idea that at a grade-separated solution with another city tunnel will be a lot more expensive? And if the cost discussions were way off base don’t you think they would be correcting the record? Until they do the priority argument still applies.

          As far as I know the last official documents on the business case are five years old or so. They should be releasing a refreshed business case, with a robust estimate of the costs, that addresses the questions about the project and makes the argument for why it is still considered worthwhile with the higher costs.

          And if they can’t release a business case immediately they should be providing the latest official estimate of the costs asap along with a description of the level of design development supporting the cost estimate and the basis on which the estimate was made – so we can work out whether we need to double the estimate to get an idea of the real cost.

      3. I give you now Professor Miff,
        A conscientious scientist,
        Of Gummint he cries, “They always bungle!”
        Claimed their skills were from a jungle.
        One day he slipped on an Auckland street,
        And sliced off both his useful feet.
        His daughter cried ‘I hate that tram!’
        But clever Miff said, “my sweet lamb,
        “We’ll not get that ’til decades later,
        “It must’ve been an alligator.”

        1. Do you remember a tram,
          Miranda?
          Do you remember a tram?
          And the squeal of the steel
          Of the cornering wheel.
          And the traffic that slowed on Dominion Road.
          And the wine that tasted of tar?
          And the cheers and the jeers of the Rugby premieres.
          (and a wire from a dark verandah?)
          Do you remember a tram, Miranda?
          Do you remember a tram?
          And the cheers and the jeers of the Rugby premieres.
          Who had brought their own beer.
          And who weren’t buying here.
          And the rattle on the tracks and the din?
          And the Slip! Slop! Slap!
          Of the chap.
          With the cricket ball and bat.
          Or the test match crowd.
          Shouting loud,
          Try disallowed.
          And the Ting, Tong, Tang of the Cowbell.
          Do you remember a tram,
          Miranda?
          Do you remember a tram?
          Never more:
          Miranda,
          Never more.
          No sound
          In the defeat in the street of concrete
          Were hails
          For new rails resound
          No sound:
          But the zoom
          Of the far traffic like Vroom.

        2. They planned their trams in a Hush, they did,
          In a Hush they planned their trams;
          In spite of all their friends could say,
          Over many years, in a wary way,
          In a hush they planned their trams!
          And when the Cost grew way too big,
          And every one cried, “You’ve been a pig!”
          They called aloud, “Our Plans are new,
          But we don’t care a button! we don’t have a clue!
          In a Hush we’ll plan our trams!”
          Far and few, far and few,
          Is the good that comes from mush;
          Their vow is broke, and their name is shit,
          And they planned their trams in a Hush.

  6. Would be interesting to see the combination of the central isthmus routes: New North, Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden, Manukau Rd, etc. I think it would show that when people can live close to the city they can have amenity without the massive infrastructure cost. All of these bus routes are little more than green paint on a road. And all of those roads are just basic roads built over a hundred years ago for very little cost.
    I get the feeling our current PT spending (even the congestion free network) is encouraging sprawl. We are spending all the money on large infrastructure projects to move people from sprawl to city and neglecting the areas close to the city just because buses work OK there. But they are not great and are quite slow. It won’t be long until the PT in a lot of outer suburbs is actually nicer and quicker than the inner suburbs (this is probably already the case for a lot of the North Shore). Even light rail looks like it will be more about moving people a long distance very quickly than moving people a shorter distance conveniently. And those two LR lines will probably cost more than reinstating most of the old tram network would.
    I don’t think the good cities do this (London, Tokyo, New York, etc). Normally almost all inner suburbs have the best PT, the further out you go the worse it gets.

    1. Those five Isthmus corridors combined equated to 12 million trips over the year – although would likely have been a few hundred thousand more if the industrial action hadn’t happened.

  7. Slightly unrleated, but over the weekend, the train line that serves us here in Sydney was having maintenance, so rail bus was the way to head into the city.

    These rail buses stop at Central station, about 200m from the L2/L3 Light Rail line, so we jumped on an arriving tram to get to our destination. We only went 5 stops, but saved time by not walking and utilised some latent capacity in the network, both of which i consider wins.

    My point is that we had options that connected and integrated effectively to allow for the trip we wanted to complete, without too much planning. This was across modes. I don’t think PT in Sydney is perfect, but which city or group of cities would you want to emulate.

    With the large reliance on buses in Auckland and the lack of priority for those bus services, along with a lack of alternatives except in some limited geographies, how will PT compete?

    CRL and Heavy Rail investment has been great to drive progress, what’s next?

  8. Matt L with Waiheke since the 1st June they have reinstated a service which was removed at Christmas through the lack of drivers , and now they have started a new service for the 2 ferry services on the Island .

  9. The 20 is a very useful line to get from, say, Wynyard Quarter to Kingsland and the trains on the western line. I knew how useful it was as soon as I saw it going over the Bond Street overpass. I took the bus from the North Shore to Mt Eden stadium, that trip would have been extremely cumbersome without that line. However the detour via Ponsonby means it is quite slow. Note how his detour mostly duplicates the green inner link route. Note also how this serves Ponsonby, while bypassing the (probably less well-off but much larger) population of Victoria Quarter — they call it the hipster link for a reason.

    From where I live the most obvious current gaps are a cross-town route on the North Shore to Takapuna, and in general a lack of routes from the North Shore which don’t terminate on Britomart. The 866 and 966 are there but are a bit weird — the part on the isthmus also mostly duplicates the green link bus, and they are too slow to be useful routes to Newmarket. Maybe that one should go over Bond Street to Kingsland instead.

    There should be a reasonably strong case for bus priority through Highbury (given how busy the Beach haven line is). However that town centre got refurbished last year without any thought for this.

    1. What do you mean by detour roeland? Ponsonby Road is about the only vaguely direct route between Wynyard and Bond Street, it’s hardly a detour. Where would you run it instead?

      (also for someone who catches the 20 in Three Lamps to get to the western line at Kingsland it’s no detour for me, it’s almost perfectly straight!)

      1. Yeah on second thought it is the most logical route from Wynyard. It is just that if you’re not already in Ponsonby or Wynyard you can’t easily connect to that route. For those coming from the North Shore, the main problem perhaps is the general design of Fanshawe Street.

        If it would continue over the bridge to Takapuna it would be an almost straight north to south route. Bonus points for avoiding the CBD and associated fare zone. But still in that case, catching it from the busway or Birkenhead or the NX will be cumbersome thanks to the lack of an interchange at Onewa Road.

        You just can’t win.

        1. You could get one of the Busway or Birkenhead to Ponsonby Rd buses, and transfer there. That would be more direct and easier, but still not ideal.

        2. I’ve used the 20 coming from the shore, it’s pretty easy if using the NX2 or 82 as they stop outside the Air NZ and the bus stop for the 20 is just around the corner on Beaumont. A bit more of a walk going the other way though.

      2. A decent bunch of AT (and Air Zew Zealand) staff have cottoned on to the benefits of the 20 connection from the Western Line in Kingsland. For me, it means a 1hr 20min door to door rather than 1hr 30mins + by any other option – 75 from Grafton or walk from Britomart. Will probably rediscover it on the afternoons if / when west Auckland expresses hit the dust.

  10. The 70 could really do with some decent priority along the route. It has a number of pinch points and being a long route this adds up to a lot of bunching during the weekday peak. A bus every 8 mins often ends up being three buses every 25 mins.

    1. 70 has the potential to be an even better service, it has such a good reach to many locations. However, bus bunching is a big issue during the morning peaks (inbound) around the central suburbs, with 3 to 4 buses all within 5 minutes in the central suburbs. It is very frustrating and difficult to get on the bus living in the central suburbs during the morning peaks.
      The buses also often get stuck around Newmarket and Auckland Hospital.

      1. …and in rush hour, Panmure, see my comment re last Friday night around 6:30 pm, don’t know what happened… they got to Ellerslie township then seemed to disappear the few I watched on the app, getting turned around, out of service, or detoured or something.

  11. “The 120 (Henderson to Constellation Station via Westgate) should probably be made a frequent route”

    100% agree.

    I wonder which segment is the busiest part? Presumably Westgate to Consellation?

    1. From the few times I’ve ridden it (from Sturges to Constellation), there are a decent number of students going to Massey High School in the mornings, then it’s pretty quiet till it gets to Greenhithe and there are many who board it from there to get to Constellation

  12. Interesting post.

    I see the new and great 66 does pretty well too. I’m surprised by the 670 route, especially with it being only so frequent. The 68 fairly busy too so this shows how much demand there is for crosstown routes across the isthmus relative to the city bound ones.

    I think the boarding per hour of service is a more useful measure (can these be put up in a sorted order?) as the first graph is more dependent on how long the route is.

    1. The 650 is another interesting one to watch… once it becomes the 65 and the Outer Link is changed, I imagine it’ll be more popular than the 66 even. I just hope they don’t keep cutting the tails off it in the evenings – or worse, in the interpeak.

    2. The ‘issue’ with sorting boardings per service hour is there are a bunch of peak only routes that pop up near the top that don’t do a lot in terms of overall numbers but on paper do seem to be efficient.

      For example the second busiest route per service hour is the 842. That’s a peak only service that runs down East Coast Rd from just east of the Forrest Hill intersection and then heads down Shakespeare Rd to Smales Farm busway station. I guess it then seems to run back up Forrest Hill Rd out of service to start the process again taking about 20 minutes for a round trip with only 12 minutes in service. So it’s only counting the ‘in service’ times. Were it a normal route with services in both directions at the same time, it’s performance wouldn’t look so great.

  13. My route, the humble 105, even does surprising numbers. Imagine what it could do when Queen St becomes a transit mall and more than half of the journey isn’t spent there stuck in traffic?

    Imagine the lift in productivity for AT too, saving all that wasted route time for both buses and drivers?

    1. Seems to me the 105 would be a clear candidate for a frequent route, it’s the only main corridor to the city centre through the dense inner suburbs that isn’t.

      It is a fairly short line, but it has a solid catchment and would be a fairly quick turnaround.

  14. I live in dominion road it is much cheaper and quicker to take my car the outrageous bus fares are the second highest in the modern world to many people running the pathetic outdated hop cards I only use the bus when I am going to be drinking stop paying for the few people who are well over payed and give the fantastic drivers what they dersive regards KEITH FERGUSON

    1. “I live in dominion road it is much cheaper and quicker to take my car”

      It is unlikely that using your car is cheaper, once you have factored in all of the costs of car ownership and car operating costs. When congestion charges are introduced the cost of using a single occupancy car will be even higher.

      1. And with living in Dominion Rd you won’t have to worry about the LR disrupting your travel as it has been canned totally or at least untiul after the next election

  15. KLK “But I think, short of tunneling, there is no obvious designation between the proposed Mt Roskill station and The Big O?”

    The line is designated up the hill to Hillsborough Rd then to Avondale. The designation may be taken up as part of the NAL/Northport manoeuvering

    1. East of Hillsborough Rd the designation skips Onehunga and runs into the freight yard, so not very useful for passenger trains.

    2. After Hillborough Rd the designation sidles along the hill through Te Papapa to Southdown, hence the name of the designation. It doesn’t go anywhere near Onehunga.

      1. Yes, getting to Onehunga was the issue. It bisects Onehunga and Te Papapa on the O line and hits the southern line just south of Penrose I think.

        So you would need to add/relocate stations to make that designation worthwhile.

        Would seem a wasted opportunity

        1. Wouldn’t you just create a new Onehunga Station where the designation crosses Onehunga Mall (between Grey St and Arthur St)?

          It’s more central than the existing Onehunga station; which has a lot of ocean in it’s walk-up catchment.

        2. I don’t know. Would that location work for the proposed LRT North to the CBD and South to the airport? It’s going to need to be an interchange station for 3 lines.

          When it hits the southern line I am not sure a new station is warranted between Penrose and Otahuhu. Not sure what is around there. It could always just continue on South as a cross town line.

  16. Matt
    I am struggling with the concept of boardings per hour, because in many situations you are comparing apples and oranges e.g. the NEX has about 18 km north of the bridge where it picks up, drops off and picks up passengers. Compare this with the 82 that only travels about 4km north of the bridge and therefore the portion of the route where it is able to pick up passengers is much smaller.

    What this does say to me is, could the 82 be much more efficient by only running between Milford and Akoranga Stn, even if off peak? That off peak might well be evenings given that often day time patronage is strong.

    This may become even more of a consideration now that AT has decided to make the Esmonde Road bus way into a transit lane. Those familiar with Esmonde Road will know that almost every weekday access to the motorway from Takapuna is banked up to Burns St and so having the 82 turning right into Fred Thomas Drive would be some small respite for bus users who appear to have been “screwed over” (a traffic engineer’s term for the contempt with which they hold anyone who doesn’t drive a car) by this retrograde move.

    1. The boardings per service hour metric is a measure of productivity to allow routes to be compared more evenly because it removes the variation that is caused by a long route vs a short one because a long route will take longer to complete therefore having a higher level of service hours and so need a commensurately higher level of ridership perform as well.

    2. Service-hours are the best single indicator of the cost of running a transit line (the other main one is peak vehicle requirement, and sometimes breaking out service-kilometres can be useful but its usually closely correlated with hours). It’s also one of the most easily comparable between routes of different lengths. Boardings are a good indicator of the benefit of the route (number of people that travel somewhere they want to go) and also the revenue (number of fares paid).

      Arguable the best measure would be concession-adjusted fare revenue per peak fleet- and speed- adjusted service hour, or some such. But that’s getting very complex for not much more useful information.

      Indeed, the 82 route only has twelve sets of bus stops to pick up from outside the City Centre, all in that first 4km or so. The middle 8km on the motorway has no catchment.

      You are right that running it Milford to Akoranga would make it much more efficient, at least in terms of residential catchment. However, you also need to consider the strategic value of a direct link between the Takapuna metropolitan centre and the City Centre, and the network integration for connections to the city via the 82, and from the 82 line to places south of the City Centre via Britomart or midtown connections.

      If you ran it very frequently it might not be a problem, but transfers from a half hourly route to a quarter hourly one aren’t that great, especially if you need to do another transfer again after that.

      1. Nick R
        I absolutely agree with the last part of your analysis, and for the 82 because at least two thirds of the route would be removed you could run every 10 minutes using the same number of buses.

        The reward might be that such a service then becomes the preferred route for many trips, either to Milford, or to Takapuna, because it is a real turn up and go. e.g. it could be a trip to New World in Milford because its turn up and go from home, shop, turn up and go home. Such trips may become more common place as apartments are built around both town centres.

        This is not the sort of thinking that AT has, but it characterises much of travel in Europe where people use public transport all day/ everyday and as a consequence there is often high PT mode share and less cars.

        I am not sure there is much value in a 30 minute connection from Takapuna to the city. I use this service reasonably often and its unreliability means I resort often to the NEX2 from the city. I note that not running the 82 to the city at night may enable the NEX2 to be run more often (i.e. there is greater demand) – win/win for everyone?

        1. Another idea if you shorten the route is to extend the 82 a bit further north somewhere useful to make up for any weakness there. Maybe East Coast Rd to Constellation.

  17. Nice analysis. I would note 333X isn’t a peak only route though. Its a evening bus to get people to Otahuhu after the 10pm weekday train curfew which still plagues us…

  18. How did the 711 fare? I had thought it was a strong candidate for being elevated to a frequent route but it doesn’t look like it appears in the list above, so I’m guessing not.

  19. It’s good to see those Rodney ones doing better than expected, didn’t really notice this in the post yesterday. Who would of thought people up there would use PT? I wonder with the slow/very unreliable trip to the city from Westgate on the western motorway in morning peak, that going via the 126 then using a NX1/2 would get to the city almost at the same time, probably more reliable anyway.

    1. Oh on second thoughts, of course, via Constellation on the 120 would be better, especially if they made it a frequent route, or maybe more direct via the motorway one.

  20. “While not universal, one group of services that seem to be frequently underperforming are peak only services. Of the 24 routes below their target range, 11 are in this category and include the 125X, 171X, 221X, 223X, 22A, 243X, 248X, 24W, 333X, 504, 72X. Given these services are often some of the most expensive to operate and with AT potentially needing to cut back some routes, these are surely some of the prime candidates.”

    It is interested how some vocal people lobby for additional bus services, such as more express buses, then the patronage falls short.

  21. Ha ha ha screwed again by the MMP system when we used to have first-past-the-post (FPTP) . We should have National government right now, but no because a minor party that came in 3rd they became the winner, this never happened with FPTP, but everyone wanted MMP.

    Now the party who came in 3rd has canned the light rail from the city to the airport, to be honest who gives a toss? I dont! it seems Aucklanders want everything except the obvious. The bus system is a joke, lets reword that Auckland transport is a joke.

    We should be more focused on what to do with the harbor bridge that gets choked twice a day, why is it people on the north shore do not want to use public transport to cross the harbor bridge? because the bus system is run by Auckland transport.

    Right now we should be more focused on what to do with our town water supply, every place I rent the toilet system leaches water and waste it trickling water down the back of the ‘throne’ out all the time 60/24/7 via the toilet system, Lets have a look at The storm water system collected from the street curbs , now let me guess where is that going? No doubt ‘Um straight out to the sea’ $$BINGO$$ it should be stored in tanks and sold as 2nd grade water, so water blasting, car wash companies (& park lakes) can use water when the town water supply dams run dry.

    1. Ah yes, the Harbour bridge will definitely fix *checks notes* the bus congestion in the city and extend transport options to the South and West which is what the OG light rail proposal were at the 2017 election.

      Brilliant, why didn’t anyone think of that before?

    2. FPP would have given a party with 44 % of the vote an absolute majority in parliament, not sure how that would have been an improvement.

      Had National been in government we still wouldn’t have light rail, we still wouldn’t have another harbour crossing and we would still likely be facing a water shortage. Hard to see what your point about MMP is really.

      The reality is there wasn’t a parliamentary majority for light rail. Labour have failed to either effectively negotiate with NZ First to get support for it or effectively communicate that it isn’t going ahead unless the voters give them and the Greens a majority at the next election.

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