Last year Auckland Transport consulted on the future of public transport in Devonport, bringing to a head a decision about what to do about their one year, million dollar plus subsidised taxi trial (AT Local) they had kept running for two years despite not meeting targets.
They presented two options,
- A) Operate the local buses with improved frequency, plus with ferry fares now being integrated effectively makes them free.
- B) A hybrid system where the buses would run at peak times and then AT’s taxi service running off-peak, but with HOP integration and a smaller operating area compared to the trial.
We believed Option A was the best outcome.
Last week AT announced the outcome of the consultation and not only have they chosen Option A, they’ve enhanced it even further.
A vastly improved local bus network is coming soon, to better connect locals to village shopping and the Devonport ferry.
In October 2020, Auckland Transport (AT) asked locals for their feedback on two options for the future of local bus services – enhanced bus services; or whether to convert the AT Local on-demand trial into a permanent solution with reduced bus services – on the Devonport Peninsula.
After considering local feedback and ideas, and under the financial constraints of the COVID-19 emergency budget, AT will be proceeding with Option A: Enhancing the local bus network and removing AT Local from the Devonport Peninsula.
The enhanced local bus network will see the 806 and 807 running more often at peak commuting times.
From 1 March 2021, the 806 and 807 will run every 20 minutes and connect with every Devonport ferry at peak times on weekdays. Buses will run every 30 minutes at all other times on weekdays until at least 8.45pm.
On weekends, the 806 and 807 will continue to run every 30 minutes until after 7pm, extending until almost 9pm, from Sunday 25 April 2021.
A new bus service will cover some areas that aren’t currently served by buses.
A new 805 will connect the Belmont shops, Ngataringa Road, Lake Road and the Devonport village and Ferry Terminal and run hourly, Monday to Friday, from approximately 9.15am until 3.55pm.
In addition to this, this week Fullers also introduced a new ferry timetable for Devonport.
From Monday, 25 January 2021, North Shore commuters who travel on the Devonport to Auckland CBD ferry commuters will experience the new and improved 20-minute extended peak commuter schedule, enjoying additional services provided to support commuters in 2021.
The new timetable will have sailings running every 20 minutes from 7am – 10am and 4pm – 8pm on weekdays. This will give our customers greater certainty and efficiency for both the ferry and connecting transport services. The new 20-minute frequency replaces the temporary mixed 15-minute and 30-minute service launched in July last year.
Every 20 minutes is slightly worse in the morning peak, having previously was every 15 minutes, but with the morning peak window extended and now with the same peak frequencies in the afternoon, the trade-off seems worth it. Given the 806 and 807 buses will also run to a 20 minute timetable at peak, timed to meet the ferries, this makes the bus/ferry combo much more seamless and practical.
As for why they’ve gone for this option, they say.
Why we’re implementing Option A
- Public consultation did not show the Devonport Peninsula community had a clear preference.
- Option A can better address issues with the public transport network identified by consultation respondents – specific areas of the Peninsula are not currently served by buses and bus-ferry connections at Devonport need improvement.
- Option A gives former Stanley Bay ferry users the best possible connection with the Devonport ferry.
- Option A is easier for everyone to understand, with bus services running all day, seven days a week.
- Option A has more capacity for growth in the number of people wanting to travel by public transport.
- Option A is expected to require a lower per passenger subsidy.
- AT cannot implement the Option B that some consultation respondents asked for. (For example, it isn’t possible to significantly enlarge the AT Local operating area or run the service at peak times, as this would be a duplication of local bus services and therefore an inefficient use of ratepayers’ money).
As for AT Local, they say it isn’t completely dead and they may look to use it in other places in the future.
The AT Local on-demand passenger service trial has shown that this form of public transport can be successful in Auckland. It will now be considered as a option where public transport is being introduced for the first time; where there is limited demand due to low population density; or where this type of service offers greater customer flexibility or cost efficiency than traditional timetabled bus services.
Personally I’d be surprised if we see AT Local appear again.
Finally, I have to say, I do find it funny how much better Devonport locals get treated better by AT than almost every other part of Auckland. At the same time they were consulting on this, they were making unilateral changes to PT everywhere else across the region, including just cutting services from some area. Now that the decision has been made, they’re also holding dedicated drop in sessions.
If you have any questions, or need help with the new and improved bus services, come to a drop-in session at the Devonport Library:
- Saturday 20 February 2021 from 10am to 2pm
- Tuesday 23 February 2021 from 1pm to 4pm.
Meanwhile rail users wake up and find that plans have changed and from the next day, services have been completely cancelled for the following few weeks.