When the first stage of the Eastern Busway opens in the next month or so, it will mark the second addition to Auckland’s Rapid Transport Network (RTN) this year following the new AirportLink which travels via the fabulous new Puhinui Station which opened in July. These two additions are the first changes to the network since the opening of the Manukau branch and station back in 2012 and the addition of the NX2 via midtown in 2018.
But while there haven’t been all that many changes to the RTN over the last decade, there will be a lot in the coming decade with:
- the addition of the City Rail Link
- further extension of the Eastern Busway
- new stations at Rosedale on the Northern Busway and three new rail stations between Papakura and Pukekohe
- Bus improvements to the Northwest
We’ll should also see the addition of Light Rail and hopefully also progress on the Airport to Botany busway.
Recently Auckland Transport released a new Rapid Transit map, or maybe you could call it their first rapid transit map, previously it was just called the rail map and had the busway tacked on.
It’s good to see them finally starting to present the rapid transit network as a single entity, though I do have a bit of feedback for them on it for future versions – given an updated one will be needed when the first stage of the Eastern Busway opens.
- One of the beauties of schematic transit maps is they don’t have to perfectly match the geography, just do a good job of representing it. But I don’t think AT have done a good job here. The map is far too squeezed vertically making the Northern Busway and Southern line look tiny while the Western Line looks really long.
The map index in particular is something not normally seen on rapid transit maps and should be dropped in favour of stretching the map out a bit. It would also mean they could drop the battleship style gird which would make it cleaner. Perhaps they could even drop the blue bar at the bottom too given there’s plenty of white/empty space to put the ATs logo.
- The Northern Busway should be presented more like the rail lines with the NX1 and NX2 each given their own lines. Especially given every low frequency ferry route, including tourist only ones like to Rakino Island, gets its own line on the map.
- It’s good that they show the greyed out Eastern Busway as being under construction as well as the Rosedale Station but odd that they don’t include the City Rail Link. Likewise they should also show the Northwestern Bus improvements and the new stations between Papakura and Pukekohe on there. The key reason for adding these future projects is to help show the wider public some of what’s going on to deliver better public transport in the region.
- There an error on the Western Line with Sturges Rd and Ranui around the wrong way.
- There are a lot of stations not shown on the map with easy connections to frequent buses, such as Mt Albert. Should they be represented on the map too instead of just the locations with larger bus stations?
On a slightly separate note, when did the completion of the Rosedale Station get pushed back to 2024. As far as I’m aware the busway extension from Constellation Dr to Albany is due to open in about a year’s time so why is it going to take another two years to add shelters, lifts and stairs. Is this another victim of AT’s funding priorities?
While we’re on the topic of rapid transit maps, one other thing I’ve been thinking about recently is if we should change what we call each line on the map. The Western, Southern and Eastern lines make some sense now but are hardly imaginative and don’t really make as much sense once the City Rail Link opens which will fundamentally change the rail map. For example, the most likely outcome is that the Western Line will travel to Otahuhu and the Southern and Eastern lines will become one. Likewise, while light rail is currently known as City Centre to Mangere, I doubt that will be the name it will go by if built and it would be even less appropriate if it was eventually extended to the North Shore.
So what could we call them instead?
Looking overseas there are a range of options, such as:
- In some cities, particularly those in Australia, the name is based on the terminus stations of the line. Based on that we may have something like the Swanson-Otahuhu Line, Pukekohe-Manukau Line or the Hibiscus-Britomart line. They’re somewhat descriptive but not that interesting.
- In other cities they use letters or numbers to describe them. Paris for example numbers for its metro lines (1-14), letters for its RER network (A-E) and numbers prefixed with the letter T for its tramways. New York too uses a mix of letters and numbers. Seattle is this year moving to letters and numbers. If we were to go down this route, letters might be preferable to stand out compared to our bus numbers. Single letters or numbers have the advantage of being easy to have uniform signage to advertise the line, such as these new ones from Seattle but aren’t that descriptive or that exciting.
- Finally, some cities use unique names for their lines, such as the various underground lines in London or Vancouver’s Skytrain lines. This is most close to what we have now and of course we also have the likes of the Link buses, but surely we can do better. Could we get more interesting and name them after notable people from Auckland’s past? What about some Te Reo names?
What do you think, should we change our rapid transit line names and if so, what to or what kind of naming convention should we use and especially for the latter, what suggestions do you have?