After months of delays, work is finally happening on the bus improvements planned for the Northwest with visible signs of construction at Te Atatu. Auckland Transport’s recent board report stated that work on the Lincoln Rd station would begin in July. These stations are due for completion by April 2023 and AT have kicked off consultation on changes to bus services in West Auckland that will make use of the new infrastructure.

When it comes to Frequent PT services, West Auckland is the most underserved area in the region with just one frequent route that operates, the 14 bus – even the trains aren’t frequent enough to qualify. By comparison, the North Shore has six frequent routes and the South has eight. As I highlighted yesterday, making PT better is critical if we want more people to use it an so improvements to buses in the west is crucial.

ATs plan is to add four more frequent routes to the West as well as other bus improvements that combined, will make PT more useful. The changes proposed are in line with the principles of the new network that rolled out to West Auckland five years ago.

The most significant change will see the creation of a WX1 service that will run along the motorway corridor from Westgate to the City. The NW will also be served by a change to the existing 110, which will be renumbered to the 11 that will also see it run frequently along the motorway between the city and Lincoln Rd before splitting up to serve Massey

Other notable changes AT highlight are:

  • Local routes connecting with motorway services at new bus interchanges at Te Atatū, Lincoln Rd and Westgate
  • Increasing the all-day frequency of route 131 and renumbering it route 13 for easier local trips and connecting to the new bus interchanges at Te Atatū and trains and Henderson
  • Increasing the all-day frequency of route 120 between Henderson and the North Shore and renumbering it route 12
  • Most buses running more frequently and later in the evenings
  • Creating a simpler bus network so it is easier to understand
  • Most customers will need to transfer to motorway services to travel to the City Centre.
Note: Unchanged routes are not shown.

The proposed frequencies of the routes are shown below. This suggests there will be about 10 buses an hour from the west to the city

As a comparison, here is the map today

Overall I think the changes make sense and will be an improvement over what we have today, though personally I’d like to see the 12 be improved between Greenthithe and Constellation Dr Station as that leg of the journey can be very unreliable with buses stuck in traffic. I’m guessing the change that will likely get the most negative attention/feedback will be the 13 with citybound travellers from Te Atatu being required to transfer to a WX1 or 11.

AT are also holding a number of drop-in sessions with the details of them below.

  • Tuesday 19 April 2022, 2pm to 5pm, Te Atatū Peninsula Community Centre, 595 Te Atatu Rd, Te Atatū.
  • Wednesday 20 April 2022, 2pm to 5pm, Te Manawa (Westgate Library), 11 Kohuhu Lane, Westgate.
  • Thursday 21 April 2022, 4pm to 7pm, bus stops at 54 Hobson Street, City Centre.
  • Saturday  23 April 2022, 10am to 1pm, Zeal West Henderson Youth Facility, Alderman Drive, Henderson.

Consultation on the changes is open till Sunday May 1.

Is there anything about the proposed new network that stands out?

While on the topic of the Northwest, as I highlighted from the Board Report, while the Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd stations will be completed by April next year with services starting to coincide with that, the planned interchange station at Westgate won’t even start construction till early 2024 and not be completed till early 2025.

One thing that also caught my attention was this map showing the infrastructure changes.

The currently planned bus improvements to the NW

What’s notable about it is that the length of new bus lanes along the motorway corridor is much less that earlier anticipated, which was to effectively add bus lanes along the entire corridor.

The original expectation of the NW bus changes
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  1. The NW “rapid” transit plans over the last five years read like the scene with Moe hooked up to the lie detector in The Simpsons:

    “Alright you’re free to go”
    “Good because I’m building Light Rail in the West”
    “A busway in the West”
    “Bus lanes in the West”
    “Alright alright alright, I’m gonna paint small new bits of the shoulders and add some dedicated off ramp stations”
    “…. Throw passengers out at the top of off-ramps”
    “Now will you unhook this thing already? I need to make sure this project delivery date doesn’t slip”

    1. Wouldn’t get your hopes up too soon on the light rail part! Likely going to be excessive price tag just like the CC2M. Plus funding for light rail line won’t be till 2024, if National gets elected in 2023 they’ll definitely scrap Light Rail for good!

  2. They appear to have given up totally on any bus priority up the west-bound Te Atatu off ramp, which is a total cluster from about 3pm onwards, so good luck any WX buses meeting up with the Peninsula buses with any kind of consistency at all.

    Let alone that hanging around the half-arsed, motley collection of shelters in the middle of a half dozen traffic lanes. in any kind of weather is going to be miserable, the whole interchange gets utterly battered with wind.

  3. A big concern is the safety of the large numbers of students, and others, who walk or ride and will now have to do this while crossing a tiny island full of waiting bus passengers. I am also concerned about the lack of bus priority of the feeder routes. Buses currently crawl along Te Atatu Rd and this doesnt look like it will change anytime soon.

  4. I live near the New Lynn end of the 14 bus and it is, frankly, dire.

    It’ll usually leave more or less on time from New Lynn. If it bothers to turn up at all. However, coming from the other direction into New Lynn, it is almost never on time, often between 15 minutes early to 15 minutes late by the time it reaches Kelston.

    I think just having one route instead of 2, 14T and 14W, will do a lot to fix that problem, but only having 1 bus every 15 minutes is not what I would call a frequent route. Last I heard, the 18 bus goes to Henderson late Friday and Saturday nights. I think it’d be better if the 18 bus just replaced the 14 bus completely in the new network, all the way to SH16.

    Ultimately, these changes don’t make it that much easier to get to work on the Shore for those of us who live in the West and work in the North, unless you live close to one of the new motorway stations, and even then it’s not that much better. So, it’s basically just for people who work in the city.

    I’d like to see a bus going down SH18 as well from North West to Constellation Drive either as well as or instead of 12. And then you could link up all 3 bus motorway lines to create a kind of Harbour loop.

    1. Right now all busses are back to normal except west Auckland….

      The 14 is pretty useful as far I am concerned. I use it from Kelston to New Lynn and Henderson weekly. It’s a tad more ghostly than other busses.

      But yea it’s substantially less frequent than other actually frequent bus lines in Auckland. The 22 lines or the 82 put it to shame.

    2. “Ultimately, these changes don’t make it that much easier to get to work on the Shore for those of us who live in the West and work in the North, unless you live close to one of the new motorway stations, and even then it’s not that much better. So, it’s basically just for people who work in the city.”

      Really? This looks like it would make pretty much every journey at least a little bit easier and make many journeys within west Auckland a lot easier.

      1. I wouldn’t say every journey a little bit easier, but certainly a fair number of them. But making most journeys a little bit easier isn’t exactly an inspiring aspiration. And I don’t see how many journeys in West Auckland will be a lot easier.

        For me, I’d now be looking at 4 buses instead of 3. I may get to North West for the 12 bus faster along the motorway than the 14T/W bus, but I’ve got a potential additional 10 minute wait for the bus change at Lincoln Rd. And the 12 bus remains a significant bottleneck.

        Since my partner got a parking space at work in the city, it’s going to remain faster for me to get a lift into town and take the bus to Albany from there.

        I mean, it’s a good start, but there needs to be much more frequent services, more dedicated lanes and more direct travel if we want people to use public transport, and this doesn’t go far enough. It’ll need to go to Kumeu and along SH18 at the very least.

        1. You don’t see how making half the network frequent will make many journeys easier?! making all journeys a little better is a really good aspiration. It’s actually really hard to do, but a tiny improvement for everyone is a massive gain to society at large.

          Any journey starting on the 12, 14, or 13 just got way easier. Any journey starting or ending at Westgate, way easier.

        2. I currently use the 14t/14w service between glendene and westgate frequently. I do not support the 14 being terminated at the lincoln road interchange. This will annoy a lot of people. It is essentially the spine of west auckland. Just as the 33 is for south auckland. There should always be a single service between new lynn and westgate. I also see that there will be no improvement to morning services. I’ve always been frustrated that the earliest 14* service to new lynn on weekdays only gets there at 06:04am, whereas the first 154 gets there at 04:57am. This is just stupid. They clearly don’t value patrons on great north road between glendene and kelston.

        3. A potential solution:

          – Reroute the 12 from Henderson via Lincoln Rd and SH16 to Westgate, then onto Constellation as per usual, though this would probably work better with a full Northwestern Busway and bus stations at Royal Heights and Triangle Rd. This could evolve into an Upper Harbour BRT/busway
          – Extend the 14 from Henderson along Don Buck Rd to Westgate, replacing the lost catchment of the 12
          – Increase the frequency of the WX1, and reroute the 11 via Great North Rd to New Lynn & Avondale?

  5. With regards to the bus lanes not continuing up the off ramps. NZTA just can’t bring themselves to make the bus experience better than the car which is needed to drive change. The 110 which becomes the 11 t along Triangle road will suffer the fate as the current 110. Stuck in traffic on triangle road. That’s why everyone tries to get the 125x which gets on the motorway at Royal Rd.

  6. I really think that 111 should be extended to run between Westgate and Lincoln Rd interchanges. The difference in level of service between Te Atatū Peninsula and Royal Hights is mind-boggling. Royal Hights gets a but every 30 mins linking to Westgate only and the proposed way to get to the city is to transfer to 11T which also runs every 30mins. One can imagine how reliable that’s going to be in both directions.
    Currently the route is serviced by only one bus, so this change would require at least two buses. I guess that’s too much the 111 should be going to Lincoln Rd interchange and not Westgate.

    1. Royal heights has 5,601 resident students and workers vs 10,308 on Te Atatu Peninsula, so it isn’t surprising that service levels are much higher in Te Atatu Peninsula. Royal heights is also just far harder to get to. Te Atatu Peninsula is a logical endpoint to a major cross town route in a way that Royal Heights isn’t. What we really need for Royal heights is a station at Royal Road.

      In the meantime, I think it actually makes more sense to run the bus from Westgate, around the existing loop, then onto the motorway at Royal Road with an interchange at Lincoln Road. That would give far better connections to the busway and to Henderson.

  7. Interesting to see the 14 will no longer go to Westgate. Probably much better this way overall.

    How the motorway stations interface with the rest of the city will be interesting. I see Waterview and newton Road. Kingsland I assumed would have one but it doesn’t. There is masses of room under Bond Street bridge.

  8. The one thing that I would like to see is 145 extended the 10ks down Waitakere Road to Kumeu, to give access from the western suburbs to the industrial area of Kumeu/Huapai, which includes a major film studio, and building supplies factories; and Kumeu/Huapai commuters, especially school children, access to the rail system.

  9. The 145 is my pet peeve. It goes past my house and is always empty, or maybe 1 or 2 people on it.

    It’s designed to shuttle people from Waitakere Village to the train station. It has one stop in Waitakere village, by the old station. People on the other side of Waitakere road by the school, and up Township Road have long walks (and dangerous) to access the stop, meaning that they don’t use the service. It should start at the doimain and then it should run up township road, northfield road and then Waitakere.

    It also doesn’t stop between Waitakere village and Swanson Train station, so anyone in between can’t use it. A stop near the intersection with Kay Road would be great – that would allow more people to access it.

    1. I have always wondered why on earth this bus doesn’t use Northfield and McEntee roads. It’s a no brainer. It should also start on Bethells road outside the primary school. While also keeping the stop on township road served.

      1. Agree, is super stupid. It’s because the whole genesis of the route is not to actually provide something that works akin to a normal bus route, but as a wholly inadequate stop gap instead of running trains to Waitakere.

        Currently that route goes all the way to Henderson, under the proposal it will stop at Swanson station. I suspect they’ll then use the low patronage between Waitakere and Swanson as reason to cull it

        1. Yeah, the whole argument for the cessation of trains to Waitakere was that the bus would offer more catchment – I believe the original plans were to have a Waitakere-Huapai bus as well.

          But instead all they’ve done is replicate the train service with a bus, no stops between Waitakere & Swanson, worse timetables. Hopefully by splitting the 146 in two the Waitakere-Swanson bus will be able to run more frequently, at the very least.

        2. The current route you mean is 146 by the looks. Seems they will be changing a few routes related around that area and the 146 will drop to hourly apart from the peak (that table of frequencies looks wrong for the 146).
          Good news it will travel on Northfield Rd and McEntee Rd to stop closer to more houses.
          A new 147 will continue to connect Swanson with Henderson.

        3. No, the whole argument for the cessation of trains to Waitakere was that trains to Waitakere were too expensive.

          The 145 could sure to better though.

  10. Not extending the 145 to Huapai as EvanJ suggests is such a missed opportunity, to test and build patronage along the non-existant commuter train extension.
    In Hobsonville Point, splitting the 112 and 114 routes extends the PT coverage in a growing area, but more than halves the frequency along HPt Rd, to the ferry. The 114 might deliver to the ferry, but the options getting off the ferry at HPt will be halved. Admittedly this is currently woefully underused but all of that does beg the question whether a smaller circular route through HPt connecting to the long hauls at Hobsonville village would be more attractive.

  11. It’s so sad to see the lack of corridor next by the interchanges. There is a lot of excitement about these changes, but I don’t think AT have described really that it’s not as good as it sounds. People don’t care if it’s AT or NZTA they just want it to be as good as the Northern Express Busses.

      1. AT have always been shockingly bad when it comes to servicing new suburbs. The hibiscus coast, flat bush and south + west of papakura are great examples.

        1. I feel like some of that is down to new suburbs being atrociously planned – decentralized and sprawling with buses forced to meander through a grid of narrow side streets

  12. The routes appear sensible but they need to be prioritised on the ground with bus lanes, bus gates, etc to the extent to which catching a bus is quicker than driving. AT needs to be willing to reallocate space at intersections and congested corridors.

    Bus travel is an essential service and needs to be seamless. Peak-hour car traffic is a luxury. Prioritise accordingly.

  13. 11T is seemingly the product of incomplete infrastructure. Running parallel to the RTN route seems like an obvious case for a station somewhere between NorthWest and Lincoln. A Royal Road station was in the “medium-term” box of infrastructure improvements for this corridor – looking at the network, it really feels like it’s essential to help the network run efficiently.

    Cutting the 14 back to Lincoln also feels a bit iffy. The Lincoln Rd corridor is very built-up and this creates more local transfers. e.g. if someone from West Harbour wanted to go to Waitakere Hospital, then they either have to take 3 buses (12, WX1/11, 14), or 2 buses (12, 14) which are more indirect. Nothing wrong with more transfers, but they make more sense on long-distance city-bound routes like the 11/WX1 – less so on shorter, local trips.

    It makes more sense to continue branching the 14, rather than the new 11 alongside the proposed 11W/11T residential corridors. That also means more direct connections for anyone coming in from the northwest.

    1. I think it’d be good for AT to bring it back to first principles – the Northwestern Busway should be similar to the Northern Busway in New Network operating pattern, in the sense that it’s similar to a rail line and that people should expect to transfer in order to get to different regions of Auckland.

      I would potentially realign the 11 to run along the motorway until NorthWest station, as a more NX2-style service, that is until there’s proper WX stations built at Pt Chev, etc.

      Matt Bear in this thread has another potential solution for this local connections issue, if it is indeed a problem.

  14. Man I can’t believe their still planning to run inefficient services along West Auckland still! Services like the 123, 135, 147, 148 and 195.

    123 – overall needs to be scrapped and just let 122 takeover the route instead of having two buses operating towards Kumeu/Huapai area at once.

    135 – Completely needs to be scrapped, practically running interline with the 13 and doesn’t won’t get much patronage as it suppose too

    147 – It may as-well be the 146 and keep it as it is, instead of it terminating at Swanson and then wasting it for another bus

    148 – Too short of a route and you can catch the 149 which goes the same exact route

    195 – It should be scrapped too, often doesn’t get enough patronage well mainly towards heading to CBD and Vice versa, but should instead do circuit around Titirangi and Blockhouse Bay and back into New Lynn, repeat the process.

    Man who the heck decides the routes?

    1. 122 & 123 are only 60min frequency, so between them can achieve 30 mins off-set, that’s probably the idea.
      135 is a slightly different roads where it can and only a local service where as 13 is frequent so it’s probably good.
      146 will only run hourly, whereas 147 30mins.
      148/149 – one is weekday longer service for Rosebank as well, other night/weekend shorter one, makes sense.
      195 I agree shouldn’t run to city but could do New Lynn to Avondale (hard to turn?) rather than a loop which would end up bunching. Would want the train to be up to 15min frequencies all day though perhaps.

  15. 122 may as-well be the feeder route for the 123 and yeah its good idea to have frequency at 30 mins

    135 not really, only 10% of the route is different literally goes the same way as the 13

    146 yeah makes no sense to operate given whoever will be driver will have long breaks and people from Waitakere would have to pay for transfer if they want to get to Henderson, makes no sense

        1. I think there is a time limit for transfers? Maybe 30 mins, which can be a bit frustrating if you are waiting for infrequent services in the middle of nowhere (cue West Auckland….)

          Also, by free, as I understand it they mean that it costs the same as if the trip was made on one vehicle – ie you aren’t penalised for transfers, but you still pay for the “single trip”. This has been the case for me whenever I have used AT’s buses.

          “Fares are based on the number of zones you travel through.
          This means you can transfer between AT buses, trains and ferries and pay just one fare for your entire journey with your AT HOP card.
          Make as many transfers as you like between buses, trains and ferries. Just make sure you tag on within 30 minutes of tagging off your previous service and complete this journey within four hours.”

          Transfers are free.

        3. I noticed Hamilton’s transfer parameters are better with 30 mins but 1 hr after a certain time and weekends/public holidays (from memory).

  16. Taken literally, the “new” map above suggests Glen Eden and Glendene as well as large parts of Henderson will lose all bus services. Is this correct or is the map incomplete?

    Existing services are poor but the potential catchment is significant. I can say from direct personal experience that these areas are already highly car-dependent, and are exactly the sort of places where mode shift is essential if we are to make any dent in existing emissions.

        1. +1, I would have thought that simply greying out those routes would be much more clear.

        2. @SailorBoy – which they were able to do for the Rosedale Bus Station consultation map I think… huh

    1. There is a pile of existing routes not shown like the 15x series, 161, 162, 17x series, 190. Then all the central & cross town ones that reach west such as the 68, 670, 24, 25, 209

      1. Thanks – that is good to know, hopefully when put together it is a more positive picture for the West. As a regular visitor to Auckland who catches buses and trains out West, the challenges facing public transport users are extreme. There are few bus lanes, services are unreliable and slow, and a thirty-minute off-peak journey by car routinely takes up to ninety to one hundred and twenty minutes by bus or bus/train.

  17. As a frequent 133 route user whilst I wholeheartedly welcome this proposal in principle, I have a number of concerns relating to the specifics of the implementation. Many have already been covered by comments above, but one aspect I haven’t seen any details on is the route this new bus will take once it gets to, or close to, the CBD. The NEX buses have the advantage of coming into the CBD passed the Viaduct area and then Flanshaw. Is the new Western Express going to just service the centre of the CBD (like the 133X) or will it look to cover a number of areas like the NEX?

  18. A bus shelter is not a Station, and it never will be, and why,why, why no Interchange at Westgate, vital for network growth.

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