Last year Auckland Transport consulted on their long-term plans for buses in the city centre. Part of the plan involves creating two high-quality east-west bus corridors through the city but another key part to it involves building up to five major off-street bus facilities on the edges of the city centre for buses to terminate at with services routed to a facility on the opposite side of the city to the one they enter on. Those facilities would include passenger facilities and AT pointed to the Manukau Bus Station as an example of the kind of experience they want to deliver with them

AT released the outcome to that consultation back in February and while there weren’t too many responses, most were supportive of the changes meaning AT are now moving on to consultant welfare business case stage.

While I do think the City Centre Bus plan is an improvement over what we have now, the reliance on large, expensive off-street facilities is what concerns me the most about the plan. ATs Regional Land Transport Programme currently allocates over $350 million for these and some of the other bus improvements in the city but they’re also the most likely aspects to face cost escalation and/or other delivery challenges. This becomes even more of an issue when you consider most city centre passengers will still board or alight buses on the street and the facilities are mainly just about providing layover space for bus operators.

AT did say at the time that the number and location of the facilities could change as part of the business case process but one option I hope they include in that analysis is option of fully through-routing some buses which may reduce the need for or the size and features of those facilities.

Through-routing comes with a number of benefits, but it isn’t without its own issues too. So let’s look at these.


Auckland’s city centre is home to the most expensive real estate in the city, if not the entire country. Any off-street station is going to be expensive to deliver either in terms of the amount of land needed or for high engineering solutions such as underground or elevated (like the proposed Grafton Gully Station would need to be).

This means any off-street facility is going to have a massive opportunity cost, both in terms of financially for AT to deliver but also spatially as it is land/space that can’t be used for other purposes. Through routing can essentially shift that cost to areas where land is cheaper.

Perhaps more importantly, through-routing can also open up new opportunities for easier public transport options. I’ll cover some options for joining routes together later in the post but as an example, linking together the Manukau Rd services (30) and the Takapuna services (82) would directly link together Onehunga, Royal Oak, Epsom, Newmarket, the city centre, Takapuna and Milford.


The first big issue to note is our geography which results in somewhat of an imbalance of routes. There are still plenty we could join though so it’s not always an issue.

The major issue with through-routing is reliability, especially after making some very long routes. As it is many of the buses on the existing routes suffer from reliability issues and so without major improvement in bus priority this will only get worse. By starting buses in the city it does mean that in the PM peak at least, buses can generally leave when the timetable says they will.

The alternative to this is likely to be overly conservative timetables and the introduction/addition of staging/timing stops much like the dreaded Victoria Park Pause of the Inner Link.

There may also be issues with long routes and how it impacts on driver schedules and their need for breaks.

Finally, based on our current network there will almost certainly be un-even flows. This is because all routes have different service levels and levels of usage. Aligning these may result in increased costs. Again coming back to the suggestion of linking Manukau Rd and Takapuna services, both services have buses running every 15 minutes off-peak and every 7.5 minutes in the peak direction at peak times (to the city in the morning, away from the city in the evening). The 82 also runs that higher-frequency in the counter-peak direction but the 30 only has counter-peak direction buses every 15 minutes. So to fully through-route these services AT would need to increase the frequency on the 30 part of the route which would increase costs, but then also provide a better experience.

Through-routing options

I’ve come up with a bunch of routes I think could be joined together. I focused this joining frequent routes and considered aspects such as frequency, ridership, and the location of where services currently terminate in coming up with these suggestions. I also excluded Sandringham Rd services from the list given the uncertainty of their future over light rail but have included another combination.

  • 30 and 82 – I’ve already mentioned this one and incidentally it was also part of the original proposal for the current bus network.
  • 18 and 75 – The 18 runs a bit more frequently than the 75 throughout the day but they are close. Perhaps the bigger issue that they both currently terminate in quite different locations and joining these together would remove direct access to Wynyard for 75 bus users.
  • 20 and Tamaki Link – As part of the bus plan, AT want to extend the Tamaki Link to Wynyard. Given they both currently have identical frequencies they may be ideal to join together.
  • 22 and 95 – Both routes run fairly similar frequencies with the major difference between them being the 22 uses Wellesley St while the 97 terminates downtown
  • 27 and 97 – From a matching frequency perspective this was one of the hardest as the 27 runs a lot more frequently than the 97 but if the base patterns were to be joined, it would mean just the extra peak services on Mt Eden Rd would need to be dealt with terminating in the city.
  • 25 and City Link – Not a through-route but with light rail on Dominion Rd now seemingly off the table, perhaps AT should look join these routes together to create a route like they originally envisioned with light rail, making use of Ian McKinnon Dr for a more direct route and linking through to Wynyard. Both these services already run at high frequency all day.

Pre-Covid these routes carried combined nearly 18 million trips, or about a quarter of all bus trips in Auckland.

What suggestions do you have for through-routing or do you think it’s not worth the benefit?

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  1. Through-routing has many benefits, and should be strongly supported. However, there are a few difficulties. The biggest IMO is the issue of timing – delays can be compounded, leading to passenger frustration – or buses running early can still require a version of the “Victoria Park Pause”, which is very frustrating for passengers. Provision of bus priority is an essential component of smoothing out travel times to make them more reliable. The current plan to remove parking from key arterials is critical here.

    Essentially, it’s “back to the future” – this is how most isthmus routes operated many decades ago.

  2. I can absolutely see some benefits of joining some routes together but I think the downsides outweigh them. We would most certainly need “Victoria Park”-style stopovers somewhere in the city and I personally hate them; hence, Inner Link is probably my least favourite line.
    I think it would be better if AT provided good parking space for buses on the outskirts of the CBD rather than a Manukau-style station which is great but the passenger numbers will not justify the expense. It would be much better if the most used bus stops in the city were upgraded to cater for higher passenger numbers.

  3. The biggest benefit of through routing is it avoids the need for light rail which Treasury says could be as high as $29 billion. Remember the original reason for light rail was AT claimed there wasn’t enough kerb space to stop buses in the CBD. (By ‘stop’ they mean sit there for 15 to 20 minutes with then engine idling while the driver keeps warm before the next run.)

    1. “The biggest benefit of through routing is it avoids the need for light rail”

      Oh, what makes you feel that way? Every report on that corridor (even the ones made to kill light rail) makes it very clear that light rail is needed to medium to long term.

    2. Friendly reminder that

      – Light rail offers 2-3x the capacity of buses (200-800 passengers per LRV vs no more than 150 passengers for a bi-articulated bus).
      – Dominion Rd buses (double deckers every 2 minutes) have already been well documented not coping with peak loads. What do you think will happen with 6+ storey intensification on the isthmus
      – Surface light rail can be built for $30-60 million NZD per km overseas, not the $400-600+ million figures that ALR have cooked up. Anti-light rail types should really stop using such disingenuous tactics with regard to cost.

      1. Yes I sure if you select light rail as a solution and then try really hard you can invent a problem for it to solve. But the original problem put forward by AT was buses in the CBD. It looks like they have found a solution to that that doesn’t cost $29billion.

        1. Until those buses get overcrowded again… did you miss the part where I said there’s plenty of evidence that buses every 2 minutes down Dominion Rd already AREN’T COPING?

          I think it more likely that the anti-light rail brigade are inventing short-term excuses that won’t hold up in the medium term – leading to more money spent overall, less social and less environmental benefits.

        2. And FYI Miffy, surface light rail down both Sandringham and Dominion Rds should cost under a billion dollars at the international (European & Canberra) costing of $30-60 million per km.

          16km of green-tracked, high-capacity light rail for $480-960 million. There you go. Stop spouting “$29 billion”.

        3. Well no. The opposite thing happened. Bridges when he was Minster had a report made, which was directed to report back that busses were the way to go for the corridor. The report then highlighted that it is extremely difficult to add much capacity to the that corridor with busses. And that given Auckland growth, a move intensive PT service is needed in the near future.

          Yes, ALRs plan is mad, but it exists because there is serious need here.

        4. The City Centre Bus Plan still thinks there will be a problem with buses around 2030. Given it’s 2023 already, we better get on with (re-)planning some sort of rail solution for either the western and/or isthmus services, that would be up and running by say *cough cough* 2033. With the Downtown Carpark sale and the solution to use it’s structure modified or something new for turning buses seems clear wouldn’t of worked anyway (I did at one point support such a solution).
          [Excerpt from the plan
          Lower Albert Street
          Under the City Centre Bus Plan, many services would continue
          to use the on-street facilities at Lower Albert Street, which has
          a finite capacity. It is anticipated that by the early 2030s, the
          use of Lower Albert Street for all western and isthmus services
          will overload the bus station. In addition, out of service buses
          will continue to have a negative effect on the urban realm:
          1. On-street bus layover facilities will always be required
          on Sturdee Street
          2. Buses will need to continue to circulate on Lower
          Hobson Street and Quay Street
          Initial investigations indicate that an off-street facility in the
          downtown area is complementary to the City Centre Bus Plan
          and could help to address the problems highlighted above.
          AT will work with Auckland Council and Panuku to explore
          possible opportunities and tie this back into future engagement
          surrounding the City Centre Bus Plan.

      2. What you are saying is that light rail is a ‘nice to have’. I think $14.6 billion for the government to spend on better things is nicer, and $29 billion even nicer.
        The good news is nobody is going to build this scheme, it will go the way of the bike bridge.

        1. It’s not a “nice to have” it’s going to be desperately needed as intensification is going to continue along that corridor.

          Auckland light rail is bloated ridiculous plan, made to keep car drivers happy. It’s hardly popular anywhere where, let alone here. It’s pretty likely that the project gets cut. That will still leave us with the same issue.

        2. Thinking about the combing of route 25 (Dominion Rd) and City Link more. They should definitely do this and brand it: “Light Rail Replacement Bus”

  4. Hopefully, one the well paid consultants will raise the point that they should really be looking at this with CBD congestion charging and busses being given priority.

      1. Well would hope that all of Auckland would benefit from congestion charging soon enough.

        Something like this needs to start small.

  5. Resolving the “issues” you list – of bus reliability – requires all the things AT should be doing to reduce emissions, congestion, DSI, and to improve travel choice, anyway. Spending money to resolve those things is a better use of millions of dollars than new facilities is, because it could save money by resolving many issues concurrently.

  6. On the reliability front, a lot of the issues come at intersections.
    When the road network really crumbles, blocking intersections with cars becomes extremely common, I’ve been on a bus where consecutive light cycles were made useless for us due to people knowing full well they would not be able to leave the intersection before they entered.
    Blocking intersections with your car when you can see there is not enough room to leave the intersection should be a finable thing. And at problem intersections, should be automated. If I’m not mistaken, its already in the road code to ensure you can leave before entering. It just needs enforcing.

    The other crazy practice is with the road marking, only starting the bus lanes 10’s of meters down the road from the intersection. This means that even if people leave the intersection, they are fully in the right if they take up 2 lane widths, and block be buses from reaching their lane. Paint the bus lanes right up to the intersection, and paint a wider turning circle fake curb type deal so drivers know the deal.
    Example here:

    And of course there is the perennial issue of turning vehicles being given priority over some of the highest use bus routes in the country. A layout and priority change at a number of key intersections would make a huge difference and massively improve millions of bus trips. I don’t think it can be understated how much better things could be for not that much money, and just a smidge of priority removal for cars.

    1. Hi Jack entering an intersection when the passage out of it is blocked is an offence against 4.5(2) of the Road User Rule subject to a $150 infringement fee. But the police don’t have any cameras that are designed to enforce this and it wouldn’t be a high enough priority for them to enforce it manually. As a moving vehicle offence it is not one that AT can enforce even though they would be more likely to care about it. Another good reason why parking wardens should be able enforce more traffic offences than just special vehicle lanes and parking.

      1. Council, police and the ministry have known about this for years and yet nothing gets done. I despair at the institutional inertia (read poor productivity) of our transport organisations

      2. Years ago when the North Shore buses used to go down Albert St and turn left into Fanshawe (a particularly bad intersection for being blocked), one night to the delight of everybody in Albert St there were half a dozen policemen standing quietly outside West Plaza and every time the Customs St light went red they’d just stroll out and ticket everybody parked in the intersection, then stroll back and wait for the next phase. Half a dozen tickets every phase like clockwork. Didn’t make it any easier to get out of Albert St but it made the wait so much more enjoyable 🙂

    2. Part of the issue here is to do with intersection design. Super wide intersections with multiple lanes and turning lanes means it’s harder to judge whether you’re going to be able to get across. I’ve been caught out unintentionally when the traffic seems to be flowing through the intersection and then suddenly it stops as there is some sort of hold-up on the other side (probably someone negotiating a parking spot). Tighten the intersection right up and it’s much more obvious how much space you have and how much time is required to get across. Cameras are also definitely needed.

  7. The city centre has had enough of the transport spending, there are whole PT deserts in Auckland that need upgrading way before this sees the light of day.

    1. “had enough of the transport spending”: hard to believe, most of the roads in the city centre have been there for over a hundred years. So really it is just Britomart and CRL in the last 100 years isn’t it?
      Compared to say east Auckland which is getting Ameti and a flyover and has had a lot spent on roads, or west Auckland that has recently had a massive motorway upgrade, or the North Shore with the busway, or Mangere with SH20.

    2. The city center is often the worst part of the journey for a large portion of public transit routes. It introduces delays into routes emanating from it, it is what is going to set the max capacity of many PT routes. Improving city center transport improves far more than transit in just the city center.

      Often the best upgrades for non city center transit users is to upgrade the city center. CRL is a good example, it opens up the opportunity for way more frequency on all rail routes, and a route that doesn’t even touch the city center.

      Of course there should be more spending elsewhere, people with no access to rapid transit will not get any immediate benefits form any transit spending, but I think its wrong to dismiss CC spending as “they’ve had enough already”

  8. Personally I think that without proper bus priority measures along the complete routes this is not a good idea. Bus services, even the frequent ones (like 30 through Newmarket) already get terribly unreliable. Making the routes even longer and effectively making every one of them suffer from both morning and afternoon traffic congestion means that there’d be even less opportunities to recover and get back to the timetable.
    It also goes against the idea of adjusting services to demand, as the whole route would have to be beefed up.
    If anything I think the services should just finish outside of the city centre after going through it. Like Tamaki Link going to Ponsonby.

  9. To avoid the issue of not running to timetable you could make transfer stops at the start or end of each thru route similar to what happens with trains on the tube system. Transfers need to be an accepted part of the public transport system.

  10. I’m confused why early running never seems to get much of a mention. Its nearly impossible to use the bus network as it is presently, yet alone if you have a few transfers. It feels like nobody here actually uses the buses in Auckland outside of peak.

    With the city being the middle of the route this is probably going to be immediately noticeable.

    1. The AT solution to early running is busses sitting at some stations not doing anything to catch, the outer link does / did this.

    2. “It feels like nobody here actually uses the buses in Auckland outside of peak.”

      This is incorrect. Pre lock down, “The peak” had already started to extend from the traditional 7-9 time period, and the 3-6pm time period, thanks to the introduction of the new ( bus ) network

  11. I thought that AT were virtually insolvent? Why are they spending money on consultants and b****y big bus garages like Manukau?

    1. “Why are they spending money on consultants and b****y big bus garages like Manukau?”

      WHY? To encourage people to get out of their single occupancy cars, and to future proof the city

  12. Through routing was how it was done back in the day in Christchurch but they have a bus station now. Manukau has two through routes which use bus stops out on the street. Seems to work OK. So maybe we can have a bit of both. And we have Google maps and the AT app to tell us how to change buses if the city centre isn’t our final destination. So what ever works with a preference on my part for buses which run on time. Failing that a nice friendly place like the Manukau bus station with staff, security and passengers having a bit of social interaction between buses helps to pass the time. Problem is to find a suitable site in Auckland centre.

    1. Through routing is still standard in Christchurch, they just built a station in the city designed for terminating services. Only a few actually terminate there.

      Twenty years ago Christchurch used a similar model to what AT is proposing with terminus stops on the edge of the CBD that no-one actually used.

      1. Sixty years ago almost all isthmus bus services in Auckland were through routed. As I say, back to the future. They gradually moved to terminating services – the last through route to remain (until the early 1980s) IIRC was the 274/045 which ran from Three Kings to Point Chev Beach via Customs St.

        And the Christchurch bus station is not just for terminating services, but through services as well. I changed buses there this morning on my way to the airport.

  13. Wellington has through-touting on at least a couple of major services, the #1 North-South and the #2 East-West. Seems to work quite well for these high frequency routes. we now has electric buses that pass outside our house every 5-10 minutes and go to the city an don to the airport.

    1. Wellington’s routes are quite short compared to Auckland’s though, the through-routes are only as long as the single routes in Auckland. Some of these suggestions would be 25 or 30km in constant traffic on city streets.

  14. Part of the solution to real estate costs is to develop sites upwards.
    1) Buy the land
    2) Tender (or develop itself) the airspace above the site leaving the ground level for a bus station.

    What complicates this somewhat is the emptying of the CBD since Covid.
    No doubt this will reverse at some point and the CRL opening will likely help with that. Now is Possibly a good time to be buying as prices have dropped back (even if there are no plans to build for 5+ years).

    1. “Part of the solution to real estate costs is to develop sites upwards.
      1) Buy the land
      2) Tender (or develop itself) the airspace above the site leaving the ground level for a bus station.’

      That is the plan.

  15. Council, police and the ministry have known about this for years and yet nothing gets done. I despair at the institutional inertia (read poor productivity) of our transport organisations

    1. “I despair at the institutional inertia (read poor productivity) of our transport organisations”

      This is caused by the need for public consultation at each stage of the project. This encourage pressure groups ( like the AA ) to throw up objections at every step. The solution is to just go ahead and make the changes without any public consultation.

      1. Or to only do the level of public consultation legally required. Which is minimal, if you look at it, and quite useful for throwing up ideas that AT hadn’t thought of. I think AT has fallen into a trap of thinking that where projects aren’t universally popular the organisation will be less criticised if they consult more than is required, preparing elaborate feedback reports to explain their reasons. This, and a mistaken belief that AT’s role includes attempting to minimise vocal criticism (no, they need to follow the strategies and fulfill their responsibilities) has created the inertia problem.

        1. Many of the recent complaints about “lack of consultation” have come from the Mayor’s office. AT is an easy target for local politicians who are seeking media exposure for themselves. They all complain, but non of them offer any practical solutions.

          “But AT didn’t get much support from its owners either with Mayor Phil Goff shamefully throwing them under the bus, seemingly more worried about future electoral results than staff or public safety.

          “But AT didn’t get much support from its owners either with Mayor Phil Goff shamefully throwing them under the bus, seemingly more worried about future electoral results than staff or public safety.”

  16. I really struggle to see how AT think we should spend $350m on this.
    For the Parnell turnaround, they can just use Shipwright Lane or the existing car park next to it which is already part of the SH16 designation.
    For the Wellesley Street one they can use Beaumont Street and just send the buses on a loop of Victoria Park in the existing bus lanes.
    For Wynyard Quarter, they can use Beaumont Street a little further along and then just implement some bus lanes by making the street one way for other traffic.
    For Grafton Gully, they can use the bit of empty lane between the motorway, Grafton Road, and Wellesley Street.
    Lower Albert Street already has a perfectly good bus interchange.

    For $350m, they should be able to build busways right across Wellesley Street and Fanshawe/Customs to go with these new tunaround facilities. I’m really worried that they are going to try and shoehorn Northern Busway style stations into the city centre instead of just using on street stops :/

  17. The 25 and City Link should definitely be joined. The only downside is the branding advantage of the red bus would be lost. You would also loose Grey’s Ave and a better K’rd stop but it would work so much more efficiently I think.

    1. I think an issue with joining the 25 and CityLink is that it’ll run into frequency issues at off-peak times. The CityLink is a city centre circulator-type service – that meaning it’s very short in distance. Tolerance for frequency changes based on trip distance. That’s why the CityLink runs every 5-8 minutes until midnight. Meanwhile, the 25 only runs every 15.

      I think it’ll be viable to join the routes together once the 25 reaches the CityLink’s level of frequency, including in span, on its combined branches. So 7.5 minutes on the core and 15 on the 25L and 25B. Otherwise, you’ll be cutting frequencies on the CityLink back from what that are at the moment.

  18. Through routing can also lead to scheduling inefficiencies – something not immediately apparent to many. Lengthy routes can result in difficult construction of driver shifts, particularly if limitations on shift and portion length are not a good fit with the duration of the route. Similarly, whilst serving a lengthy route with two or more depots can reduce dead running compared to a single depot, it can also lead to hidden inefficiencies in the construction of shifts. Almost inevitably some buses either start or finish at the wrong end in the ideal timetable, which leads either to timetables overly reflecting operational requirements or to additional dead running.

    If you are willing to accept the reliability issues that often accompany lengthy through routed services, then an alternative can be to minimise CBD layover requirements by either significantly reducing layover time at the CBD end of a route or the “slingshot” approach by scheduling a route as a single inbound and outbound trip with no layover in the CBD (potentially a short dwell time can be provided both for boarding/alighting time but also to assist with reliability. These approaches help maintain scheduling efficiency and also avoid the issues of attempting to align the frequency, capacity requirements and variabilities in running time of what are effectively two separate routes into the CBD which occurs when through routing.

    Examples of these have recently been implemented in Sydney, eg:
    Route 333 (with Australasia’s best 24/7 frequency) operates as separate inbound and outbound trips, however the CBD end typically gets only around 3 minutes layover (to assist with limited layover space at Circular Quay), and additional layover time is provided at the outbound end at North Bondi to compensate.
    Routes 100, 120 and 373 are operated with the slingshot approach as single trips commencing and terminating at the outer end, with no terminus in the CBD – instead they loop around the block and return as a single, continuous trip.

    Similar arrangements are also in place at some non CBD termini where layover space is an issue – for example route 350 at the Domestic Airport terminal (minimal layover time) and route 304 at Green Square (slingshot).

    Management of delays and disruption becomes easier for these routes – they are all able to be operated by a single depot, the distance between termini (or terminus and furthest extent) is much shorter and their more self contained nature makes recovery easier.

    1. Agree, it’s easy to hypothecate on what we would like, but unless you have much more PT segregation (conventional bus lanes aren’t enough, even if you can take them all the way to signal stop lines), through running will usually be the exception rather than even remotely possible. Far or near side terminals are much more common, and when you have poor bus priority, nearside terminal are (sadly) often best. Bus operations, as opposed to bus planning, is a skill few appreciate. But I agree there needs to be much more city centre bus priority, space for stops/terminals, and a bit more through running.

  19. I think time table reliability is, at this stage, key.

    I wonder if there’s the possibility of replicating much of the benefits of the offstreet plan by utilising what’s currently on street car parking.* This should save money relative to the offstreet plan while preserving much of its likely functional advantages over through routing absent strong bus priority.

    * Manukau isn’t likely to be possible unless there’s a disused carpark somewhere, but you could get a system not dissimilar to Otahuhu or Puhinui anywhere that offers busses a relatively free u-turn and has parking possibilities on both sides of the road. Whack down some crossings and voila.

    1. Yes, that seems to me to be the obvious way forward.

      Bus stations, of course, do offer driver facilities. But we have an equally important issue that public facilities are lacking in many parts of the city – and that’s a Council problem. Not just bus drivers, or even just bus passengers. We need toilet facilities, seats, under cover areas, safe lighting, and so on, for everyone.

      It’s all these sorts of facilities and operating expenses that Council have been miserly about while simultaneously giving drivers free and abundant parking in most parts of the city. The inequity is astounding.

  20. Where through routing isn’t achieved I’d hope that routes would cross the city centre and terminate at a railway station on the opposite site, thus hopefully providing inner city local connections for rail passengers and those form other buses, spreading bus parking around to minimise congestion and hopefully making do with existing on street spaces.
    e.g. Northern services at Newmarket, Mt Eden or Kingsland. Western services at Parnell, Newmarket or K’Rd. Eastern servies at Wynyard (assuming Nth Shore line), Aotea, K’Rd or Kingsland. Southern at Britomart, Parnell, or Wynyard.

        1. That would require bi-mode electro-diesel trains; and more to the point would take away train slots from the suburban rail network.

        2. We can’t find 1 slot an hour each way to get into Britomart? Once the CRL is open the centre platforms will be empty anyway right?

        3. I made an FYI request, and it seems that post-CRL the two tracks of the eastern approach will have the same 18TPH (and eventual 24TPH) capacity as the rest of the CRL.

          Personally I’m of the view that that whole capacity will be needed for suburban trains, and I’m somewhat baffled by the proposed CRL operating patterns that only use 15-16TPH out of that capacity. I don’t think that’s efficient.

        4. Its very efficient, their operating plan and fleet order is designed to deliver good service levels and have enough capacity to meet the peak demand on opening day, and not more. If they need more capacity they can phase in the extras over time.

          Planning to buy and run more trains than you need for either service frequency or capacity, just to fill up the maximum the tunnel can take because reasons, that is inefficient!

          Of course you could argue that they underestimate demand, which seems to be a common occurrence.

          Anyway don’t fret, it just means there is space to bring two or three trains an hour in and out of Britomart to the terminal platforms, at peak times, and maybe half a dozen an hour at off peak times.

          That’s plenty good, if we get to the point where intercity trains are departing Auckland every twenty minutes at peak that’s a great problem to have.

        5. @John D – I’m still not convinced. Terminating some peak hour services at Parnell seems off to me; so does running empty stabling services alongside peak hour trains. I also can’t see how the current proposal (7 lines: red, pink, light green, dark green, light blue, dark blue, and maroon/brown) would be branded in a way that’s easy for passengers to understand.

          I would make the argument that AT tend to underestimate demand; some of their published service patterns over the past 5 years indicate no more than 6TPH at peak to Swanson and Papakura, and no ambition to increase CRL capacity to 24TPH until the mid-2040s.

          Plus, there’s that the 2018 ATAP specified that the RTN should have 10-minute frequencies on all lines off-peak. I believe that should be the baseline for post-CRL operations, and I think that could be achieved with a simpler operating pattern than AT have specified.

        6. Efficiency is different from legibility!

          But you can disregard most of those extra coloured lines on the operating plan, they’re just showing how the extra peak trains would be run. They’re not normal all day lines. The public timetable would just show them as variants of the normal lines.

          I think you are misinterpreting things with “terminating some peak hour services at Parnell”. It’s better describe as “at the end of peak hour the extra peak trains go to the stabling yard at Quay Park until they are needed in the afternoon”.

          Their plan does have 10 minute headways on all lines off-peak (except the onehunga branch and that weird crosstown thing). It just has more than this at peak too.

          If you look at this version (which is not the latest but is most clear on the plan), you can see among all that mess its basically just three lines, the red and green main lines and the purple crosstown. All the rest is just different sorts of extra “peak direction overlay”.

        7. Looked at the FYI response. I guess “Passive provisions for 24 trains per hour per direction” means 24 with some not stopping at stations?

        8. Yes “it just means there is space to bring two or three trains an hour in and out of Britomart to the terminal platforms, at peak” means the Te Huia and the Northern Explorer could arrive and leave from Britomart once they are upgraded to duel powered.

        9. “Passive provisions for 24 trains per hour per direction” means 24 with some not stopping at stations?”

          I think this means making allowances for new signalling that would be needed as well as other possible infrastructure

        10. @John D – That operating pattern is very dated and doesn’t match the current plans which can sorta be seen in one of the ALR appendices (

          Current proposal seems to be, at its simplest, through-routing the Western & Eastern Lines (4TPH off peak, 8TPH at peak), with a standalone Southern Line (4TPH off peak, 8TPH at peak), and the Onehunga Line incorporated into the Crosstown Line. The 2TPH spare out of Britomart to the east would be for a Pukekohe express.

          That’s 15 minute off-peak frequencies, not 10 minute off-peak frequencies.

          I came up with an alternate routing which was able to get 18TPH through the CRL at peak (6TPH each on South-West, South-East, and West-East through-routings) and an effective train every 5 minutes each way at peak for every station bar Parnell and Grafton (and those areas are well-served by buses). Even with half-frequencies off-peak there would be 10 minute turn-up-&-go train service to nearly all stations, as soon as the CRL opens without waiting for the 24TPH upgrades.

        11. That’s not the current CRL thinking Matt, that’s an ALR option scenario that (poorly) attempts to accommodate adding a extra airport line joining in Mt Albert with various other random attempts to game the model.

        12. @John D – minus the Avondale-Airport line and I’m sure that IS the most recent CRL operating pattern document. AT/CRL comms (including the responses to my FYI request) indicate 15 minute off-peak frequencies on each line, which correlates with the 4TPH service patterns used on that diagram and not the 6TPH service patterns used on the 2014-2017 diagrams you refer to.

        13. Additionally, it seems that the plan with the Onehunga Line is to incorporate it into the crosstown Henderson-Newmarket-South service pattern – something that the old 2014-2017 plans have not done.

          Arguably should be taken one step further and the entire OBL turned into a higher-frequency shuttle service, but that’s another issue entirely.

  21. I love the idea of through route buses. The problems with transferring buses in the central city is one of the reasons I don’t use buses more often…

    But that last map showing potential through routes? It should be the basis for a light rail network.

  22. To Matt L point on ‘merging routes together as one’, there’s a-lot of problems which come with that idea, which is from driver and operator perspective. For drivers there are problems with this proposal, which is driver schedules, driver rest and breaks and driver welfare. From the operator point of view there are problems too, which is operational cost, giving up routes originally contracted and being able to operate the route.

    To the perspective of drivers, biggest issue would be drivers welfare, as of right now the had to deal with a lot of stress due to covid and pay. If you were to introduce a merged version of a route it would increase there stress levels and make it harder for them to cope and give up the role. All together it would mean Aucklanders would be losing key routes, which is greatly needed on our network. If Auckland Transport changed its current network to what Matt L is proposing, the drivers would be forced to driving 2-3 hrs straight without any break and which brings more stress on the drivers and ability to cope. Second important factor is driver rest, the driver themselves need to have some rest before they are able to service another route on the network, if merged routes Matt L is proposing would just increase the need for more hours of resting, would not be very productive for operators since they need drivers to be flexible. The drivers also need to be able to have enough quality of life outside of work so they comeback being refreshed and well rested, otherwise what you’ll have is burnouts and bus drivers not wanting to service the routes.

    From the operators perspective, the important factor of all would be operational cost! If you were to merge two very long routes together you’d be paying double the cost originally, which also means paying for more buses. Second of all, the operators themselves NZ Bus and Ritchies won’t be thrilled to be giving up key routes mainly due to the fact they’ll be giving up their routes to another competitor and will be given a contract to run the service. Lastly, operating the routes will be a mission for the operator since they’ll need to find enough bus drivers and difficult part will be rostering since they’ll have to go through a long list of drivers who’ll be in attendance driving per-day.

    The solution to our problems is simple, extending existing short routes not merging routes particularly in the area Matt L is suggesting. On the current Auckland Transport network, particularly on our current bus network, it doesn’t offer convenience for those who don’t work in CBD area, for those needing to get to work in places like Ellerslie, Penrose, Otahuhu and Manukau which are key employment areas for people. Also we have two very short frequent routes in our current Central Auckland network, bus route 20 and 64 which don’t serve enough people across the central part of Auckland, which is why the both need to be extended to serve more people in central Auckland!

    They’re both not well utilised since there situated within the inner city fringes and only capture small amount of communities it currently serves which is contributing to the inconvenience for people to travel to work. We also need bus route 20 to be extended towards Mt Albert, Owairaka and Mt Roskill and Onehunga considering its current length and amount of passengers it captures.

    If you live in suburbs such as Sandringham, Balmoral, Mt Eden and Epsom, you don’t have a short transfer to get from compared with those living down at Mr Roskill, Three Kings and Royal Oak. If your someone living on the Sandringham, Balmoral, Mt Eden and Epsom area, the 650 needs to terminate at Ellerslie instead of Glen Innes since Ellerslie is a commercial business hub for workers and so people can catch the train faster to Penrose, Otahuhu and Manukau, people living in Sandringham, Balmoral, Epsom area choose private vehicle cause there’s no convenient service which gets to work and convenience is key to people making the switch from private vehicle to public transport. Also having good transport hub is key to attracting more people transition from private vehicle to public transport!

    Currently in Auckland, we are running inefficient, uneconomical, unsustainable bus routes around the Auckland Region. Which is resulting Auckland Transport having to announce to the media, that they’ll likely looking towards scrapping bus services, but it shouldn’t be on specific suburbs, it should be specific routes. Many routes across Auckland, don’t gain enough patronage and as a result lose services altogether cause routes either interline or correlate with each other and doesn’t offer efficiencies for Auckland Transport since there’s other parts of auckland which need more services currently. Also another factor to why were losing services is because were running service which aren’t convenient enough, once it starts to become inconvenient, the bus service can’t fund for itself and the need to rely on regular working people’s money who perhaps are struggling financially themselves so it can sustain while working people suffer as a consequence. Auckland Transport needs to get rid of specific bus routes which are currently running in our regions instead of targeting specific suburbs along with looking at efficiencies, making sure routes don’t correlate or interline with each other.

    1. “places like Ellerslie, Penrose, Otahuhu and Manukau ‘

      HUH. These areas are well served by trains AND buses.
      To plan your journey to these area use the AT Journey Planner

    2. “the 650 needs to terminate at Ellerslie instead of Glen Innes”

      The 650 is a Cross Town bus designed to connect Pt Chev, to various centres, all the way across town to Glen Innes Station, and vice versa. Terminating it a Ellerslie would disadvantage those passengers who use it between GI and Ellerslie.

    3. “Auckland Transport needs to get rid of specific bus routes which are currently running in our region”

      HUH. AT already does this to under-performing routes. This normally occurs about 6 months after a new route is introduced if that route does not meet patronage targets

    4. ” bus route 20 and 64 which don’t serve enough people across the central part of Auckland, which is why the both need to be extended to serve more people in central Auckland!”

      Route 20 is designed to connect St Lukes and Kingsland Station to Ponsonby and the Beaumont Street/North Wharf area. At St Lukes you can connect from the 20 to several other bus services. At the North Wharf end of route 20 you can already connect to other central Auckland bus routes including the City Link

  23. Perhaps unsurprisingly (given my involvement in the New Network), I like the purple line connecting Milford to Onehunga.

    For the others, I’d actually be tempted to link the Birkenhead lines to the eastern end of the dark blue line on Remuera Rd.

    This would mean both the through-routed services following the same alignment between Onewa and Newmarket.

    1. I think that Birkenhead and Remuera Road are also ones that would be really easy to implement full bus priority too. This would overcome some of the issues around reliability.

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