This website has spent well over a decade advocating for better public transport and encouraging Aucklanders to use public transport more, often reminding people that while the system needs to continue to get better over time, it has come a long way since the dark days of the 1990s and early 2000s – and that our buses, trains and ferries are probably better than you remember them being if you haven’t ridden for a while.

Sadly, we can’t say that right now. Auckland’s public transport system is a complete mess and will continue to be like that for the foreseeable future unless some radical steps are taken.

Twenty years of hard work and billions of dollars in public investment to drag Auckland’s public transport network into the 21st century, to a point where it was fairly easy to and attractive for people to use, are being undermined by incompetent public agencies and baffling decisions by politicians that should know better. Obviously a lot of what’s happened to public transport over the past couple of years has been out of anyone’s control – thanks to the pandemic. But with nearly all COVID restrictions now gone, that excuse wears extremely thin.

Starting with rail, amazingly it was only a couple of weeks back when KiwiRail and Auckland Transport shocked everyone by announcing that they’re basically progressively shutting down the whole rail system – without any consultation and without a clear mitigation package – for the next two years so they can fix up the track beds. (Edited to add: the shutdown has been very clearly signaled for at least three years – and that is only if it stays on track.)

While of course we need to properly look after and fix up the rail network and we want a network that doesn’t shut down every Christmas/New Year or public holiday, no city that takes its public transport system seriously would ever propose such an extended closure period without a world class mitigation package absolutely locked in.

  • New York City spent years planning mitigation packages for a planned closure of the 14th street subway tunnel between Manhattan and Long Island to fix it up after the tunnel was flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – and even then the Governor of New York state ultimately cancelled the plans. Interestingly the tunnel was quietly fixed up through a series of far less disruptive closures.
  • When Sydney shut part of it’s Epping to Chatswood line for nine months in 2018/19 as part of the new metro line, they put on up to 110 buses an hour across seven routes, with a mix of all and limited stops, along with some additional bus priority, to give people a viable alternative. They’ve done a similar thing for shutdowns on the Bankstown line – which is also being converted to a metro line.

  • And in news to hand: a timely example from Boston. As Mayor Michelle Wu explains in this great interview (click through to read the whole thing) – it’s not just about mitigating the situation at hand. It’s about learning everything you can about how to transform the system that got you here:

    City government can be nimble, innovative and move quickly when we choose to, but sometimes it feels as if we don’t have a choice because we’re dealing with a major crisis — public-health-related or infrastructure-and-transportation-related. But the goal, always, is to try to carve out the time and space from the unexpected crisis-level situations that need an immediate response to be able to change systems and get to root causes in a transformational way. We can’t take only safe steps that get us to maybe mediocre outcomes. We have to take risks. Sometimes we will fail, but we will keep learning from what we’re doing.

    For example, our experience with the Orange Line shutdown: That entire subway line closed down for major repairs and upgrades. That was the purview of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. The city stepped up to support all of the diversionary transportation, the alternative shuttle service, traffic signals, dedicated bus lanes, making our bike-share system free for 30 days. It went about as smoothly as it could go.

    Since the reopening, we’ve kept some of the changes, because many of the ideas that we accelerated and made happen have been helpful for traffic flow and public safety. That’s the goal, to look for opportunities for lasting impact and constantly iterate and show improvements.

More recently, the Western Line has been hugely disrupted by track issues – forcing a service that normally operates every 10 minutes at peak to be curtailed to one that’s operating half-hourly west of New Lynn and every 20 minutes between the city centre and New Lynn with users required to transfer between these services. Quite incredibly, this surprise service disruption for an entire week isn’t so KiwiRail can fix the problem, only so that they can investigate it.

While the fault may be out of Auckland Transport’s control, dealing with customers isn’t and the experience leaves a lot to be desired. For example, yesterday at just after 5pm I went to catch a Western Line train from Britomart. A check of the app told me the next train was 52 minutes away despite services supposedly being every 20 minutes. I was about to give up and find another option but as I was next to the station I walked in double check and found the next train was 12 minutes away. How many people looked at ATs app and just gave up trying to use a train?

And why is there not even a quick paper timetable on their website so people can see what the best service to catch is for the best train to train connection at New Lynn.

Things are no better for those wanting to catch a bus. A massive shortage of bus drivers means that huge numbers of services continue to be randomly cancelled each and every day. Barely an hour goes past on Twitter without seeing someone posting a pained screenshot of multiple cancelled bus services:

https://twitter.com/aw_nz/status/1581827561151029248?t=VGa4p6pSyBZnoWwqqY9sAQ&s=19

Numbers vary, but back in July there were over 2000 cancelled bus trips per day in Auckland. Apparently there’s a shortage of around 500 bus drivers across the region – with poor pay and conditions meaning that drivers continue to leave the industry and move to other roles. Strict immigration policies seemingly prevent these shortages from being addressed, and Aucklanders continue to lose trust in public transport that has taken decades of effort and billions of dollars to build.

Ferries passengers aren’t getting off any easier either. Fullers are also short of staff and ferry passengers are reminded that they’re unimportant, with services cancelled to accommodate a cruise ship docking.

All up, this is catastrophic for Auckland and deeply frustrating for those – like us – who are seeing years of effort unwound. But especially at a time when we have a government that supposedly wants a transformational improvement to public transport to help achieve ambitious emissions reduction goals. We’re not moving forwards right now, we’re going backwards at full speed.

So, what could be done about this? I think there are a few big steps that need to be taken over the next few months to get things heading back in the right direction – to help ‘win back’ Aucklanders’ trust in public transport that has been so severely damaged in recent times.

  1. The government needs to send Kiwirail back to the drawing board over the extended rail closure that’s planned for the next two years. We’ve heard from some in the industry that with a little bit of additional machinery and some better ways of working, like is used overseas, it would be possible to dramatically reduce the length of closures. This needs to happen.
  2. Auckland Transport needs to introduce a temporary new bus timetable that they can actually confidently run on a daily basis with the number of drivers there are. This would allow some good strategic thinking about which services are a priority to continue to run and which services can be cut for now until we have enough drivers to reintroduce them. While on the one hand I hate to see what this would do to our network, having a ‘pretend timetable’ at the moment is just a lottery for passengers. If bus companies don’t want to co-operate, then Auckland Transport needs to start fining them for not fulfilling their contracts for operating services. Fine them until the risk of going broke means they co-operate.
  3. Bring in a huge number of bus drivers from overseas. With steps already taken in recent months to improve pay rates and conditions for bus drivers, opening up immigration to fill critical shortages of bus drivers in this area could be a useful tool. Maybe focus on some Ukrainian refugees or experienced bus drivers who might like a better life in New Zealand? Whatever, just move quickly to get a heap more people into the country who can drive our buses.
  4. AT need to do everything they can to quickly speed up services. On trains this should mean addressing longstanding issues like long dwell times and removing unnecessary slack from timetables. For buses, a programme of quick bus priority measures is needed as well as perhaps things like rationalising bus stops – which in some places can barely 200m apart – this was meant to happen as part of the rollout of the new network during 2016-18.
  5. Extend half price fares for the foreseeable future. The one slight saving grace with the absolute joke that’s public transport in Auckland at the moment, is that we are at least paying a lot less for the completely rubbish service we are getting. The idea of doubling fares in January next year – as currently planned by the government – is frankly laughable right now and would probably be the final nail in the coffin for public transport in Auckland and around the country.

These five steps will not solve all the underlying issues facing public transport in Auckland. That will continue to require lots of effort and lots of investment over the years and decades to come. But they would ‘stop the rot’ as the saying goes, and be a step towards restoring some confidence in the network and undoing the damage to people’s confidence that has occurred recently.

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182 comments

  1. Yea. The outer western line today, had one city bound train at 6.05 am, the next at. 7.26 am. Bus alternatives had cancelations and even then it is a roll of the dice to see what happens a New Lynn.

    Simply not worth using right now.

  2. Yes to bus priority. Mark bus lanes on all multi-lane roads, including motorways. Make better use of the buses and drivers who are available and increase the pay of drivers to reflect the unsocial hours, stress, etc. Half fares still delay buses, as passengers tag on and off. No fares would help speed buses.

  3. AT need to start fining operators for not having available drivers right now. The whole point of PTOM is that AT get to unload all of the risks of employing people onto contractors. If the contractors bid such a low price that they can’t pay market rates for drivers then let them go bankrupt. They should be fine for every service for which a driver isn’t made available.

    Remember folks; the issue isnt that there aren’t enough bus drivers, the issue is that contractors offer such poor pay and such poor conditions that bus drivers would rather do other work.

    1. Yes but immigrants would be GRATEFUL to have a job, so let’s bring them in and pay them poorly so they have to live hand-to-mouth in this promised land, until they get fed up and go home no better off than they arrived, and then bring some more in. Rinse & repeat 🙂

      (I fully agree with your comments)

    2. The model is broken. Because the bus companies need to own the buses, depots, etc, this means they need a long contract to justify the investment, and even then they are not going to invest as heavily as they would if they had the contract forever. Its really hard on the bus companies to all of a sudden have to pay their drivers more when they are on a contract. Yes AT could fine the crap out of them, but they will go under and then who is going to want to take it on? They must be close to going under anyway I imagine.
      A better model would be for AT to own all the buses and infrastructure and to then outsource just the running of the service with much shorter contracts.

        1. The last thing we need is for AT to own it! AT would be held hostage by unions, there will be strikes, bus drivers will be earning more per hour than rocket scientists, they will get unlimited sick leave and breaks every 10 minutes. London tube drivers earn £65,000 a year to pull a lever back and forth, and they still strike for more.

        2. Bus drivers should earn fair wages. The fact that a union could be more effective is a reason to support AT bringing drivers in house

        3. Bad comparison, Jimbo. The rocket scientists are probably driving Uber, if not buses, while they get their residency to work on rockets (at least one past example of this).

    3. If there were enough bus drivers they would be driving buses, however it is likely that some who didn’t want to do 13-14 hour split shifts have left the industry for better conditions elsewhere. In these days of high employment it is unlikely that they can be replaced any time soon.

      Since this page likes to quote Australia as a good example I can say that there are a number of Australian mainline pilots who were laid off and will never go back. Why not? They got better jobs for not much less money driving longhaul trucks or suburban and intercity trains.

      The success of Steven Joyce’s PTOM was predicated on the import of minimum wage workers. PTOM was supposed be revoked by Michael Wood – he who is good at words but not at action – but whether it is revoked or not having to remunerate drivers at $23++ will likely lead to much higher costs for organisations such as AT.

      1. Sure about that ?

        Article in Stuff from 25 August :

        AT said it did not pay operators for services which did not run, but was not imposing the reliability penalties that exist in the contracts.

        “We are now reviewing our options to go back to that full KPI regime of bonuses and penalties and looking at how that would work when there is a national labour shortage,” said Richard Harrison, AT’s Metro optimisation manager.

        source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/local-government/129672515/auckland-bus-disruption-driver-shortage-causing-record-cancellations

      2. Kia Ora. A big THANKYOU to ALL Drivers
        and their families for persevering with COVID, restrictions, cancellations and many grumpy and frustrated passengers. We still reach our destinations safely. Respect

  4. Even in Auckland itself, consider the effort & money spent on the traffic mitigation on the replacement of the Auckland Newmarket Viaduct.
    https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh1-newmarket-connection-viaduct-replacement-project/

    https://www.worldhighways.com/feature/more-newmarket-viaduct-replacement
    “The entire project has been carried out while keeping the motorway open at all times, and while mitigating noise, dust and any other inconvenience to the city’s commuters and businesses.”

  5. For number 1 step. Kiwirail must URGENTLY purchase a tamping machine or ballast tamper to pack (or tamp) the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable and level. Reliable & quick fix for the track beds.

    1. They already have tamper machines and are purchasing more, keeping the staff who know how to operate them is an ongoing problem. However the problem in Auckland is the ancient foundation, a tamper machine doesn’t fix that.

    2. It’s not the ballast that is the problem, it’s what lies below which needs renewing to improve drainage and stability. One problem that is not generally known is around the old Sylvia Park station where there are lava tubes which collapse occasionally so they need to be fixed as well.

      One can only hope that the third main has been laid properly, or that the problem that it has disturbed the up main?

  6. Good ideas that are feasible there. Working under live wires might not be feasible, so how Kiwirail can do the trackbed work in time with less disruption is not clear.
    Running bus and rail services better, with better live passengers information is an ongoing area of improvement work.
    Recruiting and keeping bus drivers has no quick and easy fix. Immigration is one idea, but new drivers will need homes for their families. You may have noticed that a lot of people with public service jobs with low pay and stressful conditions are not happy and for good reason. But the comfortable people who would need to pay to Improve that situation appear quite willing to vote against anyone trying to raise money to pay that extra.

    1. There are perhaps workarounds for the live wire issue.

      What happened to the ADL/ADC class when the EMUs came in? If there are any that survived being scrapped they’ll work fine without overhead wires.

      The SA/SD carriages withdrawn from Auckland that haven’t been refurbished for Te Huia and other purposes are all still stored in Taumarunui. Perhaps the interiors haven’t been vandalised yet and all they need is repainting to cover the grafiti assuming the locomotives required to haul them can be found somewhere.

      The heritage operators have diesel locomotives – perhaps AT could lease some of those. Might be able to lease carriages from them too as long as AT promised to return them in a better condition than they received them in.

      1. The ADL/ADC’s are now parked up at the GVR’s site at Glenbrook and a large number of SA/SD’s that are at at Taunarnui are now ownned by the GVR/RES and possibly all they will need is a good waterblasting to remove all the grundge off them and the Graffiti could possibly disappear at the same time ;-

        1. That is AT’s attitude “can’t be fixed” , take the Locomotive Ja1271 that roamed the Auckland Network last Saturday years ago it was stripped down and used as a boiler in an industrial plant then was purchased by Steam Inc and rebuilt completely to operate on the National network and the parts that were needed could not be bought off the shelf and had to be made . So why do people say the ADL/ADC’s can’t be repair/done up , if a private Heritage can do it why can’t AT do it or is to had for their tiny braincells to work it out it can be done .

        2. @David L
          They have lost their certification to run on the National Rail Network and will require complete overhaul.

    2. We do work under the overhead wires. They get isolated whilst the work is being carried out. We just finished doing a formation job in Papatoetoe, which was ofcourse, done during a Block of Line over labour weekend.

  7. The scarcist resource in PT at the moment is workers,the other issue is emissions. Currently buses are operating on a network at “dial-up” speed ,when they could operate at “fibre ” level. “We”put PT vehicles out into a restrained operating system,and expect miracles,before fining operators for poor performance ,AT could expedite the network to flow,(dedicated bus lanes,traffic light priority,inflow bus stops,etc). The cost to make these changes,economically very little,politically huge,never let a crisis go to waste,AT,you have already missed several opportunities.

  8. The problem is, none of this is going to happen.

    Because the government, and AT don’t want it to happen; and the opposition parties (and the incoming Mayor) are actively hostile to AT and WANT the system to collapse.

    Greater Auckland is capable of complaining, being bitter, and making a loud noise, but it sadly has no political power that could actually be able to drive change. It relies entirely on trying to “shame” the powers that be into action – and these people obviously have no shame.

    This is what I have been warning about for months – that GA’s strategy relied on having people in power who at least cared about PT. Under the mayoralty of Code Brown, things will only get worse, because they want it to get worse. It’s become a culture war thing – they ENJOY watching PT users and bike riders get upset. “LOL owned woke lefties”, they laugh while rubbing their hands with glee.

    So the question is – what is the point any more, apart from just making ourselves angry and depressed?

      1. To be fair, Wayne Brown is a bit all over the place. But the crucial factor is that Matthew Hooton does his political thinking for him. Hooton is on the record as being anti-urbanist; and plus, as a political strategist, he’s all about owning the “woke lefties” to rile out turnout for the Nats in 2023. The more people like GA complain, the better it is for him.

        1. It depends if the right want to mould Auckland’s transport system more into a bus oriented one. If they do nothing at all then the next left leaning Mayor or government has a great opportunity to build rail. If National / Brown invest in good buses and “fix Auckland”‘s public transport, then there is less opportunity for the left to get elected or build rail.
          Also I imagine Brown is a guy who likes results, I don’t think he will want to fail on something he campaigned on and improving buses was a big part of his campaign.

        2. Hooton is definitely driving his communications but the Wayne Brown I know isn’t interested in any other political thinking than his own.

        3. The right (both Brown and National) are heavily campaigning on the left’s inability to deliver. They will be very very keen to prove they are better if elected.

      2. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/auckland-mayor-wayne-brown-tells-at-he-wants-a-complete-change-in-approach/G6XNORNNKASNQ4Y5532LZRRCBE/

        I just wish these kinds of un-ambiguous actual policy statements were made available to voters before local elections.

        Like, some of that stuff would probably win votes but it is clearly hostile to PT, active modes and the ability of organisations to deliver improvements for either… and I’m guessing someone pointed that out so they just… didn’t speak about it.

    1. But if everything does go to crap, as you say, then won’t everyone just jump in their cars and try and drive to work/school/home instead? And then won’t there be even more congestion and snarl-ups than ever, and won’t that just reinforce to everyone how important a good PT system is, so even Wayne B will be clamouring for the PT system to be fixed?
      Brown may not like AT (not GA either, probably), but Auckland NEEDS a PT system and that means spending money. The city can’t work without it.

      1. “and won’t that just reinforce to everyone how important a good PT system is”

        Well, no. It’ll reinforce how we need to 12-lane Spaghetti Junction and build four Waitemata road tunnels. It wasn’t long ago that ACT were calling for turning the rail network into toll roads, and they’ll get back to it. You know how this kind of culture-war thinking on transport works. This is a sea change like the Trump era in the US (We’re usually 5 years behind overseas political trends anyway) and I don’t think people here are prepared for how far Right the consensus of influential people is going to shift, very fast.

        1. Daphne, I agree that the political economy of car dependence is self-reinforcing and so each of these set backs has a negative impact on the other strands… It’s also true that there is a momentum in the other direction that we can tap into if we’re clever.

          GA can’t work on all fronts at once because we’re volunteers, and value what people in other spaces are doing. But we can keep highlighting what is being achieved in other cities, so that more of the public know what they’re being denied. We can keep bringing to light poor decisions being made a different levels of government, as well as the good decisions.

          And, importantly, we can raise the issue of better democracy. Local government has consistently failed to step up and follow best practice. I think we need to blog more on the topic – so if there are any readers out there following the research, please send in some guest post drafts.

        2. Reminds me of the Thatcher years in the UK when she, apparently with all seriousness, proposed shutting down the passenger rail network and turning the trackbeds into motorways.

          Nonsensical on the face of it considering a typical motorway is several times wider than a standard twin-track railway line.

        3. @ Grant Young

          HS2 is using as much land as a 4 lane motorway, its a huge blight on Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire here in the UK.

      2. You are correct that car usage will go up. But you are wrong if you think that anyone (outside of the greaterauckland bubble) will come to the conclusion that a better PT system is needed. Instead it will be:
        “We need one more lane to fix traffic.”
        “There is too much space given to bikes/busses.”
        And AT will rejoice because that is all they ever wanted.

        1. Look, if we could just fix the traffic light phasing I’m sure that will fix things. #justsqueezeafewmorecarsthrough

          or

          “it’s all those people causing the traffic” says the person sitting in their car

        2. And Wayne Brown already delivers (from the Herald):

          ‘”You appear to have been focussed on changing how Aucklanders live, using transport policy and services as a tool,” Brown said.

          “Instead, AT must seek to deeply understand how Aucklanders actually live now, how they want to live in the future, and deliver transport services that support those aspirations.”

          Among the changes Brown wants to see from AT is to get approval from Local Boards before removing on-street and off-street parking.

          The new mayor also wants to remove unnecessary road cones and road closures and establish clear rules governing the use of footpaths, cycle lanes and bus lanes.’

          I would translate that to ‘please drivers because people like driving right now!’

    2. AT and WK are devious and scheming for a national party government.
      For many years they have frustrated public transport users and bikers.
      Just a few km of hugely expensive bikeways a year built that usually are bumpy, unconnected and unsafe.
      Any AT engineer who rides the trains must have given a thought to the foundations years ago and wondered about them as I have.
      On a weekly basis AT for years have been frustrating users with cancellations and poor service.
      They resist bus lanes and build busways such as at Botany with the hugely expensive deviation.
      So many bad, costly decisions hurting families. The really don’t care about a NW busway to help people.

      1. Listen very carefully, I will say this only once, AT DO NOT control the condition of the railway tracks in Auckland. It’s Kiwirail, got that, KIWIRAIL!

    3. “what is the point any more, apart from just making ourselves angry and depressed?”

      I agree. After 10 years of hoping that Auckland would change, I am off next year overseas to a proper city that actually works.

      NZ has lost its way on PT and cycling. Maybe thi8ngs will get better once the CRL is built but I am sceptical.

      Too many older people in power who just want everyhting to be like in the 90s. As long as young and low income NZers/AKLers decline the opportunity to vote, the elderly will hold this city in a death grip.

      So long, and thanks for all the fish.

      1. It is easy to blame the old, but I also know plenty of people in their 30’s and 40’s who have never caught a bus in Auckland and complain about bus lanes and light rail etc. Actually I would consider the 35-50 year old demographic the real problem group (and I am one of them).
        I fear it is just a self fulfilling prophecy that Auckland has bad PT so people don’t use that bad PT so people want more room for their cars. Its the same with bikes, people that would cycle if we had the infrastructure don’t cycle because it is dangerous and then don’t want the infrastructure because they don’t cycle.

        1. The short, flippant responses is that if you’re in the 35-50 age group you might not be old, but you’re not “young” (and yes I am also one of them).

          The longer, more nuanced answer is that it isn’t generational, but is a result of people ageing beyond the life stage where it is relatively easy to get around by foot, bike or public transport in Auckland, and into the life stage where almost everybody gets railroaded into motor vehicle ownership – by a combination of the housing market, employment patterns and expectations, the way education and social activities for kids work, or by the need to help family or friends navigate some or all of those pressures (even if you’re not directly subject to them yourself).

          We’re not doing anything substantial to solve the bigger social problems that require many people to live this way, so people quite reasonably are sensitive to being told it’s their individual moral failing, and “urbanists hate you and your lifestyle” is a much more satisfying lightning rod than “we need to resolve this with coordinated action across multiple functions of central and local government to improve New Zealanders’ lives holistically, please have faith in us despite your whole adult life being defined by the government’s retreat from securing good outcomes in life for ordinary people.”

      2. Try Vancouver (a non-stop flight from Auckland). It too has just elected a new mayor who is a businessman, reflecting what their press is calling a shift to the right by older, richer, more conservative voters. Check out his party’s platform at https://abcvancouver.ca/platform/ to see what “a shift to the right” looks like in British Columbia.

      3. I gave up three years ago. No regrets. Way less stressful not worrying about car dependant nimbys wrecking the urban areas.

    4. I don’t think we should start imagining things that are not reality. Key thing is to solve this driver shortage. Next is to beef up kiwi rail so they can do what they need to do in a timely fashion. If you look back on how things were in the 90’s we are doing pretty well.

      1. I think Daphne is quite wise to think through how things will pan out and how to be best prepared.

        There are some discussions not yet being had properly. Labour should’ve been raising the quality of the public discourse, eg about the benefits of tax, for decades now. National should have been rethinking their position on economics so they could step up to be the political party we need them to be. Both parties have been too weak to do so, so we’re stuck in a position where National are touting failed ideology and Labour won’t lead because they can’t imagine actually changing course.

        First up: we need a frank discussion about how to pay for systems change. We are no longer in the position of believing that investment will lead to growth which will enable us to repay the debt. Every single thing we build now needs to be funded by this generation; not the next – who are facing climate change costs it seems society is working hard to ignore.

        Anything good enough to be built now, must be good enough to pay for now, too. This must shape what we decide to build.

  9. Along with Michael Wood, we asked about a new temp timetable being introduced in August. The reply we got said “we are not currently able to make changes to our service design as a mitigation for the cancelled trips we are experiencing.
    The proposal to add new routes (the shuttle suggested by Ms Gomes) would take considerable time to get up and running (a minimum of three months), due to:
    • designing new timetables
    • working with the bus company to agree timetables, and
    • optimising the new timetables for maximum efficiency
    • possible requirements for public consultation.

    In addition, Auckland Transport would have to prepare the data (maps, timetables etc.) which are used in the Journey Planner, app etc and upload all of this data followed by operational testing. During this time the bus company would need to reschedule all of their trips (this is done across all trips to ensure maximum efficiency), then produce new duties and rosters.
    Even a three-month time period to introduce a new service or timetable changes would be tight and would depend on the reallocation of current work and the bus company being willing and able to expedite the process. We would also need to factor in any public consultation needed under the LGA.”

    That was close to three months ago.

    I have asked the new mayor to make this a priority focus, but haven’t received any replies.

    1. Yet the government were able to shut the whole country down in a few days… Anything is possible if it is considered important enough, PT users in Auckland are at the bottom of the barrel.

    2. So Jon, I could read that response in two ways, depending perhaps on the wording of the question. Their “AT would have to” is a very poor choice of wording. What exactly did you ask – and is there hope they actually meant they would do it but it would take time?

  10. AT and WK are devious and scheming for a national party government.
    For many years they have frustrated public transport users and bikers.
    Just a few km of hugely expensive bikeways a year built that usually are bumpy, unconnected and unsafe.
    Any AT engineer who rides the trains must have given a thought to the foundations years ago and wondered about them as I have.
    On a weekly basis AT for years have been frustrating users with cancellations and poor service.
    They resist bus lanes and build busways such as at Botany with the hugely expensive deviation.
    So many bad, costly decisions hurting families. The really don’t care about a NW busway to help people.

  11. If low unemployment is going to be a feature for an extended period, the government need to get serious about replacing standard buses with something much more labour efficient. Bigger articulated buses sound like the cheapest and quickest solution to me. As much as I like rail it isn’t possible to build or fund it quickly, instead some really nice large electric buses that are more train like on dedicated 24×7 bus lanes could be rolled out on a large number of routes for the billions they would spend on one rail line.
    Making it free is another option. If it means the driver can complete the route 20% quicker because they don’t have to wait for people to tag on and off etc then they need 20% less drivers (and 20% less buses and 20% less CO2). This also allows all door boarding which is a must if they go with bigger buses.
    Getting rid of the stupid double-deckers would also be good. I am not sure why they chose them over articulated. The boarding time is slowed considerably with people going up and down stairs, it is quite a long walk from the top back of the bus to the door.

    1. “I am not sure why they chose them over articulated.”

      Because they’re far more maneuverable around tight city streets.

      1. Double deckers are shorter, you can fit more on bus stops when space is limited. The tail on artics can cause crashes on tight corners. Used to require a special licence as well.

      2. Those are all problems that could be sorted relatively cheaply, especially for the major routes. The common theme seems to be that buses have to be slow and crappy and there is no possible way to change that. I used to catch a bus in London that was articulated, felt very spacious, had a much higher capacity than our buses, and had all door boarding. It was as close to a train as buses can be. This was in a much more compact city and over 20 years ago.

        1. There may well be articulated buses in London but that city is pretty much exhibit A for choosing double decker buses.

        2. In London buses are mainly used for short journeys or to go the last mile, people don’t want to use buses they want to use the tube for longer distances. Most of the buses in London are terribly slow, we should not be copying them.
          In the case where they had articulated buses it was an area that was not well served by tube lines. I would say almost all of Auckland fits into that category.

        1. In other countries bus drivers manage to turn articulated buses in roadways that are 6.5 metres wide. Our streets are almost literally twice as wide.

        2. Course they can. It’s not about the size of the intersection. It’s about the number of turning lanes for other traffic. Because AT still prioritise general traffic.

  12. One way to mitigate the worst effect on commuters would be to single track the section upgraded track having trains travelling at peak times into Britomart/Waitematā in the morning & away from Britomart in the afternoon.

    This would require parking multiple trains outside the Strand in the afternoons, and at Otahuhu, Swanson, Papakura or even Pukekohe in the mornings, inconvenient for the operators, but a lost more convenient for commuters than non-existent rail bus replacements.

  13. I am starting to wonder if Wayne Brown being elected might actually turn out to be a good thing. There is a reasonable chance he will sort this out better than Collins or Goff ever would have. AT will always come up with reasons why they can’t do something, we need a Mayor who won’t accept those reasons.
    Long term he would probably be terrible for Auckland, but he might be just what we need right now.

    1. Haha. Dream on.

      The western train lines issues is the about the perfect opportunity to have a go at AT/Kiwirail. This could actually get them them to at least keep to their time table or commutcate a bit better with the public. Richard Wood did something similar earlier this year.

      Wane did less than nothing.

    2. If Wayne Brown can take his determination to sorting things out and match it with working as a team player I think he will do well. Problem is he demonstrated in the Far North he really struggles with the latter.

  14. Does the Bayswater ferry solution give us clues on how to fix this? Taxis, motorcar. Let the citizens make their own way around the city. Restore roads to their intended use and let cars take over.

      1. I’m using AT Travel Alerts as the template.

        Auckland Transport Travel Alerts
        @AT_TravelAlerts
        Due to incoming cruise ships, the following Bayswater ferry service has been replaced by taxi.
        Auckland to Bayswater

    1. “Restore roads to their intended use” – many of Auckland’s roads existed before the motor car, so yes we should restore them to their intended use of trams and bikes, the place would be much better.

  15. Citybound 6 car train leaving Avondale at about 7:50AM this morning was packed with people standing in aisles, and running very slow until after Pak’nSave.
    Assumption that the RCF (rolling contact fatigue) issues with the rails have been attributed to soft foundations.

  16. It’s really sad what is happening right now. I don’t have a car so I rely on public transport and my bike for all my journeys. It’s a sick joke what I can see in the AT app at the moment with the buses and trains being cancelled at random. As much as I hate to see less buses in the timetable I would prefer to have some certainty around what bus I can actually catch. Not to mention that transferring between services became very tricky now.
    I don’t get why the Western lines to the city run only every 20 minutes if the issue is between New Lynn and Fruitvale Rd?
    And don’t get me started on the rail closures beginning next year…AT does heaps to accommodate drivers and their needs but when it comes to public transport we’re treated like second grade customers. I can’t even imagine the backlash if someone even suggested closing a motorway or the Bridge for a couple of months.
    I have been very forgiving for a number of years to AT but I’m at a point where I can say only this – get your sh*t together AT and do what you said you’d do.

    1. 100%. We get that there are massive issues, make the reduced system as reliable as possible. Getting a half hour plus stop over 10% in to your trip is miserable.

      I believe the reason only 20 minute trains can work is the lack of switches on the outer part of the western line. KR and AT have been useless in letting people known what is happening.

  17. Totally agree with the need for a realistic bus timetable. Any cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, not at the last minute. Also set things up so that only one service per hour on a route gets cancelled, or something like that. It’s ridiculous when several services in a row on the same route are cancelled.

    1. “Any cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, not at the last minute”

      There used to be a team of people within AT who did this. When the new “Customer Experience” dept at AT was established, these people were made redundant.

      1. “A new local stop near me finally has been added to the app months after it opened. Why does this take so long?”

        The team that used to do this at AT have been made redundant.

  18. Sorry, but how is “pay drivers more now, thereby attracting more drivers” not one of your proposed solutions? A glaring ommission. One of the reasons the roads wing of the Labour party gets its way is because it’s obvious that so many urbanists are white collar technocrats, who don’t really care about workers

    1. The driver’s salary is up to the private bus company, not AT or government. They are not going to pay more if it means they make no profit.

      1. Except salaries are controlled through the tender process. They have set it up so only the most ruthless bus company can win a contract and then when they find they are paying less than the market rate and can’t attract drivers AT gives the company a free pass and lets them cancel services.

        The system is structured to force salaries down to minimum wage.

        1. @ Sasha

          Why should a private company be allowed to socialise its biggest cost while banking it’s profits?

          If they are unable to retain staff due to poor pay they are clearly in breach of contract and should have said contract taken off them or be made to pay their staff a decent wage at the companie’s expense.

      2. At in the last couple of months have boosted the drivers salaries ;-

        “Driver pay will increase by an additional 3.9 per cent, on top of the recent 8 per cent increase funded by Auckland Council in July.

        Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes the funding for the pay increase, which will take average bus driver wages in Auckland to $26.62 an hour from 1 September.”

        https://at.govt.nz/about-us/news-events/media-centre/2022-media-releases/an-additional-boost-to-bus-driver-pay/

        And they also told the Bus Companies to pay the drivers the full amount and not pocket it for themselves .

      3. Where there is a will.. https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/10/30/govt-announces-better-conditions-for-bus-drivers/

        ” Today, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced $61m that was allocated in this year’s budget would be used to standardise minimum base wage rates, as towards a target rate, as agreed by public transport authorities.

        The aim was for a $30 per hour rate for urban services, and $28 for regional services.

        “This will help the industry transition to standard terms and conditions for bus drivers, which currently vary widely throughout the country,” Michael Wood said.

        He said that public transport authorities would also have the option to provide finding to operators so they could offer a penal rate for work after 9pm, or a $30 split shift allowance. “

    2. A couple of things on this: AT’s lawyers’s advice has been substandard on every issue that I’ve witnessed. I think they’re at fault on this, too.

      if AT had played it responsibly with the operators’ contracts, fining when commitments weren’t met, then the operators would have attended to the lack of drivers. Far better conditions were/are needed. Air purifiers and better ventilation on buses was not costly, let alone when compared to the fines they would’ve been facing. Supporting their drivers’ actions against wayward aggressive passengers in the media, instead of blaming the drivers, would’ve been a good move. And with the pandemic’s wfh outcomes, the bus operators could’ve got rid of the split shifts by focusing less on peak services – and this could and should have been negotiated with AT. Additionally, of course, they could’ve paid more.

      Within the industry as well as more widely, employers who pay more and treat their staff better ARE filling their jobs with employees far better than employers that don’t, at present.

      If the operators can’t make a profit under those conditions, then they should see it as an investment for their future profitability. If they can’t make it work, it’s a sign that either:
      – running the services privately was a bad idea. It is not sufficiently resilient to the shocks that we will be facing and is no longer a fit-for-purpose arrangement. If this is the case, then making it public is necessary, and now’s the time to do so – not when things are rosy and it costs us more. Or:
      – the operators all bid too low for the contracts. And now’s the time of reckoning.

      Just because Matt didn’t spell this out in the article doesn’t mean we don’t care about workers.

  19. This is definitely the worst state I’ve seen my City in since I moved here 12 years ago, there really isn’t much to be excited about anymore. This has been excaberated by recent overseas trips which has highlighted how far we are behind of everything. I mainly loved Auckland for its natural setting and being able to hit nature every weekend whilst still having a city to play in..but Its definitely time to try somewhere else for a while..

  20. It’s not just PT that’s suffering from driver shortage and unpredictable services. We use rideshare/ taxi as a backup (esp. useful for free-range kids) and have noticed recently that rides are harder to find, or just don’t show up.

    This makes bike/scooter-share all the more valuable for freedom of movement, even though it’s pricey for longer distances.

    But it *really* puts the spotlight on the glaring lack of an all-ages network for getting safely around on two wheels.

    Rolling out a suite of quick-build protected bike-scoot routes is surely a bipartisan no-brainer – for climate, for kids, and for escape from car-congestion.

      1. agreed. if the buses are scheduled (who knows if they actually show up) every 30 min or 1h for people to get to their destination then it’s almost as good as no bus network at all.

        1. I meant local cycling networks – connecting schools, community facilities, shopping centres, etc.

  21. Auckland has been importing immigrants from poor countries to drive buses since the 1960s. It solves nothing long term. Where will immigrant drivers live near city depot or any of the North Shore depots? And they soon find out buses in Auckland don’t have protective screens unlike Australia where they have been standard for decades.

    1. Gonna not immediately jump down your throat about xenophobia.

      But you’re logic is wrong. It’s like saying there’s no point in building any infrastructure because it’ll need to be renewed, and / or expanded later.

      As always the problem is not with immigrants choosing to move to NZ because it’s better for them, and NZ allowing them to make that choice. No as you highlight, it’s NZs problem by not letting people build enough housing and (efficient) infra.

      1. I read the comment differently than you. If New Zealand imports lots of people to drive busses but they have to live far away from any depot because there is no affordable housing close to them and they discover buses are sub-standard, their bus driving career will be short lived. So ‘just’ importing people to do the jobs New Zealanders don’t want to do is not a viable long-term solution.

  22. I suppose this sh*itshow means that more buses being financed from CATR that were supposed to be introduced to the timetables in October will not be happening…

  23. excellent article

    My only comment is that AT/ Auckland City Council needs to decide on one plan for Auckland and stick to it.

    Bus lanes on the Northshore and then trains out west and light rain in-between serves only to dilute the impact of public transport

    Do due diligence and then stick with one uniform plan city wide

    cheers

  24. Hi Zippo, thanks for the correction & update. Does Kiwirail have a Track replacement train? Self-propelled machine that uses a production line technique to remove old track and lay new track. Employ overseas specialists if required to operate & train staff.

    1. Nope, used to have one in the 70s with a bulldozer out the front but that’s long gone. I believe they now have access to panel machines which can lay 30 m sections of track, better than the digger and work gang Kiwirail has been using.

  25. That thing about the app…I’ve had it tell me that there are replacement buses when the trains are running. And that the train is coming at x time, and it really comes at x minus 5, so six of us missed it when we could have caught it and had to get an Uber (actually two Ubers). And sometimes it is correct. Seems an inappropriate choice for a behavioural psychology experiment.

  26. Track renewal train (same as Track replacement train) would be a better solution/term to fix Auckland’s rail ancient foundations.

  27. “Panel machines which can lay 30 m sections of track, better than the digger and work gang Kiwirail has been using.” Thanks Zippo

  28. As someone who uses PT extensively because I don’t drive, PT more so, in Auckland, feels like a joke. For choosing not to drive, I feel like a second class citizen. I do feel that the half price fares are more than appropriate. If my journey is going to take longer than usual, I should only have to pay half price for it.

    Also, really appreciate the blog and all the advocacy it does for urbanism in AKL. I’ve been reading for 10 years and the city has made small steps, but decisions in the last few weeks have been a farce. Cheers GA!

  29. One of the big problems is that the AT Board swallowed AT’s “Because of Covid” excuses. Because of Covid, other places have seen huge improvements. We could have, too.

    AT’s car dependent dinosaurs decided that reacting to Covid by doing anything actually good would be “taking advantage of a bad situation” and would be a reputational risk. They ignored what we and others were spelling out:

    – the risk that the Police’s low levels of enforcement, on low vkt pandemic roads would lead to an increase in speeding and a decline in driving culture.
    – that as the pandemic continued, the shift from PT to driving would bring vkt levels up again and impact PT
    – that these combined effects would degrade cycling and walking safety.

    And then as it all panned out as poorly as anyone could expect, the AT Board swallowed excuse after excuse.

    The opportunity – with a new CEO and a new Board Chair – to turn all this around, is actually immense.

    1. This is so true. There was this “oh, shit” moment back in 2020, it became really obvious that Auckland was going to be left behind. Compare what happened “because of COVID” here vs. what happened in Paris.

  30. Ask any transport related question,and you will usually find that “bike” is the answer,whether it is moving freight or people, road maintenance,fuel costs,etc. Bike has the added advantage of users total control of timing,not reliant on “traffic conditions,driver shortages. The bike cannot be monetized, and leaves no lasting monument to put a plaque on,so is left to volunteer lobby groups to champion its cause. It,the bike ,waits patiently in the wings,for the planners to exhaust all other options, before begrudgingly conceding,they ,the planners,got it wrong.

  31. I usually use PT and hate driving but with recent train and bus comedy I just gave up and use car instead. I don’t have time to spend half a day in PT or waiting for something to show up. It just became riddiculous. My mates just laughed at my PT stories and that I use bus/train instead of going twice as fast in the car and not waiting 1h at the bus stop. Maybe if Auckland gets a real PT system one day and not pretended one, I’ll be back. Until then I’m really happier driving (never thought I’d say that).

    1. I’m mostly the same, although I still do a little bit of commuting on the train.
      Call me a failed supporter of PT – but I live a very busy life, with kids commitments and everything, and I just can’t use PT the way I would like to given the awful state of it in Auckland, I can’t afford wasting the time with my commitments, nor risk the unreliable nature of it.

      1. exactly. I’d still use it occasionally like once a month on Sunday when I have a bit more time and can relax. Usually would take a book or listen to a podcast not to completely waste my time while waiting though

        1. Mmmm. And there are plenty of people who can’t drive. The lack of options is diabolical. We could get a car. But then we’d be making it even harder for the ones in a worse situation than us – whatever mode they’re using.

  32. With our local bus at least they don’t pretend to be every 20 to 30 mins it has just been made hourly outright. 298 hourly.
    Surely the driver shortage can be solved.

  33. Suggesting reduced fares only compounds the problem. If this were a profitable enterprise, the upgrades would be done quickly and at night-time. BUT, this is a subsidized, money-losing activity, and that results in solutions that are slow and cheap. We are getting what we pay for.

    1. Better to seek the revenue from other sources. Even parking levies at Sydney rates on just the carparks in the central city would raise over $100m per annum to put into public transport.

      Driving is a transport modes that is way less sustainable, yet more subsidised and losing more money. It should be levied, rated and taxed to improve PT before raising PT fares.

      1. AT could even price their car parks at market rates. $2 for Victoria St is a joke. If the demand is not there, then sell the building.
        I am sure that if Wayne Brown wants an adequate rate of return from the port, then he wants it from all assets.

  34. Bus drivers have had 2 pay topups that were not in their contracts that have significantly increased their pay, and I think there is another one on the way. This addresses the “if bus drivers were paid more we wouldn’t still have this problem” argument. Hey look, we still have this problem.

    Advocates for the bus drivers (normally the unions) always talk about the pay AND CONDITIONS. The pay was addressed fairly quickly because it was an easy fix but there doesn’t seem to be much talk about the conditions. If the conditions don’t change then do what you want with the pay, they’ll stick it out for a bit longer but ultimately drivers will continue leaving. Even drivers imported from overseas.

      1. AT doesn’t need to work to resolve split shifts. The contractors just need to be fined until they figure out how to staff their operation. That’s literally the entire point of contracting the service out.

        1. How’s that working for us? I’m talking about leverage to get things done right now, not in another 2 years.

    1. All of New Zealand’s public infrastructure has been under-funded for decades! Under both Labour & National led governments.

      Health, Housing, Road, Rail, Water & Electrical infrastructure will need proper funding to bring it up to level or it will cost us even more.

      The problem is that neither Labour & National allow each other to make unpopular “tough decisions” involving either taxing or borrowing more money to properly maintain all of the above infrastructure let alone increase its capacity to deal with the enviable rise in population.

      See Bernard Hickey’s
      https://thekaka.substack.com/p/how-many-people-do-we-want-living

    2. This Labour govt will go down in infamy for destroying light rail in Auckland for another generation. All due to arrogance and incompetence.

      1. No cycle crossing on Harbour bridge. Cars only. Petrol demand high
        No light rail in Auckland. Cars only. Petrol demand high.
        PT cancelled. Cars only. Petrol demand high.
        Trains broken. Cars only. Petrol demand high.
        Whoever sells petrol is cleaning up in this country. So much luck ! Just as well its a local product.

  35. It is pointless to spend tume on comment here. AT public transport is a bull shit that marcket as a sweet bun. People who tried it never try again.

  36. “Auckland Transport needs to introduce a temporary new bus timetable that they can actually confidently run on a daily basis with the number of drivers there are”

    The experienced staff at AT that used to plan, produce and communicate these temporary timetables have been made redundant. They have been replaced with a very expensive app

  37. Regarding the rail network shutdowns I am reminded of the following from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

    “But the plans were on display…”
    “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
    “That’s the display department.”
    “With a flashlight.”
    “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
    “So had the stairs.”
    “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
    “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

    The Kiwirail plans were on display on page 67 of the following document dated June 2021:
    https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/assets/Uploads/documents/Rail-Network-Investment-Programme-June-2021.pdf

    Note the expenditure timetable.

    In January of 2022 Martinus Rail (an Australian rail maintenance company) announced on their Facebook page that Kiwirail had awarded them a contract for the “formation reconditioning works, civil works, track drainage works…” to “ensure that the network is ready for an increased number of rail movements that will occur once the City Rail Link opens in late 2024”. It is reasonable to conclude that by the time that contract was awarded Kiwirail had decided on the start dates and duration of the work.

    So there you have it. All on the internet, so don’t go complaining that you were not informed!
    Beware of the leopard! (and AT).

  38. Having subsidized the rail rebuild as a North Shore resident, but getting naught but a hardly working bus service, I’m amazed that the geniuses at AT thought a 2-3 year closure of rail was a good idea.

    Way to give everyone ammunition for shutting it all down, after the billions we have thrown at AT.

    Oh, and I have to drive in to the city again, because of the shithouse options, this is the only way I can get predictable timetables.

    What a fucking disaster.

    1. Methinks you are looking for excuses. The busway runs with the same frequency it always had, to more places than it used to.

    2. Even North Shore residents benefit from a functioning train network. At the very least by less congestion from people closer to train stations, more directly when your journey does not terminate in the CBD but in Otahuhu, Henderson or somewhere else…

  39. Perfect opportunity to mothball all the buses, close down railway then AT/council subsidise UBER . Uber use bus lanes and get people where they want to go. Try it for 2 years.

  40. “Aucklanders do not always have the choice of using an e-bike, a bus or even a train but rely on the roading and car parking networks to make their life functional,” Brown said.”
    Ah, here it is – a cast iron guarantee that public transport will get worse. A man for our times, if it was 1962. It’s guys like this that make me feel embarrassed to be older.

  41. At some point the 3 KiwiRail shareholding Ministers need to get a full and truthful account from the KiwiRail executive of the upgrade options they have considered and have those options benchmarked against international best practice. Closing the lines for months at a time is not only nonsense it’s mischievous.

  42. Great post, if somewhat – justifiably – negative.
    This country is run by total clowns, whether of the central or local government variety.
    Debacle.

  43. If we want a really good public transport then surly having better trains that can go faster and are heavier so they can carry more passengers and why pay bus drivers more than 25 dollars an hour. They do have to pay for their petrol to fill the buses.if you want better better takes time money and people blocking motor ways into auckland are only up cars with people in them trying to get to work.if you want better then let those that know how to get better do their job. Let the trains be ablevto take mire passengers more containers let drives on ohe motor way get to where they need go hiw is blocking a motor way helping . Better takes time . Rush the job to stop the protests only makes for a job half down. If the the best trains the better time tables more buses then stop grumbling and understand it takes time planning and order to get the best possable out come for every one rush the job and mistakes are made and it wont be the best it could have been..

  44. It breaks my heart.
    After relying on buses, trains, walking and biking for years, I have managed my way around Auckland plus the odd Uber for impossible PT connections.
    One small step for the climate, one big ups for PT.
    Today I went to car yards to look for a car. Buying one will be my miserable labour weekend mission. I certainly cant afford a Tesla!
    Buses never turn up for me now. It’s beyond frustrating and I can’t continue to turn up late for work when all the other PT users in the office now bring in their cars and arrive on time.
    Even the electronic signs at bus stops never seem to work anymore. What’s with that AT?
    The app has become annoying unreliable. Yesterday the app I was busy reading said no bus for 45 minutes because of cancellations as one sailed by because I did not expect it and did not wave down the driver. He could have stopped.
    Next year is going to be impossible with the trains. Or should I say no trains.
    Matt is absolutely spot on. This will be a major major setback for PT. It is a huge blow for those of us in Auckland who have championing PT.
    Once rated a great liveable city we are now beyond embarrassing.
    Imagine announcing Spaghetti Junction was closing for a year. There would be a riot. So why is everyone in authority sitting back and saying suck it up PT people.
    The car crazies think PT is only for the poor anyway so they don’t care.
    Come Tuesday, I will back driving. Hate. hate the idea.
    Shame on you Government, Minister Wood (who is also immigration minister blocking people coming in to drive buses), MP Swarbrick who says a lot but does little, AT and the rest of you.
    You won’t have my vote even if in protest by just voting you out.
    You have all failed us.

  45. If we want a really good public transport then surly having better trains that can go faster and are heavier so they can carry more passengers and why pay bus drivers more than 25 dollars an hour. They do have to pay for their petrol to fill the buses.if you want better better takes time money and people blocking motor ways into auckland are only up cars with people in them trying to get to work.if you want better then let those that know how to get better do their job. Let the trains be ablevto take mire passengers more containers let drives on ohe motor way get to where they need go hiw is blocking a motor way helping . Better takes time . Rush the job to stop the protests only makes for a job half down. If the the best trains the better time tables more buses then stop grumbling and understand it takes time planning and order to get the best possable out come for every one.

  46. Anecdotal, but real world outcome: message below from my wife, mid-afternoon on the way to the school pickup. Became a western line user a couple of years ago after enduring years of traffic, but now…

    “Nightmare bus journey. Thought it goes to NLynn transport. Instead dropped me off on Rosebank Rd. Have had to resort to Uber. I’m super late for kids”

  47. Perhaps AT just need a large group of people to march down to their office and yell at them a few time a month until things improve?

  48. In the UK they run commuter trains all day and then do track work at night, including the major stuff like track relays.

    In NZ KiwiRail prefers to work in the day, which means cancelling all the commuter trains and doing nothing at night (no trains, no track work).

    It stems from a combination of factors, including penal rates for night work, union concerns about working in the dark, and general H&S red tape, which NZ now has more of than any other country on Earth.

    The problem with this is that it means using every public holiday and Christmas/NY period to try and do what should have been done in smaller stages all year round at night. It doesn’t actually work, they can’t cram it all in, and so unplanned work builds up.

    Until KiwiRail adopts a policy of doing all work at night, year-round, the problem isn’t going to go away. Both in terms of holiday shutdowns and unplanned shutdowns. It’s the “normal” for Auckland.

    1. The other thing that you forgot is all the neighbours that live along the lines crying about the noise being created at night by the works and those around Mt Eden think it’s AT’s fault when KR does their night works .

      1. Having spent a few nights near to British main lines whilst track work such as retamping and rail grinding has been undertaken I can attest that it is both really noisy, and the light pollution is very significant.

      2. Yet people complain when we do the work during the day because services are canceled. Always going to have people whinging.

    2. “H&S red tape, which NZ now has more of than any other country on Earth”

      Let’s see some evidence for that claim, please.

  49. Reducing demand for imports such as oil is absolutely the government’s job. People repeatedly say that they want better public transport and more options (walking and cycling) for private transport. Recent election results represent a frustration at previous councillors (and mayors) failing to improve stuff.

  50. AT also quietly remove bus stops in some suburban routes without consultations.

    They just close off the bus stop because that house complains about too much people using the bus stop and create noise and rubbish issues.

    Instead of migrating the issue, AT just close that bus stop. Such a lame and lazy organisation with no regard to the riders using it.

    I think not just the AT board, but all the senior management in the AT should be sacked by Wayne

  51. The German way of foundation renewal..

    During the spring of 2016, the railway line from Hamburg to Cuxhaven in northern Germany was renewed in stages. This line, which first opened on 1 April 1881, was exactly 135 years old.
    Due to both the commuter and freight traffic, it was not possible to reconstruct the track under a full possession. The best that could be done was to close one track and run all of the traffic on the other. So all of the work would be carried out ‘adjacent line open’.

    https://www.railengineer.co.uk/high-output-track-renewal-german-style/

    1. Only in New Zealand, we are not allowed to occupy ANY track and have to be off and clear for trains regardless, even if we are working on an adjacent line to which the train is passing on

      1. KiwiRail need to be an honest broker. The 2009 Turn Around plan turned out to be managed decline by stealth. The same manager then is still in charge now – not explaining why the Auckland network needs to be closed down for months at a time; not explaining the timing; not explaining the alternatives that were not considered; and not explaining why KiwiRail are still trapped in the last century.

      2. Grant the bigger of the 2 does everything as in removes track , sleepers , ballast then replaces it all including relaying new sleepers . But looking at the gear on top that brings in the new sleepers it may be too large to work on a lot of the NZ network because of the height of our tunnels .

        this is from Zippo’s posting ;-

        “Following this, on those sections of the track where the whole formation needed replacement, the PM 1000 URM would raise the track, undercut the entire trackbed, clean and screen the ballast layers, replace the formation protection layer and ballast, installing a geotextile if necessary, and reinstate the existing track to be used by further construction trains.

        Next, an RU 800 S would be used on the whole length of the line to remove the old track, clean the ballast where the PM 1000 URM had not already done so, and then lay new track (rail and sleepers) on top of it.”

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