Back in 2021, Auckland Transport introduced a new Rapid Transit map, one which actually called it the Rapid Transit Network rather than a rail map which had the busway tacked on. While the map was an improvement on what had come before, there was still plenty of room for improvement, not to mention a few errors.

With recent changes to the network, such as the introduction of the Western Express, it seems AT have introduced a new version – though it doesn’t appear to be on their website yet, meaning we need to rely on this version spotted by Andrew W in Lower Albert St. Positively, it does some of the issues with the previous version/s but frustratingly, it still retains some of the previous issues too.

Here are some of my thoughts on the map and the changes.


  • They’ve added Western Express – This was shown on the map previously but was grayed out.
  • They’ve split off NX2 into a unique route – previously both the NX routes were merged together as Northern Busway with a split at the city end to represent the different destinations. This was inconsistent with the rail lines which still showed as separate routes even when they overlapped. This new version looks better and better reflects the level of service on the busway.
  • They’ve shown NX2 to Whangaparoa – AT’s long-term plans have suggested that once Penlink opens, the NX2 will be extended to Whangaparaoa and with that project now underway, it’s great to see that plan reflected in this map.
  • They’ve taken the ferries off – It always felt odd that all the ferry routes were shown on the rapid transit map, especially as most services are infrequent. Removing them does help make it clearer. Though at the same time, most of Auckland’s rail network doesn’t meet AT’s definitions for a Frequent or Rapid service due to poor off-peak and weekend frequencies.
  • Changes to the Eastern Busway – AT previously showed the eastern busway focused on the infrastructure delivery. The map only showed service from Panmure to Pakuranga with the route to Botany as being in the future, even though the bus services themselves ran from Botany to the city. The map now reflects this by showing the service as being from Botany and that it continues to the city on street.
  • Route names – There are now route names at the end of each line – though as I highlighted last time, I’d still like to see the naming scheme overhauled


  • Map still squashed – While one of the benefits of schematic maps like this is that they don’t have to be 100 per cent geographically accurate, AT squashed up previous versions of the map in order to incorporate an unnecessary map index and a huge amount of empty space for their logo – a quick estimate is that around a quarter of the vertical space was loe Western Line even though they are longer in to this. It appears this version has retained that squashed up look – meaning, for example, the Southern line and NX1 both look shorter than the Western Line even though they’re longer.
  • Still no City Rail Link – It’s great that AT are showing future rapid transit services, like the NX2 to Whangaparaoa, but it seems odd that they don’t include the biggest project of them all – the CRL. I do get it that the CRL is hard to properly represent the project as it will fundamentally change the structure of rail network services, but still there should be something to indicate it.

  • Downtown Wayfinding obsession – AT have long had a weird obsession about showing a triangle of walking routes between Britomart, the Downtown Ferry Terminal and now the Lower Albert St bus interchange. AT are trying to make the map be both a high-level system map AND a fine grained wayfinding guide. As a result, the map makes it appear that they’re very far apart even though in reality they are very close – close enough that they should be represented as a single transfer station on this map. It would even probably be easier to represent the CRL on the map if this triangle wasn’t there.
  • Transport Hubs and Transfer Stations – Kind of related to the issue above but it seems to me that AT the wording or definitions of these icons mixed up. A Transfer Station sounds less important that a Major Transport Hub
  • Rosedale and Botany not till 2027 – this isn’t the fault of the map but reflects that these projects are taking longer than previously expected. Manugawhau is also shown as being delayed, only open here in 2025 whereas previously it was expected this year.
  • Bus Connections – There are a lot of stations that have easy connections to frequent bus routes, such as Mt Albert or Kingsland, yet these isn’t shown on the map – they should be.

There are a few other minor changes, such as adding the airport as a loop.

It’s not just the main RTN map getting an update, it seems the strip-map that appears on trains has also been updated.

This is a slightly updated version of what is showing on train timetables.

While AT started with a fresh new RTN map just a few years ago, this map which appears on trains is a modified version of one that has existed for a long time – and it’s probably needs a substantial overhaul rather than the tinkering that has been occurring.

For one thing, it needs changes like the split of the NX1/NX2 and needs to have the Eastern Busway included. There also needs to be better consistency between the two maps, such as on here, Britomart/Downtown/Lower Albert St are classified as major transport hubs but they aren’t in the bigger RTN map. They also use a different symbol for a transport hub.

But perhaps the biggest issue with this map is that it only appears on trains. It, or the full-page version above needs to be, at the least, at every busway and train station, as well as on every NX and WK bus. At the moment if you turn up at a Northern Busway station, there is no mention on the maps that the rail network even exists.

Presenting the network as a network is critical for helping people to understand it and therefore use the system for a wider variety of trips.

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    1. If its a map of the “transit” network then ferries should be included (though I guess they don’t need to be on the versions in the train).

  1. “Presenting the network as a network is critical for helping people to understand it and therefore use the system for a wider variety of trips.“

    I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but wonder if it really works for ‘people’, rather than just the wonks who read this blog.

    These maps (for me, anyway) bear little resemblance to the city I live in. How well tested are these with the general public? Do they help people decide to make PT trips and leave their cars behind? Or do they have the opposite effect? I think many of the nuances discussed above would be completely lost on average people. Who are they for?

    1. I can’t speak for everyone, but I just use Google Maps to see trip times. The maps are kinda interesting because they give network updates (which are frequent in the last few years) but realistically I don’t use them from a functional perspective.

        1. Jay Foreman is highly entertaining whilst also providing a lot of information. I thoroughly enjoy his Unfinished London and Map Men videos.

  2. Don’t want to open up a can of worms here, but irrespective of the pros and cons of renaming Britomart to Waitemata, the way they’ve gone about implementing the name change is a total disaster. In some cases both names are used (such as these new maps), while in other cases it’s referred to solely as either Britomart or Waitemata… hopelessly confusing, especially for our busiest station and at a time of frequent disruption to the network requiring careful explanation of changes to customers.

    The only sensible way to rename a station is to pick a date and fully switch to the new name all at once (with heavy marketing leading up to the name change so everyone is aware of it). It’s shocking that AT have messed this up so badly, although I’m unsure whether this is due to a total lack of understanding of PT customer experience principle or whether the wider dramas around the name change have got in the way of doing things properly. Either way, it’s very concerning that we’re spending billions on new infrastructure but can’t even get the absolute basics right, like using a consistent name for our busiest station.

    1. It seemed like it was related to CRL somehow, which potentially means it won’t get the widespread adoption across AT until CRL opens. No clue really.

      1. I don’t want to rehash the whole debate about the name, but I agree that the NZGB’s reasoning in this case was fundamentally flawed, especially with almost zero consideration of the functional aspects of station naming. Concerningly, when addressing alternative suggestions for the naming of Te Wai Horotiu, they explicitly stated that avoiding the potential for duplication was not something for the board to consider (in this instance it was regarding the risk that the shorter option ‘Horotiu’ would duplicate a potential future station in the village of the same name north of Hamilton).

        I would’ve thought that avoiding adverse functional outcomes such as the potential duplication of station names should be one of the most important factors to consider when naming or renaming a station… but it seems the NZGB thinks differently. Which is unfortunate when poor decision-making on these matters can partially undermine the benefits of millions or even billions of dollars of investment.

        1. The whole board needs a clean out, but we’ll see what Chris Penk does with the portfolio – guessing not a lot.

          Names should reflect what the public call something, not what the board thinks the public should call something, and wayfinding should be the main concern. If there is controversy, and the community is divided 50/50, dual names. The point of the NZ geo board is to reflect what NZ calls something (and be the official source so people don’t have to go to each place to know what it’s called), not for the board to decide what they feel it should be called.

          The whole CRL thing was a debacle – Britomart should’ve been dual named, and given a dual name of Te Rerenga Ora Iti – as it has something to do with the place. The place has great history, so why try and bland wash it with a generic name that can describe nearly anywhere in Auckland.

          Aotea Station should’ve remained that, as Aotea Square – as it’s a name people know describing a place. Te Waihorotiu is a good name, but it’s a name about a river at the bottom of the valley, not a station at the top of the hill, and it takes the name away from future projects that actually follow the watercourse.

          K Rd – no issues there.

          Mt Eden – dual named, but otherwise fine – there is the debate about it not being close to the geographical feature, but it’s not a new station.

        2. Agree on Aotea.

          Seemed nonsensical to bring in a whole new name (and a difficult one) when the existing one ticked a lot of the boxes; relevant to the area and its landmarks and a te reo word in universal use by the population.

          And its a great name for a station, too.

        3. NZGB has little to do with Britomart’s current name. They said “we dunno” and fobbed the decision off to whichever Labour minister who was in charge and they went with Waitemata.

        4. @Freddy:

          Britomart was a trash name and doesn’t reflect what the public call anything.

          It’s useless from a wayfinding perspective. There’s no Britomart suburb. There’s no Britomart landmark nowadays. Nobody can use the name to understand where the station is.

          It’s mediocre from a historical preservation perspective. The station isn’t where Point Britomart was, and I don’t know of anybody who learned about Point Britomart’s existence from the station.

          And it just *sounds* bad. If a visitor comes to Auckland and I tell them to “go to Britomart,” they’re going to think I’m directing them to some cheap convenience store, not the central hub of our transit network.

          Waitematā is a *dramatically* better name. Yes, maybe it’s a little broad. But it emphasises its role as our waterfront station.

          Agreed with you on the other three stations.

      2. Or rename it as “Central Post Office”? (No, you can’t by a stamp there). Britomart was in support of a development precinct, and only the east end of the station is anywhere near the original Britomart Point or Fort (named after the survey ship which was named after the legendary female celtic warrior – see Spenser’s Faerie Queene: The Legende of Britomartis, or Of Chastitie). At least the original landing place will be easier to locate and commemorate, well within the area reclaimed until the sea comes back.

        1. Indeed. Whyd theyd deliberately want to change functioning names thats used by everyone is bewildering.
          Britomart, Aotea Square, these are names in use and if they change it to something nonsensical that no one understands it just undermines PT. Touch wood our new Mayor realizes this and make the changes back to the names used by his people.

        2. I would have stuck with Britomart simply because it’s the landmark where the station resides (similar to Aotea). And in many ways, it is central to the rebirth of Auckland’s metro rail network. So would have been nice to retain it for that reason, too.

    2. An example which was particularly disappointing was the massive new totem pole beacon sign at the bottom of Queen Street, in Te Komitanga.. What an opportunity to decisively use the new name! Instead they went with “Waitematā (Britomart)”. weak

  3. What and why is “Koe You” in that red callout box on the map?

    If it’s a provisional name for the Lower Albert St bus hub, wouldn’t it be “Koe (You)” or “Koe [something longer to make it seem more like a name]”?

    1. ‘Koe’ is the Te Reo Māori translation of ‘You’. But I think the confusion here highlights the issues with the way the two languages are often distinguished on AT’s signage. Irrespective of which language goes first (although AT’s standard is to have the Te Reo first), putting that language in bold makes it look more like a heading and sub-information instead of conveying that it’s the same content just in different languages.

      The better approach would be to have the language which goes second in bold which would make it look much less like a heading, and would give more equal prominence to each language. There are also other approaches to better distinguish between languages on signage, although I’m aware that some have been deemed to be culturally inappropriate in NZ.

      Either way, there are a plethora of great examples around the world which prove that the introduction of bilingual signage isn’t an excuse for abadoning good design standards.

  4. I suggest that commenters read the the NZGB website and relevant reports, where they will find out what it does and how it does it, both in general and in these particular cases.

    It would be good to get the details right, eg it’s Te Waihorotiu; and I wonder how many other stations there are planned to be built on such reclaimed land? As for names being similar, a much closer (in several respects) and actual example is the two Glen stations, with the inevitable confusion…

    And, of course, the consultation boat has long sailed, and sour grapes won’t get these fully consulted decisions reversed.

    But I do agree that implementation of the new names could be done somewhat better.


      Imagine if they had consulted, then ignored the overwhelming feedback on Britomart/Aotea and pushed through what they wanted instead – and possibly breaching the law they’re mandated to follow in the process.

      Which it’s why central gov’s job (through the Minister of Land Information, aka Chris Penk) is to pull the NZGBs heads back in. If the NZGB believe their role is not to reflect the public, but direct the public instead, it’s time for the gov to reform them so they better reflect the public, who are ultimately who they work for.

      They can’t plead ToW for this – as they’re breaching their obligations to pay attention to the original names for these features. The legislation is very specific, states ‘original Māori names’ many times.

      section 11(1)(e) confers on the Board the function of encouraging the use of original Māori names of geographic features on official charts and official maps; and” from

      It’s not the agency, as all throughout you could see the options presented, it’s not the legislation that’s at fault, it’s the decision making of the board itself.

      1. But:
        * NZGB did consult and there was no overwhelming feedback of any sort, so your “imagine if” is just that, imaginary;
        * their rejection of the relatively recent Britomart and Aotea names in favour of older names shows that they are in fact applying section 11(e) of the act that you quote. No beaching of the law there!
        * their legal “function of encouraging the use of original Māori names” is clearly very different from your personal preference to “reflect the public” (whatever that may mean);
        * the low number of submissions indicates that the public aren’t really that fussed either way of the other.

        I imagine Mr Penk will have many many other things to spend his time on, rather than clearing out NZGB for just implementing their legislation.

        1. So over 90% opposition isn’t overwhelming enough? And if they conclude no one is fussed either way then why change it at all? I dare them to poll users out on the street as to what the name should be – that’s what the official name should reflect.

        2. You realise the first link I had was the consultation, and on it has the numbers. It described both Aotea/Britomart feedback as ‘mostly objections’ with about 75% objecting to the new names for Aotea/Britomart – while the other 2 stations were mostly supportive – re Mt Eden there was about 50/50, but of the 50% against the dual name, roughly 50/50 was for each option so dual naming was the right call.

          Also – it’s original names of the places being named, not an original name in a different place – Aotea Station is blocks away from the old river/watercourse – being at the top of the hill, and the river ran at the bottom of the valley. Point Britomart – the place that the station is built on (which was quarried away and used to reclaim large portions of the CBD) had a different Māori name specific to it, rather than the harbour which was evidently named after rocks near Chatswood on the North Shore. Also, Waitemata wasn’t even the original name for the Waitemata Harbour, but that’s beside the point as Britomart is mostly build on the old geological feature of Point Britomart.

          Re the number of submissions – it’s more of an issue with the accessibility/ease of making submissions – if you’re genuinely trying to engage with a community they’d have actually advertised in the affected area and made an easy survey – this was more a box ticking exercise. In the documents you can see many times they’ve discounted feedback when it’s not been in the form they’ve wanted.

          Ministers job is to manage public agencies when they stray too far from what the public wants – and this is easily the case, where well paid consultants pushed for something, against what the public wanted, and got their way. There is something rotten with the board when they’re going radically against their legal framework and the public – and it needs a healthy dose of disinfectant and sunlight. And the buck stops with the responsible Minister – who didn’t cause the mess, but has inherited it, and is responsible for sorting it.

  5. Speaking of maps and issues, AT are up to their usual games.
    I wanted to go Papakura/Britomart this Friday, so as usual I checked on the
    Journey planner. No problems there – all good.
    As usual I tried a double check with the planned rail closures site.

    Oops, oh dear, the southern line trains this Friday will be buses.

    They seem to like tripping up people.

    1. Many of the internal AT team that used to communicate service disruptions, have been made redundant, and have been replaced with Agile Squads” who spend hundreds of hours playing with post it notes and flow charts. These Agile teams have no budget to get anything done, but instead try to influence other teams who do have budgets, to implement their ideas.

  6. With maps, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Everyone has an opinion.

    AT squashed up previous versions of the map in order to incorporate an unnecessary map index.

    Research with customers showed that they ( and one or two people in the internal AT advertising dept ), did not understand some versions of proposed maps, unless the Index was enlarged and made more prominent

    Transport Hubs and Transfer Stations

    With the recent departure of the Divisional GM of the “Metro” Division, there might now be some more flexibility with the naming nomenclature of Transport Hubs and Transfer Stations. He was obsessed with this topic. Another weird hangover was the naming of Britomart as the Britomart Transport Centre ( ie it was seen as the geographic centre of network )

    If its a map of the “transit” network then ferries should be included .
    It is not a map of the entire network. It is a map of Train lines and Rapid Bus lines ( refer to the KEY )

    How well tested are these with the general public?

    Each map is well tested with current and potential customers before being introduced. You can ask to be added to the AT customer research panel

    Do they help people decide to make PT trips ?
    Research showed that network maps help people to plan their journeys. I have personally used them to help customers and tourists find their way around the AT network.

    The better approach would be to have the language which goes second in bold which would make it look much less like a heading, and would give more equal prominence to each language.

    Best practice is to have the “secondary language” displayed in a lighter font.

    ..although AT’s ( current ) standard is to have the Te Reo first.

    Watch this space.

    PS. The mapping specialist and the bus, train and ferry SMEs that used to update and maintain them, have all been made redundant in recent restructures within AT

    1. “It is not a map of the entire network. It is a map of Train lines and Rapid Bus lines ( refer to the KEY )”
      Even then it’s confused as the one on the trains don’t even say “*Trains*, Northern Busway, …”

  7. “Still no City Rail Link – It’s great that AT are showing future rapid transit services, like the NX2 to Whangaparaoa, but it seems odd that they don’t include the biggest project of them all – the CRL. I do get it that the CRL is hard to properly represent the project as it will fundamentally change the structure of rail network services, but still there should be something to indicate it.”

    I predict that once the CRL goes live, that there will be a separate CRL schematic map that will appear in the large info stands on all train platforms, and the same schematic will also be displayed inside all train carriages.

    Many people still do not understand the benefits of the CRL addition to the passenger network and will have to use the new links to understand their benefits.

  8. “for example, the Southern line and NX1 both look shorter than the Western Line even though they’re longer.”

    Transit maps are never meant to be to scale.

    As a schematic diagram, it does NOT show the geographic locations but the relative positions of the stations, lines, the stations’ connective relations. The basic design concepts have been widely adopted for other such maps around the world and for maps of other sorts of transport networks and even conceptual schematics.


  9. Hmmm, quick to point out faults in others. I would taken your commentary more seriously had the article not been so poorly written? Do you even read what you’ve written? Typos, grammar misplaced words. Poor form.

    1. I also wish Matt would proofread his writing before posting as there are often typos however that doesn’t detract from making valid criticisms of what is supposed to be a professional, world-class transport agency in charge of a large city’s PT network and which has a mandate to make getting around the city as easy as possible.

      1. It’s a blog written in someone’s off-time from their fulltime job, and I have yet to see a perfect one submitted by the complainers.

        Stop being pedantic. You know what it means.

    2. The only issue of proof reading your own articles is that your brain often just reads what you meant, not what you actually typed. Unless done after a long time.

  10. Matt L must know someone that can make up a proper standardised map (diagram really as not to scale) of the AT system. Just like the London Tube map, which is way more complicated and harder to fit everything, was originally done by a prior employee (of UERL) in his spare time.

  11. I also note both of the main maps featured in this post say in the bottom left or right hand side “Interim map. Next update July 2024”. A continually evolving thing, as I can imagine the expense changing them everywhere all the time, but that makes the point that having future things at least dotted in means you don’t have to perhaps change them immediately.

  12. I find the term Auckland Rapid Transport Map a little bit of a misnomer. At the time of writing, only the three rail lines could come close to being described as Rapid Transport routes. Even then, they share the rails with slower passenger and freight services. Furthermore, they are subject to an antiquated infrastructure that causes delays and frequent cancellations.

    I also believe that the term Rapid Transport indicates a higher level of reliability, dependability, speed and efficiency when compared to other options. No element of Auckland’s transport network meets all of those criteria.

    There is no rapid transport between the CBD and the North Shore. NX buses are required to leave dedicated bus lanes to cross the Harbour Bridge, the 70 service to Botany is only Rapid Transport between Panmure and Pakuranga – and given that buses need to obey traffic lights because cars need to cross at certain points, then they are at the mercy of traffic flows – but to a lesser degree.

    The Airport Link between Puhinui and AIAL is not a Rapid Transport route because it operates on roads shared with other vehicles.

    I have always understood that Rapid Transport links operate on dedicated roads/rails and are not hindered in any way by other traffic. What Auckland has is a range of “Express” services or in the old days of the ARA and yellow buses, Flyer services.

    This is not a criticism of the transport network in Auckland – the improvements in the last 10 – 15 years have been noticeable but are only part of the journey towards a world-class Rapid Transport network and service.

    1. What you wrote is a sobering reality of the system so far if not a tad cynical. The least “they” can do very soon is upgrade the frequency of the 3 main train lines, pre CRL ideally to at least every 15 mins 7am-7pm 7 days a week. This 20 mins crap is bullshit.

      1. In the interim, you can use the AT Journey Planner to help plan your journeys. No doubt when the CRL is complete, we will be asking for trains every three minutes!

  13. If usability/clarity was a priority for AT, they wouldn’t be changing the familiar names of stations, or writing “Koe You” instead of “You are here”.

  14. Hi everyone,
    Mark the Wayfinding Guy @ AT here.
    Firstly – thanks for starting the conversation Matt.
    Some really mixed thoughts out there about the ‘interim’ map.

    Righto – on the development of better maps that work better for more customers.

    AT are currently undergoing a full review of maps and working with international experts developing these with local support too.

    The aim is to develop maps that will explain CRL and the Rapid Transit Network.
    It also needs to work with all of the other layers underneath i.e. the Frequent Network (at least every 15 mins 7am-7pm) , the Cycle Network (new Network Map coming too), then down to the lower frequency connector bus routes.

    This all needs to work together in an overall system with numbering, naming, colouring all working together. It is a super complex and interesting challenge to figure out. And YES – this is being tested throughout with customers! Beforehand with how do customers navigate the network?, how do customers use the maps currently? what works for them, what is challenging and what else could they have to better solve their navigational challenges/understanding.

    The new maps are still under development at the moment, so this one is placeholder for now with the Eastern Line re-opening (Yay!). I openly admit they are not perfect, but a lot better than previous iterations. You will be pleased to also here that a good portion of your concerns are addressed in some early stage draft designs for CRL/RTN/FTN maps.

    The good folk reading this blog will need a wait a touch longer as we are still working through a final raft of design options to tweak.

    Keep the feedback coming – good, bad and suggestions. Always read this with interest and take the gems out for consideration.

    P.S. I commit to getting rid of Transfer Stations. That ‘rubbish’ was supposed to taken out.

      1. All good Grant.
        Happy to take any qus on wayfinding, maps, design and overall system anytime.
        We still have a long way to go, but have made really good strides in the last 2 years.
        Highly visible 5m & 8m beacons outside major PT Facilities.
        New 5m cycle beacons designed & launched.
        Over 10 cycle routes have had wayfinding signage, groundmarking and maps designed & installed.
        Upgraded Downtown, Panmure, Lower ALbert St and delivered Puhinui/Airport, NW Bus and many others.
        New design system coming for cycling, PT and urban design in City Centre.
        Busy and rewarding times improving visibility, legibility and usability for customers travelling around Tāmaki Makaurau.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Does AT plan to introduce ‘heads up” rather than the existing ” North up” network maps, that are being used across the network? These heads up maps would need to be unique to each location.

      Explanation: Heads-up mapping is a term used to describe maps for wayfinding which are rotated in the direction of travel. It implies that the map is located in an upright position alongside a suitable walking route environment. Heads-up maps, as opposed to traditional North-up maps, simplify navigation as features at the top of the map lie ahead of the map sign, which is seen to be intuitive.

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