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 reality.st 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.
#TrainNews: A new Auckland Transit Network map is rolling out onboard Auckland train’s.
The maps now show Drury and Paerāta opening 2025 & Ngākoroa opening 2026.
The map shows Pukekohe and Maungawhau (Mt Eden) are closed for major rail upgrades and CRL respectively. pic.twitter.com/HkL8mzczDq
— NZ Transit Buzz (@NZTransitBuzz) January 16, 2024
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.