Now hands up – who’s heard of Macarthur Busline Limited? Who here knows that there’s a bus route that runs from Point Chevalier to Newmarket all day weekends and during peak hour on weekdays? Not many, yeah didn’t think so. Which is a pity actually.
I first came across this bus route very late on a Saturday night back in March, just a week or so before it began operating. I must say I wasn’t fully sober when I stumbled across a sign for the route – somewhere along New North Road near Kingsland. So the next morning, when I was thinking about the events of the night before I wondered whether I had just dreamed it all up – it’s the kind of thing my subconscious would think up of actually: a strange bus route that isn’t on the MAXX Website, that hasn’t had any fanfare at all… However, after a few enquiries I discovered that I hadn’t been dreaming and the service was going to commence – rather oddly initially only at weekends.
There was a bit of discussion on the Campaign for Better Transport forums about the route, which rather interestingly included the guy who had started this whole thing up: Scott Macarthur. My general feedback was that I thought the route followed back-streets too much, was very unlikely to succeed in the longer-term without ARTA involvement and should offer peak-hour weekday services (they’ve come later). Well apparently the issue with ARTA involvement was down to them, rather than this guy Scott Macarthur who had taken the initiative to provide a service that he thought was necessary, while his argument was that people may well appreciate the offering of a bus service within close proximity of where they live (rather than having to walk to a main road). I still think that the route lacks “legibility” – the ability for people to easily make sense out of it – but perhaps I’ll just have to agree to disagree on that matter with him.
Now that peak hour weekday services have started, I can actually see some potential for this bus route in the longer term – particularly if ARTA come on board to even offer the simplest of assistance – like putting his services into their MAXX Journey Planner system, providing standardised ARTA timetables of the service and maybe even offering some subsidies, I mean heck they shower tens of millions of dollars a year on Infratil, what would be a few thousand for this service? (I really don’t seem to like Infratil much at the moment do I?) One of the main reasons that I think this service could be a success in the longer term is because Newmarket is poorly served by buses for people who don’t live in the south or east of Auckland – although the trains on the Western Line do compensate for that matter to some extent. Anyway, let’s have a look at the route this service takes, and the timetable that is offered:
The eastbound timetable (Pt Chevalier to Newmarket): The westbound timetable: While I still think that the route taken by this service could be improved, I must say I am pretty impressed with what Scott Macarthur is trying to do here. All I do to improve Auckland’s public transport is sit at my computer moaning about it, dreaming up ideas and writing emails to people – while here’s an example of someone who has put their money where their mouth is and started up bus company, I suspect not because he thinks he can make a tonne of money out of it, but because he really really does want to improve Auckland’s public transport system.
I think that attitude deserves a lot of praise and support. So come on ARTA, give this guy a hand.