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Simplifying bus routes: the east isthmus

Continuing on with my series of post about simplifying the structure of Auckland’s bus network, I thought that after a couple of reasonably simple routes (Sandringham Road and New North Road), I thought I’d take on a really horrible challenge: the eastern isthmus area of Auckland. Why do I say “really horrible”? Well, this is what the existing route structure looks like (focusing on the area to the east of the motorway): As someone recently put it quite aptly, it looks like someone threw spaghetti at a map of Auckland and that became the route network. Apart from Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, Remuera Road and (to a lesser extent) Tamaki Drive, there aren’t many core bus routes here like you get on the other side of the isthmus (where you have a whole succession: Great North Road, New North Rd, Sandringham Rd, Dominion Rd etc. etc.) This lack of structure to the street network makes life much more difficult when it comes to putting together an effective bus network, but I guess on the other hand we have the advantage in this part of Auckland of a railway line running through the middle of the area we’re looking to serve. This is shown in the map below: So the green lines form our “Rapid Transit Network” (RTN). Add to that the major radial suburb to CBD routes that would form a good part of our “Quality Transit Network” (QTN), which largely travel along the three main routes I noted above: Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, Remuera Road and Tamaki Drive. This is shown in the map below: As per my previous diagram of how I think Auckland’s bus routes should generally work across the isthmus, there would be a number of cross-town routes of QTN standard that would supplement these radial routes to form something of a real network effect. The result would be this: Now there are some pretty big “holes” in there between routes, so for those areas we would need to apply the third tier of the system, the “Local Connector Network” (LCN). Now I must admit I’m really not sure of the best way to apply LCNs to the system: whether they should run in short loops, whether they should try to follow a straight line or whether higgeldy- piggeldy is OK. I have added in a few LCNs that I think could be useful in providing a service to the gaps in the above map. Generally they feed into railway stations or into the higher frequency QTN network: Putting it all together, and adding in some possible route number to make the system more easily understood, I think that this is a reasonably first crack at it. Note the new train station (which would require some alteration to the train tunnel in that location!) which I think is necessary to provide useful connections to the bus network in the area. This largely makes up for the fact that Meadowbank Station is pretty terribly located for connections to buses. A a bit of a disclaimer I must admit that I have never lived in this part of Auckland, and have only ever caught buses around here extremely occasionally – so I am by no means an expert and by no means do I think that I’ve necessarily got this 100% right. It’s an interesting start though, and sure is a lot easier to understand than the current map!

21 comments to Simplifying bus routes: the east isthmus

  • Luke

    Would you close Meadowbank with the new St John station?
    If so you would need to retain at least part of the 655 that services the area. However would run this service between Remuera or Greenlane only so you could have an improvement of the current hourly service.
    Interestingly Maxx tells me the train is even quicker that the bus to Newmarket from Meadowbank
    Also difficult choosing a regional hub here, Sylvia Park, GI and Panmure are all contenders.
    Would still run
    Think I would run buses 2 and 10 to at least Panmure and maybe Sylvia Park.
    I think several of the LCN’s should go to Sylvia Park considering that it such a major destination.
    Even though people dont mind changing, 3 different buses/trains is probably at the stage where you are starting to put people off, the waiting time starts to add up even with 10 min services.
    Also think LCN 3 could be extended to Wai-o-taiki Bay (East Tamaki Road), then up following the coast to St Helliers (Riddell Road), this replaces the 767/769 that go there at the moment.

  • I think Meadowbank station would probably stay open, the area is very difficult to serve effectively by bus so the train station is very useful. I agree on extending LCN 3 to serving that area of St Heliers.

  • Brent C

    You make route simplificatin look easy!

    However, why construct a new station that will only link with an LCN bus? I believe that turning LCN2 into a loop and having LCN3 start at Glen Innes Station would have better effects and reduce the need for infrastructure investment.

    • I’m actually leaning towards LCNs being a series of smallish loops – as that would enable them to be operated at pretty good frequencies with a minimum number of buses/drivers. Let’s say your loop took 15 minutes to complete, then you’d only need two buses (one each way) to serve an LCN with a pretty good frequency (four per hour).

      I can probably work on improving the LCN further. And I agree it would be useful to get a QTN to connect to the St John station.

  • Jeremy Harris

    Really good networking considering the road layout and good integration with the rail system…

    Let’s sit down one weekend and do the whole city…

    We’ll give it to ARTA and see if they can integrate the timetables for interchanges with other buses and the trains (on second thought we better do that too)…

    • I think ARTA do want to do improvements and simplification like this, just they worry about the complaints of people who will no longer have a bus outside their door which takes them to the CBD without a transfer (even if it does come only once a day and takes 3 hours to get there because the route is so indirect).

      Hopefully the new Auckland Transport will have a bit more guts to make necessary tough decisions to improve the PT network.

  • rtc

    The lack of integrating ticketing I would guess has been the reason that the whole system has been operating on the basis of reducing the need to transfer, once that’s in the mix I guess Auckland Transport will be able to implement route simplification.

  • The Trickster

    Jarbury, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to get someone complaining somewhere somehow.

    Thing is though is that what you’re suggesting is going to improve PT no end without any massive increases in expenditure which will appeal to a LOT of people.

  • 1

    I think buses along Kohimarama road or Long Drive would be useful

  • 1

    Also is crosstown 5 really needed? It seems to parallel the Eastern Line a lot and I don’t know how many St Heliers people really want to go to Otahuhu anyway.

  • Districtline

    The Eastern Bays buses really need to leave Tamaki Drive to get to a large catchment of users. I use the 767, 769 and 756/7 bus service to get to and from work and from experience between 50-70% of users of these services don’t get off until the bus leaves Tamaki drive and heads to St Heliers and Glenowie (767, 769) and Kohi, St Heliers and Glendowie (756/7).

    The service to St Heliers from downtown is also very quick with a peak hour trip usually around 20 minutes including the 3-4 minutes it takes to leave the Queen St traffic lights.

  • Districtline, I agree that extending the “11″ route around the back of Churchill Park could make a lot of sense. As that would be a QTN the fact that it is speedy is very good. I suppose very few people get on/off the bus between Mission Bay and the CBD – because there are hardly any opportunities to do so.

  • Scott M

    And who would rather read the first map (what we currently have) against the last map Jarbury came up with! Humans always complicate things though.

  • Nick R

    This looks good, and I have always been a fan of a putting a station near. St Johns Rd. I had an idea to put it just before the western portal of the tunnel, and running a access road from the end of St Heliers Bay Rd, looping down to the station and back up to meet the end of Felton Mathew Ave.

    However I do think this network is lacking a north-south route through the central part. Apart from the No.5 crosstown and the rail line at the very east of the region, everything else is more or less radial and parallel.

    To fix this I would reclassifly the No.3 LCN as a crosstown QTN, extending it eastward along West Tamaki Rd to Wai o Taiki Bay, and westward along Shore Rd through to Newmarket, Grafton and Newton. Then the No.1 crosstown could run from Mission Bay to Orakei, down Orakei Rd to Remuera, then across to Greenlane and down Cambell Rd and Onehunga Mall to Onehunga.
    This would create a fairly direct line from Mission Bay to Onehunga, interchanging with six bus routes along the way plus the two rail lines.

    See here for what I mean:,174.810677&spn=0.09446,0.154324&z=13&msid=101291069583876254503.00048a3435a7ceb773c4e

    A couple of other small adjustments might be useful, for example starting the No.2 LCN about a kilometre south would allow it to service the quarry development, Tamaki campus as well as interchange with the No.2 crosstown. In fact you might as well just extend it a bit futher along Lunn Ave back to it’s origin and run it as a loop, this would also allow it to interchange with the No.1 LCN.

    Also I assume you still have a frequent service up and down Manukau Rd, showing this on the map would help tie in everything on that side.

  • Luke

    I think a link to Penrose from Panmure is required, as Penrose is a major employment area but is not well served by any of your routes.
    Maybe something like – Onehunga – Mt Smart Rd -Penrose station – Penrose Rd – Mt WgtnHwy – Panmure station – maybe GI/Paukuranga.
    This would help tie a few routes together, as well as provide a few good connections to stations to feed the wider network with patronage. Would increase the amount of people that could be served with one change, rather than 2.

  • Actually LCN 1 could probably cross the motorway and run along Great South Road for a bit. Nick, doesn’t your purple line duplicate the Eastern Line rail quite a lot though?

  • Nick R

    Not really, it only runs parallel between Orakei and St Johns stations, and even then it is on the other side of the creek from where you can’t get to the rail line. I imagine the purple line east of Orakei would be used to get to the nearest rail station as much as it would be in its own right. I’m not always that opposed to bus routes duplicating rail routes myself, I think they often fulfil two fairly different functions.

  • 1

    I like your map a lot Nick R

  • rtc

    From the latest ARTA MBR:

    “Patronage Analysis
    Growth in the bus sector has been seen primarily in the North and South of Auckland. These are areas where services have been redesigned over the last two to three years with simpler and higher frequency services. ARTA will be implementing service changes in the West sector later this year.”

  • Nick R

    Well there we go, simple routes and higher frequencies = patronage growth. Just think what they could do with a full integrated ticket and a clean slate overhaul of the whole city.

  • They’re going to be extremely close to 60 million trips this year.

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