ARTA are in the process of altering quite a number of bus routes around Auckland at the moment, with the main idea appearing to be a simplification of the current route structure – a reduction of the number of routes, which means an increase in the frequency of the routes and an easier system to understand. I have a few queries on the changes, which I have passed on to ARTA, and I will comment more on what I think of the amendments in the future – but as the deadline for submitting comments on the changes is not too far away it’s probably useful to at least have some debate and discussion on them right now.
I’ll work through the amendments one at a time.
The changes proposed to bus routes in Onehunga have arisen because of the upcoming reopening of the Onehunga Branch Line for rail services. For people who live south of the Mangere Bridge, it may be quite attractive for them to catch a bus over the bridge and then transfer onto a train (integrated ticketing would be helpful here). To make that happen, the buses really need to pass directly by the station – so some routes have been adjusted to do just that. Here’s a couple of maps (inbound and outbound) of what’s proposed:
Overall the changes seem pretty good, although I do wonder why we continue to bother with the Onehunga Transport Centre, especially as it forces the buses to make an extremely complicated detour to access the centre. You can send in your feedback on the Onehunga changes here. Make sure you do so by Friday August 20th.
The changes to the Waikowhai routes (the ones that travel via Gillies Ave, not the 277) essentially consolidate quite a few different routes into a single route that serves this area – the 299. A school bus is provided to serve the needs of getting students to various high schools, which means that it’s no longer necessary to complicate the route structure with what was just a school bus anyway. Below is the new route map, you can compare it to what exists here. At a simple level, I think the changes are good as we end up with a single route number: surely what we might hope to have along many more of our bus routes. There’s probably an interesting debate to be had about whether we really need a bus to operate along Gillies Ave, as it is pretty damn close to Manukau Road. It might make more sense for the resources to simply be focused on Manukau Road services (or wherever else they are needed). There are also potentially some minor details, like avoiding right-turns onto Mt Albert road, that perhaps could be fixed up. You can provide your feedback on these changes up until Friday August 13th.
The changes proposed to the routes between Ellerslie and Glen Innes, via Panmure, also seem to simplify a currently complicated and confusing network. One route, the 595, will provide a service linking up there three centres. It is anticipated to operate hourly, with some additional peak time services. The new route is shown below, and will replace a complicated array of existing routes. Obviously, once again the simplification here is good. During off-peak times it seems a fairly obvious “Local Connector Network”, so I am surprised that at off-peak times it runs all the way to Britomart: one would think that terminating it at Ellerslie, and then providing for people to transfer onto other buses or onto the train, would mean that the hourly off-peak frequencies could be reduced to half-hourly with the same resources. You can give feedback on the changes here up until Friday August 13th.
The changes to the Green Bay routes are a significant simplification of what was previously surely the most complex and bewildering array of bus routes serving any part of Auckland. I’m still trying to get my head around the changes and how they compare to the existing system, so I won’t say much more than they do provide a level of simplification, and you can see the proposed route map below:You can provide feedback on the Green Bay changes here, up until Friday August 6th (Friday next week).
Mahia Road, Manurewa
The changes in Mahua Road, Manurewa represent the significant extension of the existing 454 route. The route acts as an obvious Local Connector Network, linking up the area it serves with various train stations, and also links through to Manukau City. It’s shown in the map below: I must say I find it quite odd that the bus route structure in this area is so complex, when if you look at a street map of it, there’s actually quite a nice general “grid” of arterial roads: north-south you have Roscommon Road, Rowandale Ave, Russel Road and then Great South Road. East-west arterial include Browns Road, Wordsworth Road, Weymouth Road and Mahia Road. In so many parts of Auckland we struggle to create a bus network because of the lack of a gridded street network, it just seems bizarre that in one area where we have a grid, the bus routes completely ignore the benefits that the grid offers.
Anyway, you can offer your feedback on this change here, but make sure you do so by Friday 30 July (this Friday).
All up, I think the changes are good – especially as it appears as though they’re being undertaken on a “how can you make things better while spending no money at all” basis. If anything, I would probably argue they don’t quite go far enough in terms of simplification and trying to create the tiered RTN, QTN and LCN network that ARTA appear to want to have.