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Upcoming PT improvements

The Business Report from Auckland Transport’s April Board Meeting contains quite a lot of interesting information – in terms of hinting at a number of upcoming PT improvements, highlighting some real funding squeezes thanks to NZTA funding being largely dedicated to motorway building and providing some updates on infrastructure projects. This blog even gets a mention at one point.

For this post, I’m going to focus on the upcoming improvements to public transport services that are noted in the Business Report and this attachment to it. Many of the recent, and upcoming, service improvements relate to what was announced a few weeks back. Short-term service improvements that have either been implemented in the last month or two, or will be implemented very soon, are summarised below: One thing that’s slightly frustrating is to see many of these capacity boosts only happening after the busiest month of the year – March. Patronage trends show that year after year, March is by far the busiest month for public transport patronage, so a few of the proposed improvements do seem a bit “after the horse has bolted”. Perhaps Auckland Transport might try to time their capacity increases next year so they come just before the March demand spike.

Some of the proposed rail improvements over the next year or so are interesting: Once we have ten minute peak frequencies on the Western Line early next year not only will we not have any additional rolling stock until late 2013/early 2014, Britomart’s capacity will also be completely maxed out – so the electric trains can only really replace existing train paths into Britomart, rather than add extra train capacity. We’ll need the CBD Tunnel for that.

The suggestions of fare differentiation for peak and off-peak travel, or service patterns that avoid Britomart (although I can’t see where the rolling stock is to run such services) seem like sensible and necessary options to handle continued patronage growth in the future. I caught a Western Line train into the city this morning and it seemed close to 40% of passengers disembarked at Grafton and Newmarket stations – so west to south trains could be helpful in providing supplementary capacity for those trips.

Finally, the report provides an update on how the integrated ticketing project is progressing: This month’s business report seems a whole heap more detailed and interesting than what we saw in previous months. That’s a good sign as it means we have a better understanding about what Auckland Transport is up to.

12 comments to Upcoming PT improvements

  • James B

    Love the title ‘Integrated Ticketing and Fares’. It seems to acknowledge that they are not the same thing.
    I am interested by your observation that 40% of Western Line passengers got off at Grafton/Newmarket. I think this highlights the importance of the CBD tunnel. The CBD tunnel will enable a good connection between Newmarket and midtown CBD and effectively enlarge the area considered to be the CBD.

    I like the explanations of the benefits of the three rail projects Len Brown is championing in the link below. It almost looks like it was lifted from this blog.

  • Sam

    Quite a few people Walk/ bus to the city from Grafton (especially uni students), but also it is visible on a map that the route from about Glen Eden to Newmarket is very direct- far more direct than driving on the motorways, which cannot compete in terms of travel time because of this. I believe this shows the potential of Rail in Auckland: if its the fastest way to work, everyone uses it. Grafton to Britomart, on the other hand, is about as indirect as imaginable- not time efficient unless you work very close to the station.

    I occasionally catch trains from the south to Mt Eden, transferring at NM- Ive noticed recently that often a good 20 people make this transfer at peak times. All in all I think south-west services could be very popular. What about the capacity of Newmarket though? It averages more than a service every 3 minutes between 5 and 6pm- and many of them hang around for 3 minutes… how many more trains can it take?

  • Luke

    page 14 is very scary. Says the expected $279m from NZTA, but now the uppermost figure is $147m!
    Have I read this right?

    • You have read that right Luke. Two reasons for that:

      1) Govt policies throwing money at building new motorways leaving nothing for local stuff.
      2) The dark secret NZTA is trying to hide – that people are driving much less and therefore the petrol tax take is well down.

  • Tim

    Interesting for me reading the issues around the Western rail line – just moved from Mt Eden to Glen Eden, commuting to the lower end of Parnell via Britomart. Two observations –

    - People bound for central but non-Britomart/current CBD destinations is indeed a notable consideration, again based on observation of other passengers; an ‘extended’ CBD model has to be part of future transport and Spatial Plan modelling…. This has to include a redefinition of fare stages to define a wider CBD zone, or a different approach to central area differentiation
    - Western Line going to a 10 minute schedule would be great if it were not for the persistent peak hour delays, generally created by failures at Newmarket. 3 days out of the last two weeks early AM services were at least half an hour late due train/signal/points failures, with a cumulative effect. Closer spaced services could only increase the number of frustrated passengers in these situations. It strikes me that Kiwirail and Veolia need substantial change in resource and management to match the pace of change in patronage…..

  • Scott M

    Why do signals fails so often on the rail network? I catch the same train out to Henderson and at least 1 or 2 days a week the train either doesn’t turn up or is about 15 minutes late.

    Think how many more traffic lights there are on the road network and you never hear of whole intersection frequently failing.

    What is the problem with rail?

    • Three reasons really:

      1) Veolia are useless
      2) KiwiRail are useless
      3) Auckland Transport are useless

      Well, and probably the biggest reason in number 4: they just pass the buck to each other constantly. Who actually takes responsibility for making the rail system work in Auckland?

      • tochigi

        surely Auckland Transport is answerable to Auckland Council, who are accountable to voters and ratepayers. if V/KW/AT are doing a bad job, then AC should get it sorted, ASAP.

  • Matt L

    To Tim and Scott – There are a couple of known issues out there at present.
    1. Newmarket – it can handle the trains but far to often there are delays so the trains miss their planned slots which then has flow on effects as more trains turn up than the system can handle. This means that even if a western line train is on time, delays on any of the other lines may cause issues.
    2. Western line delays are quite common on the 6 car sets even though they are pulled by a more powerful locomotive, AT/Veolia have confirmed that they don’t perform as well as the 4 car sets and there are various reasons for this. Moving to 10 min frequencies would most likely see 4 car sets being used which could handle the timetable better and spreading out the capacity would help to speed up boarding.
    3. Signals and Points – our system is so old it is pretty much just hanging in there, just looking the wrong way can be enough to cause it to fall over. Of course we are currently getting it upgraded to a brand new modern system however due to the fragility of the old equipment it is inevitable that when people are working around things issues might occur from things like a contractor knocking a cable. The new signals have been install from Morningside through to Britomart with the Southern and Eastern lines out to Westfield as well as Onehunga to go live in a few weeks time.
    3. Trains – This is one area we probably won’t see much of an improvement any time soon unfortunately.

  • Geoff

    The proposed ten minute frequency on the Western from 2012, won’t involve provision of more rolling stock or capacity. They will only be able to achieve it by making existing trains smaller, as there will be no new carriages or trains being introduced between now and 2014.

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