An exciting media release from Auckland Transport yesterday and something hinted at on here a few days ago:
Double decker buses to be trialled
Double decker buses could soon be on the roads of Auckland.
A number of bus operators want to trial double decker buses on the city’s busiest bus routes possibly starting later in the year.
Among routes being looked at for the trial are the busy Dominion Road and the Northern Busway on the shore.
Before any trial can begin issues such as the weight, height and width of the buses need to be addressed to ensure they meet national standards.. Possible routes will also have to be checked for access around power lines, shop verandas and bridges.
David Warburton, Auckland Transport chief executive welcomes the move. “There is the potential to increase capacity by around 70 per cent on some of our busiest routes without putting extra buses on our already busy roads.”
And Mayor Len Brown also likes the idea. “Demand for public transport in Auckland is going through the roof. New infrastructure such as the City Rail Link is vital to unclog our roads. But at the same time innovative and forward thinking proposals like this from our bus operators are great ways of maximising our existing route system. I look forward to the trial.”
The trial is just one of many improvements for users of public transport in Auckland.
The frequency of services on the shoulder peak of the Northern Express has been increased to four minues to respond to existing demand and to future proof for the opening of the Albany Park and Ride extension in the middle of the year.
Mainline Howick and Eastern bus services from Howick/Botany through to the CBD via the Ellerslie Panmure Highway are being streamlined to provide a service at least every 15 minutes. In addition there will be bus service connections to the new Manukau Rail Station.
Cash machines have been installed at Albany, Constellation, Smales Farm and Akoranga Busway Stations to make it easier for commuters.
Plus a review is underway of all bus timetables against actual running information to improve the accuracy and reliability of all bus customer information.
This is what they might look like: As well as adding a “cool” factor to travelling on Auckland’s buses, double-deckers also provide some really useful practical advantages on routes like the Northern Busway and Dominion Road, where we’ve already got very good frequencies but need to keep adding buses simply for capacity reasons. Adding another paid driver and vehicle on the road for each additional 50 passengers is a pretty expensive task – especially at peak times when the bus might only be used for a few trips a day. So increasing the capacity of each vehicle is a great way to run a more efficient bus system.
There are pros and cons when comparing double-decker buses to articulated (bendy) ones. Double-deckers probably have slower loading and alighting times, but take up a lot less street space as they’re only the length of a normal bus.
Overall, it’s good to see the message is getting through to the operators that Auckland desperately needs bigger buses. The most recent tranche of buses to arrive in Auckland are stupidly small when you consider how quickly bus patronage is growing – so today’s announcement is a big step in the right direction.