One of the most discussed parts of the draft Regional Public Transport Plan seems to have turned out to be the proposed fare zone map. My fellow bloggers Mr Anderson and Stu Donovan discussed the zones in previous posts, while today’s NZ Herald also quotes Labour MP Phil Twyford’s criticism of the proposed boundaries.
A draft published by Auckland Transport for public discussion shows eight travel zones proposed for introduction between the middle of next year and the end of 2014.
Unless the plan is radically overhauled after submissions on the regional public transport plan close on November 5, passengers will be able to travel to central Auckland from as far north as Long Bay for a two-zone fare, at a price yet to be determined.
But it will cost a three-zone fare to travel from anywhere west of New Lynn or south of Onehunga or Otahuhu, despite New Lynn and Onehunga being 10km from the city centre, compared with 20km from Long Bay to downtown.
Mr Twyford, Labour’s transport spokesman, said that was blatantly unfair on low-income working families in his area and South Auckland who relied on public transport.
“It looks like the public transport map for Alabama, 1955.
“The parts of West Auckland I represent are probably the worst served by public transport of any area in Auckland City. I don’t believe they should be disadvantaged in this way.”
Mr Twyford’s analogy is a bit excessive, but looking at the zone map he does have a bit of a point about the North Shore doing unreasonably well out of the proposed boundaries:Long Bay, Kumeu, Whitford and Manukau all roughly fall about 20 kilometres from downtown. Yet the zones they fall within are very very different:
- A trip from Long Bay to the city would only be two zones
- A trip from Whitford or Kumeu to the city would be four zones
- A trip from Manukau to the city would be three zones
The other anomaly in the zone map is, I think, the huge southern zone. Does it really make sense for trips between Mangere and the city (barely 10km) to be charged the same as a trip from Drury to the city (over 30km)? I don’t really think so. While huge zones have a potential advantage in that you can take quite a long trip for the price of a single zone, they will inevitably mean a fairly high price per zone travelled through. With the large zones above I can’t see this system stacking up with prices of much lower than $2.50 for each zone you travel through – which would mean some pretty whopping costs for people outside the isthmus to the west and the south. Smaller zones seem likely to result in a lower charge “per zone” and therefore probably less change from the current fare levels.
For a start, let’s split that northern zone into an upper and a lower zone. For simplicity’s sake let’s just use the current boundary for the Northern Pass:
The logical place to split the southern boundary is at Manukau City, with a bit of a “grey boundary” across a band east and west of there to ensure short trips don’t fall into the cost of a two zone ticket.
There would be some other implications for outer areas:
- The outer north would fall into the same zone as the outer west as both would be 4 zones from the city. This cleans up a fairly odd anomaly in the current maps.
- Whitford and Maraetai would probably fall into the “four zones from city” zone along with Manurewa, Papakura etc.
- Pukekohe would probably now be five zones from the city, which makes sense as it’s similar in distance from the city as Warkworth (which actually gets a bus service in the RPTP and also would sensibly be five zones from the city)
I think that altogether this would make for a fairer system and probably result in lower “per zone” fare charges and less change from current fare levels. The only other possible question is whether the isthmus should be split into an eastern zone and a western zone to further lower the cost of each zone’s travel.