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Letting taxis in bus lanes

An article in the herald today has open up an interesting can of worms, should we let Taxis in to bus lanes.

Taxis may be let loose in some of Auckland’s bus lanes in a plan to ease congestion on roads in the Super City.

Auckland Transport has told the taxi industry it will apply to the Government’s Transport Agency to run a trial of cabs in “selected” bus lanes such as along Mt Eden Rd or Sandringham Rd.

The proposal, promoted by Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye after an approach by drivers from the city’s fleet of more than 3500 taxis, is vehemently opposed by council transport leader Mike Lee.

Now it is not surprising that the taxi drivers want to be able to drive in the lanes as there is a financial benefit to them doing so. It enables them to be more competitive against both buses/private cars and potentially complete more journeys in the same amount of time which means they can make more money. But before making a suggestion about whether this is a good idea or not, I think we need to look at a few other issues/points that float around in my head surrounding this discussion.

Are Taxis Public Transport?

Taxi companies like to tell us that because they carry the general public that they are another form of a public transport. Personally I think this is complete rubbish and in many ways they are actually worse than single occupant vehicle (SOV) due to the fact the taxi driver has to make additional trips to get to/from where they pick up or drop off their passengers. I would even say that taxis carrying only one passenger shouldn’t even be allowed in a T2 lane as it is technically still a single person making a journey along a route so no different to a SOV.

Do we need to make better use of Bus Lanes?

A reason often mentioned for having T2/3 lanes instead of buslanes is about making better use of the lane available and this seems to stem from a belief that unless a lane is full of vehicles it is not being used efficiently. While it may be the case that we could put a more vehicles in a lane, it is the very fact that it is ‘empty’ that allows the buses to complete their journeys faster than they otherwise would be able to which makes them more efficient. Every extra non planned vehicle added to lane increases the chances that a bus will be held up. If getting more value out of bus lanes is a key goal then we should also ask if taxis are the best way of providing that and where does it end? By this I mean why give access to taxis instead of say trucks or couriers or tradespeople which are more likely to be being productive and moving goods around. Now of course no one wants a truck hurtling past them while they are waiting for a bus to come along but allowing taxis will likely have these other road users asking why not them.

Even if we take taxis or any other vehicle out of the general traffic lanes and allow them to use the bus lanes will we actually see an improvement in congestion. I don’t think so as one of the big issues with having T2/3 vehicles in bus lanes is if they are travelling along behind a bus and the bus stops they normally force their way into the general traffic lane till they get around the bus. This was shown along Tamaki Dr after the bus lane there was converted to T2 and the only people who saw an improvement in journey times were those T2 vehicles. Taxis would cause the same issue and could be much worse if they stop to pick up/drop off passengers along a bus route.

Should Taxis have free access to Bus Lanes?

If these companies genuinely think they will benefit from having access to the lanes, which they must otherwise they wouldn’t be pushing for it, then they should be prepared to pay a fee for that access. Providing the fee was set at the right level then it would be an investment for them. Of course charging a fee also raises other issues like compliance and as with the previous point, other road users may be prepared to pay a fee for access. If a fee was charged for access then the money raised can go towards further improving PT services.

If taxis or other vehicles are allowed, should the lanes have extended time limits

One of the biggest issues with bus lanes right now is that most only tend to operate for four hours per day (7am-9am & 4pm-6pm). Even on Dominion Rd which is one of the busiest bus routes in the country and over 50% of peak users are on buses has its priority cut down to these hours. If are to start letting other vehicles use these lanes then perhaps AT need to start compensating for it by extending the operating hours, especially in light of the proposed PT network which will see buses operating far more frequently off peak.

How will usage be enforced?

We already seem to have problems in certain parts of the city with taxis ignoring rules and parking where they shouldn’t be and what will be done to ensure that taxis aren’t stopping to pick up/drop of passengers while holding up buses. We could put rules around it but witnessing the behaviour of many of the drivers it doesn’t give me much hope that they would abide by any bus lane rules.

There are probably a few other points that I have missed but at this stage I am not convinced that allowing taxis into bus lanes is the best solution. It mainly seems to be a way of allowing taxi drivers/companies to make more money while at the same time not really doing anything to help congestion, bus users or even users of general traffic lanes. Perhaps it is time that we as a city started to have a proper discussion about the role taxis should play in our transport system before just adjusting the status quo.

90 comments to Letting taxis in bus lanes

  • lucyjh

    given that in many parts of the city our bus lanes are also used as de facto cycle lanes (Dominion Road, Symmonds Street),this proposal also sucks for cyclists. going down roads like Mt Eden in rush hour in bus lane is already scary enough. I imagine it also wouldn’t be great for pedestrian amenity as I think the further away you are from the cars, as a pedestrian, the better.

  • These were some of my thoughts behind my quote for being cautious about the whole thing. Also taxis will be allowed in the bus lane regardless of whether they have passengers or not, as well as the merging problem which will be created when a taxi comes up behind a stationary bus.

  • Ingolfson

    Once they are allowed in, they will feel (even more) entitled to stop in them and pick up / drop off passengers. Yeah, great that the fact that you can afford taxi fare just cost 60 people in that bus 20 seconds each! How about you be forced to wait those resulting 20 minutes (!) as punishment, standing at the kerb, before you are allowed to walk off? If we could enforce that, it wouldn’t be such a stupid idea.

    And agreed on the cycling issue. Watering down special lanes – car domination in progress!

  • When there is a real unrestricted transit network in Auckland city like there are in better cities, ie a metro system, then we won’t be relying on buses to do so much of the core transit work in really congested parts of the city, then this could be considered. So at a minimum after the CRL is running, but really not till we have rail to the Shore which will unburden Fanshaw St and so on. Until then it would be good if the member for the centre of NZs only city of scale was working to speed up our main Transit mode and not slow it down.

    What the MP for this electorate needs to do is be a whole lot less vague and mushy about her position on the importance of the CRL and in particular stand up to the bullying old men in her own party. Instead she fronts half baked counterproductive ideas like this.

    I get that she is a member of the of the car owners Party but can’t she, like the dimwits at the AA also need to, quite grasp the notion that the single best way to improve the driving experience in AK city is to invest in the RTN network: To get PT off the roads and out of the car users way, along with a whole lot of reluctant current drivers?

    Buses are great and vital and will remain so, but too many in city itself is bad for quality of place, bad for pedestrians, bad for car users. Right now we need them and will need more, simply because we refuse to invest in the real alternative.

  • Harvey Specter

    I think it is worth a ‘trial’. Having access to a quick taxi service to supplement public transport could reduce the need for a second (or first) car in a household.

    However, it should only be for taxis with a passenger. You could argue that they need to get to the pick up quick as well but I see this as less of an issue that sitting in heavy traffic with the meter running.

    A couple of points already raised that are important:
    – cyclist safety needs to be monitored as this can only make it work
    – the fact that buses stop all the time diminishes the benefit that the taxis will get and could potentially make the roads more dangerous due to lane changing.

    In addition, bus lanes are obviously operate in the direction there is good public transport (ie. frequent and direct). In which case, why do you need to get a taxi in the first place?

  • OrangeKiwi

    Just a quick thought here. Someone taking a taxi and leaving their own private vehicle at home means they’re just trading in one private vehicle for another. Granted, they’re not using up valuable parking space at their destination, but it doesn’t help with congestion; it doesn’t take another car off the road.

    Two questions: apart from not using up parking spaces at their destination, what are the benefits of giving priority to people choosing to travel by taxi over people choosing to travel by another private vehicle? And do the benefits of this prioritisation outweigh any possible impediment to buses, the very mode that is taking cars off the road?

  • George D

    So, the plan is to make buses into even-less-rapid transit?

  • James

    ‘But Auckland Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt said he would support a trial to see whether taxis would pose difficulties for bus drivers trying to meet timetables.

    “I don’t really think the odd taxi in a bus lane is going to cause problems.

    “Cyclists and motorbikes cause more problems than I think taxis will.”‘

    Grrrrr…

    • Steve D

      Why “grrrrr”? At least taxis can go 50 km/h. I’d have my bus be not stuck behind a taxi than be stuck behind a cyclist.

      • Bryce P

        Build some decent infrastructure like in the Netherlands and you will be free of those pesky cyclists and then you can use the bus lanes for whatever the hell you want. Until then, apart from a couple of cycleways tacked on to big motorways, those bus lanes are about all we have.

        • Bryce P

          And in case I’m not clear, I’m dead against the idea. Lets forget the taxis as PT rubbish and focus on mass transit, ie. more than one.

        • Steve D

          Well, me too. Taxis in bus lanes is a terrible idea, and politically it’s the thin end of the wedge for destroying them entirely by getting T3, then T2, then single-occupant cars into bus lanes, whereas there’s no such threat from allowing cyclists. But Froggatt’s there to speak on behalf of bus drivers and it seems completely obvious that cyclists cause more problems for buses than taxis would. There’s no great solution here, because cyclists can hardly ride in the middle of the right-hand general traffic lane, but go to Anzac Ave sometime and watch a line of buses crawl up the hill at less than 10 km/h, stuck behind a solitary cyclist and you’ll see where he’s coming from.

          • Tom

            go to Anzac Ave sometime and watch a line of buses crawl up the hill at less than 10 km/h, stuck behind a solitary cyclist and you’ll see where he’s coming from

            Yes, we can be slow and slow down the traffic and I can see that this frustrates impatient people but the rules say we most go on the road so on the road we go. What I don’t get is why he believes motorbikes are a bigger problem than taxi’s? Methinks I smell prejudice in that statement.

          • David O

            On the (infrequent) equations when I cycle up Anzac/Symonds St I feel bad about holding up buses and ride on the pavement. Does that make me a bad person?

          • Max

            It does not, David. It only shows that bus lanes are not wide enough for cyclists, and should not be counted as cycle facilities…

          • Steve D

            I can see that this frustrates impatient people but the rules say we most go on the road so on the road we go.

            Exactly Tom, that’s why I said there wasn’t a great solution. Cyclists are choosing the best option available to them. I’d like our bus lanes to work better and have the cyclists delay the cars instead, but obviously it would be unsafe for cyclists to use the inside traffic lane. Unless there’s room for separate cycle lanes, we just have to live with it,

            Motorbikes thing is weird, though. Why would bus drivers have a problem with those?

          • MrV

            Having cyclists in the bus lane is the stupidest idea known to man. Create cycle-lanes in quieter suburban roads that run parallel to main arterial routes.

          • Steve D

            MrV: the new Dominion Road upgrade plans to do just that. http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/improving-transport/dominion-road/Pages/default.aspx

            Unfortunately, due to the lousy street layout, the route takes a huge detour to the main road at King Edward St and Burnley Tce, because there’s no connecting street mid-block. Not to pick on anyone, but this house is in the way:

            http://goo.gl/maps/ZAaXu

  • Steve D

    Whoops, should have been “I’d rather have my bus”

  • Saljen

    I think that taxis are absolutely part of the public transport system, and I am very much in favour of them using bus lanes. When I lived overseas I never had a car and never really thought of buying a car, because the cities had so many taxis. . We used trains for long journeys, buses for medium to small journeys and taxis were used for hard to get to places, late night trips home, or somewhere where you needed to pick up heavy stuff, shopping at the supermarket etc.

    They fill in the gaps for difficult trips that buses cant get to. They solve the public transport issue of heavy bags being carried around once in a while. They provide that extra element for hard trips so people can go past the tipping point and choose to simply not buy a car. Trains, buses, trams etc alone cannot do this, people will still have to keep a car just in case. Taxis complete the public transport system if you will. They make it capable of providing every single trip that cars can provide.

    Cities with fantastic public transport systems will have extremely large amounts of taxis for a reason.

    In Seoul, Korea the taxis are subsidized the way buses and trains are. IN Hong Kong it seems like almost half the cars on the road or more are taxis. Taxis should be thought of as part of the public transport system and discussed more often as such because they are the things that allow people to not have a car at all, not trains and buses.

    • Part of the public(ly accessible) transport system, but not part of the mass transit system.

      Apart from the fact anyone can hail one, taking a taxi is functionally no different from having your chauffeur drive you around in your Bentley.

      • pete

        Have you ever used public transport? There are only so many routes you can use before you run out of day, eventually you want to get to your destination point (with rain, children and bags), and if it’s not on your route, you either walk for k’s or take a taxi. That’s what there are for!

        • Remember the bus network is being redesigned so that ‘should’ make buses more useful. It sounds like your suggesting that they are a last mile solution, if that is the case then they are not likely to be travelling in bus lanes anyway so why go to the effort and cost of changing signs and road markings?

        • Bryce P

          So if buse services are not near you then neither will bus lanes. Next argument.

      • Saljen

        It is quite different in the overall scheme though. A decent load of taxis running on a good council designed plan will allow more people the option of not buying a car at all. At the moment in auckland a lot of people that take public transport also own a car for other trips. SO we all pay 10 or 20 grand for a car and then some take PT and some dont. Its a choice. but most of us pay.
        If taxis in Auckland were focussed on and improved a lot more people could sell or not buy a car. This would mean PT and taxis could be 10 or 20 grand cheaper than using your car. That is a big difference. not just a choice anymore for convenience but genuinely quite a lot cheaper.

        • But letting taxis get in the way of buses won’t transform their usefulness. They’re already there, they’re fine, I think you’re getting a little over excited about what this means. The negative impact on the utility of bus lanes is a more likely outcome than some sort of step change in the woderfulness of taxis.

          • Saljen

            My point was to argue against the first point in the post. The author mentioned that taxis are not part of the public transport system. My argument is that they are. My further points were that people underestimate their usefulness in a good PT system and that they should be included in PT planning. Things like using bus lanes will increase their usefulness and so I support it. I think they should also have zone based fare systems like buses and the council should work more closely with taxi companies on planning. Buses and trains can only accomodate 95% of trips, ..whereas buses trains and taxis can accomodate 100% of trips and so is a more complete system and a genuine alternative to buying a car. Even though taxis may only contribute an extra 5% or so to the PT equation, I think it IS a big difference. One is a complete system, one isnt.

        • swan

          Pricing roads appropriately to prevent congestion will do this in a mode neutral way.

          • Filde

            Yes it would solve a lot of problems easily and fairly!

          • Peter M

            How are you going with your campaign to get political support for road pricing swan? Last time I looked your darling right wing government was more opposed to it than the horrid left wing council.

  • There are plenty of other ways that taxis can lift their game:

    1) Replace the ridiculous 2W bulb that indicates the taxi is for hire with something that you can actually see from a distance. Like a bright green LED.
    2) Don’t charge customers $40 for a trip that is normally $20 when you get stuck in traffic, which is what happened to me the other day. With realtime technology available these days taxi companies and their drivers should bloody know where the traffic jams are.
    3) Be available – it can be really difficult to find and hail a cab and you need local knowledge to know where the taxi ranks are. I haven’t noticed them on google maps?
    4) Promote taxi sharing services – for instance how hard would it be to apply the airport shuttle concept where you pick up / drop off other passengers on the way to your destination. The trade off for the passenger is that it is cheaper.

  • Exaucklanderinsydney

    I’ll have to disagree with most people here. My view is that taxis COMPLIMENT public transport, but are not public transport in themselves. If we want people to give up their cars then taxis are essential to this. When you have no car, taxis are often necessary if you need to go somewhere or at a time when public transport isn’t viable. Look at transit cities like New York or London n see how critical they are there because most people don’t own vehicles in these cities, they use taxis for those trips they can’t do by subway n buses. I think taxis should be able to use bus lanes.

  • Taxis do complement Transit, and they complement the private car. But does that mean they should be able to use buslanes? Sydney like Melbourne has a very mature Transit system compared to Auckland, in Auckland we use buses to do the work that elsewhere is done by systems with their own Right Of Way, in particular trains. Our not very widespread nor especially respected bus lanes do an enormous amount of work. Any further reduction of their functionality is a very poor idea.

    Anyway we have to ask; what is the problem we are trying to solve here? Is it to improve Taxi profitability? Or help shore up use of cars as the most supported movement mode in Auckland? I dunno, someone tell me, Nikki has yet to make a case, outside of her claim that we are somehow wasting roadspace. Really? That seems very much like an extremely ideological reading of what a bus lane is; because a part of the road does not have a car on it it is therefore wasted? Really?

  • LucyJH

    mmm, re the bus and cycling problem, we could just shell out for separated cycle lanes like other cities around the world do? But, oh no, I forgot, then we might have to remove a carpark and that would cause a collapse in the time-space continuum that would see Auckland sucked into a fiery void where we would burn for ever, along with the rest of the globe. Or, at least, I assume that’s the real secret reason why we can NEVER remove any carpark in this city.

  • Mr Plod

    If we are to open bus lanes to cars I suggest we open them first to electric and hybrid vehicles which are saving the planet and while we are about it let those vehicles use the Northern Busway and all T2 &T3 lanes even with only one occupant. They’d have to carry a bloody BIG sticker on the bonnet saying they were a goodies two shoes so they would attract the wrath & envy of other road users.

    As a side issue on taxis… what about all those unmarked taxis that carry round the Car Party’s mates and wealthy captains of industry who wouldn’t be seen dead in a taxi, even a ‘corporate cab’. Would they qualify to use the transit lanes too?

    • swan

      Some hybrid vehicles are no more efficient than a standard small ICE car. And it is space efficiency that is relevant. If we let anyone on who is willing to pay, and price so that it is congestion free, we will get the best use of the infrastructure.

  • LucyJH

    you are right. They did take some carparks off Queen Street and other areas. Just had a particularly day cycling through some of the busiest, most car parked roads in town…

  • I would say that taxis are the bane of bus’s existence in the Sydney CBD. Dropping passengers off in Bus Zones and bus lanes impeding traffic etc. I think banning them from bus lanes is an awesome idea, and I’d suggest that Transport for NSW see it the same way or they wouldn’t have developed the non oz standard regulation regarding “Bus only lanes”.

  • The Dominion Rd bus lane already gets plenty of airport shuttles using it. Personally I don’t seem them as a big problem since they are usually carrying several passengers.

    I would like to see more aggressive enforcement of the bus lanes though. It is very common for cars to use the lanes especially when the “car lane” stops moving (I notice about 10 seconds after the car lane stops moving you’ll get the first car pull into the bus lane). Perhaps dashboard cameras on buses could work.

    I’ve even noticed there are people who seem to park in the same spot (in the bus lane) most mornings to pick up their coffee (or whatever) on the way to work.

    I tend to think allowing general taxis to use the lanes is not a good idea. By definition the lanes are in areas with lots of buses at times when there are lots of buses. So in most cases the person *could* have taken the bus fairly easily.

  • I agree that taxis are important parts of a PT network, although not strictly mass transit. They are a good standby option for bags, out of hours travel,etc. But that does not mention that buses should be able to use them. See my post here http://louisoutlook.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/taxis-in-bus-lanes/

  • SteveC

    one issue not addressed here is what happens if a taxi stops in front of a bus at signals with a “B” aspect, the taxi cannot legally proceed and the bus is held up, losing the queue jump advantageof the signal?

    I don’t mind taxis using transit lanes, but they should have two passengers in a T2 and three passengers in a T3, as only the passengers make the end to end trip and the driver stays with the vehicle

    • Gian

      I ride a motorbike and I go when the B sign comes up. for me it means “Bus lane vehicles go”, not buses only. wouldn’t make sense otherwise.
      On that topic, taxis are the most dangerous vehicles on the road for bikers, expecially with their abitude to do uturns everywhere. I had plenty of close calls in situations like that.

      • SteveC

        I drove buses in Wellington for eight years and my rule of thumb for taxis was, if it’s indicating, it’s about to do something illegal!

        under the Road User Rule 2004: 15. What changes are there for road users around ‘T’ or ‘B’ traffic signals?

        Riders of motorcycles, mopeds and cycles using a bus lane that is controlled by a ‘B’ (bus) signal will be allowed to proceed on a white ‘B’ signal. These riders still need to comply with a yellow or red ‘B’ signal.

        Until 1 October 2011, the Rule only allows buses using a special vehicle (bus) lane controlled by a ‘B’ signal to proceed on a white ‘B’ signal.

        Unless excluded by signage, riders of motorcycles, mopeds and cycles are allowed to use the bus lane. Allowing these riders to proceed on a white ‘B’ signal will prevent them from blocking the way of a bus if there’s a bus behind them, and improve traffic flow.

        so presumably the rule would have to be amended to allow taxis to use the B phase, but it’s still a bad idea to include them

    • Uncle Nico

      “I drove buses in Wellington for eight years and my rule of thumb for taxis was, if it’s indicating, it’s about to do something illegal!”
      hahahahaha!!!!!!!!! you should come and join us on the NZ Bus Drvers Room on FB your good value…lol

  • [quote]Taxi companies like to tell us that because they carry the general public that they are another form of a public transport. Personally I think this is complete rubbish and in many ways they are actually worse than single occupant vehicle (SOV) due to the fact the taxi driver has to make additional trips to get to/from where they pick up or drop off their passengers.[/quote]

    Taxis are public transport. They are open to the public and anyone who pays a fee for ride. They are also shared spaces where multiple passengers may occupy. They should be allowed to use bus lanes. Whether or not the ‘taxi driver has to make additional trips’ is irrelevant – many buses and trains also perform ‘dead running’. Also, taxis really are not competition with buses and trains – they serve the very upper end of the market where time is absolutely critical – for example, running late to catch a plane at the airport, and more importantly filling in gaps in the public transport network that aren’t served by PT (I myself don’t own a car and use a taxi if it is before the first service or after the last service of the day).

    Taxis should have free access to the lanes because the cost of adding another vehicle to the bus lane is approximately zero. While it would be completely ineffective as a congestion-buster, It also improves the quality of life for the city by getting people, especially tourists, around, it should be OK to do.

  • Barb Cuthbert

    This discussion looks as tho’ it will go on forever!
    I’m interested that respondents like Saljen don’t seem to understand that cycles are the best mode in Auckland’s transport system to help overcome the fixed networks of buses and trains. Cycles have low impact in many ways. (And unlike taxis, are only on the road when they are carrying passengers!) That’s why they are so valuable to enhance the practical and cost effective operation of Auckland’s integrated transport system.

    As Chair of Cycle Action I have asked for the compelling and coherent reasoning from AT or Nikki Kaye that is presumably available to explain this decision. Sadly, it it doesn’t seem to be readily available. I was keen to get this, as most bus lanes in Auckland are also key connections in AT’s regional cycle network.

    It is ironic that when Mathew Dearnaley rang to get my comment on the taxi trial, I was meeting with NZ Bus to mop up the co-lateral from AT’s decision to save money on Dominion Rd by not expanding the width of the existing bus lane. I’m beginning to feel that there is an open season beginning on bus lanes! (Many thanks to Cam for covering for me, when Mathew was unable to get thru’ to me.)

    We all know that money is short for existing active and Pt transport. For cycling this means we will can expect more combined bus/bike lanes, rather than dedicated cycling infrastructure; and maintenance of dedicated cycle lanes (symbols, greening, and monitoring) is virtually impossible to come by. I have asked for the cost of this trial, but it appears that costings are not available for the new signs, road markings and monitoring that will be required.

    Cycle Action works closely with bus companies, and values the safe road sharing programmes that NZ Bus drivers have undertaken to improve mutual awareness and practical skills for bus drivers and cyclists’ use of bus and bike lanes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that taxi drivers have a poor understanding and awareness of the needs of cyclists, and to my knowledge have not undertaken similar road sharing programmes.

    AT’s decision to support Nikki’s request for the bus lane taxi trial was made without consulting NZ Bus or Cycle Action. I understand we will learn more when work gets underway to shape the trial conditions and location of the taxi trial lanes.
    Call me Pollyanna, but i’m hoping to see seriously overdue and long requested maintenance on existing cycle infrastructure, before this new initiative is launched.

    • Saljen

      “I’m interested that respondents like Saljen don’t seem to understand that cycles are the best mode in Auckland’s transport system to help overcome the fixed networks of buses and trains”.

      I understand perfectly well. For me cycling infrastructure is horribly underfunded in Auckland and is the best allround form of transport. Im not in anyway trying to say taxis are a godsend and we should bend over backwards for them, however In regards to the post written, i disagreed with the author that taxis were not a part of a PT system and tried to explain my points as to why they were.

    • Bryce P

      Hi Barb. After attending an ntza meeting on the causeway, I’m starting to get the feeling nzta have more of an interest in cycling than AT.

    • Uncle Nico

      Mr Chair of Cycle Action, there is a need for more and direct cyclists/ bus-drivers consultation.
      Overall the main concern that bus-drivers have on cyclists is not that the bus-lanes aren’t wide enough, we developed patience towards you guys and know how dangerous it can be to “connect”…..The bigger concern is that cyclists seem colour-blind and run every red light they come across……. (sorry mate, i see this every single day in my shift as a bus-driver) Please work on that my friend. Patience and individual accountability from both sides avoids hurtful clashes and will safe lives.

  • MrV

    Taxis are definitely useful for all the reasons you outline.
    Have you ever been on a bus when a bunch of people (tight wads) decide to try and use it like a taxi in the morning peak, ie load on their suitcases or more bags than they can carry. Holding up the whole bus so they can save $20 on a cab fare. That is more of a problem for the reliability and credibilty of the bus system in my view.
    Having taxis in the bus lane I don’t consider to be too much of a problem, I would allow it on the proviso the meter is on, ie they have a passenger. Otherwise you run the risk of clogging the lanes with drivers waiting for a job. To me this sounds like a good compromise. You’d probably find many drivers sticking to the general traffic lanes anyway.

    • Uncle Nico

      “Taxi drivers sticking to general traffic lanes?” Where do you live and work, my friend? Piha????? Everybody in the inner city knows taxis in Auckland move to whatever rule they can break, road-rules or not…. i spend 9.5 hours amongst them per day, just can’t afford a bus-cam to record it all and put it on Utube under the banner: “taxi-stupidities in the CBD part 1 to 13…”….;)

      • MrV

        Remember, you have the larger vehicle, doing a bit of damage, putting them out of revenue for the day is probably the best way for the bad apples to learn …

        • SteveC

          sorry MrV, but this is a stupid response even if intentionally ironic and you should not advocate actively causing an accident

          even failing to avoid an accident is an offence and in either case bus drivers would risk their livelihood if they took your advice

  • Can we just pause to ask exactly what problem this proposal is attempting to fix? Anyone?

    • Tweets to Nikki Kaye asking questions like that seem to go unanswered.

    • Could it be “my Taxi took too long this morning”?

      Public Transport or not, Taxis are not “High Occupancy Vehicles” and so should not be put into High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

      • ingolfson

        Hi Simon – they already are allowed in transit lanes, even WITHOUT PASSENGERS. Auckland Transport clarified that to the taxi federation when they asked for bus lane access.

        They just want it all. 99% of the road is not enough for them, they want to be allowed on 100%.

  • Uncle Nico

    People forget one thing: Auckland taxi core is already a completely “out of control” society. The amount of taxis holding up buses on the main stretches like Symondstreet, Albertstreet, Queenstreet, Hobsonstreet is, believe it or not, “PHENOMINAL!” The reason for the hold-up? Picking up and dropping of passengers in bus-lanes, bus-stops, bus lay-ups, illegal yellow lined areas, you name it. “And that annoying bus in front of you has again been held up by a taxi you can’t see in front of the bus……” Recognise that picture? Now there is a problem as well with discipline…. yep, discipline! As you most likely don’t know the 65 buses every 30 min coming down Symondstreet move like a snake through this area in the bus-lanes. When having to stop at the long-stretches bus-stops there the bus in front attempts to stop at the front of the bus-stop, the rest slots in behind him like a snake. we are educated to move that way. Now: how are we educating taxi drivers to go to the front of the bus-stop? I can see it all in front of me like a bad dream….. taxi is allowed to use bus-lanes and bus-stop to do their business. Example:They will stop halfway in the bus-stop at the Langham Hotel or Sky City. The next bus will try to get around him, parks his ass sticking out because there is just not enough space in front of the taxi he could fit in, blocking you, most honourable “taxi in bus-lane advocate!” ………Taxi drivers will never be able to discipline themselves to offload at the front of the bus-stop or on the end of a bus-lane… they are pressurised by a customer who wants to get off now, immediately and in front of “the customers preferred destination” and if that holds up 64 buses on Symondstreet in the process wouldn’t matter them the most….. The same time a taxi-driver takes for payment of it’s fare i have offloaded 30 passengers off my bendy-bus because they just tag off with swiping their cards or don’t need transaction getting off when paid a full fare upfront. The speed to finish a transaction is also a factor in the process, not only the speed of a taxi driving in the bus-lane. Does this all sound alien too you? Well, come with me for a day on the bus…and see the light!

  • First off using bus lanes would reduce the fare paid not increase it so,no,taxis would not make more money if allowed to use them.
    And bye-the-bye does Matt L. disapprove of making money when running a business?
    If so then does he agree that subsidies to bus companies should be discontinued and they should be charged for using the public roads for bus lanes?
    Any possible increase in efficiency by finishing a fare sooner in order to be able to uplift another would apply only for a very few hours at each end of the standard working day and only for a few months of each year as there are nowadays so many cabs available that we no longer have large numbers of customers waiting for cabs except an very special occasions.
    On those rare days when I collect a passenger who has been waiting more than ten minutes the reason is almost always traffic congestion which is exacerbated by the very existence of bus lanes.
    Bus companies are already heavily subsidized and giving them preferential rights to use some lanes is just another form of subsidy at the expense of every citizen.
    The traffic problems caused by exclusive bus lanes are already obvious-try driving North along Anzac Ave. during the morning rush and turning left into Customs Street East.
    You will be presented with a solid queue of buses nose-to-tail which will not give way to the cars trying to shift lanes from their right and which stretches back far beyond the 50m allowed to merge.
    I suggest some research into which countries which have bus lanes allow taxis or other vehicles to use them and what their traffic outcomes are is in order.

    • Uncle Nico

      Brian Rudman couldn’t have said it better: “When you’re stuck in a crowded rush hour general-traffic lane, the adjacent bus lane can look both empty and frustratingly inviting.
      But that’s part of the carrot psychology behind the exclusive bus lane. It’s trying to woo you out of your car and on to the bus.”…. A taxi is just another car for people who can afford the luxury, it doesn’t matter from which side you look at the issue… it remains just that: ..another car.

      • So it’s social engineering with the philosophical base of “Cars are bad”?
        And I should point out that luxury does not apply to those of my customers who cannot afford a car but need to get places fast and efficiently
        Try taking your child to the Hospital by bus..

        • Uncle Nico

          It is the very basic reason for having buses and train, yep, you could say that too many cars on the road “is not good” and do not try to hang a sob-story about children in hospital on me with a child with continues visits to hospital due to a disability….. never needed a taxi, i got family and friend as a backup who care very much about my children …. come on dude, there are other ways then a taxi needing a bus-lane…….

  • Glenn it isn’t social engineering it’s efficient use of the roadspace. Buslanes carry a great deal more people per lane than general traffic lanes. Bus lanes need to be clear for buses in the same way that taxi ranks need to be clear for taxis. If ranks are full of parked cars you can’t fulfil your role in the make-up of the transport systems of the city. It’s the same with buslanes.

    Of course when Auckland has a joined up network of trains under the streets moving thousands of people uninterrupted by traffic and we are less reliant on buses to do so much of the Transit work then buslanes may well become less busy with buses, but until that time, and given the strong growth in bus use it is important that their speed isn’t compromised by other traffic. The city relies on them too much.

  • Uncle Nico-not a sob story-I carry at least one a week in that situation.
    Not everyone has your support network and certainly our society does not provide for those most in need.

    And Patrick-I repeat-what do other countries do in this regard,
    I use buses every few weeks and they are not even 10% occupied.

    • I use buses every couple of days and most often there is only standing room. Nice try Glenn, off peak can be like that; that is like arguing that because taxi ranks are full of unused taxis a lot of the time we don’t need them, clearly there’s no demand and they’re useless.

      You’ll actually have to use facts not just your own point of view in an argument.

      Anyway why do you need buslanes? What problem are we trying to solve here? Your companies’ profitability? Are the buses too much competition for you and must be slowed down, I don’t get it?

      Other countries, some other countries, do allow taxis in bus lanes, these are in cities that have subway systems so the bus system is not the primary Transit method, and especially not the one dependant on its own right of way. Come back again with this idea when the City Rail Link is operating

      • “You’ll actually have to use facts not just your own point of view in an argument. ”

        And you think my point of view is not composed of facts?
        That’s just another way of denying that other peoples experience is real.
        Sounds more like an academic than an artist.

        Personally I am not optimistic about taxis using bus lanes because I fear the aggressive and unskilled bus drivers will rush to cross intersections or round a blind corner and wipe me out.
        And no,my company-which is a Co-Op,not a company-will not benefit financially from this move and I doubt if many individual drivers will but the customer that I am taking to the airport at 5:30pm who is sitting in a 2km line of cars for 20mins with only 2 buses passing in that time certainly will.

        Only very recently has the right of taxis to use T2 and T3 lanes been confirmed by Auckland Transport despite the clear and unambiguous phrasing of the legislation.

        I notice that in this and other forums there is reflected the usual New Zealand resentment of taxis as well as the repetitive theme of questioning other peoples profit motive.
        While I do think that a cooperative model would be preferable to our competitive economy we are stuck with it at the moment and strangely enough I do need money occasionally.

        • Uncle Nico

          The only reason why people resent taxi drivers is the knowledge that when he starts indicating you will know he’s going to do something illegal….. Now before we have an all-out brawl between a bus-driver (me) and a taxi driver (you)..;)….. Co-op drivers are the most skilled, pleasant and well mannered taxi drivers around and bring a light to the by droves of illegal alien driven cheapest-cab company cars in the CBD. You guys DO make a difference and i take my hat off for your pleasantness re allowing both sides to move into an organised manner.. And to set things straight: there are as many unskilled poor bus-drivers on the road (which i am totally disgusted with as well, being a bus-driver myself) as unskilled foreign taxi drivers, just to even the balance a bit….I would love to have a camera on-board to record it all, have a beer and have a laugh about both sides of the story.. ;)

  • Taxis are great, have their place and I use them, i have no problem with taxis and certainly none with businesses making profits. But none of these are arguments that show that the city benefits from taxis having access to buslanes, anymore than me being a driver and liking cars gives are good reasons for me to be able to park in a taxi rank.

    Buslanes, unobstructed, can move 20-25,000 people an hour, ten times what can be moved by cars in general lanes. That is an efficient sue of our roadspace, and they need to be largely empty, when seen from your or my car window, to achieve this. These are the facts.

  • I just received a comment on this from Brendan which is not showing up here yet.
    The reply is that we will be taking HOP cards when the system allows.

    • Hamish O

      That’s great, am I correct in saying that you already accept Snapper/SNOP cards?

      • “That’s great, am I correct in saying that you already accept Snapper/SNOP cards?

        No.
        I understand that the current electronic payment system we have can accept such cards but that the facility is not yet switched on,why I don’t know.
        Probably because bureaucratic systems take far longer than engineering.

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