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New South Auckland Bus Network Confirmed

Some good news, Auckland Transport has now confirmed what the new bus network for South Auckland will look like following on from the consultation a few months ago. Here is the press release.

Auckland Transport has released its final New Network for bus services in South Auckland.

This follows public consultation earlier this year which resulted in more than 1100 submissions and three petitions. Overall, 56 per cent of submitters supported the proposed New Network and 22 per cent were opposed.

By far the most commonly mentioned positive attribute of the New Network was the proposed increase in service frequencies. Participants felt this would mean less waiting at bus stops, and faster journey times, especially during the weekend.

Public Transport Network Manager, Anthony Cross says he is pleased with the level of support and public interest in the New Network.

“Overall people got what the New Network is all about. Many submitters raised some valid concerns and made suggestions about our proposals. Of the 28 original proposed routes within the south Auckland area, we are making changes to 20 of those routes.

“In addition we are creating one new route and retaining a limited express service from Papakura to the CBD. As a result of consultation feedback there are 30 routes under the final South Auckland New Network.

Along with analysing the public submissions a team of public transport planners went out driving the routes in buses to clarify issues raised.

“On such a large scale as this we understand the final routes will not please everyone but we believe we have genuinely listened to what people said. We have had to make some trade-offs, we took things on board and where necessary or possible we made changes to improve the network to suit people’s needs, says Mr Cross.

Implementation of the routes is currently planned for mid-2015, subject to their affordability as determined by the tendering of bus services, and completion of the Otahuhu bus-train Interchange and other important infrastructure. New Network timetables will be available approximately two months prior to implementation to allow people time to plan their travel. A comprehensive public information campaign will also be carried out prior to any services changing.

For a copy of the final summary consultation report go to www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/newnetwork

Under the New Network, Auckland Transport is moving to a simpler and more integrated public transport network. This will deliver a network of buses and trains that will change the way people travel – including the need for some passengers to transfer at key interchanges. In return it will allow more passengers to simply ‘turn up and go’ rather than planning trips around a timetable. It will offer flexible travel options over large parts of the city, making public transport more useful for a range of travel purposes.

The current bus network is considered complex, mostly infrequent and in many places, duplicates what trains do. It is inefficient to operate and does not always provide a suitable alternative to the car, or give ratepayers, taxpayers and customers the best value for money.

This new frequent network will have trains and buses timetabled at least every 15 minutes from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week. They will be supported by a network of connector routes and local and peak services.

Due to the large scale of change; consultation and implementation for Auckland’s New Network has been broken into several phases, starting with South Auckland, which was the focus of this consultation. Other parts of Auckland will be consulted over the next few years.

To get 56% of people support the proposal is fairly impressive when you consider how much change was being proposed and these types of consultations often only bring out people who like things the way they are, especially when it involves how they get around the city. I think it is a credit to Auckland Transport as to how well they conducted the consultation, not only explaining what was changing but why things needed to change. By comparison recent consultation in Brisbane consisted largely of just saying what routes were changing without any real explanation as to why and as such it saw a lot of negative submissions leading to the changes not going ahead. In saying that I’m sure there were things that AT could have done better but I’m sure they will learn from that for next round that they do.

Almost all routes from the original proposal have had changes of some sort. Most appear to be fairly minor consisting of small diversions which will add some travel time in return for more coverage. An example of this is below with the original proposal on the left and the final version on the right. In this case the 325 will now take a loop around Tennessee Ave and Blake Rd instead of the faster and more direct Farmer St.

South example change

Thankfully these little loop additions have only been made to the secondary or local network routes with the Frequent networks remaining more direct. Two of the frequent routes have seen changes though. In the original proposal two of the routes, the 31 and 33 split into lower frequency routes for part of their journey. Following the consultation they have both had one leg of their route upgraded to frequent status with the other leg being run as a separate service.  AT are also retaining a peak only express bus service from Papakura, this is something we saw a few people commenting on here about – although the current service runs all the way from Pukekohe. However AT does say that the retention of the service is transitional and will be reviewed again in the future once the new network, electrification and integrated fares have all been in for a reasonable amount of time.

Here is the map of what was originally consulted on:

South Network Proposal Before

And here is the final version:

South Network Proposal Final - 1

It’s really great to finally have this stage of the process finished however if I have one concern it is that we won’t be seeing any changes till mid-2015, over 1½ years away and is subject to infrastructure like the new Otahuhu interchange which is just being consulted on now. Slippages in that infrastructure and/or funding constraints could have the risk of further delaying the roll-out of these key changes.

Lastly there is the report analysing the feedback AT received. I won’t delve into it too much as this post is already long enough however I found the following two charts really interesting. 31% of all respondents said the new network would encourage them to use PT more compared to 36% saying it would make no difference and 22% saying they would use it less with 11% unsure. Of the 31% who would use it more the following reasons were given.

South Feedback - use PT more

This is unsurprising and as Jarrett Walker says, Frequency is Freedom. People are obviously responding to this. On the other side are those that said they won’t use the new network more often with transfers highlighted as the biggest concern.

South Feedback - use PT less

All up I think the new network is a really positive development and I can’t wait for it to be implemented, not just in the south but across the entire city.

30 comments to New South Auckland Bus Network Confirmed

  • Why keep the 360X? Just for people at the CBD a long way from Britomart? It’d be the first to go once the CRL is done right?

  • Fred

    I just hope that in each consultation we don’t see a bit of compromise here, there and everywhere meaning there’s hardly any service left for whoever goes last.

  • I think the changes are pretty good on the whole. In my feedback I mentioned that I thought the splits of routes 31 and 33 wasn’t very useful (basicaly makes half of each route non-frequent) and I assume quite a lot of other people also gave similar feedback on that. So it is good to see that AT is listening to the feedback. I agree though that the retention of the express routes, apart from the one via Manukau Road, is odd given the goal of the new network to reduce bus routes that duplicates rail services. I don’t think there is a need to wait for the CRL as people can easily connect to the LINK services at Britomart surely.

    • I think they’re waiting for the more frequent and higher capacity EMUs rather than for the CRL with those express buses. Probably wise.. 2015? Oh and integrated fares too so there’s no cash penalty to transferring…. makes it a lot easier to urge people to try it.

  • Ari

    Good News: My road will now run a frequent service. Bad News: My road was just recently invaded by several speed bumps. The change to the network is good and needs to be done, but it would take me longer to get to work than currently, so I’ll be taking the car instead.

  • I don’t believe it to be an improvement and I hope that they wait until all the EMUs are in service.

    However I will wait and see and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    If it doesn’t work and patronage doesn’t pick up I believe that some of those very expensive suits at AT are going to have to go.

    • Got any reasons for your beliefs?

      Anyway mid 2015 the EMU roll out will be well underway. Onehunga Line April 2014, Manukau/ Eastern Line next, then Southern. So the South is getting a lot of love.

      • Because my gut feeling is that people who currently catch the GSR services all the way from Papakura/Manurewa are going to be reluctant to transfer and if the transfers don’t work because off peak timetabled connections result in a delay to destination of up to 30 minutes then those doubters just won’t use PT.

        And, if it does work as planned, is the interim EMU timetable going to cope with the increase in patronage?

        BTW has anybody seen an interim EMU timetable yet?

        • Luke C

          The EMU’s should be in full service by the time the network is rolled out, especially as new bus network date keeps getting pushed back.
          The EMU’s will run every 15 minutes all day, 7 days a weeks. Increasing to every 10 minutes at peak times. And of course EMU’s much bigger than existing trains.
          The Interchanges of Otahuhu and Papatoetoe will be served by both Southern and Eastern lines, giving trains every 5 minutes at peak, and 7.5 minutes off peak.

        • As per Patrick and Luke’s replies, the interim EMU timetables are for mid 2014 to mid 2015. Expect the New Network and the full EMU timetable to be implemented at the same time (at least for the South), and if delays mean they are not implemented at the same time, expect the full EMU timetable to come first.

        • As far as I know the plan is to still run a train every ten minutes out of Papakura and Manukau City, fewer from Onehunga because of the single track. The idea being that this sort of frequency and simplicity builds a real ‘turn up and go’ structure where precisely timed transfers are not needed.

          Off-peak when the buses go out to 1/2 an hour then yes there will be more need for timed transfers.

          As for capacity on the EMUs well they are considerable bigger, more comfortable, and there will be more of them…. That should meet the growth in demand for a while. But hey if they prove so attractive that they’re packed all the time then that means the higher frequency hours will have to extend further into off peak periods bringing you even more service at more times..

          Much more than 6 trains an hour isn’t possible till the CRL is built, but high demand will help build that case. And the CRL means even higher frequency for everywhere on the network… How would you like a train every five minutes to connect to?

          Electrification to Pukekohe will happen sooner too then.

        • Stu Donovan

          I suspect that as part of developing the NN AT analysed tag ons/off. And I suspect that this would have shown that very few passengers were travelling the full length of Great South Rd, i.e. services were primarily used for short trips rather than as a contiguous route.

          Hence the NN focuses on routes linking key centres such as Papakura Manukau; Manukau Otahuhu. By splitting it in this way you can tailor the frequency on individual segments to meet the underlying demands, rather than running the whole GSR at the same frequency.

    • Max

      The roll-out of the new network as such was intentionally kept to 2016 (instead of progressive phasing in earlier) to ensure the trains are there to link into (and hopefully all of them operating smoothly by then). At least that is what I remember one of the people involved telling me.

      • Steve D

        That rail issue shouldn’t be holding up the North Shore or Waiheke, though… or even the isthmus, although that’s not such a dramatic change from the current network.

  • Jon Reeves

    Great piece!

    Let’s hope the Onehunga interchange is built asap! It is the lynch pin in the whole plan.

  • Peter

    Why isnt 373 redhill in the “connector/frequent” category like neighboring routes… that makes it pointless as walking might be faster than waiting 30-60mins for a service to arrive. The neighboring 372 is… Looks like another favourites game by AT aka how many AT employees live on this street… Sure you could schedule when you leave to be near when a bus comes, but not when your coming home from the station, if you come home at 1pm which people do, they will be sitting at the train station for up to an hour…

  • Exaucklanderinsydney

    Why didn’t they start the North Shore consultation first, as that is not really reliant on new infrastructure or new trains?

  • Oh well Ari, with a network like this for every one person who only catches an express bus to work in town and loses their direct service we gain five people who can make all manner or trips all over the city at all times.

    If people chose to sit in traffic on the motorway instead of connect to keep taking the bus then so be it, patronage is going to skyrocket once the pt resources are reorganised to stop focussing on weekday commuters and start focussing on everybody.

  • As if to prove GSR buses are necessary all trains to town tonight (1952, 2022, 2052) are cancelled due to a train disabled between Homai and Puhinui.

    • Surely all that proves rail replacement buses are required during disruptions?

      Let’s hope there aren’t too many disabled EMUs come 2016.

      • The point is of course that rail replacement buses take too long to arrange and disseminating information is not a strong point for Transdev or for that matter AT.

        Very easy for an electric to be disabled…..

        • Luke C

          Electric much less prone to failures than the current diesels. Note also bus frequency only reduced north of Otahuhu. North of Otahuhu there are also 2 different rail lines available so much easier to keep running trains on one line if there is disruption.
          Also note because the removal of expresses frees up so much money the frequent buses will keep running until the evening, so there is a bus service every 15 minutes into the evening. Currently the buses only run hourly after about 8pm.

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