My regular trip to work in the mornings involves catching a train to Britomart and then transferring to a bus to get across to Takapuna. It generally works fairly well and I don’t mind transferring however there is one aspect that really bugs me, the bus stops on Albert St.
Takapuna is currently served not by a single route but by a collection of routes that pass through Takapuna on the way to elsewhere. The frequency is high enough that it effectively already meets the requirements of the new Frequent Transport Network of at least a bus every 15 minutes which will be rolled out across Auckland in coming years. There are a number of the bus numbers that run directly between the city and Takapuna before heading off elsewhere on the North Shore, the key ones are:
- 820 to Takapuna
- 822 to Castor Bay
- 839 to Long Bay
- 858 to Long Bay
- 875 to Browns Bay
- 879 to Long Bay
- 895 to Waiwera
From the city services start on Wellesley St before heading north along Albert St before turning on to Fanshawe St. To get to the bus a quick walk to Albert St is required. Generally this is ok however it’s basically impossible to tell if I need to run for the bus or not as bus is too close to the start of its run for the real time system to actually know what’s going on.
The issue I have is that not all buses share the same bus stop which often makes it difficult to know which one to use. As an example the train I catch is scheduled to arrive at Britomart at 8am and depending on how on-time the buses are it means I’ll either be catching an 879 or 895 bus – generally the latter. The 879 (along with many of the other Takapuna bound buses) use stop 7075 while the 895 buses use stop 7073. There might only be 60m between them but that can make a big difference as to whether you get but bus or not. This is exaggerated by the fact that is basically impossible to know which bus is coming next. To combat this it seems the best solution is to simply stand between the two stops and to wait and see which bus comes first. To me that’s hardly a sign of good PT design and it’s also repeated further up Albert St.
Of course this is just one of many similar situations all around town – especially in the Britomart area – and is a hangover from the complete inattention given over to how buses would operate when Britomart was built. The whole area needs a redesign to better handle buses and that includes the need for dedicated bus lanes and improved stops on Customs St. I imagine any such major change is likely to be years away, probably not till after the new network consultation however it does occur to me that there’s an opportunity to do a few things.
- Clear up the confusion for passengers by joining all buses that go direct from the city to Takapuna into a single set of stops. In the case of the northern Albert St ones it could be either 7073 or 7075 however personally I prefer 7073 as it’s slightly closer to Britomart and also that 7075 is often used by isthmus/west buses as their last stop before Britomart.
- A single set of stops on Albert St would allow AT to much more easily advertise the (generally) high quality service that’s on offer.
- Provide more appropriate stop infrastructure e.g. if stop 7075 ends up being used only by isthmus/west buses on their way to Britomart it wouldn’t need the same level of infrastructure like signage or furniture as a stop that is picking up people from needs.
There are probably heaps of similar situations all around Auckland, where are the other ones that need addressing?