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Auckland Transport’s Staff Shuttle

Auckland Transport is spending over $122,000 to put on shuttle buses for it’s staff moving between it’s Henderson and CBD offices. This is something I heard about a while ago and Radio NZ has picked up on the story:

Staff at the agency which runs public transport in Auckland are being offered a shuttle service for business trips between offices, because buses and trains are too slow.

Auckland Transport (AT) is spending more than $122,000 over six months, trialling the shuttle between its downtown offices and its headquarters in Henderson.

Public transport advocates say staff travelling between the Henderson and downtown locations should be using the bus and rail services at the door of both offices.

AT wants to reduce its car fleet by 20 vehicles, and is encouraging staff to cut car use.

“We’re providing options for staff, to have a tele-conference, to catch public transport using business AT HOP cards, and we’re also providing a shuttle between Henderson and Britomart,” AT community transport manager Matthew Rednall said.

To me it is outrageous that AT are undermining their own PT services by putting these shuttles on. They say it’s about travel times

The train took 50 minutes, while the shuttle usually took 20-25 minutes, Mr Rednall said.

“There is public transport and we talk to our staff about using (it) but if we want to get the best productivity, we need to provide choices,” he said.

However the travelling times were not always much different. When Radio New Zealand checked the shuttle’s downtown arrival at 9am, it had taken 30 minutes, and the lone passenger said it sometimes took 40 minutes in congested traffic.

Yet the timetable (below) shows the shuttle takes 30-35 minutes. That means it doesn’t save that much time over the existing options which includes both trains (which are actually scheduled to take 44 minutes) and buses (the 090 which is scheduled to take 40 minutes). If the services are too slow for AT staff then perhaps they might also be too slow for the general public. A better focus would be on using the money to improve the speed and frequency of the existing services to make them more attractive to everyone. That might even help grow patronage .

If productivity is a concern then they should get cracking with getting WiFi rolled out to a greater portion of the network so that their staff can work while commuting between the two offices. It’s not even if they have a long way to go to access the PT system. Their Henderson office is directly linked to the train station while in the CBD they are just across the road from Britomart in the HSBC building.

Clearly some AT staff also think it’s a waste of time, as the image below shows someone’s put up a copy of the bus and train timetables next to the glossy poster for the shuttle.

AT Shuttle Poster

If AT aren’t prepared to back their own PT services then why should they expect the rest of the public to? Using the services and experiencing what regular customers experience should be a everyone at AT.

And here is the audio report

or listen here.

Here is some additional information that AT sent me.

On average there are now 40 to 50 people using the service each day, about 4 per trip.

We are already seeing a drop in numbers using fleet vehicles or claiming mileage for their private vehicle.

Henderson to the CBD is 18.4km or 38.8km return, at a mileage rate of 77 cents per kilometre with parking at $3 per hour.

Public transport is also an option used by many staff to travel to meetings in the city but the timings of the trains don’t always suit.

The train takes 45 minutes whereas the shuttle door-to-door is 20 to 25 minutes. Until the CRL is built we won’t see any dramatic improvement in those travel times for the trains.

This is about business efficiency as well as cost savings and we are determined to trial different transport options for our staff.

Other initiatives include a suite of fleet bikes at our offices for staff business travel.

We are also trialling two electric bikes, if the uptake is good and proves to be an efficient and useful resource, there may be an opportunity to extend the pedal power throughout the organisation.

Just as bad are the council who put on a shuttle between their offices in the CBD and Takapuna. They can’t even claim a time saving as the PT services take the same length of time and are more frequent to boot.

150 comments to Auckland Transport’s Staff Shuttle

  • Greg N

    When I heard this on the radio I couldn’t believe what I heard. Talk about not eating your own dog food!

    As you say, in the radio interview did it not occur to AT higher ups that if their staff don’t like the current options that maybe the rest of Auckland PT users would also agree too?

    And how bad a look this is that even AT won’t use the same services they expect you and me to use?

    So whats to be done?

    1. Fix up the bus priority along the route – has to be job 1 to make the bus/shuttle more reliable and if the current shuttle bus isn’t big enough to be a bus, then get a bigger bus so it can use the bus lanes
    2. Get the EMUs on the Western route sooner than later as EMUs will improve trip times due to faster stop/start times- providing AT can sort out the ETCS issues on the western line that is
    3. Why not contract a normal bus operator to run the service if the 080 or 090 buses aren’t good enough/direct enough and also let paying passengers use it – that way it can help boost passenger numbers on PT as well as stop the existing wastage of mostly empty shuttles. Oh and make it HOP card only – no cash fares, with AT personnell being given priority at peak times.

    • 2 is a matter of logistics, not mere route priority. Because of the understandable desire to not mix diesels and electrics on a given Line (service line, not physical set of tracks), there need to be enough EMUs available to replace all services on the first day they start revenue service on a Line. The Western Line requires the most EMUs, so prioritising it ahead of the Manukau and Southern Lines would mean that those lines would then be waiting until well into next year given the delivery schedule.
      The Western Line is already ahead of everyone else with the promise of 10-minute frequencies. Nobody else is being promised those, and in the case of Onehunga the only service improvements it’s going to see until the arrival of the CRL have been and gone with the introduction of the EMUs.

      • Steve D

        The RPTP promised 10 minute frequencies for every major line – Western, Eastern/Manukau, and Southern.

        But of course, there’s no point playing games with all this – ultimately, someone has to be last, and you can’t make any case for it being one line or another.

    • Barb Cuthbert

      It’s a worry that this service has been established by the very team that is supposed to be the experts on managing travel demand by preparing workplace travel plans. It reeks of double standards and limited vision.
      AT staff generally have a local function or a core role in the central part of the business. It’s year 4 for AT – isn’t it time central staff were brought under one roof, preferably near Britomart, and all offices set up with video conferencing to avoid the need to travel around the city so frequently?

      • To be fair, in talking to some of them last week, it seems that video-conferencing is used fairly often these days. Sure, you still need a face-to-face now and then, but a lot can be done via phone/Skype/etc these days.

        Chatting to NZTA bods last week, it seemed they have an even bigger issue because a number of them end up flying around the country on a fairly regular basis to their other offices (again, despite video-conf where possible), esp. when “head office” staff are actually located around the regions…

    • Waspman

      Greg, EMU’s on the Western Line should only be introduced after all the reasons they are so slow at the moment are addressed and non of these are quick fixes by the looks of it.

      Based on the Herald this morning the Onehunga Line is now only delivering a 72.8% on time rate, that is less than 5 minutes late so they are probably mostly not to time., It was the best performer consistently at around 95% on time with diesels, The control system is partially to blame but I noticed the door opening set up is very slow as well. And none of this tells us if they are constantly been given priority over other service delaying them too.

      The Western Line is Onehunga on steroids, its 10 times longer approx, it too has multiple road crossings, red signals and its windy and slow anyway. If EMU’s were introduced tomorrow you would be adding probably half an hour per trip!

    • Geoff Blackmore

      What’s the bet EMU’s will be speed limited to 10km/h at Morningside, Baldwin Ave, Avondale, Fruitvale Road, Glen Eden and Ranui? Might have to go back to the old steam engine timetables :)

  • AJ.

    So, $122,000 for 6 months which is 180 days less weekends is 130 days which means $938 a day. Zounds.

  • […] [Update] Transport Blog have also followed up on this issue here: Auckland Transport’s Staff Shuttle […]

  • Geoff Blackmore

    At least they recognise how slow PT is in Auckland, with no express trains and buses that meander down every side street. Meanwhile in Wellington, they are changing to a fully express timetable for all Waikanae and Upper Hutt trains. Time for Auckland to start offering a much faster train option. All stops to New Lynn then express to Britomart, with short runners picking up the inner stations. If it works for Wellington and hundreds of other cities around the world, it can work for Auckland surely?

    • Sailor Boy

      No Geoff, nothing has changed since you last suggested this, we still don’t have the slots available at Britomart to do this without reducing frequency on the busiest part of the lines.

      • Geoff Blackmore

        You don’t need additional slots.

        • Yeah just additional tracks; or even fewer services, including freight. Not possible in any way that is desirable.

          • Geoff Blackmore

            No additional slots or additional tracks required to run every second service as an express. Just quit having every single train stop at every single station. It’s unecessary.

          • Loraxus

            Geoff, you can’t just pull the slower train aside while the faster train overtakes. It just doesn’t work without extra tracks. Simple logic. Necessary.

          • Geoff Blackmore

            A train every ten minutes is sufficient for every second one to run express (or limited stops) east of New Lynn. It just means it will reduce the ten minute headway to perhaps three or four by Newmarket.

            They do this in Wellington on double track over similar distances and with the same patronage.

    • Mike

      GB: “Meanwhile in Wellington, they are changing to a fully express timetable for all Waikanae and Upper Hutt trains” – no, outside the peaks all such trains are stoppers, in the peak they’re all expresses, and that’s not proposed to change except for increases in frequency. The system works only because the stoppers can terminate short at places such as Taita.

  • mfwic

    Surely it just depends how much staff time is worth to AT? If they get 50 people riding who cost them $50 per hour and each save 30 minutes then that is $1250 per day in time savings. Looks like a sensible plan to me.

    • SDW

      Agree, that factor has been completely ignored from the discussion. I will often take a taxi over a 1-2km walk as it ensures I can utilise more of my working day doing billable work.

      But then again why does AT need back office locations scattered around Auckland – it makes much more sense to have their operational and planning teams concentrated near Auckland Council and NZTA’s offices (and other governmental organisations) in the CBD to improve synergies between these organisations. In general this was a major white elephant which resulted from the amalgamations where we had several large, new and expensive public buildings which were essentially redundant but needed to be utilised to justify the previous investments.

      • If there is any time saving in practice, after all they have to wait for the shuttle. No this is about not joining the hoi-polloi.

        Even worse is the AC case, there is simply no quicker way between the city and Takapuna, it is an express service with a great deal of priority, non-stop between city edge and Takapuna, and with high frequency. And of course much much cheaper, and a good source on a core Council service.

        • Steve D

          Here’s another thought – if this shuttle is such a great improvement on the existing PT services between Henderson and Britomart, why is it only for AT staff? Surely if it’s this compelling an improvement on the 090 then… maybe lots of other people will want to use it too? You could simply “tag on” and “tag off”.

          • Greg N

            As I suggested above in point 3 – turn it into a proper Express Bus service run using a normal 40 seater single (or double decker) bus – direct from Britomart to Henderson and return, usable by anyone via HOP (only) – no cash fares.

            If it proves a success, then run them more often, currently they only run 2 actual shuttles 1 at each end – both leave the same time, and arrive (hopefully) in time to turn around and reload for the next journey on time.
            And do 11 journeys each a day, hardly high mileage.

            Could easily replicate that pattern with proper 40 seater buses for the same operational costs (driver and fuel), except you’ll get 30 more (paying) people per trip, at say $6 each way (its an express after all) thats potentially $1980 revenue per direction per day of passenger revenue you could get, and double that for the other (return) journey, so say $3960 a day, thats about $80k a month of revenue or $560k revenue over 6 months. Not to be sneezed at, I’m sure AT could rent a pair of buses for that money and still come out ahead.

            And that will generate some 158,000 more PT journeys in a year, if its full for all the 11 trips it makes each way each weekday.
            Even if its half full on average got to be a better option than the current 10 folks +driver shuttle bus option.

            Even better yet, could we not use some (off peak) NEX buses, and run them as express buses to/from Henderson, thus allowing folks out West to easily get to the NEX quicker than they could via the train?
            Could be a whole new service AT could offer as an addition to the RTN – the “WEX” – (“Western Express”).

        • mfwic

          If it is then it seems a bit pricey at $18.76 per person. I mean I would happily pay $15 not to ride on a bus and around $5 to $10 to not ride a train but for $18.76 I would probably get on either.

        • Greg N

          “No this is about not joining the hoi-polloi.”

          Yes, whats next, a special AT-personnel only carriage on the Western trains for them to use exclusively, like we’re all in some banana republic, that AT higher ups obviously consider Auckland PT users to be citizens of?

          Now if AT put WiFi *on* the trains and not just the stations they could lead by example and show how useful for actually, you know, getting work done, the train can be, even if its is perceived as slower.

          • Steve D

            What’s even more bizarre is that they do have WiFi – but only on one train.

          • Dave

            Yes, I believe wifi was installed in one SA car for testing purposes, around the same time that it was rolled out in Link buses. Who knows why they never went the whole hog with the thing.

            Wifi on EMUs is said to be coming. According to the trains’ product sheet – http://www.caf.es/en/productos-servicios/proyectos/proyecto-detalle.php?p=107 – they already include the necessary equipment to deliver wifi, so it should just be a matter of working something out with a supplier (presumably Telecom again).

          • Greg N

            Hey those CAF trains in that brochure look **really** flash, can we have some of those here to replace our new and not very fast CAF EMUs,
            I read the ones in the brochure come with WiFi fitted and “Train to ground radio” for handling the above the rails floating experience you don’t get with the current CAF ones ;-)

          • Dave

            Hah, well Big Macs never look quite the same as they do in promotional shots…

    • Greg N

      Except mfwic their shuttle can barely hold 10 people by the look of it, its certainly not a regular “40 seater bus” and thus may not qualify for use of the (scant few) bus lanes that may exist along the way (you need 13 passenger seats to be a bus and use a bus lane unless its a T2 or T3) – and of course, you need bus lanes in operation, and most of the time these shuttles operate the bus lanes don’t.

      • mfwic

        Do you remember when the Great North Road bus lanes went in a coach load of politicians were ticketed on their inspection tour because they were not on a timetable service? Priceless!

      • bbc

        How come the Airport Shuttle buses use the bus lanes all over the city? They’re nowhere near 13 seats – should they even be in those lanes?

    • Loraxus

      “then that is $1250 per day in time savings. Looks like a sensible plan to me.”

      They are a public body who are supposed to ensure WE have time savings. If they have $100,000 / annum to spare, how about spending that on new bus lanes and some rail service improvements?

      Also, deduct the totally expectable publicity damage. Not seeing the wood for the trees, whoever created this scheme.

  • Dave

    Western trains – or at least some of them – could be speeded up immediately by not insisting they all stop at Newmarket. That stop along with the associated reversal costs several minutes. A new link was built at high cost to enable this to be avoided, but it is not being used. Trains running this way would still call at Grafton (10 min walk from Newmarket), and give a significantly quicker “express” service out west. Would be ideal for AT staff and passengers alike.

    • That’d be a hard sell. Aucklanders aren’t used to limited-stops trains, especially at a key hub station like Newmarket. Plus, with only a maximum of four services per hour, that means someone’s potentially waiting half an hour for a train if they need to change to the Southern/Onehunga Lines.

      Also very dangerous to assume that people can make that walk.

    • Ran Derson

      I’d say every second train could stop at Newmarket. Anecdotally there are more people who disembark at Grafton than at Newmarket anyway.

      I estimate not stopping at Newmarket would shave about 5 minutes off a Western Line journey.

      • Not-so-anecdotally, the numbers do not support Grafton being anything like a busier station than Newmarket. In fact, Grafton isn’t even in the busiest third of stations whereas Newmarket is the second-busiest station on the entire network.

        • I’m not sure we have data for western line only numbers for Newmarket, that would be interesting; AT will have HOP data. Certainly it does seem that western line users heading to the upper end of town (universities?) are increasingly alighting at Grafton. So much so that it looks like it is being used as a pre-CRL style station; avoiding the NM delay and the slow tour around the Vector Arena.

          In general we have no capability to run express trains on our tight little double tracked network. High frequency and legibility should be the aim.

          However with the volume of southern line trains Britomart to NM is no prob, but if western trains skip NM then we’ll be relying on Parnell for transfers but even that is somewhat hindered because it’s not going to be an island platform. I have certainly toggled between southern/Onehunga and western services at NM, Parnell would be ok in terms of time, say heading west to south, but the clambering over the tracks would be a bit dull, especially if a train is approaching.

          • Grafton’s boardings are less than a third those of Newmarket. I struggle to believe that over 42k people use Newmarket solely for the Southern/Onehunga Line services whilst only ~18k people use it for the Western Line. The difference between Grafton and Newmarket is dramatic.
            I realise those stats are boarding only, not boarding and alighting (so the down-hilling mentioned in that post isn’t accounted for), but it still stretches credibility to believe that Grafton takes more Western Line passengers than does Newmarket.

          • I didn’t claim it did. Just saying without HOP data [plus higher HOP uptake, ideally] we’re all making guesses.

          • Jeff H

            I’d disagree that there is no capability to run express trains on double track networks. All that’s required are crossover points at some stations so ‘all stops’ services divert to the opposite platform when a following express goes through. A third platform in large stations helps too of course.

            As well as giving faster services between main stations there are also advantages for commuters who can catch up and transfer to earlier departing all stops trains at main stations to ride 1-3 stations to their destination in either direction.

            Car beating 6 car express trains at peak time on the Western and Southern lines in combination with 3 car set local trains could work very well.

          • Oh it’s possible but of no advantage, first it involves no improvement to frequencies, and therefore it actually means a cut in service to a whole lot of stations, an even longer wait to get to a whole lot of destinations. And of course a loss in legibility; everyone has to check which version of there train they’re on.

            When the whole journey time is taken into account then for the western line say, improving frequencies to the long promised 6tph, or a train every ten mins, is the best way to improve service, as the wait time is on average 5mins instead of the current 15. So on average journey time is cut by ten mins without having to try to manage standard trains, limiteds, and freighters on our narrow system.

            Up the frequency and run a metro.

          • Jeff H

            Express / limited stop train services are a reality in many large cities. Not eventually running them in Auckland will be a missed opportunity with customers from outlying areas forever enduring more that a dozen time consuming stops. No wonder these people would want to use competing shuttle bus services that will get there in half the time.
            Shuttle buses are a great idea though – for connecting people to the RTN.

  • JimboJones

    Is it April 1st?
    Maybe if they had to take the bus they would fix all those little niggles that make it so bad

  • Ari

    I think you miss the point. The value of time. I don’t get paid for my commute to work. I do it on my own time. Like the vast majority of PT users at peak times. Off peak PT travel is not good on rate-payers time. As an extreme example, you wouldnt pay for a plumbers time to travel to you using PT? Of course not. It would cost alot of their time and your money. I charge my customers for my time so I need to use the least amount as possible when providing them a service. So I drive everywhere.

    Yes the train is possible, but may just not good enough and wasting rate-payers money more than currently etc.

    • tom

      Exactly. How are so many people overlooking this. Any other firm would use taxis or private cars. So good on them for exploring alternatives and setting an example for other firms with multiple office bases.
      My girlfriend was in this exact scenario, working for AT based in Henderson but with plenty of meetings in town. Drove her car everytime.
      Another thing to remember is that not everyone who works at AT is 100% dedicated to making the world a better place. If they need a good accountant they will hire a good accountant, just beacause they might hate public transport doens’t mean they wont take the job for the right pay.

      • Loraxus

        You are defending a PR disaster. It’s like the head of the anti-smoking campaign being a smoker. Sure, he might be good at his job all other things being equal, but it stinks nonetheless, and damages his performance.

        As for time savings: All your calculations are simply flawed by the fact that you can work in the train, arguably better than in a shuttle bus. So arriving – sometimes – 5-10 minutes faster by bus doesn’t really save you anything like the money you guys are calculating.

        • tom

          Its just realistic. Some people can do some work on the train, but a lot can’t and even at the best of times it is a massive compromise. Interesting you find our figures too high when there are no actual figures? But maybe I should throw some out there. If you have a manager or lawyer that needs to come in to town for a meeting and back you are probably looking at someone who costs the company $100+ an hour losing up to half an hour of time. Its a pointless example though because they wouldn’t anyway, they would taxi or drive themselves.
          Its obviously not a good look on the surface as the media coverage is proving but its just economic reality once you actually look even the tiniest bit into it and most importantly is better than what preceded it.

          • Loraxus

            “Interesting you find our figures too high”

            I was referring to mfwic’s numbers above – and in any case, you WERE claiming monetary loss from transport being too slow, and I was arguing the idea that most of that time loss is nonsenical. I stand by that. If it takes say 50 minutes by train and walk & wait, and you can work 40 minutes of it, it is still same time of work done that if it takes 30 minutes in taxi & walk & wait, and you can work 20 minutes during that (and I argue that working in a taxi is harder and LESS likely, so the argument holds, whether your fictional person wants to work during his / her travel or not).

            Going further, while a laywer or consultant may happily charge extra to a client for a longer trip duration, these are AT-internal staff. They don’t charge out their time. They either use their travel time or not. Throwing fictious cost savings around doesn’t make them work any more or less, nor does it change how much AT has to pay them. Whether they work on their trips depends on whether they can (see above: train better than taxi) and whether they are hard workers or not. Not whether the bus is 10-20 minutes faster during peak times.

        • SDW

          Some can’t work on the train, I get horrible motion sickness from even attempting to read anything on trains or buses…further it doesn’t matter that AT don’t charge out their time, their labour cost still has to be covered. They are going to receive the same salary over the course of a year regardless so may as well maximise the time they are doing something productive.

  • Steve D

    “Please book your seat on the Smartrak Booking System. Please ensure you bring your email paper confirmation with you”

    Seriously? That alone is going to eat up any time savings the shuttle has over the train – and it doesn’t even run as frequently as the miserly 30 minute headways on the Western Line.

  • mfwic

    Have you also noticed that since AT moved into the Henderson office the big empty area at the back has been opened up for carparking. So much for the maximum parking rates!

  • thmslcn

    Since the major bottleneck for the network is Britomart, why don’t Western (and maybe also Southern) line trains terminate at Newmarket with a high frequency shuttle running between Newmarket and the CBD for passengers to transfer to?

    • Possible, if you can guarantee space on southern line services at NM for everyone arriving on the western wanting to go to Brito. I believe around three quarters are heading to Brito, and very full trains at peak. Maybe just leave them on the train they’re on and send it down the line. Oh, that’s what happens now.

    • Great idea, and if you interlinked the shuttle with the western and southern people wouldn’t have to transfer!

      • thmslcn

        Whoops forgot to put in the main point.

        Having a shuttle replacing the Newmarket – Britomart section of the trip allows much higher frequencies to Newmarket. Looking briefly at the timetables, there are 9 NM – BM trips between 7 & 8am: 4 on the Western, 3 on the Southern and 2 on Onehunga (plus 6 from the Eastern line). Replacing these with 9 shuttles frees up the Western and Southern lines to be at a higher frequency.

        • Stu Donovan

          I’m missing something here. You seem to be suggesting that we can relieve britomart constraint by running a frequent shuttle between CBD and Newmarket? Is that not akin to suggesting we can make train slots out of thin air? In what way is a shuttle operationally different from southern/western lines? Are they not *exactly* (note the use of asterisks for added emphasis) the same thing?

          Plus, do we need more train frequency between City and Newmarket? 9 per hour is one every 6-7 minutes on average. And there’s buses leaving downtown that provide more convenient access for such a short trip.

          • thmslcn

            Proposed solution: https://mega.co.nz/#!PJVz3ahb!mnyjb7xOKt3ltiUP361Hiba4z0w8b7fyXhEK4ONHBhc (assume it can be repeated for 8-9am)

            All stations bar Manukau and Onehunga get have less than a 10 minute wait. Manukau keeping the same timetable, but Onehunga improving.

            Southern, Western and Onehunga lines terminate at Newmarket where a shuttle leaves within 2 minutes to Britomart.

            To avoid crushes at Newmarket, consider a 6 car EMU running as a shuttle but only 3 car EMUs running Western/Southern (or similar diesel set ups). No capacity lost at a network level as the frequency is more than doubled.

            No issues with Newmarket junction since there will be minimal crossing. Each line (Western, Southern/Onehunga, & Britomart) has their own platform. The Britomart shuttle using the middle platform which allows for boarding from both sides. This also allows for easier South/West transfers.

            Britomart/Quay street junction should be fine as their is no extra capacity to Britomart. There are still only 9 trains running between Newmarket and Britomart. Timings for Britomart – Newmarket would also have to be considered but they should be workable (remember no more trains to Britomart).

            Having an actual network scheduler would be able to improve it further, especially if Britomart went to its max capacity (20 trains/hour?).

            Provides a reliable sub 10min frequent network with the only cost to the commuter being a transfer.

          • thmslcn

            I should mention this is an all stops service. I’ve just put in the major stops. Timings are taken from current services (time between Papakura/Newmarket etc) some may be 1 or 2 minutes out (Ellerslie was either 8 or 10 mins depending on line etc)

          • Stu Donovan

            how does running the same number of trains between britomart and newmarket equate to an increase in frequency?

          • thmslcn

            Increase in frequency from West/South….

    • I have still never been convinced by the arguments against having a line that runs from Swanson right through to Pukekohe/Onehunga via Newmarket – so not stopping at Britomart. At least until the CRL is built.

      You can then have unlimited trains (5 min or less frequencies) running that route as you have eliminated the Britomart bottleneck. Passengers to Britomart get on a shuttle train at Newmarket.

      You can then have say 6-8 Eastern line trains an hour into Britomart and then you have capacity for 12-14 shuttle trains an hour between Britomart and Newmarket. That is on the understanding Britomart can only handle 20 trains per hour.

      Just looking at Newmarket, the rail lines all seem to be there. It would also get away from the idea that the trains are only for getting to Britomart and give people a flavour of what we could have if the CRL was built – only even better with the CRL.

      I guess I must be missing something.

      • Dave #2

        It depends on where the majority passenger flows go. As far as possible you avoid interrupting arterial flows with forced transfers. For secondary or lesser flows, then a transfer can be accepted as a necessary compromise.

        If a large number of people wish to go from West to South, then yes, a through-service should be provided (as I believe used to be, many years ago). A Britomart-Newmarket shuttle would still be bound by the minimum headway over that stretch which is about 2 minutes (time between trains such that the following one doesn’t get signal-checked behind the first one), and the ability of Britomart and Quay Park Junction to handle everything going through it.

        But if West-to-Britomart is the predominant-flow, then it would be counter-productive to inflict a forced interchange on it unless a very compelling and temporary reason exists.

        However West-to-Britomart skipping Newmarket is an interesting one. What are the relative passenger-flows West-to-Newmarket and West-to-Britomart? If the latter represents the clear majority then the current, forced ‘Newmarket Reversal’ is unnecessarily inconveniencing a lot of people. Have AT and their political masters really got a good handle on what their customers want?

        • OK so there is no technical block? I dont think you would be running the shuttle service with less than 2 mins headway – 4-5 mins seems enough.

          I have always been of the opinion that frequency trumps a need to transfer. And isnt that one of the main anchors of the new bus system – more frequent but more transfers? I know from using metro systems to commute that I didnt really care about transfers, only frequency.

          And also, even if we evaluated the current travel patterns, how can we be sure that a whole lot of new passengers wouldn’t turn up who can now travel quickly (and without transfer) from West to South? What would be the travel time along the whole route – 50 mins? Currently, I doubt many people are travelling from New Lynn to Britomart and then changing to go to their workplace in Ellerslie. The frequency would preclude it.

          The biggest gain is that the bottle neck at Britomart is gone. With the new 57 EMUs we could be humming along at 5min frequencies on all lines and showing Aucklanders what happens with a turn up and go system – no timetable required.

          • TheBigWheel

            Agree.. frequency trumps transfers, if the frequency is sufficiently high. 5 mins ought to do it.

            How about trialing the idea for an ABs match, can you imagine how many people might then take the train to Eden Park from Ellerslie or further south..

          • It’s a balance. A system with lots of infrequent one-seat rides will not perform as well as one with much higher frequency but some transfers. Yes the first describes the current system and the second the one we are moving to. BUT, and it’s an important but, a transfer is still a cost and therefore a thing to be reduced to a minimum where possible. And certainly a key way to do this is to make the highest demand routes as direct as possible.

            If, as it seems, at least 3/4 of the people on the Western heading into Newmarket are bound for Britomart then you’d want to think long and hard before you expected that group to be the ones changing trains. Emptying a full train into another one, one or next year two, stops from their destination is probably a greater irritation than having them sit for 3 mins.

            Probably more of an option is skipping Newmarket on the Western; certainly a good speed advantage for most users, but quite a big irritation for anyone heading south however, or whose destination is the Remuera Rd or Manukau Rd end of NM. No one likes going past their destination and having to double back. Parnell would help in that that means no need to go all the way to Britomart, but the transfer there onto the other platform will mean crossing up and over the tracks… At least NM has a good set-up for transferring.

            I guess with higher frequencies you could run every second train past NM and therefore piss off fewer people, and confuse some more…. would depend on slots and signals etc…

            Of course the real solution is the CRL.

          • Patrick – you know that the last thing I want is to jeopardise or delay the CRL. It is the the most critical project and has been since 1920.

            However, I think there are some real positives to come out of having the South-West running pattern:

            1. Demonstrate that rail is not just for the CBD. Saying that everyone is now going to the CBD is really ignoring the possibility that many people might like to travel from Avondale to Ellerslie/Penrose on a one seat ride. So we generate new trips.

            2. It shows Aucklanders that the low frequencies now are all caused by the bottleneck at Britomart. How many Aucklanders have never experienced 5 min frequencies or just assumed it could never happen here? Frequency is freedom.

            3. It demonstrates that everyone (not just bus users) is embracing the new “transfers and frequency are yopur friends” philosophy. One I totally agree with from a lot of experience. In Prague, I often had to chnage Metro lines for another part of the central city but ffrequency meant my wait was maybe 3-4 minutes (which at the time I thought was outrageous).

            Anyway, this is all intellectual masturbation on my part as it will never happen. I do think it has some merit until the CRL is built.

          • Sacha

            “Frequency is freedom”

            Genius #onya

        • No I think there merit in considering permutations. A key component is that HOP data, not that what people are doing now is by any means a guide to what they may do given different opportunities, but it wold be real good to know how many western line riders are heading south? Especially after fare integration.

          I have run this idea in the past, here’s a Pre-CRL scheme I proposed earlier illustrated by commenter Andrew:

          There are obvious variations for this; may have to be Hendo-Onehunga [change for the city] for example, because of traffic at Newmarket, or more particularly the Newmarket junction, I have no idea if it could handle this? [say 6tph Eastern, Western direct, Southern + 4tph Crosstown, and 2tph O-Line], or Hendo-Papakura, or Otahuhu? But almost certainly not Hendo-Manukau, until that destination grows a whole lot more demand.

          So while this is only 12tph through NM Station, it’s actually 16tph [each way; so 32tph movements, one train under every two mins!] through the flat NM junction- probably dreaming, but need an expert to know for sure. Probably could only have the West-South route by dropping other services. And it has no value if it comes at the cost of turn-up-and-go frequency.

          And at the moment they are saying we can’t even do 6tph on the Western because of the frequency of level crossings…and here I have 10tph…!

          CRL is still the best answer.

      • Geoff Blackmore

        The shuttle is a great option, that I’ve talked about for the past decade. You can also get Western Line passengers onto buses at Grafton for a 5 minute run to the upper CBD instead of 25 minutes via Britomart.

        Alas, the very notion of having trains run West-South without going into Britomart is a ghastly one in the halls of AT’s planning department. Benefits be damned.

  • bojo

    Not a good look for their travel planning team

  • Dave

    They are literally put of touch. Such a great endorsement for the product they’re pushing. Unreal.

  • Ari

    LOL, their most successful product is Cars-on-Roads. Those Bus and Train products are novelty items that will never catch on but are for window dressing only.

    • Dave

      Fair point, but given their proximity to the rail line it’s kind of galling to see them turn their nose up at it. If it isn’t good enough for the people that run it, why should anyone else bother with it?

  • Anthony McBride

    All I can say is….That is incredibly self-entitled.

  • Harvey Specter

    This is hilarious. There two offices are literally ontop of two stations, they are in charge of the timetable and they can’t even make PT work!

    Given they are paying this fixed cost, I assume they have now said no to all car reimbursements?

  • Stu Donovan

    Some salient points:
    – I disagree that travel-time is a key factor; total productivity is more important to a business. As others have noted above it is very possible to work on the train, much more so than a shuttle and/or in a taxi. I use the train whenever I travel out to Henderson to visit AT :) (and we’ve got a longer walk from our offices than from HSBC!).
    – It may sound draconian, but I’d suggest AT require high-level management approval for people to use their personal cars and/or taxis to travel between Henderson/Britomart, where approval is conditional on 1) travelling at unusual hours and/or 2) trips for multiple people and/or 3) emergency situations.
    – I’ve always thought people claiming mileage for using their vehicles for work-related travel was a bit of a rort: The rate paid, e.g. 80c per kilometre, is usually far higher than purely operational costs, which essentially means AT is subsidising fixed costs on employees private vehicles. Just ban the practice and require people to use pool cars and/or carshare as a back-up.
    – One question AT don’t seem to have addressed is this: If you took the $300k p.a. cost of the shuttle and reinvested that into improving the buses/trains between these two locations, how much better could it be for everyone? I think that’s a key point AT are potentially missing. $300k p.a. is not completely insignificant $$$ in the scheme of the PT budget (you could also add in whatever AC is spending on their even more ridiculous shuttle between City and Takapuna).

    But ease of payment is a biggie; I understand AT still don’t have a corporate HOP card so staff would have to pay and then claim back. That transaction/administrative cost needs to be looked at.

    • Greg N

      Agree that train is not a big impediment to working.

      But if AT really want a fast link between Henderson and Britomart, why not use that $300K and implement a Henderson “Express” bus service like the NEX is.
      Charge people to use it $6 each way and it only goes from Britomart to Henderson and back, like the shuttle does.
      AT employees can use it for free – if they show their AT employee badge so avoiding the need to claim back fees.
      Everyone else can pay, using HOP only.

      AT would make without a doubt more than the $300k they are blowing on their shuttles now and also be improving customer service to both their staff and regular PT users in one go.

      The only problem I can see is that the existing bus services that run out that way could claim unfair competition, but if AT is not subsidising it then it can be run as a fully commercial service by AT without any special rules or regs as of right.

      • Stu Donovan

        yes perhaps – but it’d be killed off post-CRL. We’re in that tricky pre-CRL period when express bus will beat train, but this will change post-CRL. So do we want to implement a new service that essentially competes with rail and ultimately won’t be needed?

        I don’t know the answer, just think it’s important to pose the question :)

        • Greg N

          Of course we do it, if it progresses things,solves a problem now, doesn’t preclude something else in the future and can give a hint to people of the sort of performance that rail will deliver post-CRL for all Westies.

          You wouldn’t put off painting the house before you sell just because the new owners might not like the colour you chose and might repaint it would you?
          Same here, so as long as it solves todays/tomorrows problems it can be run for a few years then disappear when not needed anymore.
          It disappearing should be seen as a good sign – that the RTN is now delivering as it should.

          This is a band aid plain and simple, doesn’t mean its not worth doing though…

        • Nik

          JSK pretty much said run low cost experiments and roll it back if it doesn’t work.

          So if the experiment is a new temporary service using spare(ish) capacity and no costs are incurred in repainting/re-branding or other infrastructure until it is decided to make the service the permanent WEX service why not?

          Why vs Why not, I believe it’s all about perspective and is the daring to dream about a better future for transport across the whole region that drives most people of visit this website, whether I agree with them or not.

          Even if all it does is start the discussion of what the WEX service should be, would it be worth it ?

          My opinion is that it’d be better than publicity own goal we’re currently discussing.

    • TimR

      “AT still don’t have a corporate HOP card”

      Sheesh. Kinda says it all. $300k pa into van services or one route and they can’t even think to use HOP themselves? Maybe they’re just waiting for HOP prices to come down…..

  • mfwic

    Does it really cost $300k to run a van?

  • Harvey Specter

    Why don’t AT staff have a staff pass loaded onto their HOP cards such that all travel between 9 and 5 is recharged to AT?

  • Mat

    According to the radio NZ article, AT DOES have company issued Hop cards which really makes this even more ridiculous.

    Though to be honest with the unreliability of the Hop cards and the public transport network in general, this does not surprise me.

    • TheBigWheel

      “unreliability of the Hop cards and the public transport network in general”.. eh?! I haven’t noticed either. Am I missing something?

      On the other hand I have been held up driving in traffic several times recently. In terms of unreliability, my experience is that PT beats driving. The last significant PT delay I had was on a plane a couple of weeks ago.

  • Sacha

    I’d rather AT and AC improved these services for everyone as others have noted.

    However I’ll bet they are doing this partly for the same reasons as Ministers have Crown cars – so they can discuss business while travelling without fear of others overhearing them. Can’t imagine trips of even four staff in silence.

    • tom

      Thats actually a really good point I hadn’t thought of. Its highly likely that people travelling on the same shuttle are heading to the same meetings, so private discussion is useful.

  • Sacha

    This story was a spectacular own-goal for Auckland Transport on tv3 news just now. #grrrr

    • Stu Donovan

      that. was. hilarious.

      I would have thought car-sharing (i.e. CityHop) and public transport were better ways to reduce the number of pool cars used to travel between Henderson and the City Centre than a private shuttle bus?

      And, quite frankly, a directive from management that employees should use PT!

  • jacques

    it’s not so surprising that the bus system is so bad when you see this sort of behaviour from the agency that’s supposed to run it. henderson to cbd is one of the most painless commutes now with electric trains. they should get rid of these shuttles asap. the ‘efficiency losses’ will be more than compensated by the benefits to the wider public of having AT staff acutely aware of the shortcomings of the system they’re running.

  • Seeing the empty shuttle leaving Downtown on One news makes me wonder if the shuttle leaving from Henderson at the same time was also empty. You would hope the two drivers can talk to each other and just wait if there are no passengers at either end. Interesting thought that just one passenger travelling one way forces the other shuttle van to travel empty.

    There may be an argument for getting AT staff to Henderson faster (and allowing private conversations), but this seems like an expensive and inefficient way to do it. As Stu points out, what about Cityhop cars which are available from the Downtown carpark? Or a regular tax van? Or a self-drive 12 seater van. You don’t need a special licence to drive one of these.

  • Make It Go

    When an organisation’s senior executive neither believes in nor is willing to back its own product/service set and does not believe it is accountable to its shareholders, this is what you get.

  • E Chang

    This is exactly the problem with PT. Many regular readers and author of this blog continually bully those who drive on the road. There are still many areas in Auckland without proper PT in place. Whenever I have to use PT, I have to check the MAXX site and get to the stop 5-10 mins ahead of the scheduled time. Many of my buses will turn up early and the next one is 30 mins away. In addition, travel time is about 20 min more on PT on a good day, that’s an extra 40 mins wasted everyday. Park and ride allows more flexibility but it was also labeled as a waste of valuable land.

    Are we still going to trust AT to make things better when they can’t even get it right themselves?

    Stop evilising drivers! At least until a day when there is a real option available please!!!

  • anon

    Considering Auckland Transport have just put out their Parking Policies Proposal which include paying for Park n Ride when there is adequate transport to the park n ride. I think all council staff who park in the parking lot which is adjoined to the bus and train terminal, should be charged to park there. It is clearly a park n ride adjoining one of Aucklands major transport hubs. They should pay the same tax for all the fleet cars that sit in the parking lot attached to the Council and Train and Bus station.

  • Phil Hayward

    [Moderated - off topic and containing a number of dubious assertions]

    • Liam W

      Oh compare apples with apples please. Jeepneys work in Manila because high density + low car ownership rates + low wages = a perpetually high demand for PT, irrespective of service quality. The lower-density/higher car ownership/higher wage parts of Manila (i.e. the parts that more closely resemble Western cities) get little jeepney service because there are no scale economies. Let’s also not forget that jeepney drivers (all 210,000 of them in Manila!) have to pay for their own running costs, are extorted by traffic officers for the right to cross their turf, and have to live on the peanuts left over so they are forced to drive in ways that would make couriers blush. I’ll take a planned and subsidised system over that in Auckland context thanks, though jeepneys are undoubtedly effective in the right context and a visual feast. I’m a Filipino, I love them.

      On vehicle utilisation, Paul Mees is your friend, integrated PT planning in which the high-return routes cross-subsidise/defray the loss-making routes is ultimately the way forward in the Auckland context. Well on the way to that with PTOM and the New Network.

      • Phil Hayward

        Is your point, then, that “high density + low car ownership rates + low wages = a perpetually high demand for PT” makes Jitneys work, and yet a much smaller city with high car ownership rates, medium density by modern standards, and high wages, is more compatible with large vehicles, a public monopoly, and a unionised workforce with inflexible work practices?

        Funny, i would have said the relationship runs the other way. It would be Manila that would be more sensible building a subway system, not Auckland.

        I actually respect Paul Mees’ thesis but Len Brown obviously does not – Mees is deeply opposed to CBD-rentier-driven fixed rail system “investments”. As long as the vehicles are suitably small to have utilisation rates high enough to make them not a wicked waste of public money, I am in favour of a Mees system replacing the status quo.

    • Phil Hayward

      I am disappointed that the moderators saw that necessary. Not knowing which assertions they think are dubious and which are not, I will try again bit by bit.

      LiamW gave me a civil answer that showed that at least he got the point I was driving at. I am pleased to continue the discussion about Manila-type systems from his reply. As a general principle, for many routes and trip requirements, vans – smaller vehicles – are the best option. The question is how full the vehicles are, for how much of the time they are in service.

      Auckland Council has merely adopted the best option, for themselves, while leaving this option off the table for everyone else, who are still expected to use either cars, or full size buses or trains on existing routes. This is absurd because the Council’s best option would be the best option for a lot more situations than just the Council’s one.

      How full the vehicle is, is really the first consideration for efficiency. A full car is already considerably more efficient than the PT average. Is this a “dubious” assertion?

      PT vehicles have to start out empty, and trips are scheduled to not leave riders stranded at stops, and that the vehicles have to reposition with much fewer riders, back to the start of their route. Is it a “dubious” assertion that utilisation rates of PT vehicles through the day are around 20% (or less), which is the same as a car with only the driver on board?

      The Booz Allen Hamilton report “NZ Surface Transport Costs and Charges” can be found online at the moment – download a copy while you can. This confirms that PT in NZ is not a lot different in costs per rider km than private cars; only those costs, for PT, are mostly paid by the taxpayer/ratepayer in contrast to the car driver paying most of their own costs.

      I was simply describing a few of the reasons this is the case. The Dominion Post actually published my letter on the subject yesterday. Other reasons include the vehicle dead weight per rider km, which is higher for buses than cars, and higher again for trains. Also, the stopping and starting done by PT vehicles magnifies this disadvantage.

      This is just simple, non-rocket-science facts, that is all. Please do not censor such comments with a throw-away line that they are “dubious assertions”.

      If people saw Hummer stretch limos being driven around with riders paying a few dollars per ticket for a few kms ride, and it was understood that 2/3 of the cost of this was paid out of rates, there would be a revolution. But just because it is a bus or a train carriage, voters don’t think twice about it even though the cost effectiveness is about the same.

      • John Polkinghorne

        Phil, your first comment got moderated because it had very little to do with the subject of the post. I’ll keep this one alive, but that’s the last one – you can leave others for a future post where they’re more relevant.
        It’s pointless comparing a full car to an “average” PT vehicle, but you knew that already. The average car carries about 1.5 people, weighted by passenger km, and less during peak traffic hours (probably 1.25 or less). When, of course, PT utilisation is pretty close to complete.
        I don’t have time to wade through the Booz Allen Hamilton report, but I’ll just note that it’s from 2005. Since then, fuel prices have essentially doubled, and PT ridership has improved substantially, which will have made it more effective and efficient. So those stats will be quite out of date anyway. This blog is always pushing to try to improve PT efficiency further, as there’s a lot of room for improvement, often at quite low cost.
        I have no idea why you think “vehicle dead weight per rider km” might be an important measure, but you seem to be insinuating that PT might use more energy and fuel than private vehicles, which is untrue. As per http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/07/19/public-transport-emissions-in-nz/, buses in Christchurch are at least a third more efficient than cars, and the old diesel trains in Auckland are four times more efficient. These figures could improve further with better utilisation.
        I don’t think you understand the interplay between operating and capital costs properly, but small shuttles are not usually cost competitive in developed countries, which is why they’re not used very often. It’s not like the council is banning companies or organisations from running them, as you seem to be suggesting when you say “Auckland Council has merely adopted the best option, for themselves, while leaving this option off the table for everyone else”.

        • Phil Hayward

          Brian Rudman’s column in today’s Herald…….!!!!

          I actually sent a letter to the Herald making my argument and as usual they didn’t print it – but Rudman is saying pretty much the same thing anyway today. A most unexpected burst of common sense from him.

          “…..Since the story broke this week, critics have been demanding AT abandon its exclusive $122,000, six month shuttle trial, and that staff return to catching public buses and trains to suffer like the rest of us. But there is an alternative. AT could instead throw open its obviously superior shuttle services to the hoi polloi and let all of us zap about Auckland more quickly than the private operators can manage. Instead of conducting an expensive in-house trial which is attracting a miserable 40 to 50 staff members a day — about four a trip — AT could install a Hop card reader in the new shuttles and welcome all comers. If demand calls for more minibuses, then why not? The worst that can happen is that existing services will be forced to compete for customers…..”

          Applause……!!

          I don’t think it is me who fails to properly understand the interplay between operating and capital costs. Capital costs in the case of automobility are overwhelmingly paid for by the driver. His own car is the biggie. There is no justification at all in the established economics literature for PT farebox cost recovery to cover half of operating costs and NONE of capital costs. All the justification for PT subsidies involves that farebox cost recovery should cover capital costs and then half operating costs.

          • Sacha

            “staff return to catching public buses and trains” – Rudman misrepresents the shift from self-drive feet cars to the shuttle.

            It boggles me that an organisation with people’s desks no more than 300m from a major transit node at either end would even consider spending money on a private service. Let alone an organisation whose job includes encouraging more people to use public transit.

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        A few more points:

        Overall transport-energy-use tends to be less in denser / PT-oriented / bikeable / walkable cities, partly because the need to use motorised travel is less. This is in stark contrast to “drive-everywhere” cities where local/walkable facilities are notably absent and a longish car-trip is often needed for absolutely everything.

        Vehicle dead-weight-per passenger is definitely higher with rail than car (though comparable in crush-loaded conditions). However you need to look at why rail vehicles are typically so heavy. The answer is the huge requirement for occupant-protection and safety on rail, which is totally unmatched on road. High structural-strength is mandated for passenger rail vehicles to protect against, for example, collision with a heavy freight train. No such requirement exists for buses (and even less-so for cars) to be proofed against colliding with a heavy truck. Why we tolerate these ridiculous double standards which heap costs onto rail yet allow road transport to get away with blue murder in various ways, I do not know.

        Stopping and starting (or rather, continual acclereation- and braking- actions), typifies road-transport much more than rail, at least in the urban context. Even with a perfect network of uncongested clearways, most road journeys still include a significant component of erratic driving. Bus-priority systems help free bus PT from this.
        In both the dead-weight and stop-start-running situations, regenerative braking as employed on the new Auckland rail units recovers a significant portion of otherwise lost energy.

        Occupancy rates of public transport (also roading networks) are notably unbalanced in New Zealand cities due to the extreme “peakiness” of NZ commuting patterns. Many overseas cities manage to boost their off-peak patronage and improve all-day utilisation of public transport far more than we do, largely I think because they try harder, provide better off-peak services, and foster a culture of all-day PT usage..
        As for empty-running of rail units at the start and end of the peaks, yes this is an area of potential waste. Auckland transport certainly make some of these runs available for public use, eg from Britomart to Otahuhu, before units head off into Westfield depot. But stabling capacity in the city (new facilities at The Strand), and at the outer ends (Pukekohe, Papakura, Henderson) all help minimise the amount of empty running needed.

        I notice in Phil Hayward’s recent letter to the DomPost which he mentions, he also disparages rail for its ‘fixed-route’ characteristic, and inability to deliver everyone door-to-door. However this is far less of an impediment than he likes to make out. Many rail users are preperaed to walk 10-15 min to access rail, and this gives a direct catchment radius of 1-1.5Km around each station. Proper bus integration and park-and-ride could extend this further. It is certainly not the case that only those with destinations physically along the rail corridor will use it, which is Phil’s inference. This is attested to by the 15,000 people every weekday who use rail in Wellington, in spite of what Phil claims is such a major barrier to usage.

        • Phil Hayward

          Appreciate the willingness to engage, Dave B.

          “…..Many rail users are prepared to walk 10-15 min to access rail……”

          “Many rail users” is not “most people”. Most people prefer to drive door to door and “chain” trips. It is ironic that THIS preference is the overwhelming majority one (10 to one or more?), and yet it is the one regarded as the least valid for policy guidance.

        • The preference against walking, any distance, beyond the curbside, for your horse and cart, is largely one of habit as well. Combined with somewhat changeable weather conditions, which if dressed up for, are not a problem ( excepting Hurricane Katrina, or the Shark, Katherine, if you are swimming), people drive if humanly possible.

          Having spent 18 years in a London , without a car, and in an environment , where umbrellas are largely practical ( attempt to be helpful : check out the Gustbuster umbrellas), I would think nothing of walking 20 minutes, to transit. A local frien, who could walk 10 minutes, to the Sunnynook busway, could, but doesn’t, it’s not surprising , as it’s just what he’s used to doing, and people, generally, dislike change.

          Increasing off peak usage, is about amenity. I often wonder at the complete lack of people, on the North Shore beaches, if buses, labelled “Beach” , ran, express style, from those places, without beaches, and offered hot drink services, on blustery days, a few more people, may get out and about, and enjoy the view ( and the Japanese Expresso at Campbell’s Bay, which does a great hot chocolate).

  • Beth

    In terms of the council shuttle, It goes from Takapuna, to the Hereford St office (just off K road) to Aotea Square. There is no bus between Takapuna and Hereford, and to catch two buses would mean the journey would take at least an hour, which isn’t very practical for travel during the working day. I think a shuttle is much more practical than everyone using council pool cars.

    • anon

      The pamphlet in the picture says the shuttle goes between Henderson and Downtown – which mirrors the train route exactly. Hederson’s council building is adjoined to the Train station and it goes directly to the downtown. There is no excuse. The Henderson carpark should be 1/2ed and sold as business land. And the remaining cars in the lot should be charged park n ride fees as they are doing to the rest of auckland.. And the staff need to use PT. Full stop. The council cars should only be used for non Public Transport accessible areas. The size of the council car fleet is excessive. Time to tighten up council and put the money into communities and assets not staff running costs and opex.

      • Beth

        I was referring to the council shuttle, not the AT henderson-CBD shuttle. For me to take PT to from Takapuna to Hereford St would take over an hour. Staff based at the Hereford St office are all moving out of there to Bledisloe house or the old ASB building soon, so no point changing the PT network to accommodate the current staff movements. Once the Hereford office is no longer, then it would make a lot more sense to catch PT to meetings in town – however, we would have to pay cash and be reimbursed as Council does not provide any Hop cards for staff, at least that I’m aware of.

        • Council has no travel plan?, nor its staff their own HOP cards…? also that City-Taka service is fast direct and frequent. By far the best way between the two locations. Although certainly more bus priority is needed in the city.

          Having Council and AT use it daily looks like the surest way to get such improvements to actually happen.

          Time for staff to start demanding corporate HOP cards. Good and efficient use of ratepayers’ money, as at the very least it recycles back into the system, and takes cars -and shuttles- off the road.

          You ask for it from within, and the pressure is building from without…..

        • Stu Donovan

          Beth, appreciate the Hereford office is in a difficult location for getting to the Shore. But is it also fair to say the Shuttle is used by many staff getting between Bledisloe to Tapakuna? And that the latter are better placed to use public transport?

          • Beth

            Yes, they do use it to get to Bledisloe and other CBD offices. I personally would be happy to use PT and have used it on occasion when the shuttle timing didn’t suit me. However, it was a hassle having to go and get cash out, pay cash for the bus, and then get reimbursed. if we had HOP cards available to us the option would be more desirable for me anyway.

          • Bryce P

            I’m really struggling with the idea that AT and AC have not provided HOP cards to staff. This is bizarre.

        • anon

          Fair Enough Beth. I only saw the Henderson coach. . I understand your comments now.

    • Nik

      So if there is a demand, how many other offices/employees have the same demand and could that be turned into a product that the whole community/city could use.

      I understand that the current network doesn’t facilitate the exact requirements and that shuttles are definitely better than private/pool cars but as *the* public body running the system, wouldn’t consultation to see if there is other demand for the same service be a better look and provide a more defendable position than the PR meltdown we’re seeing?

  • mfwic

    I can’t see why it is morally superior for people to use public transport. People should use the mode that works best for them, sometimes that is public transport. I am encouraged that AT are trying to find effective ways of moving their staff to where they need to be. Surely that is what travel planning was supposed to be all about. I find it humorous that some people seem to think AT staff should use the bus as some kind of punishment for misdeeds. My experience of the AT staff that get out of the office and go to meetings is that they are the few people in that organisation making a difference and helping Auckland grow. As opposed the the many people who write policies no one pays any heed to, or manuals we will never open, or the management and other dead-wood that the active AT staff members have to carry. Hell these people are worth $200 an hour lets get them taxi chits!

    • Sacha

      “punishment” says more about your attitude than anything else. #pffft

      • mfwic

        So what do you call the idea that they should be compelled to use PT even if it isn’t their best travel option? I call it stupid.

        • Dave B (Wellington)

          Given that the shuttle takes 30-35 min and only runs every 45 minutes, chances are it may sometimes be quicker overall to take the more-frequent train or bus, rather than wait around for the shuttle. The relative advantage of this shuttle does not seem to be great. So is it really worth the money? Sure, if it leads to a reduction in the pool car requirement it could be argued that it is. But if a reduction in the pool car fleet could also be achieved by issuing staff with HOP cards and encouraging them to use public transport then the cost of the shuttle needs to be assessed against this. If this a workable and cost-effective option (i.e. no staff shuttle bus, just use regular PT) then why is it “stupid” to require that staff do this unless they have a strong reason for using a pool-car? This whole episode simply serves to highlight the ignorant and jaundiced attitude that a proportion of New Zealanders have towards public transport.

    • Not sure it has much to do with morals. But if anyone should have an incentive, to get PT working, it’s AT.

      Using shuttles, is the equivalent, of Coca Cola marketing, drinking Pepsi, or Apple Staff, using Microsoft/ Android / something that doesn’t begin with “i”.

      Shuttles for all, or shuttles for none.

  • mfwic

    Perhaps the real answer is to reduce the need for travel in the first place. Maybe if they had just enough AT staff and Council staff in Henderson to look after the west and just enough in town to look after that area, likewise for the North Shore, maybe two offices in south Auckland and a couple to look after the rural areas and maybe even give the Councillors authority for their own patch. Oh wait we tried that and it worked well so we had to get rid of it!

    • No no no, haven’t you heard? dispersal is best, agglomeration brings no benefits, we could be Houston; just build more motorways [28 laners are beautiful!] we will strike oil, and our days will be filled by gloriously driving from home to work, to the other work, to some more further away work in an even more dispersed place -> Happiness!

  • Greg N

    Heat Warburton (AT CEO) on radio NZ this AM talking about how they didn’t consider the public perception of this at all, on the basis that its a cost saving exercise so who cares right?

    Well – short term projects like this are good, the comms is totally lacking though – Warburton doesn’t “get it” at all.

    AT should have said something like (at the start):

    “AT are trying to reduce our reliance on private and AT pool car travel by AT personnel as a time and cost saving measure and are embarking on a trial of 2 dedicated bi-directional shuttles between Henderson and Downtown centres. Each shuttle will be making up to 11 trips a day for AT staff during the 6 month trial. At the end of that time we will evaluate the outcome. Early results indicate cost savings are being achieved.”

    Given AT seemingly is now drinking the Kool-Aid from the Nike “just do it” brigade, I expect a lot more ad-hoc transport projects to be done on the same basis – do it for 6 months AND keep everyone informed and then evaluate and communicate the results of the trial.

    My comment on the shuttle trial, is that as its a 6 month trial, the reduction in the number of pool cars won’t be achieved – only the usage of them, as AT can’t eliminate pool cars (yet) as the trial may not succeed or continue.
    So the cost savings they project will not be as great as they should be. Having pool cars sitting around unused is quite expensive, so the true cost savings can only exist when the numbers of pool cars is reduced (and if some of these are on fixed leases, then they may not be able to hand them back as easily as they assume.)

    I also still think that if the express shuttle is quicker (and there are big doubts on that too) then they should allow non-AT (i.e. paying) passengers on as well with a proper bus service.

    However, as Radio NZ reports, the supposed time competitiveness AT says the shuttle has, may not in fact be there due to (as expected) peak time congestion on the roads.

    • Harvey Specter

      The issue was they weren’t controlling the message so it quickly got the ‘spin’ that it got on this thread – and rightly so.

      I still don’t think your answer is good. They should have said trialing it and if decide to go ahead, will open up the express shuttle to the public. The exclusive nature is the issue as it means they have accepted defeat on PT, though they still want the plebs to use it.

      Should there be express services between major town centres? I dont know what else is in Henderson but I am sure there are many businesses in Takapuna which could utilise an express shuttle into the CBD – IRD springs to mind..

      Re pool cars, you are probably right though they may have timed it to coincide with the return of some lease vehicles, though I doubt it.

      • Harvey bus are ‘express’ between Takapuna and CBD: no intermediate stops and a fair bit of lane privilege. The only difference is having to share a vehicle with the public. Something that IRD (who get to stick their hands in the publics’ pocket ought to have to do, and Council, and AT… ffs!)

  • Ari

    PR meltdown LOL. Not really. Most people don’t care.

    • Greg N

      Really?
      I beg to differ, in this situation (as in politics) Perception *IS* the reality and also explaining is losing to battle.

      I think this is about as bad a PR problem as the Greenpeace guy who flies from his home in Europe to the UK several times a month – something Greenpeace campaigns against in the UK and Europe.

      Yes it might be “cost effective” o nthe surface, but it sends the wrong message to the ground troops (and in Greenpeace’s case, their supporters who hand over money every month to fund their activities).

      And there are a lot of things that CEOs of big corporates and politicians do that are more to do with managing the perception not the reality.

      Warburton is in the same league, and he should start acting like he is more politically astute that he appears to be – based on his dismissive comments about the hoi polloi when interviewed on Radio NZ today.

      • Ari

        PT isnt set up for inter-peak transport and it would be an enormous waste of money to try any time soon. Most people use PT in the peaks and it does well in the peaks, but outside of that you cant run a business relying on PT. It is totally stupid to expect people employed by the public to waste their time on public transport.

        The only people that read this blog are those interested in these issues. This is a tiny, tiny, tiny minority. Maybe 5% of Auckland at the very best. The vast majority of those readers don’t care enough about this issue to comment. We have 20 people here complaining how terrible it is and a few like myself who suggest it is a non issue that is probaby already forgotten about. Whales and dolphins arent being killed, beaches arent being covered in oil, some foreign rich old dude isnt getting richer and my view isnt being blocked. Thus the vast majority of Aucklanders just don’t care.

        NZH posted an article with a poll of 9000 people. I think 90% thought it was a waste of money. Thats alot of people. Of course angry people tend to vote more than the people that dont care. And given that it is a poll open to everyone, the other thousands of readers that didnt vote obviously thought it was fine and didnt bother to vote. The article talks about special shuttles and has a silly picture of Len to get people riled up.

        Thus, this will be forgotten about and AT will continue on regardless. NOW, if AT had a special shuttle to pick staff up to/from home in the peaks that is a totally different thing. That would be a PR meltdown.

        • Greg N

          Totally disagree.

          “The only people that read this blog are those interested in these issues”

          True, but this is officially, but the metrics that count, the 3rd most popular blog in NZ, so PT matters do matter to lot more than any number 9,000 Granny Herald on-line poll voters you call “significant”.

          ATB has hundreds of thousands of readers a month. Way more people read the blog than ever post, just because this doesn’t have 10,000 screaming idiots posting drivel on Whale oil doesn’t mean its not relevant.

          “PT isnt set up for inter-peak transport and it would be an enormous waste of money to try any time soon. Most people use PT in the peaks and it does well in the peaks”

          The fact is that catering for the peaks (both PT and non-PT) is what makes PT so expensive and also so damn useless most of the time – you have to scale everything, buses/trains roads and motorways etc to cater for 2 hours in the AM and in the PM to move everyone around. You need thousands of buses and expensive trains to cope.
          You then have to stand down bus/train and whatever else drivers between the peaks (unpaid) so that they can drive in the peaks.

          Doing all that is expensive, really expensive, better to have options that don’t require everyone to move around in single occupancy vehicles running on rubber tyres on tar sealed roads all at the same time.
          7am to 11pm frequent and reliable is whats needed here so people can chose when to travel and not all have to cram on to those peak 2 hour windows – the only time when the buses are running any decent schedule.

          Remember – even if you don’t use those non-car travel options, **your** journeys via any mode *are* improved by the million of those who chose to use them.

          And the new network AT is rolling out, and will require inter-peak frequencies to be better than peak frequencies are now.
          CFN shows that by using the $ and assets you have now in a better way, you can deliver way better outcomes for the same $

          If AT opened up their shuttle bus to the paying public, there would be no objection from me with trialling a express bus. I’m sure it would be a success – not because AT staff will make it so, but because it will be used by both AT staff and the public.

          “you cant run a business relying on PT”

          May be true now, where driving everywhere is an option for the huge majority, in a few years time that won’t be such an option due to congestion, where will you and your fellow business people be without those minions (oops) employees able to get to work places, or able to visit customers, (or deliver goods to those customers) during the day – due to all day every day traffic congestion. Thats the realistic – not-so-distant future we all face.

          “I think 90% thought it was a waste of money.. The article talks about special shuttles”

          Totally agree it is a waste of money, and they are special shuttles, reserved for AT only, yet uses bus lanes, bus stops and other on-street PT resources, better allocated to the “Public’s” use (i.e. the P in PT) than a bunch of private taxi buses/shuttles. AT wouldn’t let a taxi firm or bus operator use its bus stops for non-revenue or non-public scheduled PT services – so why should they be able to – just because they’re AT they get to change the rules?

          Be good if AT pulled rank like that on other projects around the city, but they don’t, instead they kowtow to any old pressure group to not remove parking for bus priority or any old shopkeeper who think cars buy goods from their shops, when they know its people who not cars so won’t allow parking changes outside their shop.

        • A large part, of the hugely difficult job, of getting PT working in this city, is the design of it.

          This is to stay, the because people need to navigate, from all points on the compass, unless there are uncongested PT corridors, a car will always win.

          Maybe, we need to cut our losses, and leave whole city, effective , timely PT, for later, and say “Accept Density ( in areas where high speed PT is cost practical ) – Get Fantastic PT, by any means necessary”.

          Reject density, you’ll have PT, but, (and honesty is generally a good policy, with unpleasant news ), it won’t ever be great, until density and/or city design ( which is to say, uncongested PT transit corridors), reach you. Until then, car is king for you, but at the same time, don’t expect unlimited road building to help with that, accept density, instead.

          Carrot and stick. Low hanging fruit, that doesn’t bankrupt Auckland.

          • As I tend to meander. I’ll try and rephrase that in the form of Q+A

            1. How many people do we need, to live between Takapuna, and Devonport, to start building a train, immediately. Get Required Density = Receive Train

            2. If we ran point to point, non stop shuttles from dense development, to dense development ( on all points of the greater Auckland compass ), and high frequency shuttles, from dense development, to local places of work, and it was “free” as part of your rates for living in “a dense development”, that would be competitive with the car. Any reasons why wouldn’t that work?

            3. Everything we do, must be geared, to the customer, which is to say, self-interest. It is just a case, of the right carrot. Pretty soon, people down the road , will want their train and shuttle too, and will either move to the dense development, or club together with their neighbours, and build one if their own ( subject to guidance from the people who plan transit, shuttles, and trains). We wouldn’t build dense housing, where PT was horrible, would we?

  • Mike

    And I’ve just noticed that staff have to book and then print their email,receipt, so every trip requires at least four manual actions – booking, receiving confirmation (that may be automatic), printing confirmation, showing confirmation to driver, driver checking booking – compared to zero for HOP. I hope those costs are being included.

    And it’s another example of “do what I say, not what I do” that AT doesn’t use HOP cards, when organisations in Wellington happily use Snapper cards for staff business travel. What a strange organisation AT is!

  • Owen Thompson

    Are the shuttle drivers on wages? Employed by AT or another company? If not AT, was the whole farce put out to tender?

    I have not heard answers to these basic questions.

  • […] Zealand, Auckland Transport’s Staff Shuttle connects between offices, rather than having staff use public transport, which is a bit slower. The […]

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