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Auckland Anniversary PT Fail

I’ve had two pieces of feedback following PT for Auckland Anniversery events on over weekend. The first is from reader Jeff

My friend started out with “Meet me at mine, Mt Eden, it should be a $15 Uber from here”

To which I said “I was thinking of Biking to the Train station, leaving the bikes there then catching the train in, It feels silly to not use PT into the CBD”

And such was my argument to my friend Matt who kindly cycled to my place from Mt Eden, to catch the train into Britomart for Laneway Festival at 2pm on a Monday.

And it was a good experience, a short ride downhill followed by a “Feels longer than it should” train trip into the city. In no time at all we were in the usual gridlock of Te Whero Bridge. (of course Matt would have been here half an hour ago if he took an Uber)

Laneway PT experience

After the festival, come 10pm, we were done, ready to board a train at Britomart, destined for Onehunga to start the cycle home. Upon entering Britomart, it was desolate. The train signs on the board read Penrose, Newmarket & Waitakere. No Onehunga, and the last train on the board was a half hour away.

We were tired, grumpy, and had work the next day. as two slightly out of our comfort zone 30 year olds, professional jobs beckoned in the morning and enough was enough – Cue Uber. Surge pricing, equally long waits – One wonders if this could have been mitigated if trains were operating at a festival appropriate frequency.

We found a cab, and I uttered the most absurd phrase I have ever uttered. “can you take us from here to Onehunga Train station please?”

Laneway PT experience 2

Sometime later we were back in Onehunga, we grabbed the bikes, and commenced the ride uphill to our respective homes. (along the new & lovely Onehunga Mall cycle lanes)

There is no way I’ll ever talk my friend into trusting the trains again.

My questions to AT are;

  • Was there a PT plan for this festival?
  • Do you have a planning team responsible for PT during events?
  • Was there a train coming? if not, why wasn’t it on the board? There was no way to check, and ‘waiting to see’ was unacceptable.
  • Is this the experience a casual train user should be confronted with?
  • How can you expect to compete with Uber or generic Taxis on trust, when they often provide a better ‘turn up and go’ service?

I realise this is an anecdotal experience, but if this was my experience, what of the other 10,000+ Laneway, or other Auckland wide event attendees?

And the second is from reader who had a number of observations from Sunday

  • Standard anniversary weekend public transport troubles occurring again, with hopeless Sunday timetables failing to cope with CBD crowds.
  • Saw NEX at 4.30pm leave 10 plus people behind, and Mt Eden bus at same time was jammed.

Missing the bus - Luke

  • Were huge numbers of people in town for fireworks last night, though most had choice of one or 2 services to get home.
  • Same likely tonight with Laneway finishing at 10.30pm, and all trains gone, and only handful of buses.
  • Plus despite official AC programme saying all trains running, there was nothing past Penrose or Sylvia Park.
  • People have learnt to use event PT now, so expect it at major events.
  • ATEED and AT need to get their act together, as leaving new users stranded is a very bad look, and puts people off.
  • Saga will repeat itself again for Lantern festival in a few weeks time.
  • Another good fix would be upping Sunday timetables to meet Saturday frequencies, many 20 or 30 rather than 15 minute frequency

Getting these experience wrong has long term impacts on how people perceive PT. It’s well beyond time that that AT should have learnt this by now, as Luke pointed out, people have learnt to use PT for events now so it’s up to the authorities to respond to that and provide it to an acceptable standard.ev

123 comments to Auckland Anniversary PT Fail

  • Simon

    Rather than planning for events, of which there are more and more, why not treat Sundays and holidays as days people want all day PT. Retail has this cracked. Borrow their staffing rosters.

    • Stu Donovan

      Agree. I believe that philosophy underpins AT’s New Network, which is currently in the process of being rolled out and should result in higher service levels at off-peak hours.

      • Jamie Walton

        Never mind philosophy, what about common sense. I mean, don’t ATEED and AT communicate? They seem to be operating as completely isolated silos (the SuperCity was sold to us as breaking-down the silo-mentality).

        A couple of years ago I went to the Pasifika festival with my elderly Mum. We took the bus. Later in the afternoon there were thousands of people (obviously) on Great North Road at Western Springs waiting for very irregular buses to the city, waiting for hours (as all the very irregular buses were full from those able enough to walk far enough upstream getting on them first). Many people waiting gave up and walked into the city to make their connections home. Never again, we said (and I’m sure many others did also).

        If ATEED want to promote events, and AT want to promote using PT for events, then they should get together to plan and pay for running lots of PT services to and from these events. Isn’t that obvious?

        [I can’t believe people in ATEED and AT are being paid not to do this.]

  • Linz

    You’re absolutely right that this sort of experience “has long term impacts on how people perceive PT”. A colleague still won’t consider the train since a bad experience in 2006 put her off. Even though I tell her the trains are now new and reliable she prefers to trust her instincts based on past experience and the Herald’s horror stories of 2-3 years ago.

  • The experience will be repeated for
    1) Waitangi Weekend which is a long weekend and celebrations on in both the City and Manukau
    2) Armageddon Manukau which is in March I believe

    And Auckland Transport have the cheek to put fares up….

  • I never trust trains over long weekends- especially when there’s a big event on in the CBD. They either don’t run at all- or become buses or have an unusual schedule, or haven’t allowed for the extra crowds. I feel for Jeff.
    I’ve recently used the iOS app a few times while sitting at Wynyard Quarter after cycling into town to check on the next train west from Britomart (should I race over or dawdle/have another cup of tea) and it has NEVER got it right, ignoring the actual next train and identifying the one after it (and yes, I do know how the app works).

  • ray

    I’m not trolling, and I understand that this blog is a positive advocate for public transport in Auckland. I too try to take the bus/train when possible.

    But what was mentioned in this post, is the reason we took a car into the city over the Anniversary weekend.

    • KLK

      Based on the experience above and in the past, I don’t think anyone on this blog would blame you.

      And that’s precisely the point – you, the marginal user (use PT when you can/its feasible) is choosing to drive based on AT’s approach on this.

  • Kitt

    Ferry services were also terrible – I took the Devonport ferry to and from the city and both instances were half an hour late since they ran on a reduced public holiday timetable. Obviously Fullers didn’t consider the huge number of people using the ferry due to the Auckland Anniversary events happening in the city centre and also a cruise ship docked at the wharf.

  • I had similair experience when using trains to and from concert at Mt Smart I had advised a friend from oput of town to get a motel in Onehunga and get the train to Penrose for concert… (too easy) after concert I was suprised to see train arive from the direction city and stop at Penrose (on the Onehunga line) then fill up (after we were kept waiting behind barriers for 20 minutes for no good reason) and return directly to city. Anyone who might have caught the train directly from Onehunga was left with a long walk…..

  • One thing that I notice is that there is a reasonable proportion of people who, given a bad experience of PT, take years and years to give it another crack. The number of occasions I’ve had conversations that go Them: “PT in Auckland is crap” Me: “I find it okay, or at least the trains are pretty good now”, Them: “Na, the trains are a joke”, Me: ” When did you last catch a train”, Them: “4 years ago etc….” This is basic stuff that AT seems to drop the ball on…given that it is 2016, its a bit of a joke really.

  • Alan J

    Ferry services are crap in general right now. Fullers running too many extra charter and tourist boats to places like Rangitoto leaving gaps in the scheduled services. 20 min delays aren’t uncommon right now.

  • “Standard anniversary weekend public transport troubles occurring again, with hopeless Sunday timetables failing to cope with CBD crowds”

    Yes – this. Lovely weather yesterday so I cycled down to Devonport mid-afternoon. Catch the usual ferry into town where I have been enjoying pedaling the new cyclelanes (though they still are not quite connected up right – I had to help tourists find where to go next). Anyway…

    The ferry terminals were chaotic. Lots of passengers from the cruise liner were doing a day trip to Devonport and Fullers were not coping. No Kea to be seen, the smaller cat I went on, I was apparently 147th of 150 allowed onboard that sailing (which was about 20 minutes late). Could hear group of young guys being left behind, getting very loud with security guards as they had already been waiting in line (getting baked in the heat) for sometime. Plenty of tourists getting confused trying to scan the paper tickets through Hop card reader/gates. On the way back, I missed out first ferry I tried to board, but Fullers had another ferry running a few minutes behind the scheduled times. Not that there was working information boards or any decent communication to tell people what was happening. Bring on Skypath. Please.

    On an another earlier concert experience I wrote the comments below. Thought I might also copy and paste, as seems relevant (though minus my screenshots):

    The Fleetwood Mac concerts were a great chance to showcase the electric trains and the ability for public transport to move large numbers of people quickly.
    It worked very well; positives include plenty of notification ahead of time, masses of electronic signs around the venue (Mt Smart) pointing people to/from trains and buses. Free transport simply by waving concert tickets, was a huge selling point for us. Sing along to songs on the train after the concert was a bonus.

    But… we got caught by AT largely non-existent late night services which had not been changed for the concert. After misreading the Fullers timetable*, we left the car in Devonport and took the ferry and train to the Sunday concert. Got off the train about 10:30pm on Sunday, found we had missed the last ferry. Checking on my phone, the AT website was showing 7h 20 minutes to take PT to Devonport (i.e. wait until 5.30am on Monday morning). L Uber was running high rates, so we ended up just grabbing a standard taxi for a (reasonable) $60 taxi fare.

    Yes, we should have planned better, but there were train loads of people being offloaded at Britomart, people wandering around downtown and close to no available PT even at 11pm. Still some improvements to be made if using PT is the simple, easy option.

    One of the advantages of living in a big city, is that even in the wee hours of the morning, at least downtown there is activity happening. OK, so Auckland really is not a city like New York that ‘never sleeps’, but I do believe AT seems to be working on the assumption that we should all be tucked up in bed before mid-night.

    *PDF of the timetable showed Weekdays, Saturday.. and Sunday/Public Holidays was off screen

    • Early Commuter

      AT also seems to believe nobody starts work before 6am, if you look at their bus timetables

        • Yeah not many start before 6, though many do start or finish between 10PM-12AM where there is a complete lack of train services most days. 5am-12am should be the minimum target for trains and most buses, weekends are no exception, many people work on the weekends these days. Popular routes should have hourly Fri-Sat services 1am-3am also for nightlight, which for buses they do, but trains lack this also.

          I was expecting better operating times in the timetable upon launch of the EMU’s, as they are quiet and don’t disturb residents as much and they should have much lower opex. But instead all I have seen so far is them cut the last service to Swanson on Sunday to terminate in Henderson.

  • JBM

    It really angers me that AT treat public holidays with such disdain. Last year, I was also coming home from Auckland Anniversary events at Queens wharf. At Britomart, there was this huge queue of obviously first-time train users to try and get tickets on their very cumbersome ticket machines. In the end, with the trains about to depart, a staffer simply yelled out for everyone to forget about the tickets and just get on the trains. What followed was a mad dash by hundreds of people down the stairs and escalators to the trains below. A lady in front of me was a first time train user and she vowed never to use the trains again. I am so happy that public transport in our city has come along in leaps and bounds over the past decade, but the experiences on event days is just a disaster. Public holidays should be treated as days when AT needs to put their best foot forward because those are the days that new users are most likely to use public transport.

    • I wish we could have the number of ticket machines that they do in London at somewhere like Paddington or any of the major London stations. There’s nothing more depressing than getting to Britomart and seeing a gigantic queue for only two machines. Although this was when I was new to Auckland and now that I have discovered the joy of auto-top-up, it happens a lot less often (for me at least!).

  • Dan

    It’s failures like this that put people off PT for good. If you can’t trust a system, you’ll be less likely to use it.

  • Bruce

    With the way things are in Auckland now there is absolutely no reason why Sunday services should be any less than Saturday services (with the possible exception of some late night services – since people tend to have a night in town on a Saturday, not so much on a Sunday – but on a long weekend perhaps they are still needed, or in any case most international cities have proper night bus services running all night.
    Night buses in Auckland should be along the following routes: AKL-Silverdale (via NEX), AKL-Glenfield (via Birkenhead), AKL-Westgate (via Grey Lynn, Avondale, Henderson – and then probably across upper harbour to Constellation), AKL-Onehunga (via Dominion Road and Three Kings), AKL-Papakura (via Greenlane, Gt South Road), AKL-Botany (via Newmarket, Remuera, Glen Innes, Pakuranga – and then probably another service from Botany through Manukau to the Airport). All of these services should be hourly from 9pm-6am (or more regular) 7 days a week. This network would result in probably 90% of Aucklanders living within 3km of a night bus route.
    Wouldn’t cost much to operate and only real consideration would be to have a properly secure drivers workstation and extensive CCTV onboard with security/police on a rapid response basis to make it a safe operation.

    • Stu Donovan

      Night buses should just be normal services that operate later into the morning. I’ve never liked the concept of night buses – they tend to be poorly used, expensive, and confusing for newbie and people who are drunk/tired.

      Just use the money to run normal PT services later …

  • Ari

    I took the car into the city on the weekend. Took me 30min driving in and cost me $20 to park close to the waterfront for several hours. There is little point using PT on public holidays unless you are doing it for the pleasure of using PT.

    • Andrew C

      We took the car into town on Sunday for the festivities – we parked at Downtown car park. Easy enough getting in, but when it came time to leave after dinner we had to queue at the ticket machines for AN HOUR along with many hundreds of others just to pay for our parking. AT had no extra staff on and a number of ticket machines were out of order. The problem was compounded by the Fat Freddy’s Drop concert on Waiheke. Next time I will DEFINITELY take the train. We didn’t get home until nearly 11pm and were exhausted after what had up until then been a lovely day.

  • Bryan

    We took the train from Swanson to attend SeePort on Sunday, double EMUs both ways (normally single EMUs on Sundays). Good crowd on both trips (maybe 3/4 full on the 10:30am), despite reasonable numbers using Kingsland for the cricket.

  • mfwic

    So the if I understand this- they used public transport and: 1/ it didnt leave from where they were; 2/ it took longer that you might think it would; 3/ it didn’t take them to where they wanted to go; and 4/ it didn’t go at a time they wanted to travel. Gosh a publicly run service that isn’t very good- not sure there is a headline in that.

  • BJM

    And…… why wasn’t there a temporary road closure to get the some 6000 people (post fireworks) across Quay St without dealing with angry impatient motorists. POAL advise that AT and the Police didn’t want to close the road.

  • What *is* AT’s procedure for planning for major events? They certainly don’t come as a surprise to the council, the bigger ones tend to need resource consent. But time and time again, AT doesn’t have the capacity to deal with the crowds. Is it a failure to plan? Or is there some insurmountable obstacle to running buses and trains later and/or more frequently to cope?

  • The one time in the last 6 months I took a train was from Mt Eden to Kingsland in December. Only one stop I know, however no way was I walking in the blistering heat. It wasn’t a great trip.

    For the outward journey, I looked up the timetable, and got to the station two minutes before the time. I was annoyed to see the train just pulling away as I got there, two minutes early. So I sat around and waited 30 minutes for the next train. While I was waiting, I looked at the timetable, and saw the small print – “train times are estimates only except for Britomart and Newmarket”. Ok fair enough, I’ll give you that one AT, although I don’t know how I can plan my journey if the train times are estimates (it must be worse in the outer suburbs).

    For the return journey, I wanted to catch the last train. I looked up the timetable to see when it was, and got to Kingsland station five minutes before, in case it left early again. The departure board said “Due: 27”. I thought to myself “grr, it must be delayed, no way am I waiting that long a second time”, so I called an Uber. I waited 3 or so minutes for the Uber, and just as we were driving off, the train arrived almost right on schedule.

    I was a bit annoyed that the departure board was not accurate. If I was travelling further than a kilometre or two, I would have been extremely annoyed at the uber cost, but one station was not so bad. Like you though, I felt stupid taking an Uber from one station to another station. And it really puts me off using the trains again when you can’t trust the departure information. I know there is a “Real Time Board” function on the AT website, but half the time it doesn’t work (Service Unavailable).

  • This is humiliating AT. Has to change urgently.

  • xkr

    Some thoughts for those who are pretty sure they have all the answers: Railways are maintenance intensive and this work MUST be done. Bad things happen when it’s not done. When do you propose it be done if not on holiday weekends, when regardless of your personal needs, demand is least? For those who insist that there must be other times maintenance could be done, you’re right, and it is. Pretty much every night of the week the power is shut off and maintenance work is undertaken somewhere on the network. Whether it suits you or not, nights and holidays are the best times for this. When you see trains stopping at Penrose or Sylvia Park, maintenance (or tragedy) is almost always the reason. Why do they not run higher weekend frequencies? Because PT staff are entitled to days off, too. Even the ones like bus/train drivers who don’t get penal rates. I’ve read here before that some PT advocates believe PT staff should be FORCED to work these days and that leave should be revoked. I didn’t realise that so many ACT members cared so much for the welfare of off-peak PT users! “Surely there are enough drivers and train managers to cover weekends and holidays?”, they cry. Well, apparently it takes on average 250 applicants to get just five who are capable of making it through selection and training. Now, I realise there are a lot of people around who are sick of this PC, nanny state, safety first nonsense, but myself, I prefer it when there aren’t too many deaths and maimings resulting from dumbing down the staff selections. Undoubtedly the numbers of available staff are growing, but it’s obviously not going to change overnight and nor are the timetables going to be immediately altered to account for every new bus or driver as they are handed their fresh uniform. I see lots of acknowledgement that things are so much better than they used to be, but is it not obvious that PT in Auckland is a work in progress? An competitively underfunded, capacity stretching work in progress, at that. If I see anyone at the halfway mark during Round the Bays chastising the participants for not having finished yet, I’ll give you a wave.

    • JBM

      It really is a rubbish excuse to be honest. In Perth, especially on special event days, the trains run at a frequency which makes Auckland a laughing stock. There are other ways railway staff can have days off. For example, work 5 days on, 2 days off rotation and work it in such a way that there are full staff rosters on every single day of the week. There should simply be a rolling schedule of maintenance done round the clock. Not wait for the holidays to do them on. Whether you like it or not, you are a PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICE. You are there to serve the public. You guys should be running fully staffed on public holidays and extra staff rostered on for special events. It really is basic. The Police and Emergency Services don’t take days off on public holidays to relax and clean their vehicles. You guys are also an essential service to the city. You guys won’t have any jobs left to go to if public patronage drops off as a result of their shitty experiences with the trains.

      • Early Commuter

        I can guarantee, JBM, that police staffing on public holidays is much lower than on other days.

      • xkr

        In Perth where they have a 20+ year headstart on Auckland for a proper electric commuter train network, you mean? Do you really think Auckland’s PT system has peaked at this service level after one year? Or that there isn’t a widely varying, rotating roster that squeezes every useable minute out of the available staff? Tripling the number of services in a decade is easy on paper, but rustling up the money and people to do it takes a bit longer. Round the clock maintenance? Well, other than that there pretty much already is, how much work do you think they’ll get done in a place like Quay Park junction where a train passes every 60 seconds during much of the day?

        • Git

          Given your defensiveness, I’m guessing you work for AT.

          • xkr

            My defensiveness is a function of the inevitable barking up the wrong tree, or should that be playing broken records up the wrong tree that fuels the comments section. It seems that answers to the mysteries are not wanted unless they support the prejudice.

    • chriswerry

      Grown up cities like Melbourne seem to be able to manage it somehow http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-08/increase-in-weekend-24-hour-public-transport-commuters-melbourne/7076254 Why is Auckland so different?

    • adam w

      If you are in a role where there is a demand for your services you should expect to work then. Waiters nurses police tourist attractions etc. This is 2016 not the 1950s.just make sure AT pays appropriately and gives a day off in key.

    • George D

      That’s not a reason, that’s an excuse.

      Other cities run reasonable weekend frequencies.

      • Tony

        Have you seen how much a driver is paid in Melbourne or Perth? How well are they paid hrre?

      • xkr

        Other cities are decades ahead of Auckland in the maturity of their PT networks. See you at Round the Bays.

        • Exactly; so we are urging improvement. You seem to be saying, ‘yes it’s shit, but don’t expect any better’. Of course there are constraints, but incompetence in planning PT for known events is not acceptable at this stage in AKL’s PT rebirth.

          • xkr

            Urge away! The call for improvement from respected organs such as TB is vital to progress. I am neither saying (1) “it’s shit”, nor am I saying (2) not to expect any better. I am trying to offer insights into why things are like they are *right now* – and to challenge suggestions that being two years into a five year program of development constitutes a failure that warrants immediate issuing of pitchforks and flaming torches. To reiterate in different terms, I am saying that (1) they generally do chuck everything they can at special events without compromising core service requirements and that (2) the capacity to do this is being pushed upwards at an unprecedented rate – just not fast enough to satisfy everyone right now. As we know, when just over half the costs come from subsidy and bums on seats get you CRL funding, high load events are not an opportunity that is lightly passed up.

    • JeffT

      I would propose the maintenance work is not done at times of major public events.

  • kelvin

    There is a newspaper column in nz hearld, A16, from jeff berge complaining similar issue, but on saturday.

  • Grant

    Took family via bus & train (for the fun of it mainly) on the Saturday. Normally would park car at Penrose train station on these weekend outings as roads quite around there and parking space easy, but this time took the (really infrequent hourly on the weekends) local bus and transfered at Ellerslie. Way in OK as we timed it right (takes a bit of effort though), but way home bus was quite late (got to Ellerllie off the train and bus was just leaving pretty much same place, lol could of bused the whole way instead). Was late really, and so also missed the 50c transfer discount.

    Would be good if they did the rail maintenance on normal weekends rather the special holiday & event ones. We are lucky in that train often terminates at Penrose or Sylvia Park when they are going this.

  • I was away in the weekend, but understand Wynyard was so chocka they started the fireworks at 9:20 instead of 10 pm as planned, to discourage more people from arriving and increasing the safety risk? Good risk management there, but shows just how popular these events are becoming, as if the shots of packed and delayed buses and trains don’t provide enough evidence. If Auckland is going to have big public events, and it should, then AT really need to improve the public transport offering for them.

  • Grant

    I noted on the weekend it seems that if a service is running late your iOS app won’t know about it and only works of the schedule. I usually use Google Maps rather than the AT Public Transport app but this seemed to work to the schedule also. Note that the AT Track My Bus app is great (though would be good if have estimated time rather than just how many stops away).

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    This is so disappointing, frustrating, and typical of NZ (and English-speaking-world in general) public transport, where the commitment to providing a reliable PT alternative to the car is just not there, particularly outside of business-hours.

    Although responsibility for the lack-of-planning described above rests with AT, the ground-rules for provision of urban public transport are set by government, and these are the real problem. My understanding is that:-

    – principal role of urban public transport is officially to reduce peak-hour road congestion, all other roles are considered secondary.

    – contracts for operating PT are focussed on providing the basic peak-hour timetable (with penalties for late-running), but no imperative to ensure that users actually get to their destinations within acceptable times.

    – the principal ‘customer’ who operators must satisfy is the controlling authority (AT), not the passengers

    – off-peak services not considered a high-priority and can be altered or (for trains) bus-replaced with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude to users.

    – the rail network in particular is not funded to guarantee continuance of off-peak/weekend/holiday services through major maintenance. Programmed shutdowns are seen as acceptable.

    – major-event planning seems to be an optional extra for AT. However, in my experience this tends to be done better down in Wellington,

    All-in-all, not good enough if the aim is to attract discretional people to the service and retain them as regular customers.

  • nonsense

    don’t worry, higher fares will get rid of those people waiting.

  • I’m sorry to hear of everyone’s experience. I have asked AT for comment, and additionally said “I just thought now that perhaps AT need to explicitly publicise on the Transport Blog website and elsewhere what PT measures will be in place for selected weekends, such as Anniversary, and Waitangi Day so that people are reassured that their expectations are met regarding use of PT during these times.

    The issue of AT failing to adequately respond or cater to holiday crowds stems from the debacle at Rugby World Cup, and it’s fair to say that it appears that no-one in AT has taken on responsibility for this issue ever since i.e. working to make sure there is adequate PT capacity for holiday weekends.”

    I don’t think it’s particularly hard issue to tackle – we know which events / weekends will generate PT demand, and accordingly schedule services for those times e.g. Anniversary weekend, Pacifica. I have commented to AT in past that having worked to get people to use PT to get to and from work (reflected in increasing PT use on rail and bus) Monday to Friday, it’s fair to expect that people will continue to use PT for some of their weekend activity, and for holiday weekend activity.

    • Big SDW

      Are there any specific event management roles at AT? I know its an order of magnitude bigger but TfL have officers from different modes (bus, underground, DLR, taxis, highways, etc) who simply focus on managing transport impacts for one-off (e.g. concerts) or ongoing events (e.g. premier league). Surely with the steady stream of annual events in Auckland like Laneway, Eden Park/ Mt Smart matches, Alexandra Park exhibitions etc there should be sufficient scope to keep some people occupied ensuring the transport impacts can be appropriately managed.

  • Duncan Laidlaw

    We went over on Sunday morning for Akl. Int, Buskers Festival followed by concert & fireworks. Wanted bikes with us to cover distance through the day and carry seats and stuff for concert. Last boat back to Birkenhead was 8:10pm so too early for concert. No Skypath either. That left parking downtown for the day (which was also cheaper than two return trips on the ferry with Hop).

    Returned to car parking building with the masses after the concert and the few ticket machines struggled to keep up with demand since you can no longer prepay your weekend parking (not that I could see anyway.

    The events in the city and the experience of the city is excellent.

    The types of food and drinks on offer were unbelievable – gone are the days of hot chips and hotdogs on sticks being the only options.

    If you haven’t been to the buskers festival plan it in for next year.

    If only it were possible to get downtown and home again without the need to drive and park and all the hassle that goes with.

  • AnalogKid

    We (family of 3) had a fairly painless experience taking the bus in from Beach Haven (apart from the lack of air con or ventilation), and the bus home was punctual if full. We left the city before the services started to tail of in the evening though, so 30 minute frequency applied and we didn’t have to plan too hard to wander over to Victoria park to catch our ride home.

    However, many times (yesterday being one of them) that we could reliably use the Birkenhead ferry on a weekend (or holiday) but the woeful weekend service makes this a non-starter.

  • Matthew W

    Given the lack of congestion relief benefits on weekends and public holidays, the economic case for subsidising public transport services is much diminished.

    • AnalogKid

      With proper weekend PT coverage and less cars in the city maybe we can start to get rid of rate-payer subsidised on-street parking spaces and allow more room for segregated cycle lanes and dedicated bus lanes. But this last weekend was more about special events coverage, when often congestion is a major issue.

      • Matthew W

        “With proper weekend PT coverage and less cars in the city maybe we can start to get rid of rate-payer subsidised on-street parking spaces and allow more room for segregated cycle lanes and dedicated bus lanes.”

        That is a complete non-sequitur. There is nothing stopping them ending subsidies etc now.

        As for special event congestion, the time savings associated with this are not nearly as economically significant as for ordinary traffic with its mix of commercial, high value users.

        • KLK

          In an economics text book, no. Nothing stopping them.

          In the real world where shopkeepers cry Armageddon at the taking of a single carpark or “blatant revenue raising” through market pricing of car parks… Good luck to you. Not that either should be a reason not to.

    • Stu Donovan

      your comment is extremely foolish.

      Congestion on weekends is often just as bad, if not worse, than weekday commuter peaks. Weekend traffic flows are extremely high and dispersed, which our radial based road and PT networks struggle with.

      Weekend travel demands are especially high during summer when there’s lots of events on.

  • David T

    Was there a reason why they didn’t use the NEX double deckers on the late evening services? It would have helped a lot.

  • Jon Reeves / PTUA

    I have written to AT today on behalf of the Public Transport Users Association requesting they stop breaching the Fair Trading Act for passengers using HOP Cards being charged higher than normal train fares when being forced to use a Railbus partially for a journey. This happened to some friends and I on Saturday evening where the combined Railbus+train (as all trains South ended at Penrose) cost $5.11 to Middlemore instead of the advertised price of $4.80 each way.

    The PTUA had heard rumours about this scenairo happening in the past. Perhaps AT now owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit to over charging HOP users over the past few years?

    • In my mind, if anything rail-buses should be cheaper, they are considerably slower (especially when the driver doesn’t know the route… had that a few times…) and they are less comfortable and you cant take big luggage or bike etc.

  • Robin

    We seem to have extra Public Transport capacity pretty much worked out here in Wellington for special events.

    Take stadium events for example: extra trains are usually advertised in advance with posters on trains themselves, or at train stations.
    Quite often their are also special stadium event train tickets further promoting the event and tying it in with public transport.

    At the end of a stadium event, extra trains are already waiting at Wellington Station to take passengers to outer regional areas, or their are buses waiting outside the stadium entrance for passengers to go to Wellington suburbs, which negates the need to walk all the way to the Lambton Interchange to catch a bus.

    I suppose the other thing is that all of the above consistently happens all of the time. Wellington people don’t give it a second thought because it always just happens!! I think consistency is the key regarding PT for special events. If it consistently happens, then passengers will trust it. Much of this extra capacity seems like common sense, and AT really need to up their game on this, otherwise people leave with bad experiences about PT, and they WILL spread this experience to others!

  • Grant

    Yes agree and a key fact is whether the Onehunga one was planned to be run or not, normally it is this late on a weekend and holiday (I just checked and looks like it was timetabled on the special timetable). https://at.govt.nz/media/1574764/black-caps-jan-31-sl-2016.pdf

  • Grant

    ..actually just re read timetable, highlight in yellow for later services were Sat night only. Shows how unlegible the timetable can be!

  • Grant

    …also the text of this page https://at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/service-announcements/future-works-on-the-auckland-rail-network/ didn’t specifically mention the Onehunga line but included it in the Southern line link..aghhh.

  • Jeremy

    I drove to Half Moon Bay and caught the ferry to the city for Laneway. (I knew there wouldn’t be a return ferry service so planned on getting a bus back). Came to the end of the festival and realised there were no buses in that direction either at that time. Eventually got back to my car at the ferry and I had a $40 ticket from AT for “Parking in a restricted area”. I found the signs saying restrictions apply on weekends and public holidays after this happened but couldn’t work out what the restriction was? Couldnt find an info sign posted and the ticket doesn’t state it either. Anyone know? I took the ferry every day for 5 years to university during the week and parked there without an issue, but I’ve been living in Christchurch for the last year. I guess I’ve never used it on a public holiday before to break the secret rules…

    • jezza

      A lot of the parking at Halfmoon Bay is designated for cars during the week and for vehicles with trailers only (ie. boats) on the weekends. A huge number of boats are launched there during the weekend, even with all that parking I’ve had to park a considerable distance from the marina with my trailer after turning up mid morning.

  • Angus Robertson

    Auckland adheres to the “mass transit in a single direction to a highly urbanised hub at certain times approach” and hence we are spending a few $billion on making this happen with a rail loop. This approach favours the urbanism our planning currently adores. Unfortunately Auckland is anything but a highly urban city and getting to be one is seemingly impossible. We have the mess we are in today – planning restricts suburban expansion to encourage urban growth, but this increases land costs that discourage urban growth.

    An alternative approach is a distributed network that operates pervasively within a city. People can get on anywhere and off anywhere, moving laterally across town through a series of nodal points operating in timed sequence. In suburban cities like Auckland, where employment is dispersed away from the CBD this makes sense. Instead of a rail loop, subsidising ingrained urban property prices, we’d be better investing in a pervasive network that operated over a dispersed time. This would have many positive effects. Suburban expansion would be sustainable making land costs lower and more apartments built. And you could attend a concert on a weekend without this happening, every, single, time.

    http://architectureau.com/articles/the-disruptive-urbanist-a-reflection-on-the-work-of-paul-mees/

    • Angus do you really not understand the importance of the CRL to whole network or are you just pretending for effect?

      • Angus Robertson

        Rail is absolutely necessary to moving large numbers of people quickly and efficiently along linear routes. But if that budget had been diverted to ensuring synchronous travel around our city on a linear and lateral network then we might more easily adjust resources to cope with events, because we’d have more resources to adjust.

        Problems like this can be avoided or daily congestion into the cbd can be improved. It is trade off as to where money is spent. The CRL is the choice of Auckland.

        • Nick R

          Perhaps you should familiarise yourself with ATs New Network, it is exactly linear and lateral as you suggest. Here is a tip, even in a perfectly evenly distributed city, with perfectly even distribution of demands, you will always have a concentration of trips through the central parts of the shape. That’s simple geometry.

          • Angus Robertson

            Oh, that is great news.

            Now that this “New Network” approach is providing public transport that will ensure the suburbs are not car-centric, the objections of the “environmentalist” anti-sprawl nimbys can be overridden. By opening 10x the amount of land we will halve the price. We will speed up the building of apartments and create affordable housing.

        • Gabe

          Due to current land use density patterns and the presence of the harbour, the isthmus is naturally organised radially around the CBD. While in theory a perfect patchwork network is the locally least time-expensive solution, the actual implementation of a transport network has to adapt to the current pattern with a view to shaping the ‘ultimate’ future pattern as well as all patterns in between. This is exactly what the CRL (in tandem with the new bus network) does; land currently allocated as low density (i.e. Avondale etc.) is unlocked by providing accessibility to land where density is currently high and therefore in demand (i.e. the CBD). This enables future iterations of transport projects to move closer to the theoretical ideal you describe.

    • jezza

      I take it you haven’t seen the new network consultation for the isthmus?

  • Jeff T

    Is Lester Levy still at AT? Never seem to hear much of him anymore. I trust he’s looking at these issues?

  • Joseph

    No international city would operate as poorly as this for events, weekends and nights for that matter.

    When I use to work in the CBD I use to find it absurd that there was no bus back home after 7:30pm on any day of the week. It was like AT assumed that noone uses the CDB for entertainment or may go home later.

  • kelvin

    For big events there are tens of thousands of people, train has to run every 3 minutes during that peak. However since britomart is a bottleneck, it is not possible for train to run at that frequency.

    Maybe AT fears they don’t have the capacity for big event. So instead of providing service beyond the capacity, they choose not to provide at all.

    • xkr

      Yes! Someone is catching on. AT doesn’t just fear that they don’t have the capacity for extra hard to predict one-off peaks – they know it. They also know when the staff pool will grow to the size required to support the next boost in demand, and the next one, whether it be a special event, holiday timetable, 10 minute frequencies out West, etc. The staff pool is a limited resource like anything else. Once those drivers, TMs, support staff, etc have done their legal maximum hours, that’s it. No sense using up crew hours at 1am on a Sunday for three drunks and a lost tourist only to run short of staff in the Monday morning peak. There will be plenty of time for stretched operating hours once the core timetable is being delivered at the desired frequency.

        • Bruce

          And in the meantime get rid of the TM. They just aren’t needed and must cost millions in wages. Some of them could be retrained as drivers too. 2 birds, 1 stone.

          • Yeah and who will police the trains from the crazies and help new users? At the moment the TM’s are doing that to a degree.

          • I don’t ever see the TMs policing the trains or helping new users, they’re far more likely to pretend they didn’t see/hear any antisocial behavior. I do see them slowing trains down though e.g. one I had last week delayed the train at every single station to let late runners get one. In the worst case at Henderson the doors had closed and he held the train to let a group of teenagers who weren’t even on the platform yet get on. Some of the group were faster than others so they were strung out over about 20m or more and the TM was in the front set so they had to run about 100m down the platform to get on making it even worse. Overall the train was held up for well more than a minute by this.

          • Well it seems you don’t travel much off-peak on the western line, I always see TM’s kicking off known fare evaders and youths behaving inappropriately. Sure some TM’s are better than others, but there presence helps keep things civilized to a moderate degree, I can just see off-peak/late night trains turning into a playground for these kind of idiots with no TM on-board.

          • jezza

            Couldn’t agree more – someone paid good money to slow the train down as far as I can see.

          • Kalelovil

            I agree that the TMs aren’t a perfect solution, but they’re a lot better than nothing (or most of the Maori Wardens who tend to turn a blind eye). As an off-peak Western Line user I’d have to reconsider my usage of the trains if there was no longer any staff presence.

          • Exactly right Kalelovil, I have already seen it with the 6-car EMU’s, when TM is in the other unit, things can get pretty ugly.

          • xkr

            Wasting my breath, I know, but managing the train to the schedule is part of the train manager’s job. Holding to time at key stations is getting more common as the network runs with fewer delays. The current timetable can cope with occasional waiting for passengers, especially when the train arrives early or when signals show that it’s a choice between being stopped at a platform or crawling up to a stop signal in the middle of nowhere. I bet that most of this anecdata bemoaning the TM’s influence can be discounted by these simple considerations when the full picture is observable.

        • xkr

          Straight out of the “bring on driverless cars” playbook. The current train fleet has a good 28 years in it yet and the network is nowhere near being compatible with driverless operation. If there isn’t sufficient patience for the existing plan of attack to take effect, the wait for a driverless network is sure to be a painful one.

          • The new trains can run driverless with simple upgrades, the plan to run them automatically through the CRL.

          • Mike

            “The new trains can run driverless with simple upgrades; the plan to run them automatically through the CRL” – can you tell us your sources for these pieces of information?

            And beware of words like “simple” in anything to do with trains, because nothing ever is. If it was simple, why are there no driverless trains running on mixed traffic networks like Auckland’s anywhere in the world?

      • Git

        “Three drunks and a lost tourist”: I really hope you don’t work for AT

  • Harriet

    I knew this would cause issues, usually they have on the rt boards that services will not be running next weekend, however they forwent this due to the lift closure at Papakura which affects people with mobility access. However their were a few signs plus you are advised to check timetable so contributory negligence 🙂

  • Sanctuary

    I live in a Spanish town of 60,000 people 40km from a city of 600,000 people. The rail network alone offers 42 trains to the city on a Sunday, with the first train at 5.10am and the last at 11.23pm. Enough said.

  • SteveW

    AT’s 7am to 7 pm priority approach leaves people going out for the evening (and wanting to get home) too often swinging in the wind. I guess once the rush hour is over, they assume you’ll drive your car…..or be extraordinarily patient. If you need 2-3 connections to get home and they are half an hour apart……then you have to be heading home well before 11pm.

  • PM

    We also had a horrible start to the Anniversary Monday festivals as a result of PT holiday frequencies 🙁

    On sunday night I researched the ferry timetable from Gulf Harbour to Auckland via the fullers website. We had decided to catch PT into the city to see the seaport and seafood festival.
    The Fullers website had a full list of sailings for the monday.
    We (Dad + Toddler) decided to catch the 10:45am ferry. However, when we turned up to the ferry terminal we were greeted by a sign that said “No ferries operating to the city today” -> https://www.dropbox.com/s/ps7wdqzagb8xjrs/2016-02-01%2010.34.45.jpg?dl=0. I logged back online to check the fullers website timetable again, and sure enough all the times had been cleared. I was certain the timetable was there on sunday night, perhaps i had checked the wrong date?

    We then decided to travel by car to the Hibiscus Coast/Silverdale bus station and catch the NEX to britomart. Unfortunately just as we arrived at the bus station, the NEX bus had just pulled out and was now enroute to the next station without us. I logged onto the AT app, the next bus was due in 1hr!! Bad luck, however if the fullers website had indicated no sailings, we could of made sure we were early to catch this bus.
    We (mostly the Toddler) couldn’t wait that long, so decided to travel to Albany bus station by car to catch the NEX bus there.

    We arrived at Albany bus station. A very long queue of passengers. Next bus due in 30mins was on the electronic signs. A bus turned up within 5mins. Luck is staring to change!!! We all made in onto the bus, even the pram! However bus was now fully crammed, no room for any further passengers. Just as we were about to take off a surge of people appeared. Sorry, you will have till wait till next bus.

    As the bus travel down the busway, there were large queues at every station. The bus didn’t stop as there was no room. There were alot of angry people as the bus drove by. Made me think, how long were they waiting? And would a empty bus be on its way? Surely the next bus from albany wouldn’t be full like this bus was?

    We arrived in the city. What a great day!

    For the ride home, we decided to catch the bus at Britomart back to Albany bus station. When we arrived, a very long queue and a sign saying next bus 15mins. Are we going to make the next bus? The bus arrived ontime. Luckily We just made it onboard. Too bad for the approx 20 people still waiting. I had a quick glance at the electronic board. Next bus 30mins!!!

    We made it back to Albany, and travel home via car.

    What a day!!! It still makes me wonder, why dont they have normal timetables on a public holiday, especially for the summer season? There is so much going on in the city, and it appears alot of people want to use PT.

  • Chris Randal

    Like others I believe that the use of weekend shutdowns has to be rethought. I know that KR is in dire straits at the moment and that they have to move their freight but keeping one line open to allow freight movements whilst work is carried out on the other track is hardly productive.

    On Sunday I caught the 471 from Manurewa to town and as we crossed the Weymouth Rd bridge I was surprised to see that the earthing bonds had been removed from the overhead meaning that electric services could have been run that evening.

    It is about time that a list of works was published in advance as well as maintaining a total BOL rather than the halfhearted one at the moment.

    Yes the work has to be done. Yes the track is in appalling condition and as a result it is doing significant damage to the EMUs. Yes the current BOL system is harming PT in Auckland. No KR is not doing it right as far as network management is concerned.

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