At an announcement today, Auckland Transport have said that the AT HOP card will be start going live on buses in June with Urban Express buses the first to go live.
AT HOP roll-out planned for buses in June
Following its introduction on trains and ferries at the end of 2012, the AT HOP card has now completed testing on buses. Testing commenced in April, ahead of the planned, public rollout to all Auckland bus services from June this year.
Auckland Transport’s Chief Operating Officer, Greg Edmonds says, “This final stage of the roll-out of AT HOP is the largest piece of one of the most transformational transport projects in the city. Auckland has 1100 buses in its fleet and carries 80% of public transport users which equates to 54 million passenger journeys a year. This means the roll-out is significant and must be handled carefully”.
Mr Edmonds says that in order to manage the scale of the roll-out Auckland Transport will be phasing the introduction of AT HOP on buses to ensure the smoothest transition possible for customers.
The roll-out is planned to start with Urban Express bus services in June. Birkenhead Transport, NorthStar, Ritchies, Northern Express, Metrolink, Go West and Waka Pacific are planned to follow through to November.
Howick & Eastern, Bayes, Fullers Waiheke Bus Company, the Airporter and Airbus are planned in the final phase to the end of the year.
”As each bus service begins its roll-out we will be providing more detailed information to customers.” Mr Edmonds says.
“The AT HOP card will bring Auckland in line with many other international cities by providing an integrated public transport ticketing system”.
The AT HOP card can be topped up online, at an Auckland Transport Ticket & Top Up machine or in person at a ticket office. Purchasing an AT HOP card may save up to 10% off single trip cash fares (excluding the NiteRider bus service). An AT HOP card also allows free unlimited access to ride on the City LINK bus service.
Registering an AT HOP card online helps to protect your card from unauthorised use should it be lost or stolen, while also helping to protect the balance stored on the card within 24 hours from the time it is reported missing. Cards can be registered online at ATHOP.co.nz.
Based on what we saw when the Snapper HOP card rolled out and when the system went live on the trains, there are obviously going to be a lot of communications to go out and that process will start next week. They also said that ticket machines would be going in at Northern Busway stations and that they would be rolling out a network of at least 55 locations where people can purchase and top up their cards if people don’t want to use the online facility. I will post a map once AT are able to provide it.
The process for changing over to HOP sounds like it will be very similar to what happened when NZ Bus launched the Snapper Hop card. There will be free HOP cards for those with existing operator specific cards and the balance will be able to transferred to the HOP card however it will be easiest if the cards are run down as much as possible. If you have a Snapper card and want to keep it for micro transactions then you can do so. There will also be plenty of ambassadors at bus stops to help out too.
It is expected that all bus companies will be operating using HOP by the end of the year and in 2014 Auckland Transport will start the processes needed to move to integrated fares.
Many readers have already noticed that the HOP readers are starting to be installed on buses and quite a few of you have sent in photos of them. Here is one example from Andrew.
What was also interesting and extremely positive, was to see the NZTA at the announcement too supporting the need for integrated ticketing. They have also issued a press release regarding it.
Auckland’s HOP card extension good news for NZ says NZTA
The NZ Transport Agency says the rollout of new electronic ticket readers on Auckland buses will also be good news for people using public transport well beyond the boundaries of New Zealand’s largest city.
“Auckland, because of its size, is the foundation of this extended electronic fare-paying system. We’re confident that this is a well designed system for the city that can be easily modified and adapted for use in other centres,” says the NZTA’s Group Manager for Planning and Investment, Dave Brash.
The installation of the ticket readers on buses from next month means Aucklanders will need only use their HOP smartcards once to pay for a multi-mode trip on all public transport services – ferries, trains and now buses.
The NZTA has partnered with Auckland Transport and its predecessor, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, since 2005 to develop the city’s integrated ticketing programme, with an estimated funding contribution of $59.5m and the development of a parallel national ticketing programme, including the development of a national ticketing standard which enables integration with ticketing equipment and transport service providers in other centres.
Earlier this month, the NZTA awarded its first national ticketing standards compliance certificate to Thales New Zealand after the successful certification of the company’s new ticketing devices for Auckland’s buses. Mr Brash says NZTA investment in the development and implementation of the Auckland Integrated Fare System (AIFS) to create national ticketing standards delivers several benefits for public transport users all across the country.
”The central processing system developed for Auckland can be re-used by other regional councils as part of a national framework. As regions upgrade their ticketing systems, they will be able to purchase equipment which complies with the national standards and plug into the central processing system, ensuring that they will enjoy the benefits of a shared national systems approach, rather than having to pay a premium to develop separate ticketing systems.”
Mr Brash says the national standard could eventually mean people being able to use the same smart card in more than one centre, and the information about travel patterns in different cities collected by the NZTA’s central processing system would also provide a wealth of data that can be used to make better informed public transport decisions.
“Cities around the world with effective integrated ticketing systems have seen strong growth in public transport patronage, a better return on new public transport investments, and better road transport efficiency.
“We are aiming to achieve the same results here in New Zealand. Our growing cities mean more people rely on easy to use, effective public transport to get around. A key feature of successful public transport networks around the world is an integrated ticketing system that allows people to transfer easily between bus, train, ferry on a single ticket, making public transport a more attractive option.”
It’s good to finally have some solid information about this. There were lots of questions asked about the project so if you want to know something, ask and I will try and answer.
There has been a lot of talk about the new bus network that was first proposed in the Regional Public Transport Plan. Thankfully it received extremely strong support from those that made submissions allowing Auckland Transport to start working towards implementing it. While the overall concept has been accepted, there is still a long way to go yet as the specific routes that make up the network will need to be consulted on. Today Auckland Transport have formally started that process with the release of a video to explain the new network. Here is the press release:
Transforming Auckland’s Public Transport Network
Auckland Transport will shortly hit the streets to consult over the New Network for public transport services in Auckland.
The New Network is a region wide public transport network which is proposed to deliver bus services at least every 15 minutes throughout the day, seven days a week on major routes between the hours of 7am to 7pm. Services will connect better with train services for those customers who require connections.
The New Network will be rolled out by Auckland Transport over the next three years starting with bus services in South Auckland in 2014/15.
To help people understand what the New Network will mean for them, prior to consultation, Auckland Transport has released a video guide today. It can be viewed at: http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/newnetwork
Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive David Warburton says; “We are in a period of transformational transport change in Auckland. Any change is challenging. Significant changes in the transport area in Auckland includes the completion over the coming months of Auckland’s integrated smartcard for public transport, the final step in the introduction of the AT HOP card on bus services following the roll-out last year on trains and ferries, the arrival of the first of Auckland’s fleet of new trains and our New Network for public transport services. These are large-scale transport projects for a city undergoing transformation.
“If Auckland is to cope with expected growth in population, public transport must become a very real transport choice for more Aucklanders. But in order to encourage greater uptake, we need to make bold changes to provide a better level of service, respond to public demand and expectation and provide better connections to the places people want to go.
“Due to the sheer scale of the changes we are proposing, consultation and implementation for the New Network will be broken up into several phases. Consultation on the New Network begins in June in South Auckland. Other parts of Auckland will be consulted on in the coming years”.
Dr Warburton says, “The changes will not happen immediately. Any significant transformation requires disruption which is part of change. Implementation of the New Network for public transport will be challenging for a period.
“The video released today demonstrates the scale of the changes the New Network will bring to Auckland.
“In June and July, Auckland Transport will have people in the markets, shopping centres, transport hubs and on the streets in South Auckland talking to customers about these changes and getting their views”.
Dr Warburton says, “ The public will be invited to fill out feedback forms at the Open Days and can also provide feedback at our consultation webpage www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/newnetwork, or by filling out our freepost feedback form”.
I must say, this is probably the best press release I think that AT have done. I love how they have talked about how transformational this will be and how all of the key PT projects, integrated ticketing, electrification and the new bus network tie in together. But the good news doesn’t stop there. The video they have produced is superb and easily the best they have done to explain any project. It excellently explains why we need the new network, the logic behind it and even some of the finer details about the proposal.
On the page AT have set up for the new network, they also have a new and very pretty version of the frequent network map that we have seen before.
All up I am very happy, not just with the new network but with how AT have started to communicate it. If they carry on in this same vein for both the network and other projects like the CRL then it will really help in getting the public to understand why these projects are needed.
Good work AT, give yourselves a pat on the back.
The long running saga of Auckland’s Integrated Ticketing project continues, with this story in the Sunday Star Times today:
Auckland Transport’s accounts indicate the city’s integrated ticketing system is $27 million over budget and behind schedule, but the council-owned agency refused to comment on or clarify its numbers last week.
The Sunday Star-Times has been requesting an update on the project for two weeks, but last week spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said no-one was available for an interview.
After saying the project was on schedule, Hunter said Auckland Transport would be holding a media briefing around the start of the AT HOP bus rollout programme “shortly”.
As well as the apparent budget blowout, the article also points out that the legal dispute with Snapper remains unresolved.
Earlier this week, Auckland Council approved only $2m of a $9m request for additional funding for the project from Auckland Transport. It isn’t clear what impact this will have on the rollout.
It is very hard to know how the AIFS project is tracking, with Auckland Transport being so circumspect about what the plan is for the bus rollout. We certainly don’t seem to be any closer to a decision on what the final zone fare structure will be and how transfers will work, let alone family and other types of monthly passes.
The most recent official information we have is from the March Auckland Council Transport Committee meeting, with the following points highlighted for each mode.
- 49,000 plus users
- Cash fares higher than forecast
- System fully operational
- On-line top-up behind forecast
- VRD performance
- Revenue management issues
- Manukau gating
- System fully operational
- Very low number of users
- Fare challenges to migrate to HOP
- Downtown Ferry Terminal upgrade
- Thales programme of works on schedule
- Bus cabling and installations commenced this month
- Pilot for Northern Express scheduled to begin on 21 April
- Bus rollout commences from June
- Complex bus roll-out due to multiple fare products and individual operator cards
The low uptake for ferry users should not be surprising – using an AT Hop on the ferries is more expensive than a 10 trip ticket.
The obvious thing to do would be to make the fare for AT Hop card users the same as the 10 trip ticket price, and do away with 10 trip tickets altogether, but who knows what “Fare challenges to migrate to HOP” actually means.
As for the bus rollout, clearly we are running behind time with the Northern Express pilot still continuing. The chances of a June bus rollout seem remote.
The Auckland Integrated Fares programme has been dragging on now since the end of 2009. A brief summary:
Auckland Regional Transport Authority signs a $47m contract with Thales to provide integrated electronic ticketing for buses, trains and ferries. The initial contract was for the core system capable of being a nationwide clearing house, and the set up in Auckland of the rail and ferry hardware. Despite not being awarded the contract, Snapper announce they will be rolling out their ticketing solution on to Auckland NZ Bus services.
Auckland Transport announce that “Supplementing the contract already in place with Thales, a Participation Agreement has now been signed between Auckland Transport, NZ Bus and Snapper for the introduction of a single smartcard for use on NZ Bus services as part of the Auckland Integrated Ticketing program. Other bus operators were said to be at “different stages of understanding”.
The decision is somewhat surprising as, at the time of the announcement, the Snapper card is not compatible with the Thales Desfire technology.
It is later revealed in Parliament that Snapper met with Steven Joyce on 3rd March of 2010. Soon after the meeting Snapper confirmed in a letter to the NZTA that “NZBus should be free to proceed on its current plan to implement Snapper equipment … in Auckland.” Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee responds saying that ”it is incorrect to say that the New Zealand Transport Agency was instructed by the Minister to include Snapper.”
In a presentation to the newly formed Auckland Transport Committee, Auckland Transport project the following timeline for the AIFS programme:
The “purple” Hop card is rolled out on the NZ Bus fleet, starting with North Star services.
It is alleged that Snapper cannot make its card compatible with the Thales solution by November 2012, claims refuted by Snapper at the time. Earlier, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says that Snapper would be “off the run” if they fail to meet the deadline.
Snapper vows “all necessary steps will be taken to recover losses arising from the wrongful termination”, warning that “Auckland ratepayers would be the casualties, saying the ultimate cost of the decision by the council transport organisation’s board … was likely to the significant”
Auckland Transport announces that non-NZ Bus operators will install Thales hardware on their bus fleets.
Andrew Ritchie, Chief Executive of Ritchie’s, says, “The bus consortium previously chose Parkeon as its hardware supplier and they have proven themselves to be professional and responsive in their approach to the project. However, in the interests of a seamless approach we have now elected to move to the AT Thales solution which will also be used on trains and ferries”.
AT Hop is rolled out on trains. The introduction of the AT Hop card causes confusion over branding that continues to exist, with “purple hop” continuing to be used on NZ Bus services, while AT Hop is used on ferries and trains.
AT Hop rolled out to ferry users. Greg Edmonds quoted as saying “AT HOP for ferries will begin with single ticket fares with at least a 10% discount off the equivalent single cash fare. Auckland Transport and ferry operators are working closely together to enable products such as ferry monthly and other passes, to be available on the AT HOP card in the near future”.
Some comments the other day raised the question about what led to patronage dropping so much in the late 1950′s. Was it the removal of the tram network or was it the opening of the Harbour bridge, the motorways and the introduction of cheaper cars. In a way it is kind of a chicken or egg debate. It was sparked by this graph from Auckland Transport and thankfully they had previously provided me with the data behind it allowing us to look at the info in more detail.
So let’s have a look at things in more detail. I think that there are four distinct periods in the history of PT patronage in Auckland and with the exception of the one we are in now, they conveniently each lasted about 25 years. I characterise these four periods as:
- The Rise – 1920 to 1945
- The Fall – 1946 to 1970
- The Bounce – 1971 to 1995
- The Revival – 1996 to Now
By 1920 electric trams had been plying Auckland for almost two decades (having replaced Horse drawn trams) and they had enabled the city to spread out across large portions of the central isthmus. Effectively where the trams went, development followed and the suburbs were designed to make trams easy to use. This is most noticeable in the western side of the isthmus where most houses were within 400m walking distance of a tram route. Further looking at aerial images from 1940 on the councils GIS viewer, it doesn’t appear that there were very many houses outside of the areas covered in the map below
400m catchment from the former tram lines. (thanks to Kent)
Patronage during this time was clearly affected by the great depression however rebounded afterwards then surged during the war thanks to the rationing of fuel and rubber as well as the increase participation in the workforce to support the war. The graph below shows patronage by mode up for this period. As you can see the trams carried the vast majority of passengers with over 80% of all trips occurring on them. Auckland’s population during this time went from around 150,000 to just under 300,000 however even at the lowest point, there were an average of over 240 trips per person per year. During the war patronage peaked at over 420 trips per person per year.
As you would expect, after the war patronage decreased however it didn’t fall back to pre-war levels and instead stayed above 100 million trips per year. All up by 1950 patronage had only decreased by ~11% from its wartime peak. While the total number of cars in NZ had definitely increased over time, annual new car registrations were still below levels seen during the depression, so much so that between 1945 and 1950 the total vehicle fleet in NZ had only increased by 12%. Per capita usage in 1950 was around 330 trips per person.
A tram in Queen St 1949 – Queen Street, Auckland city. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-06. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23214342
Unfortunately our city leaders fell hook line and sinker for the utopian dream spreading out from the US that cars and buses powered by petrol and diesel were the future. It was decreed that buses were to replace the trams and in typical Auckland fashion, we not only proceeded to do this but extremely rapidly – and likely very expensively – pulled out the entire tram network over roughly a 6 year period. What was likely an initial optimism about the future of Public Transport seemed to be wiped away once people actually tried the new bus services and by the time the last tram was removed from the city in 1956, patronage had plummeted from over 105.5 million in 1950 to around 66.5 million in 1957.
During this time period the first motorways also started to be completed and by 1957 sections on the Northwestern were open between Lincoln Rd and Pt Chev while the Southern motorway was open between Ellerslie -Panmure Highway and Redoubt Rd. It’s interesting to question how much impact they would have had on PT patronage initially as both ended outside of furthermost extent of the former tram network. Car ownership throughout NZ also increased during this time which I suspect is partly due to more being available and partly people not happy with the bus options being provided.
After the sharp fall caused by the removal of the tram network, patronage then went into a steady decline as the car culture became further entrenched and more and more motorway extensions were opened. Despite what one person has suggested, the only noticeable impact of the harbour bridge opening seems to have to the ferries which is understandable.
By 1972 public transport patronage had reached a low of just 42 million trips per year and then the oil crisis hit. Almost instant it seems as though patronage bounced back with it increasing by over 10 million trips in a year. From there it bounced around between 50 and 60 million trips a year for around 15 years. I don’t know the history behind it but it also seems odd that just as oil prices spike, we obviously started pulling out the trolley buses and replaced them with diesel ones. Both trains and ferries had little to no impact on patronage during this time period.
I have also called it the bounce because the increases experienced didn’t last. By the late 80s petrol prices started to decline once again in real terms. Around the same time (or early 90′s) reforms made it much easier and therefore cheaper to import cars which saw PT patronage fall away again to new lows. In 1994 we reached the lowest point ever with just over 33 million trips in the year.
Bus patronage started to see a revival in the late 90′s spurred on primarily on buses. I’m not entirely sure what started it so perhaps some readers can fill me in. In 2003 Britomart opened which was really the turning point for the rail network, it initially saw some impact to bus patronage however both have grown and it has seen patronage climb back above 70 million trips. Incidentally the last time it was that high was the year the last of the tram lines were pulled out.
So did greater availability of cars turn people off PT or were people put off PT by the removal of the tram network and pushed into using cars? I think it is a bit of both. Had the trams not been removed I suspect that patronage would still have dropped as car use became more prevalent however I doubt it would have fallen by as much as it did. Of course we can’t know for sure but I think we can say with certainty that Auckland would be quite a different city if we still had those tracks in place today.
For a total comparison, here is the total change experienced by mode since 1920.
And here you can see the impacts that at a per capita level. A rapidly increasing population has meant that despite recent gains in patronage are still not using PT anywhere as much as even a few decades ago.
Whenever a debate appears on here around the benefits of one particular mode or another, inevitably someone will complain about the way buses can be driven. Having customers feel comfortable on a bus is incredibly important so it was pleasing to see that steps are being taken to improve that. The Herald reports:
Operator hopes feedback system will improve passengers’ safety and comfort.
Auckland’s largest bus operator is promising passengers smoother rides from “black boxes” to monitor drivers’ performance.
NZ Bus says the equipment being rolled out initially on its North Shore fleet is primarily for drivers to keep an eye on their own performance.
It will allow them to correct their driving if any of five lights on a vertical console to the right of their steering wheels turns from green to amber or – in extreme cases such as emergency braking or lurching too fast around corners – to red.
The five factors measured by the lights are rider comfort in terms of cornering, engine idling, braking, acceleration and speeding.
But the company can also download data for driver training and fuel efficiency purposes from the telematic machines it expects to install on most of its 1000 or so buses in Auckland, Whangarei and Wellington by the end of the year.
This sounds like a wonderful idea as a way to improve the passenger comfort levels as it allows drivers to actively change their behaviour as they drive. As I started reading the article though my first thought was a concern that drivers union might oppose the idea but I was pleasantly surprised to see them getting right in behind this initiative too.
Although black box cockpit voice recorders in aircraft became controversial among pilots in the 1990s after their use in court action, bus union leaders are giving the project qualified approval, after being assured the company will have a “conversation” with any staff needing to mend their ways before it resorts to any disciplinary action.
Auckland Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt believes most drivers will welcome the innovation, which the company says will complement its “Pathways to Safer Driving” programme – in which it is in the midst of providing 18 hours of refresher training across four modules including customer service, and driving and personal safety.
“I don’t think the disciplinary process will be invoked at all – the drivers in most cases will listen to what they are being told,” Mr Froggatt said.
“It will improve the performance of the drivers and hopefully cut down on the amount of speeding tickets they are getting.”
He said monitoring lights coupled with beeps when buses are travelling too fast would help to make up for an absence of a 50km/h mark on speedometers in the company’s predominantly European-made fleet.
I really love the part slightly later in the article where it is mentioned that some drivers are now actively competing with each other to see how long they can keep the various lights green. There’s nothing like a good bit of healthy competition to make things better for passengers. All up it seems like a really positive step so well done NZ Bus and hopefully we will see other bus companies roll out the same, or similar technology to help improve the experience for passengers.
I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or optimistic. Auckland Transport has announced that following consultation, they are now looking at other options for the Te Atatu bus interchange. Here is the press release.
Auckland Transport has decided to look at further options for the site of the Te Atatu Transport Interchange.
The preferred option was the development of a bus interchange between Titoki Street and the realigned southbound off-ramp from State Highway 16.
The proposal for an interchange at Titoki Street went to public consultation and Open Days, 150 people made submissions.
Simon Milner, Public Transport Operations Principal Network Planner says, “In light of those submissions, other sites will now be investigated. Titoki Street as an option will be placed on hold pending the investigation of other options. Investigation is planned to begin immediately and is expected to be completed in October this year.”
A Transport Interchange will be needed in Te Atatu by 2015/16 as part of the New Network structure for public transport in Auckland.
This will see a frequent service network which will deliver services at least every 15 minutes throughout the day, seven days a week. The Te Atatu Interchange will be a key part of this New Network.
The report can be viewed at: http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/improving-transport/te-atatu-interchange/Pages/default.aspx
I’m disappointed because a bus interchange is going to be key for the new bus network that gets rolled out over the next few years. It also seems that locals who have complained did not fully understand the proposal. They still seem to view buses as noisy smelly vehicles full of poor people just waiting to vandalise their neighbourhood when the opposite is true. They also failed to see just how beneficial it would be having what would be the equivalent of a train station on their doorstep giving them quick and easy access to many parts of the city. It is also disappointing that such a small group of people can prevent development that will positively impact on probably tens of thousands of others.
Yet at the same time I am optimistic. The proposal would have seen westbound buses along SH16 have exit then cross over the motorway to access the interchange, then get back across the motorway again before getting back on the motorway. With AT now looking at other options, hopefully they will now consider adding the interchange as part of a proper busway proposal.
The interchange is now on hold
AT have also included in their information a report on outcomes of the consultation through which they received 150 pieces of feedback.
Campbell Live has been running a lot of stories on Auckland issues recently which has been nice to see and has obviously also provided us with a heap of material to talk about. Last night the entire episode was devoted to transport in Auckland. There were three parts to the show, the first was the kind of story done by news organisations from time to time where various staff members try to reach a specific location using various transport methods.The second section was the most interesting as involved Gerry Brownlee actually giving an interview on Auckland transport issues while the third section was about a lady who was having trouble topping up her daughters Snapper Hop (SNOP) card. I’m not going to look at the third section primarily because the SNOP card will hopefully be phased out soon although you can watch it here if you are interested. Here is the first two sections.
The First Section
If you haven’t watched the video, a bunch of staff were tasked with reaching their office in Eden Terrace by 9am using only public transport and it it seems the first mistake they made was by using the Maxx website to plan their journeys. To be fair there isn’t a lot of other options, yes there is Google and some apps but MAXX is what Auckland Transport provide. However the planner seems so woeful and doesn’t seem to ever have improved, AT really needs to put the thing out of its misery and replace it with something more modern. That said the results were not unexpected but also show how vital it is to communicate the benefits of the high frequency new bus network and that a lot of effort is made to make transfers easy. Further not all of the journeys were practical to take by PT, Lachlan Forsyth’s trip for example shows the benefits of commuting by bike and it would be better to encourage more people to do that where appropriate.
The Second Section
This was of course the most interesting and the part where I at times felt like pulling my hair out. To cover this I’m just going to go through bullet point my thoughts.
- At least Brownlee admits that Auckland is growing and that the transport problems will only get worse. It also seems that he has now read the report, something he hadn’t done before ruling out some of the options in the funding proposals a few days ago..
- Brownlee repeats quite a few times that Auckland is getting $1billion in transport spending annually. The emphasis he places on it makes it sound like Auckland is gobbling up the spending but in reality, it is less than 1/3 of the total transport spend in the country. It would have been good for Campbell to ask him how much Auckland provided in fuel taxes annually.
- I actually agree with Brownlee when he questions whether the suite of projects in the Auckland Plan are the appropriate ones and if they are timed right. However I don’t think that we would agree on what projects should be dropped or having their timing changed.
- Brownlee is asked his thoughts on the CRL and he is either trying to be deliberately misleading or has been badly informed. He suggests the project is about a short little loop that goes around in circles. This is exactly the kind of reason why it is so important that Auckland Transport actually publicly state the routing pattern that trains will use so that people can see it is about opening up the entire rail network. To put it another way it will have the same impact on the rail network that the Central Motorway Junction does for the motorway network.
- Brownlee talks about how the cost of the project is $3 billion which of course is an inflated and then rounded up figure. He also repeats the lie that Steven Joyce loved to use, that the government is spending $1.6 billion on the rail network. The reality is $600m was approved and budget for from before this government came into office while half of the remaining amount is a loan that Auckland is having to pay back.
- I’m really glad that Campbell actually asked him where he would spend $3 billion differently, as I pointed out yesterday, it is really important that people who oppose what is being planned actually say what they would do differently (not that Brownlee did). It was almost comical that Brownlee then went on to list a whole suite of road projects the government has already built or is building.
- At first I thought it was really odd the way that Brownlee talked about AMETI and whether that would happen as it is well under way and he has even visited the construction site. Re-watching the video, it then becomes clear that he is talking about a reviving of the eastern motorway. Did Brownlee just let slip that the government is now considering building it? It would certainly fit in with some whispers I have heard.
- Brownlee’s comment that “Aucklanders like roads” really does take the cake. For 60 years this city only ever invested in roads at the expense of almost everything else, it isn’t surprising then that most people drive when that has been made the easiest thing to do. The recent and comparatively modest investment in realistic alternatives has had a big impact and stronger investment in them is likely to see big changes in behaviour. As Stu pointed out yesterday, on a per capita basis people are already driving less.
- Brownlee is correct that we do need to sort out our bus routes and information systems. The good news is that is under way with the new bus network and should be completed by 2016, well before the CRL is suggested to be opened.
- The comments from Simon Lambourne are very rational and in line with what I feel. The big question of course is how many would still chose to drive if some good quality alternatives were in place.
- Brownlee is also correct when he states that the documents released on Monday about funding transport are really just the start of the discussion. This was actually something mentioned quite a few times by the CBG themselves. They suggest that a decision doesn’t actually need to be made on how to fund transport till 2015.
- Once again Gerry sidesteps the question of what the government are actually going to do to improve transport issues in the city.
- After the video from Len Brown, Brownlee goes on to talk about tolling new roads. The reality is that there aren’t that many new roads proposed that could be tolled. We have the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway, Penlink, An additional Harbour Crossing and The East West Link. Effectively every other roading project is an upgrade of an existing road, adding a lane here or there and under the criteria, they couldn’t be tolled.
- Brownlee talks about how they have had to put up fuel excise taxes due to falling revenues and gives a couple of reasons but misses the biggest one that vehicle use is dropping, both in real and per capita terms.
All up most of the comments Gerry made were a bit frustrating but not all that surprising given his previous statements. The more I think about it though, the more it seems as though that he let slip that the government is looking at reviving the Eastern Motorway proposals.
What were your thoughts on the video. Did I miss anything?
Rodney Hide’s opinion piece in the Herald on Sunday highlighted an issue that’s been bugging me for some time – whether those opposing the City Rail Link on the grounds that “buses can do the job fine” are really interested in improving Auckland’s bus system or not. Here’s what he says about his preference for buses:
It’s not obvious to me that a heavy train having to stop and start and be confined to tracks is the best way to ferry people around Auckland. Buses along roads strike me intuitively as a cheaper and more flexible form of public transport.
Many more people live closer to a bus stop than a train station. That’s because buses go along roads that people live on. Buses can also pass one another. Trains can’t do that.
Because of the flexibility and convenience, more people travel into the city centre by bus than train. That will stay true even if Auckland spends billions on trains at the expense of better roads and better bus services.
John Roughan made a similar cry in favour of buses in the Saturday Herald:
The crossing would have to be under water and probably it would be connected to the northern busway that one day conceivably could be converted to a railway, but that, too, is a solution looking for a problem.
The busway, like the bridge, is fine.
The problem lies in roads closer to home. By car it can take as long to get on to the motorway as it takes for the rest of the journey. By bus it takes too long to get to a busway station. Once on the busway, you can be in the city in eight minutes.
In fact, the North Shore is probably better served by the busway than the rest of Auckland is by its railways, which also have to be reached by bus or car from most people’s homes.
The only reason the mayor invokes rail for the Shore is to answer its ratepayers when they ask why they should help pay for a project that isn’t coming their way. It’s a silly answer to a silly question but this is election year.
Russell Brown from Public Address notes the great irony of John Roughan now being a huge fan of the busway when he absolutely hated the idea back in 2007. I guess we chalk that up as someone won over – or should we?
The simple fact is that all these supposed bus fans have done diddly squat to actually encourage the improvement of Auckland’s bus system. I can’t exactly remember Rodney Hide out there campaigning to save the Remuera Road bus lane from turning back into a T3 lane. Or John Roughan supporting the implementation of the HOP Card – he pumped for Snapper back in 2009 and didn’t that end well?
As for the cabal of local councillors, Cameron Brewer, Dick Quax and George Wood. They frequently like to grandstand against the CRL claiming it is sucking up all of the money for PT, like in this article from 6 months ago.
Mr Quax said the rail project made little sense because it would gobble up 80 per cent of the public transport capital budget over the next 10 years when much-needed bus lanes and ferry terminals received a “paltry” 20 per cent.
They use this line quite frequently these days, despite their numbers actually being wrong – the PT capex budget for the next decade is ~$4b and the inflated CRL price is $2.86b, or 72% of the budget. Despite this, I haven’t exactly seen George Wood talking much about the stalled progress of extending the Northern Busway to Albany, or Dick Quax wanting to see the AMETI busway’s construction schedule sped up. In fact I don’t think I have seen any one of them suggest where a single metre of bus lane should be added or where they think new ferry services should operate from. Yesterday in response to the alternative funding proposals, they once again made vague comments without giving any detail.
I have a nasty feeling that when rail opponents say they support buses they’re actually not quite telling the truth. They realise it’s not viable for them politically (or practically) to dismiss public transport out of hand anymore – so they pretend to support buses on the spurious grounds of “buses need roads too” – when in actual fact they’re just mainly interested in spending as little as possible on public transport so all the money can go back into roads.
So next time someone plays the “buses are better than trains” card, I suggest asking them “so what have YOU specifically done to try and improve Auckland’s bus system recently?” Or “I look forward to your support for introducing bus lanes along desperately needed routes like Great North Road in Waterview, Manukau Road, Pakuranga Road, Onewa Road (uphill) and in many other places”. Then let’s see how deep their love affair with the bus really is.
Patronage stats for March are out and as usual, are interesting reading. Once again only ferry patronage was up on March last year however AT have finally taken on board a suggestion I have made in the past and reported what is happening with weekday patronage (more on this later in the post). The biggest impact for March is that there were two less business days than March 2013, one of which was thanks to Easter. Here are the Highlights:
Auckland public transport patronage totalled 69,157,661 passenger trips for the 12-months to Mar-2013 a decrease of -1,581,228 trips or -2.2% on the same period to Mar-2012.
Rail patronage totalled 9,951,686 passengers for the 12-months to Mar-2013. Patronage for Mar-2013 was 1,002,967 a decrease of -44,380 boardings or -4.2% on Mar-2012, with two less business days in Mar-2013 (approximately -7% impact). Average daily weekday scheduled service patronage (excluding special event services) increased by +4.5% with increases also in weekend and total average daily figures. Mar-2013 patronage impacts include reduced special event services (negative), continued transition of legacy ticket counts at time of sale to AT HOP at time of travel (positive) and increased network shutdowns (negative).
The Northern Express bus service carried 2,235,202 passenger trips for the 12-months to Mar-2013. Mar-2013 patronage was 231,108, a decrease of -13,877 boardings or -5.7% on Mar-2012, with two less business days in Mar-2013 (approximately -7% impact). Average daily weekday scheduled service patronage (excluding special event services) increased by +2.6%. Patronage impacts include increased utilisation of enhanced alternative Northern Busway services in particular the 881 service (negative), re-branding and launch of the double decker vehicle (positive). AT HOP on bus in 2013 will permit all service boardings and alightings on the Northern Busway to be counted.
Other bus services carried 51,490,203 passenger trips for the 12-months to Mar-2013. Mar-2013 patronage was 5,005,881, a decrease of -346,308 boardings or -6.5% on Mar-2012, with two less business days in Mar-2013 (approximately -7% impact). Average daily weekday scheduled service patronage (excluding special event services) decreased by -1.2%. Patronage impacts include improved capacity on some routes (positive), reliability improvements on some routes (positive) and service changes in February.
Ferry services carried 5,480,570 passenger trips for the 12-months to Mar-2013. Ferry services patronage for March was 555,143, an increase of 45,546 boardings or +8.9% on Mar-2012. Patronage impacts include the launch of new ferry services at Hobsonville and Beach Haven (positive) and additional service trips at Pine Harbour (positive).
Overall patronage was down 5% on March 2012.
As mentioned earlier, for the first time AT have included information around weekday usage. This is something I had raised with them both on the blog and directly so it’s good to see. One of the reasons I have been keen to see this is that every time I catch the train, it doesn’t feel like things are getting quieter. In fact the opposite seems true when the trains are full, especially during the morning peak. Effectively what AT have done is look at the patronage from weekdays and weekends that didn’t have a special event on and compared the averages from March 2012 to March 2013.
Comparing the results this way helps to weed out changes in the number of working day as well as special event services. It shows that weekday patronage in March actually increased over March 2012 although some of the previous months did see drops. Interestingly weekend patronage has been up on the year before for the last few months. Perhaps more importantly it shows just how much greater patronage is during weekdays than on weekends. You may also remember that former transport minister Steven Joyce used to claim that the existing Puhoi to Wellsford route carried more people per day than the Auckland rail network. At ~18,000 vehicles per day on average, even if every single vehicle had two people in it, the road doesn’t even come close.
We are still waiting on the cycling numbers and will post them when they become available.
I also keep an eye on state highway traffic numbers, in particular the Harbour bridge for which the NZTA has the most information. It has continued to see traffic growth however is still down on its peak from 2006.
Glad we don’t have any bus drivers like this in Auckland ….. that I’m aware of.
Video released Friday, April 12th, 2013 shows an assault which occurred on a public StarTran bus in Lincoln, Nebraska. The incident happened in the late afternoon of Saturday March 23rd at 84th & ‘O’ streets. According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, driver Troy Fischer, 43, was cited with misdemeanor assault, and has been fired following a city investigation of the incident. Fischer punched a 40-year-old man several times and physically dragged him off the bus, throwing him into the street and driving away.
Now lets flip to the opposite end of the spectrum. How about sharing any stories you have of good bus drivers.
My story is not actually my experience but my wife’s. Recently when the Western rail line had a bit of a meltdown in the afternoon thanks to a truck hitting the Titirangi Rd bridge, naturally the line had to be closed and the structure inspected. I saw this pop up on twitter so quickly got hold of my wife who was already on the way to the train. Very luckily just as I was talking to her a bus approached with its destination as Sturges Rd (the train station we use) and kindly the driver let her on despite not being at a normal stop. At the other end of the journey, she was the last one left on the bus and the driver asked where she was going to. He proceeded to drop her off as close to home as was possible when he didn’t have to do.
We should celebrate those good experiences, let me know yours in the comments.