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.
This is a Guest Post by Geoff Houtman
In the dying days of the ARC, with the “People’s Paradise” of Wynyard Wharf about to flower it was decided that a Tram Loop would be built, with future plans to extend it to Quay St and beyond. Mission Bay? Dom Rd? Ponsonby? Unitec? Wherever the people demanded it.
The loop was built, money was sourced to extend it to Quay St, linking the Ferries, Britomart Trains and Wynyard like an “innovative” city would. Inexplicably Waterfront Auckland delayed the extension of the line, the extension that would give it real utility, and now their unelected Board want to remove the Trams so as not to offend their bosses. No, not the Residents of Auckland, not even the Council- the corporates who lease the land and want everything their way.
Here are 23 reasons we need trams/light rail and now!
1- Improved Air Quality. Reducing air pollutant emissions by 50% by 2016 is the Council’s stated goal. Diesel buses drive and wait idling all day every day, adding cancerous diesel particulates to the air from early in the morning until late at night. Electric trams not only take cars off the road more successfully than buses, they doubly reduce air pollution because they are zero emission themselves. Exhaust fumes are estimated to prematurely kill 400 Aucklanders per year.
2- Safer For Cyclists. It is physically impossible for a tram to swerve out of it’s lane and hit a cyclist. Cities with high cycle usage and high tram usage are the same cities precisely because of this reason. Riders must take care to cross the tram rails correctly but it’s not any more care needed than crossing a painted road marking or pothole. Trams are the cyclist’s best friend.
3- No Conflict with City Rail Link. Mike Lee’s desire to get “Trams now” and the Mayor’s wish to Tram Queen St up to Karangahape Rd (from 05.00) mean that trams are not a competitor for funding or patronage, more a complement to the existing plan.
4- Higher Quality Urban Results. The densest parts of Melbourne (and generally the most desirable and livable) are largely congruent with the extent of the tram network. Ribbons of lesser density extend out along the train lines. The areas served only by buses in Melbourne are low density. Causality cannot be proven but, in the case of Melbourne, trams go hand in hand with medium density and desirable areas.
5- Safer For Pedestrians. Trams calm traffic. The speed limit (even Ponsonby Rd’s 40 km/h) is being ignored constantly and is not being enforced. Trams calm traffic in a way no other vehicle can, many cities, like Melbourne, have passengers boarding from the centre of roads at pedestrian safety zones. Safer for pedestrians, safer for drivers.
6- Heritage and History. Many inner-city shopping centres formerly had tram lines along their entire length. When the trams and historic trolley poles were removed in the mid 1950′s the area lost much valuable heritage. Auckland developed along the Tram lines. Some could go as far to say that Trams built Auckland. Could they do so again?
7- Increasing Tourist Stay Days. (Western Bays Line example). Rightly so, the Council wants to increase Tourist Days spent in Auckland. A tram from Quay St though Wynyard, Victoria Park and Ponsonby Rd could connect to Great North Rd and from there to the existing tram lines in Western Springs- effectively linking 6 retail areas (CBD, Viaduct, Wynyard, Victoria Park Market, Ponsonby Rd and the Grey Lynn shops), 3 parks (Victoria, Western and Western Springs) and 4 tourist attractions (Springs Stadium, MOTAT 1, Auckland Zoo and MOTAT 2) with Britomart trains, Queens Wharf cruise liners and Ferries. Independent of destination, some cities use the Trams themselves as attractions. Melbourne even has fine dining trams!
8- Easy To Install. Many streets are wide enough and suitable for trams as they were all former tram routes. Reinstalling the rails is fairly straight forward and will have no incompatibilities with current services (buried pipes etc). In “Olde Aucklande” 27 miles of track was laid in just 14 months. These days we may not have the superior technology of the 1920′s but I’m sure we could find a way to lay 715 metres of track per week as they did 90 years ago…
9- Mass Local Support. The former Western Bays and Hobson Community Boards both supported the reintroduction of the Trams, as does the Ponsonby Business Association. A petition presented to Parliament last year was signed by nearly 1100 locals, including almost all Ponsonby Rd and K Rd businesses, asking “the House to consider whether legislation will be required to facilitate the extension of Auckland’s tram system as part of an integrated system that complements the proposed City Rail Link with the aim of reducing congestion in Auckland.”
10- Shush- quiet now. Tram technology has advanced considerably since 1902. The only downside to Trams- the noisy rails, have been taken out of the equation. The Wynyard Wharf loop makes great use of current dampening techniques. This makes trams quieter than buses and cars, although not as quiet as cycles!
11- Less Oil Imports. New Zealand’s economy will also benefit at a macro level. Domestic electricity beats Imported oil every way it can be measured. If oil prices continue to skyrocket the price of fuelling all our diesel buses will also go up, driving fares up to compensate. A tram network will help us avoid the effects of the oil spike, and public transport will have a cost-advantage over private vehicles.
12- Better Ride Quality. Trams have a smoother ride and less vibrations, due to the guided tracks, more ability for commuters to work enroute, more comfort overall. Railed vehicles are far less likely to induce motion sickness than road vehicles.
13- Permanency and Certainty. By their very nature the immovability of Trams encourages intensification along the tram corridor. The caryards on Great North Rd ridge in Grey Lynn, slated to become city fringe apartments, are a prime example of this. This has been shown on many occasions overseas (Portland, Oregon being a classic example). This can have significant economic benefits bringing more people and businesses within an easy tram ride of each other.
14- Higher Capacity than buses. Trams (both single carriage and articulated multiple units) have up to twice the capacity of buses.
15- Remove more cars. Trams have much greater appeal to the general public as they are generally more attractive than buses (cleaner, quieter, superior ride quality), and because they only follow the tram lines, there isn’t the fear that some people have with buses where they may get on the wrong one, so more people are more likely to use them than buses. Tramways are proven worldwide to attract up to 50% of their patronage from former drivers.
16- Faster Loading / Disabled Access. Newer trams with 100% flat floors, wide aisles and three or more double doors per side lead to very short “dwell times” making faster “headways” possible. Mobility is also improved for the disabled.
17- Increasing Existing Road Capacity. Following the Melbourne example of trams sharing the two lanes closest to the centre-line increases road usability without adding extra lanes. Both tracks share trolley poles, reducing the visual clutter as well as halving the cost of accessories.
18- Successful Public-Private Partnerships. Trams in Auckland were installed and run by the Auckland Tramways Company (as an aside- the bus driver’s union is still called Auckland Tramways Union). In July 1919 the Tramways were purchased by the Auckland City Council and ten years later taken over by the newly constituted Auckland Transport Board.
19- Trams Are Fun. People love Trams! Is it nostalgia? Perceived “coolness”? Exoticism? Higher desirability due to a “better” quality of ride? Greener? Nobody knows. The specific reason is ultimately not the point. People actively wanting to try Public Transport as a regular thing is the real win.
20- Names! A generation has grown up with Thomas the Tank Engine and know instinctively that all Trams (and trains) should have names. A Streetcar named Mike. Named Christine. Named Sene. Named Len. Named Bob. If we anthropomorphosise each car, people with think of them as “folks they know” rather than number 109. Kids love trams, this system is not just for us, it’s for them, and their kids.
21- Previous Council Support. The ARC under Mike Lee pushed hard for Trams, succeeding with the Wynyard Loop. The ACC had plans to investigate a 4km $16M Tram route. The ACC Transport Committee decreed that it “supports an electric tram proposal in principle and recommends to Auckland Transport that it gives consideration to the proposal as soon as practicable”. In September 2010…
22- Innovative Cities Have Trams. Auckland’s future is about being a “City Of Innovation”. Innovation is about being “ahead of the curve”. One part of being ahead of the curve is Trams. After all these cities are all doing it…
23- “Trams” is a palindrome of “Smart”. ‘Nuff said.
Giants building a tram
We get a lot of conversations in our comments that boil down to expressions of preference for particular Transit modes depending on people’s experiences and values. Those who are most concerned about the cost of infrastructure tend to favour buses, and those who value the qualities that rail offers feel the generally higher capital costs are justified. Often these exchanges do little to shift people from their starting positions because it’s a matter of two different issues talking passed each other; it’s all: ‘but look at the savings’ versus ‘but look at the quality’.
And as it is generally agreed that Auckland needs to upgrade its Transit capabilities substantially I thought it might be a good time to pull back from the ‘mode wars’ with a little cool headed analysis. Because, as we shall see, it really isn’t that simple. It is possible to achieve almost all of what rail fans value with a bus, but only if you are willing to spend a rail-sized amount on building the route. Or alternatively you can build a system that has many of the disadvantages of buses in traffic but with a vehicle that runs on rails.
It’s all about the corridor. Let’s see how….
Above is a chart from chapter 8 of Jarret Walker’s book Human Transit and illustrates Professor Vukan Vuchic’s classification of Transit ‘Running Ways’ or Right Of Way [ROW].
Class A ROW means that the vehicles are separate from any interruptions in their movement so are only delayed when stopping at their own stations as part of their service. In Auckland this is type of infrastructure is classified as the Rapid Transit Network [RTN], and currently is only available to the rail system plus the Northern Busway. So the speed of this service is only limited by the spacing and number of the stops, the dwell time at each stop, and the performance capabilities of the vehicle and system [especially acceleration].
Class B is a system where the vehicle is not strictly on its own ROW but does have forms of privilege compared to the other traffic, such as special lanes and priority at signals. Buses in buslanes are our local example. AT are currently building an ambitious city wide Class B network called the Frequent Transit Network FTN.
Class C is just any Transit vehicle in general traffic. In Auckland that means most buses and the Wynyard Quarter Tram. The buses on the Local Transit Network LTN are our Class C service.
And of course in terms of cost to build these classes it also goes bottom to top; lower to higher cost. And in general it costs more to lay track and buy trains than not, so also left to right, lower to higher. There can be an exception to these rules as with regard to Class A, especially if tunnels and bridges are required as rail uses a narrower corridor and require less ventilation than buses in these environments. Also it should be noted that a bigger electric vehicles on high volume routes are cheaper to operate too, so rail at higher volumes can be cheaper to run than buses over time because of lower fuel costs and fewer staff.
There are also subtleties within these classifications, some of the things that slow down Class C services provide advantages that the greater speed of Class A design doesn’t. Class C typically offers more coverage, stopping more frequently taking riders right to the front door of their destinations. Class B often tries to achieve something in between the convenience of C while still getting closer to the speed of A. Sometimes however, especially if the priority is intermittent or the route planning poor, Class B can simply achieve the worst of both worlds!
There are other considerations too, frequency is really a great asset to a service, as is provides real flexibility and freedom for the customer to arrange their affairs without ever having to fit in with the Transit provider’s plans. And as a rule the closer the classification is to the beginning of the alphabet the higher the frequency should be. Essentially a service isn’t really Class A if it doesn’t have a high frequency.
Then there are other issues of comfort, design, and culture as expressed in the vehicles but also in the whole network that are not insignificant, although will generally do little to make up for poor service design no mater how high these values may be. And these can be fairly subjective too. For example I have a preference for museum pieces to be in, well, museums, but there are plenty of others who like their trams for example to be 50 years old. Design anyway is a holistic discipline, it is not just about appearance; a brilliantly efficient and well performing system is a beautiful thing.
Other concerns include environmental factors, especially emissions and propulsion systems. On these counts currently in Auckland the trains and the buses are generally as bad as each other, both being largely old and worn out carcinogen producing diesel units. This is the one point that the little heritage tourist tram at Wynyard is a head of the pack. The newer buses are an improvement, I’m sure this fact has much to do with the success of the Link services, despite them remaining fairly poor Class C services.
We are only getting new Double Deckers because better corridors for existing buses grew the demand
So in summary the extent to which a Transit service is free from other traffic has a huge influence on its appeal whatever the kit. A highly separated service is likely to be faster than alternatives, is more able to keep to its schedule reliably, and offer a smoother ride. These factors in turn lead to higher demand so the route will be able able to justify higher frequency, upgraded stations, newer vehicles and so on. This one factor, all else being equal, will lead to positive feedbacks for the service and network as a whole.
Currently Auckland has a core RTN service of the Rail Network and the Northern Busway forming our only Class A services. So how do they stack up? The trains only run at RTN frequency on the week day peaks, and even then aspects of the route, especially on the Western Line undermine this classification. The Newmarket deviation and the closeness of the stations out West make this route a very dubious candidate for Class A. At least like all rail services is doesn’t ever give way to other traffic. The Onehunga line needs doubling or at least a passing section to improve frequencies.
Unlike the Northern Busway services, which are as we know only on Class A ROW 41% of the time. So while the frequency is much better on the busway than the trains they drop right down to Class C on the bridge and in the city.
Of course over the next couple of years the trains are going to improve in an enormous leap and importantly not just in appearance, comfort, noise and fumes [plus lower running cost], but importantly in frequency and reliability. A real Class A service pattern of 10 min frequencies all day all week is planned [except the O-Line].
Hand won improvements to the network and service were built on the back of the brave plan to run second hand old trains on the existing network and have led directly to AK getting these beauties soon.
But how about the rest of the RTN; the Northern Busway? Shouldn’t it be a matter of urgency to extend Class A properties to the rest of this already highly successful service?
-permanent buslanes on Fanshaw and Customs Streets- this is being worked on I believe
-permanent buslanes on the bridge- NZTA won’t consider this
-extend the busway north with new stations- that’s planned.
-improve the vehicles in order to up the capacity, appeal, and efficiency- that’s happening too with double deckers.
I will turn to looking at where we can most effectively expand the Class A RTN network to in a following post.
But now I just want to return briefly to look at what these classifications help us understand about other things we may want for our city. Below is an image produced by the Council of a possible future for Queen St. Much reaction to this image, positive and negative, has been focussed on the vehicle in the middle. The Tram, or Light Rail Transit. Beautiful thing or frightening cost; either way the improvement to the place is not dependant on this bit of kit.
My view is that we should focus on the corridor instead, work towards making Queen St work first as a dedicated Transit and pedestrian place with our existing technology, buses, which will then build the need, or desirability, of upgrading the machines to something better. Why? because it is the quality of the corridor that provides the greater movement benefit, and with that benefit banked we will then have the demand to focus more urgently on other choices for this route. Furthermore, because of the significantly higher cost of adding a new transit system by postponing that option we able be able to get the first part done sooner or at all.
And because we are now getting auto-dependency proponents claiming to support more investment in buses [yes Cameron Brewer* that's you] we have an opportunity to call their bluff and get funding for some great Transit corridors by using their disingenuous mode focus. And thereby greatly improve the city.
So it is best that we don’t focus so much on the number of humps on the beast, but rather on the route it will use. The flasher animal will follow.
* These types don’t really support buses at all; they just pretend to support buses because when they say bus they mean road and when they mean road they mean car. How can we know this? Because they attack bus priority measures. But it is very encouraging that they now find themselves having to even pretend to see the need for Transit in Auckland. This is new.
News this morning that Waterfront Auckland is looking to shut down the Wynyard Quarter tram.
The future of Auckland’s trams is on the line after a sudden decision by the council’s waterfront agency to withdraw funds needed to keep them running. The decision by Waterfront Auckland’s board over the fate of Wynyard Quarter’s two vintage trams and their 1.5km circuit – after just 18 months of operation – has come as a bolt from the blue for Mayor Len Brown and his transport committee chairman, Mike Lee. Mr Lee, who headed the former Auckland Regional Council when it set aside $8 million for the initial circuit, was last night scathing of the decision, on top of a “failure of management” by the agency in delaying plans to extend the tracks to Britomart. The decision casts grave doubt on such an extension, to which the new Auckland Council allocated a further $8.2 million.
The debate about the merits of the tram is an interesting one. If it is left as, only looping around Wynyard, then it is nothing more than an expensive gimmick and one that doesn’t serve any kind of useful transport purpose. With Wynyard also still a long way away from being a bustling hub of commercial and residential development, there is little to attract people to use it in its current state.
At the time it was being built, many people described the Wynyard loop as a beachhead, the first step in building a new tram network and that is where the real benefit of it lies. Extending the tracks to Britomart enables it to be become part of the cities transport network. With more developments, like the new ASB building, popping up in the future there are expected to be more than 10,000 people working in Wynyard Quarter. Getting the tram to Britomart will allow for many of those workers to use it to get from trains or ferries to their offices.
Of course as Stu is bound to remind us, we do already have the red City Link buses that do exactly this. I guess my response to that is that the trams are a place making activity. They are the same as how that don’t need streetscape upgrades or shared spaces to allow people to walk yet we build them due to the nicer environment they create. Longer term I think that the entire City Link bus route is an ideal candidate to be replaced by modern trams, tied in with plans to pedestrianise Queen St. This is effectively what is proposed in the City Centre Master Plan.
CCMP – Queen St Tram
Perhaps the most worrying aspects of the report this morning is the suggestion that there are issues with integrating the tram into the upgrade of Daldy St and that there are squabbles going on between Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Transport. If it is true then both issues need to be sorted out very quickly.
I can live with the tram being stopped for now on the provision that A) any upgrade to the streets around Wynyard doesn’t prevent the tram from running in the future, B) that we still commit to extending the route to Britomart soon and C) that there is a guarantee that when that that extension is completed, the trams are restarted again straight away.
Are you passionate about cities? Want to know more about public transport?
If so then you might be interested in an upcoming event being held at the University of Auckland: “Get Connected – Futures in Public Transport” (NB: The link takes you to the Facebook page for the event, where you can RSVP). On the night (19 March) you will get the opportunity to hear from the following speakers:
- Jarrett Walker - who has 20 years experience working on public transport projects across the Asia-Pacific, especially the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. FYI Jarrett was the lead consultant on the recent re-design of Auckland’s PT network. Jarrett currently resides in Portland but – as mentioned in this earlier post - he has a soft-spot for Auckland, which he describes as:
“… New Zealand’s largest city, the focal point of an agrarian nation’s ambivalence about urban life. If you’re a young North American who wonders what Seattle was like 40 years ago when I was a tyke — before Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks — Auckland’s your answer. To a visitor accustomed to North American or European levels of civic vanity, it often seems that Auckland still doesn’t know how beautiful it is. That’s always an attractive feature, in cities as in people, even though (or perhaps because) it can’t possibly last.”
- Anthony Cross – who is employed by Auckland Transport in the enviable position of “Public Transport Network Planning Manager” (aka “PTNPM”). Anthony was raised in Auckland but spent much of his early professional career working in Wellington. After helping the Capital’s public transport network become one of the most efficient and effective in Australasia, he was kidnapped by our oompa loompas and brought to Auckland. We managed to convince him to stay after promising him a job title that sounded important but was difficult to say.
- Joshua Arbury – since founding the Auckland Transport Blog (I can hear the cries of gleeful appreciation resonate across Auckland) Josh has upped sticks and moved onto greener – in the money sense – transport pastures at the Auckland Council, where he now occupies the position of Principal Transport Planner. My oompa loopma spies at Council inform me Josh can speak knowledgeably and with ease on any transport and land use topic, particularly the transport sections of the Auckland Plan. And that he loves his daughters.
- Pippa Mitchell – last but certainly not least we have Pippa. In her career Pippa has worked on a range of complex and fascinating projects, such as the roll-out of real-time information at bus stops. She has also worked on some not so interesting projects (haven’t we all!), such as bus stop re-locations. I would expect Pippa to inject some level-headed reality into the evening’s discourse, because we don’t want anyone to finish the evening having listened to Jarrett, Anthony, and Josh and come away thinking that it’s all drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll in this industry.
That’s not all. In between these distinguished and knowledgeable speakers you will also get to hear from our very own Patrick Reynolds; a man who is known for his enthusiasm, beautiful photos, and occasional words of random wisdom.
You know that if you give enough monkeys enough time banging away on a keyboard then chances are they will eventually churn out a word-for-word version of Hamlet? Well the same goes for Patrick when he’s talking about transport – eventually, and after much gnashing of teeth, he will say things that are both intelligent and witty. If for nothing else, you should come along to the evening and listen to Patrick (NB: Patrick I do love you).
Here’s the event flyer if you’re interested (kudos to Kent); please remember to RSVP through the Facebook event page for catering purposes. Important notes:
- For those not in Auckland we will try to video the event so it can subsequently be uploaded on onto the blog; and
- The point of the event is to get people (especially students) thinking about PT careers. It is not to debate the PT situation in Auckland.
P.P.s You will note that some of the people in the photo below are illuminated. This represents current peak hour bus mode share, i.e. a little less than half of people travelling into the city in peak periods arrive by bus.
The following is a guest post by regular reader and tram and heritage aficionado; the always analogue Geoff Houtman.
Last February, the Western Bays Community Group was asked to come with a “Ponsonby Road Plan”. We have received hundreds of suggestions to the deliberately open questions,- “What would you like more of?”, “Less of?”, and “None of?”. This is the first in a series of posts based on the answers received.
Ponsonby Rd Lane Uses
Three options are presented below, incorporating those ideas relating to the Roadway. Firstly though, let’s look at what we currently have.
Ponsonby Rd is a little over a mile long (1724m) running basically North-South. The Roadway is generally 18-19 metres wide and divided into 6 or 7 lanes; the two outermost being parallel street parking, with two general traffic lanes each North and South bound and a central median designed to facilitate right hand turning at nearly every side street and intersection. There is no cycling priority at any point. And very scant bus privilege at the southern end plus the mostly mid block bus stops. Clearways operates to speed peak traffic on the section between Williamson and Crummer Rds. At its northern Three Lamps end Ponsonby Rd is one-way, just before it meets Jervois and Crummer Rds. Redmond St and the top of Pompallier Tce have also been one-wayed to handle all of Ponsonby road’s north bound traffic movements for this section.
Can we make it better? Here are three possibilities based on community suggestions.
Traffic cut to one lane each way, Cycleway runs beside the footpath with vehicle parking between it and the traffic lane, Light Rail or buses use dedicated centre lanes.
Footpaths are pushed out a lane on each side, bike lane, then parking and one lane general traffic each way, PT lanes removed, painted median/turning lanes retained.
Parking lanes contain spaced trees, one general traffic lane each way, Cycleway brackets PT lanes.
Do any of these choices seem like an improvement? Do you have any better ideas?
UPDATE: Thanks to all the commenters, based on your helpful advice an Option D has been created. The cycles lanes are now buffered from moving traffic by footpaths and combined parking/ tree lanes. A bus has been added in the PT lanes to indicate their continued viability until the next oil price rise and the possible return of light rail/ trams. On a technical note the parking lanes are now only 2m wide instead of the previous 2.5.
There’s a lot I agree with in Stu’s post yesterday about being careful how we look to grow the public transport market and focusing on low-hanging fruit before trying to convince rich people to give up the BMW’s by building super-expensive light-rail lines everywhere. However, there’s an interesting area where I’m not sure I do agree with Stu – and that is in relation to what emphasis we should place on making public transport faster. Here’s what Stu says:
Before wrapping this up, I think it’s also worth mentioning that some aspects of this discussion are related to an earlier post on generational differences. That is, because most of our transport decision makers (including myself) fall into the 19-65 age-group there is a natural tendency for us to propose solutions that address our needs, rather than the needs of our users. This can result, for example, in a undue focus on high-speed services. For their part, PT users seem to not value speed – or more accurately “travel-time” – as much as other attributes, such as frequency, reliability, simplicity, and affordability.
There are some really important discussions and debates which fall out of this issue and come down to the fundamental reasons why people choose either one mode of transport or another. Should we focus on improving speed of service if it comes at the cost of reduced convenience of stops (such as spacing bus stops further apart)? How important are fast services compared to simplicity – like the debate over whether there should be express bus services or not? How important is increasing speed, if it comes at quite a high cost and therefore might require an increase in fares to reflect that investment (or an increase in rates or petrol taxes or foregone investment elsewhere)?
Stu’s arguments are very similar to those made by Jarrett Walker in the book Human Transit.In Human Transit Jarrett critiques much of the focus on speed on the ground that it’s generally people who mainly drive (and therefore understand the concept of improving speed) thinking that public transport works exactly the same way. Of course public transport is more complex in the sense that other issues like reliability and frequency matter a lot as well. Along with other, more difficult to quantify matters such as simplicity and ease of understanding of a PT network, quality of waiting facilities and so forth.
Perhaps what’s really key here is to focus on improving public transport speed as actually meaning improving the time it takes to get from your door to where you’re going, including wait times, including transfer times, including how long it takes you to walk to the stop and so on. In this sense, the actual speed your vehicle goes is going to have a fairly tiny influence on the speed of your entire trip (i.e. how long it takes to get from A to B). What’s going to matter a lot more are things like:
- How frequently does the service come? (i.e. if I turn up randomly how long am I likely to have to wait)
- How long does it take for people to board the service? (this matters a lot for buses when they’re stopping to pick up passengers all the time)
- Does the service get stuck in traffic congestion or does it have a dedicated lane?
- Does the service have to wait at traffic lights all the time or is there a clever pre-emptive phasing system?
- Does the service take a straight line from A to B or does it go all over the place down every back street imaginable?
At risk of falling into the trap that Stu outlines above, it is the excruciatingly long time that public transport takes for most non-commuting trips which puts me off using it for pretty much anything other than getting to work. Even for getting to work, catching the bus is far slower than driving would be (probably at least twice the time), but as I don’t want to shell out for parking each day I catch the bus.
By contrast, in cities where public transport seems to be used for a wide variety of trips every little piece of the system seems dedicated to making your trip time as short as possible. Frequencies are high, dedicated infrastructure is provided to separate the service from congestion (whether that be bus lanes or rail infrastructure), routes are straight, traffic lights turn green when the bus/tram approach them and – yes – the services are fast. In a successful PT system the weighting given to all these competing factors (frequency vs speed, simplicity vs speed etc.) varies by the area being looked at. In inner suburbs frequency and simplicity are perhaps more important than sheer physical speed because a greater proportion of the trip is likely to be waiting for the bus/train to turn up. For longer trips speed becomes more important because you’re on the service for much longer.
I’m guessing that perhaps Stu’s position is not as different to mine as you might think – because it comes down to defining what is actually meant by “speed”. In my mind we do need to make public transport a lot faster. However the most important ways to do that in the vast majority of cases won’t be through making the vehicles travel quicker when they’re at top speed – instead it’ll be things like better frequencies, straighter bus routes, faster boarding times and the most important of all…
…A WHOLE HEAP MORE BUS LANES!
Peter M’s recent post on “Making light rail make sense” threw up a lot of interesting comments.
One of the more interesting arguments went something along the lines of “many people will never catch a bus so we should invest in rail“. I find this line of argument interesting because it expresses a view (about how to grow public transport patronage) that differs substantially from my own. Having spent last night tossing and turning with this issue rolling around in my head, I thought it would be worthwhile to fritter away more time on Sunday writing this blog post.
Anyhoo, when people argue that the best way to grow public transport patronage is to invest in rail they tend to invoke the following logic:
- Premise 1: There’s a large group of people out there who don’t use public transport (true)
- Premise 2: Many of these people have preconceived notions of the merits of rail versus bus technologies, which typically favour the former (also true)
- Conclusion: Therefore growing public transport patronage is best achieved through investment in rail
While I agree with both premises, I don’t agree with the conclusion for the following two reasons:
- Buses can adopt many of the characteristics that have historically been associated with rail. For example, if people appreciate ride quality, then maybe we should invest in higher quality buses and better road surface and geometry? If people appreciate the speed/reliability of rail, then maybe we should provide buses with similar levels of priority? If there are policies that help rail systems run faster, e.g. pre-paying for tickets, wider stop spacing, and all-door boarding then why not adopt them on buses too? If people are attracted to simpler operating patterns that are more legible then let’s operate our bus system the same way. Basically all of these factors, which people typically associate with rail, are not intrinsic to any particular technology, but instead reflect mutable decisions. The design of the Northern Busway and the Central Connector, for example, exemplify how bus corridors can adopt “rail” characteristics where desirable.
- It presumes the best way to grow patronage is to attract new users. The above argument contains an implicit assumption that the best way to grow patronage is to attract people that are not currently using public transport. But what if your current public transport system is only meeting a proportion of the travel demands of its existing users? In that case would there not be an opportunity to grow patronage by increasing the degree to which public transport meets the travel needs of existing users? And if you consider that younger people tend to use public transport more, does this create the opportunity to grow patronage simply by slowing the rate at which current users stop using PT as they grow older? Stated differently, could we grow public transport patronage by slowing the rate at which existing users becoming non-users.
The first point noted above is, I think, fairly self-evident and does not require much further discussion. All I’d like to clarify is that I’m not suggesting buses can adopt all of rail’s attributes, only pointing out that it is possible for buses to adopt many of the attributes that crop-up most frequently in “mode centric” debates. And by adopting these characteristics buses can effectively narrow (not eliminate) the “quality gap” that many people have in mind when they express a preference for rail.
The second point, I think, is more interesting and deserves further discussion. What I am suggesting here is that attracting “new users” to public transport is only one way of growing patronage. Another way, which would seem to involve less effort, is to expand the degree to which PT meets the needs of existing users and, in particular, slow the rate at which they stop using public transport as they grow older. That is, to focus on patronage retention rather than simple expansion.
Indeed, evidence seems to suggest that in the wake of a PT improvement the most immediate patronage growth is attributable to existing users subsequently choosing to use public transport more. And given that public transport is more popular among younger people, in the long run such improvements may increase the degree to which public transport is incorporated into their future decisions, such as whether to get a drivers license, buy a vehicle, and – perhaps most importantly – the relative locations of their home/work. The logic of this argument could be summarised as follows:
- Premise 1: A large number of relatively young people are currently using public transport to meet a proportion of their travel needs (true)
- Premise 2: These young people will, in the future, have to make many significant transport/lifestyle decisions that will impact on their future demand for public transport (true)
- Conclusion: Therefore growing public transport patronage may be best achieved by focusing on meeting the needs of existing users which, in turn, will slow the rate at which existing users stop using public transport
Some numbers might also help to make this argument a little clearer.
First, consider a stylised world that consists of only three groups of people who are able to be completely characterised by their age-group. In the figure below the x-axis (horizontal) shows these three age-groups, whereas the y-axis (vertical) shows the percentage of trips made by car and public transport for each age-group (the MoT’s HTS hints at similar differences in use of public transport between age-groups, even if the mode share is different).
Hypothetical travel demands from the stylised world of Stuart’s imagination, which is very loosely based on reality.
Now if we know the population weightings for the 0-19, 20-65, and 65+ age groups – and we assume that all groups have the same daily need for travel (which may be approximately true for the 0-19 and 19-65 age groups) – then we can calculate the contribution of each age group to total PT trips, as illustrated below.
Base mode shares
The first thing to note is that while the 0-19 age-group is only 30% of the population, they contribute 60% of all PT trips, which is more than twice as much as the contribution made by the 19-65 age-group. Similarly, while the 65+ age group is only one-sixth of the 19-65 age-group, the former contributes 2/3 of the patronage of the latter.
Using this little hypothetical quantitative framework we can now test a few different scenarios.
Let’s first consider a scenario where we invested heavily in rail with the aim of getting more people in the 19-65 age-group onto public transport. And let’s say that this investment was spectacularly successful, such that the public transport mode share for this age-group doubled from 10% to 20% (highlighted in red), while patronage in the other groups was unaffected (for the purposes of this exercise it’s useful to hold mode shares in other age groups constant). The impact on overall travel demands is summarised in the table below, where the important figure is in the right-hand column, second row from the bottom. This shows that public transport’s share of all trips has increased from 25% to 31% as a result of this investment.
Scenario 1 – Rail centric investment increases PT mode share for 19-65 age-group by 100% and increases overall PT mode share to 31%.
Let’s consider another scenario, where PT investment focuses on users in the 0-19 age-group. This might be, for example, a doubling in the level of concessions for these users and a focus on expanding frequency and span so that public transport meets more of their all-day, all-week travel demands. Let’s also say that this investment increases PT’s market share in the 0-19 age-group by 50%, i.e. from 50% to 75% (highlighted in red), while other groups are unaffected. The impacts on overall travel demands are shown below, where the important number is “32%”. So a 50% increase in PT market share for the 0-19 age-group generates slightly more PT trips than the 100% increase in PT market share for the 19-65 age-group.
Scenario 2a – Network wide investment lifts PT mode share in 0-19 age-group by 50% and increases overall PT mode share to 32%
But that’s not all of course. The second part of my argument observes that investments targeted at younger age groups may impact on their future decisions about how public transport can contribute to their quality of life. Thus, let’s consider a situation where the 0-19 age-group, which is already more favourable to PT, “expands” to include people in the next bracket, i.e. the 20-24 age-group. This is basically arguing that the PT investment made in the previous scenario “slows” the rate at which people transition from the “young” to “middle aged” age-group, at least in terms of their travel patterns. This might occur, for example, if people decide to delay getting their drivers’ license or buying a vehicle, or choosing to live somewhere that enables them to access their work via public transport once they leave university.
The impact slowing down this demographic “shift” is highlighted in red in the table below, where the change in age brackets changes increases PT market share further to 37%.
Scenario 2b – Network wide investment causes an expansion in the size of the younger age-group, which increases overall PT mode share to 37%.
While this hyper-simplified quantitative framework essentially “proves” very little, it is useful for illustrating the differences between the two arguments posed above. A focus on investment that retains existing (in this case younger) users can generate considerable patronage growth, because it combines immediate patronage growth (i.e. an increase in mode share, as per Scenario 2a) with an expansion in the size of the population that views public transport as being relevant to their lives (i.e. an increase in the size of the age-group, as per scenario 2b).
These two somewhat distinct patronage impacts are illustrated by the red arrows in the chart below, where the vertical arrow indicates the increase in mode share and the horizontal arrow indicates an expansion in the age-group.
Ultimately, I think that the investment required to achieve the shifts shown in red above are likely to be easier than getting new people (i.e. the 90% of car users in the 19-65 age-group) onto public transport, mainly because people in the middle age-group will have already made many decisions, e.g. how many cars to own and where to live and work, which reduces the need for and effectiveness of PT. This in turn suggests that shifting these people onto PT, through for example investment in rail service, will be relatively expensive and inefficient because you are effectively fighting against major socio-economic decisions that people have already made.
Some of you might baulk at these conclusions.You could point out that increasing PT mode share from 50% to 75% for the 0-19 age-group is likely to be significantly harder than increasing PT mode share from 10% to 20% for the 19-65 age group (NB: These numbers are made up). Perhaps. It is certainly true that market saturation will kick in at some point, such that the size of the vertical red arrow in the figure would reduce and the role of the horizontal arrow would increase. But on the other hand I’d suggest that public transport in Auckland is far from saturation in any age-group, or indeed any market segment that you can think of. For example, while many young people use PT for travelling to/from school and university, the remainder of their travel demands are likely to be met by cars. Hence even though younger age-groups already use PT proportionally more, I suspect that there remains considerable room for further growth.
As an aside it seems to me that the best way to influence the travel choices of the 19-65 age-group is not by tailoring our public transport improvements to align with their preferences, but instead to change the way that we price and manage the use of private vehicles. This means targeting vehicle use directly through – for example through time-of-use pricing and parking pricing. Of course, in the process of improving the public transport service for existing users we are likely to attract some new users from outside our target markets, and these people definitely should be catered for as required. But they are a positive second-order patronage benefit, rather than the primary driver of investment in the public transport system.
In many ways this message is a relatively non-glamorous one of getting “back to basics”, i.e. placing a bigger emphasis on getting the existing network operating efficiently, rather than worrying too much about the technology being used to deliver it. On a simple level, thinking about public transport patronage this way encourages you to place a higher focus on existing users, rather than potential new users. More specifically, growing public transport patronage starts from having a detailed understanding of (and appreciation for) existing users. This alone can tell you a lot about the types of markets (and PT services) that are likely to generate the most patronage in the future. In my mind the “rail only” approach discussed above unintentionally demeans, or at least undervalues, the preferences of existing users – the majority of whom are using buses.
Before wrapping this up, I think it’s also worth mentioning that some aspects of this discussion are related to an earlier post on generational differences. That is, because most of our transport decision makers (including myself) fall into the 19-65 age-group there is a natural tendency for us to propose solutions that address our needs, rather than the needs of our users. This can result, for example, in a undue focus on high-speed services. For their part, PT users seem to not value speed – or more accurately “travel-time” – as much as other attributes, such as frequency, reliability, simplicity, and affordability. And in my experience relatively few people currently on the bus will complain that the bus is “not a train“.
None of this is to suggest that the attributes associated with rail-based solutions are irrelevant, or that investment in rail won’t attract new passengers – experience shows that it certainly will. But it is intended to highlight that the best way to grow our patronage is probably to focus less on large infrastructure projects and more on small to medium scale improvements to the existing network (whether it be rail, bus, or ferry). These will in turn help to generate more trips from existing users for more years. When you think about public transport from this perspective you realise that passenger retention equates to patronage growth; that the views of existing users, especially the young, are significantly more important than the views of non-users.
Having said all that, what would be my advice for the people at Auckland Transport and Auckland Council who are currently grappling with a slowdown in patronage growth, especially on rail? The first thing I would do, I think, is to get to know my existing customers better; learn to cherish their patronage and respect their choices; and – perhaps most importantly – consider initiatives that will encourage young people to keep using PT even as they get older. Some targeted market research into secondary and tertiary students who are currently using public transport, for example, might be a good place to start. Tertiary students that are about to graduate probably offer the most potential for future patronage growth.
I get the feeling that’s what a good business would do.
A week or so ago I wrote a post about how I think we can make sense out of ferries in the mix of Auckland’s public transport system. I think my key conclusion was that ferries do make sense in certain locations and we should try to take advantage of where they do make sense rather than pushing new routes all the time. Another piece of the public transport jigsaw puzzle is light-rail (or trams). In a number of ways light-rail is actually quite similar to ferries – it has its ardent supporters, it’s pretty expensive (although more in terms of capex while ferries are expensive in terms of opex) yet it also probably makes sense in some circumstances.
Let’s look at those circumstances, firstly by seeing what light-rail’s general advantages and disadvantages are compared to other modes. This is reasonably well summarised in a useful Australian Transport Study that highlights the importance of mode-neutrality when assessing transport projects (in other words, finding the best solution and recognising that all modes have a role to play in the right circumstances):Definitions of different modes is a much debated area, particularly when we’re discussing the “in between” modes of bus rapid transit and light-rail. In my mind there’s effectively a gradation of different types of both technologies – ranging from both buses and trams running in mixed traffic right through to Northern Busway style style bus operations or completed grade separated light-rail.
My general opinion is that in mixed traffic there’s little, if any, advantage to be had from running a tram or light-rail vehicle compared to a bus – as the capacity of the corridor is not determined by the vehicle itself but by the amount of congestion in that lane. At the other end of the scale once we’re talking about full grade separation it seems that light-rail once again doesn’t offer too many advantages over either a busway (which will be a cheaper) or heavy rail (which may be of similar cost but will have much higher capacity). Vancouver Skytrain style light-metro systems are a different issue entirely and have been covered extensively previously in posts that I’ve made.
The most obvious improvement to make as bus patronage grows along a route (or where there’s potential for fairly high bus patronage) is to install a bus lane. By separating the buses from general traffic, the capacity of the lane increases pretty dramatically while reliability and speeds of the bus services also improve a lot. With bus lanes being cheap and quick to implement, in the vast majority of situations probably the most important thing we can do to improve our public transport infrastructure is through extended, new and improved bus lanes.
However bus lanes only suffice up to a certain level of use – something which in many ways was the key finding of the City Centre Future Access Study’s Deficiency Analysis. In terms of buses per hour this is shown below:
Once you start to push the limit of a bus lane the results are fairly ugly:Before I go on to discuss the different options for what to do when a bus lane hits capacity I think it’s worth noting the difference between high frequency bus corridors where a large number of buses converge on a particular street (think Symonds Street or Fanshawe Street) compared to a high frequency bus corridor where frequencies are high of a single route (think Dominion Road north of Mt Roskill). Analysis tends to suggest that simply adding more and more buses in the latter situation hits a limit where it’s not really adding much value anymore as the buses tend to get in each other’s way as they’re all trying to do the same thing but not achieving it particularly well. Of course you can run local/express splits to reduce this problem but once again eventually you’ll hit a wall.
Now moving on, once a basic bus lane no longer has sufficient capacity there are a few options for what you can do about it – and the right solution is likely to depend on the circumstance:
- Upgrade to a higher-quality BRT bus based system. This could involve median bus lanes, a semi-grade separated median busway (like proposed for AMETI) or a full grade separated busway (like the Northern Busway between Akoranga and Constellation).
- Build heavy rail. This could involve a new line completely or extensions to existing lines. It could be underground, at grade or elevated.
- Build light-rail. In this scenario I’m thinking about something that runs at street level in its own lanes but isn’t grade separated at intersections.
What’s probably going to make or break which of the three solutions above is most appropriate will be a number of criteria – the most important in my mind being the level of additional capacity required, the nature of existing infrastructure and the land-use impacts of the option. Oh, and of course the cost. Let’s explore this with a few case studies.
In the case of the City Rail Link project, future growth in public transport demand to the city centre effectively overwhelms the bus network (and the rail network at a later date) requiring something to happen in order to retain high quality access to Auckland’s city centre and around the region. Enhanced bus solutions don’t really work because our existing infrastructure only has a busway to the north whereas railway lines spread out west, east and south – as well as not working due to the capacity required (which would take away too much road space to provide for with buses alone) and also the land-use impact (widened approach roads throughout the isthmus). Light-rail doesn’t really work either as it’s of insufficient capacity and doesn’t integrate with the existing infrastructure.
In the case of the AMETI busway corridor, heavy rail is probably cost-prohibitive due to the need to get across the Tamaki River, while light-rail gets stuck between the need for a lot of feeder buses into Botany and then heavy rail connections at Panmure and Ellerslie at the route’s potential other end. In this situation the busway makes pretty good sense.
In the case of Dominion Road’s long term future, things start to get interesting. Because of the corridor’s significant heritage and character value, large-scale widening for a massively upgraded bus solution is unlikely to ever be feasible. Even widening the existing bus lanes outside the retail centres along the route proved to be impossible to make ‘stack up’. Heavy rail is clearly infeasible at street level or elevated and is almost certainly cost prohibitive underground – so light rail starts to look like it could be worth exploring further. Further potential aspects in favour of light-rail on Dominion Road include its huge potential as a high-intensity mixed-use corridor where amenity of the street environment is important as a shaper of land-use patterns. Plus the route is potentially well anchored at the city end by putting the tracks down Queen Street (probably via Ian McKinnon Drive) and at the southern end by a future rail station/bus hub – so it’s likely to be a single route without any deviations or branches.
Perhaps in summary we can try to distill a clear rationale behind situations where light-rail might make sense for Auckland. I think it’s in situations where demand along a single corridor (rather than where a number of corridors come together) can no longer be efficiently provided for by standard bus lanes and where land-use factors make either enhanced bus priority options or heavy rail infeasible or cost-prohibitive.
In my mind this is a fairly difficult test to pass and I don’t actually think any corridor in Auckland at the moment (perhaps except for Queen Street) would fit the criteria. This will probably annoy some, who want to run trams everywhere and anywhere, including seemingly with mixed traffic along Ponsonby Road. It might annoy others who think that light-rail is an expensive folly which doesn’t make any sense in Auckland. If I annoy both sides of the debate then I’ve probably got it just about right.
I guess this is what happens when you have a centre-right government that isn’t completely insane in its ideological dislike of public transport:
Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced light rail would be built through the Sydney CBD to Randwick and Kingsford to reduce congestion and revitalise the city.
The estimated $1.6 billion 12 kilometre light rail project will link Circular Quay and Central via George Street, the Moore Park sporting and entertainment precinct including the Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium, Randwick Racecourse, the University of NSW and Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.
Light rail will be built in parallel with the implementation of a redesigned bus network to significantly reduce the number of buses clogging the CBD during the peak.
Around 40 per cent of George Street will be pedestrianised, between Bathurst Street and Hunter Street, for light rail – meaning 60 per cent of George Street will still be accessible to private vehicles.
“This is a once-in-a-generation project to revitalise the centre of Sydney by reducing congestion and offering a fast, attractive public transport option to key locations,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“The NSW Government is getting on with the job of building for the future.”
There’s already another well advanced plan for extending the existing inner-west light-rail line significantly, as shown below:
And here’s the CBD and southeast scheme:Looking at the light-rail plans in a bit more detail, there are some remarkable similarities between what Sydney is trying to achieve through a number of public transport initiatives and what Auckland’s trying to achieve through the City Rail Link. Things like:
- Reducing the number of buses travelling along busy inner city streets
- Providing better reliability and service quality for public transport
- Improving the pedestrian experience of the inner city
- Boosting employment and economic growth
For example, Sydney really struggles with the huge number of buses entering its CBD during the peak period – which this light-rail project as well as a reorganisation of the bus network will help resolve.I do wonder why centre-right politicians in Australia don’t seem to have the same ideological dislike of public transport as seems to be the case in New Zealand.