More Speed and Red Light Cameras on the way

Auckland is to get more red light cameras

Red light running a focus for Police and Auckland Transport

Police and Auckland Transport are working together to reduce risk for road users at key Auckland intersections by installing red light cameras.

Seven new red light camera sites will operate across Auckland next year.

Police will own and run two digital, dual function cameras capable of recording vehicles that run red lights and/or speed through intersections. They will initially operate in red-light mode only. This will bring the total number of red light camera sites across Auckland to 17.

Police and Auckland Transport selected the sites on the basis of NZ Transport Agency analysis, which identified intersections where red light cameras would likely enhance road safety.

Road users will see infrastructure, including poles and camera housings, going up this month. Cameras will go through a period of rigorous testing before being switched to enforcement mode next year. Police and Auckland Transport will make sure drivers are given fair warning before any infringement notices are issued.

The new cameras are part of wider programmes run by both organisations to encourage safer driving. Auckland Transport has recently delivered a Red Means Stop education and enforcement campaign supported by the Police, and a follow up campaign will be run in February.

“Red light running is an issue of great concern in Auckland,” says Karen Hay, Community and Road Safety Manager at Auckland Transport. “We are pleased to be working with Police and our road safety partners on this initiative. We all need to take care at intersections to reduce the risk of someone getting injured or killed. ”

Inspector Peter McKennie, Operations Manager Road Policing, believes motorists will welcome the push to make intersections safer. “There’s a sense that red light running is a very selfish action – it’s a genuine threat to people’s safety, which saves one road-user a minute or two.” However, he warns that no amount of regulation can keep us safe from inattention or recklessness. “Drivers still need to keep themselves safe and check that the way is clear even when they have right of way. Never assume a green light automatically means you are safe to go.”

This is good to see although if anything 17 intersections in total across all of Auckland doesn’t seem like a great deal.

  • Auckland CBD – Halsey Street & Fanshawe Street
  • Avondale – Ash Street & Rosebank Road
  • Pakuranga – Pigeon Mountain & Pakuranga Road
  • East Tamaki – Te Irirangi Drive & Smales Road
  • East Tamaki – Chapel Road & Stancombe Road
  • Lambie Drive Interchange (east-bound off-ramp)
  • Botany – Te Irirangi & Tī Rakau Drives

Some further information

  • The NZ Transport Agency asked independent transport consultants to develop a methodology to identify intersections where red light cameras would likely enhance road safety. Police and Auckland Transport selected sites for these cameras from the 75 sites prioritised on the basis of potential crash-reduction savings.
  • Police’s dual function speed and red-light cameras use the latest non-invasive detection systems. The system comprises two radars and a camera. The primary radar scans and tracks vehicles as they approach the intersection. If a vehicle crosses the stop line during a red-light phase, a camera photographs the rear of the vehicle. A second radar (known as the validation radar) ensures the photograph taken is of the breaching vehicle.
  • Like all Police enforcement equipment, each camera will be rigorously tested to make sure it meets Police’s strict operating criteria. Transport law requires speed cameras to be checked (calibrated) and certified every year. Police operates a laboratory that is accredited under international standards to calibrate and certify all police enforcement equipment including speed cameras.
  • During the period 2009-2013 there were 634 injury crashes and 1277 non-injury crashes caused by red light running in the Auckland area.
  • Police will calibrate Auckland Transport’s cameras, process images and issue resulting infringement notices.

At the same time the Police are also expanding their static speed camera locations. Three new digital cameras have gone up around Totara Park and in Otahuhu with more to come.

Police new static camera locations

City Centre Priority Cycle Routes

An update to the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (page 25) provides some new information about improvements to cycling planned for the CBD and include some artist impressions of just what they might look like – although unfortunately because it comes from a document that appears to have been scanned the quality of the images leaves a bit to be desired.

The update is from Auckland Transport and they say there are six top priority projects and a map of them is below.

  • North-South Cycle route (Nelson St)
  • Beaumont St/Westhaven Dr Cycleway
  • Quay St Cycleway
  • East West Route
  • K Rd Cycleway
  • Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway

CBD Cycling priority routes

Working through them

North-South Cycle route (Nelson St)

This has been divided into two stages. Stage one is the old Nelson St Off ramp bridge through to Victoria St – which is due to be completed by the middle of 2015 – and stage two is the section north of Victoria St as well as Union St. On Nelson St there will be a two way protected cycle lane on the Western side – which is presumably easier due to less carpark entrances. AT say it’s currently undecided which route they will build to get to Quay St either going by Nelson St – Sturdee St – Lower Hobson St or taking the route along Victoria St and then down Hobson St. Personally I think they probably need to do both.

AT have listed a range of constraints and issues for the project and almost comically one of these is that Nelson St is a constrained road corridor with narrow lanes. Below is an image of what the cycleway might look like.

Nelson St cycleway

Beaumont St/Westhaven Dr Cycleway

Readers may recall this one which I wrote about a few months ago. The plan was to install a separated cycle lane down the western side of Beaumont St to lead to the new Westhaven path currently under construction. Unfortunately the marine industry the cycleway would go past were up in arms about the loss of carparking despite them having significant off street parking and the on street carparks often being empty.

Unfortunately it seems that Auckland Transport have caved to their demands and are now only proposing a shared path despite their only issues list stating that high pedestrian volumes are an issue.

This is the only one of the projects that doesn’t have an image associated with it.

Quay St Cycleway

AT will create a two-way separated cycleway on the Northern side of Quay St by removing the median islands and some dedicated right turn lanes then turning one of the existing traffic lanes over for cyclists.

Quay St Cycleway

East West Route

This could be one of the most important of the lot – and not just because it’s the only route through the core of the CBD rather than skirting around the edge of it. It will link Grafton Rd, Wellesley St East, Kitchener St and Victoria St. It will also contain a direct link from the newly opened Grafton Gully. The plan calls for one way protected cycling routes on either side Victoria St, a two way path on Kitchener St past the Art Gallery and a shared path along Wellesley St.

Wellesley St corridor Cycling

K Rd Cycleway

This is of course a project that Generation Zero have pushed and it is set to become a reality. AT say the design will have one way protected cycle lanes on either side of the road. They are also looking at what happens with the four traffic lanes along the route. The two options are either two general traffic lanes and the outside lanes as peak hour bus/parking lanes or four general traffic lanes with no bus or parking provision.

K Rd Cycleway

Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway

With the opening of the Grafton Gully Cycleway there is an even clearer gap in the network of the NW cycleway. Currently users have to climb up the side of the Newton Rd motorway onramp, cross Newton Rd then drop back down to Ian McKinnon Dr to a poor quality shared path. It would be far better to be able to connect to and travel alongside Ian McKinnon on a safe cycleway. A two way cycleway is being proposed that would travel through Suffolk St Reserve which is land the NZTA already has a designation over and would then travel up Ian McKinnon Dr. For Ian McKinnon Dr there were two options considered, using the berm and NZTA land which would have required works such as significant retaining walls or to take a lane off the road itself. AT have opted for that option and suggest removing an outbound lane.

Ian McKinnon Cycleway

Overall there are some really good projects here and they all feel like they need to be completed yesterday however only the first stage of the North South Cycle Route (Nelson St) and the Beaumont/Westhaven Dr project have funding so the rest will be at the mercy of the councils LTP funding discussion.

AT Metro Launched

Last week we mentioned about how Auckland Transport was launching a new PT brand. That occurred yesterday and as well as new look buses, they have also launched a new brand for their public transport operations – AT Metro.

Auckland Transport has unveiled its new look for public transport in the city.

At a ceremony in Auckland the Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse and Auckland Transport Chairman Dr Lester Levy launched the AT Metro brand which will be phased in over three years, starting with LINK services and the Northern Express.

The single brand identity will be differentiated by colour for different types of services and will gradually be applied to buses, trains and ferries.

Auckland Transport’s General Manager Marketing and Customer Experience Mike Loftus says a single identity will give Aucklanders and visitors a clearer understanding of what public transport is on offer, and how buses, trains and ferries serve different areas.

“Most metropolitan cities have a single brand network that is easy to recognise and enables clear, consistent communication with customers.”

“Currently in Auckland there is no single identity, we have a variety of brands and looks. Customers relate to buses by the operator name rather than the wider public transport network”.

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Public Transport Mark Lambert says having a single public transport network will ultimately build public confidence in the developing and improving PT system. “Knowing that all the services are integrated and part of the same system will help grow patronage”.

The implementation of the livery is already underway and budgeted for the electric trains.

Costs for the bus fleet will be kept to a minimum through:

  • retention of ocean blue for Rapid Network services (Northern Express is already this colour).
  • retention of red, green, orange and light blue for existing targeted services of the City LINK, Inner LINK, Outer LINK and Airbus.
  • the rest of the bus fleet to be transitioned as part of new contracts and costs incurred through new contract rates.

Mr Lambert says Auckland’s bus operators are aware of the changes and are working with Auckland Transport.

The Auckland Plan looks to double public transport trips from 70 million in 2012 to 140 million in 2022. The Auckland Plan’s priorities for Auckland’s transport system include “a single system transport network approach that manages current congestion problems and accommodates future business population growth to encourage a shift toward public transport.”

I was at the launch and here are some photos of the new look buses. It is definitely a much simpler and less busy looking livery. My favourite thing about the look is that the windows are not obscured like they are on some buses now. I’m also not quite sure I like the bright yellow on the front of the Northern Express buses.

The Double Decker Northern Express

Double Decker

As a comparison this is what it looked like previously.

NEX Double Decker 7

A single deck Northern Express bus. The standard non RTN buses look the same but with grey and blue on the front rather than yellow.

Single Deck NEX

The Link Buses

Inner Link

Outer Link

City Link

Station Boarding Stats for 2013/14

Late last week Auckland Transport provided me with some fascinating stats related that broke down rail patronage results by station. The data is for the previous financial year -so from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 – and covers 10.05 million trips out of the 11.44 million that took place. The difference between the two figures is primarily made up of special event patronage and legacy tickets still in use such as child monthly passes. Perhaps the best thing about the data though is that for the first time we can see how many people travelled from each station to each other station on the network. Getting this kind of information is one of the reasons that having customers not just tag on but also tag off with HOP is so useful.

The last time we had some station specific data was back in May which showed monthly patronage from July 13 to March 14 (although it was missing August)

In this post I’m just going to scratch the surface of what insights the data provides so please feel free to dig deeper into it and it would be great to see what kind of interesting visualisations you can come up with (and if you do please share them on here first).

To start with here is a map Kent has put together showing all boardings by station.

The data behind that is in the table below along with the number of people alighting at each station. There are a couple of things I notice straight away from the data.

  • There are a hell of a lot of people not tagging off with 5.5% failing to do so. Of course we don’t know where this is happening but I would assume that apart from Britomart and Newmarket which have gates, that it’s fairly proportionate across the network.
  • There has been a big surge in use of Henderson. In all previous figures that we’ve seen including the ones up to March this year Henderson has been around 8th to 11th busiest station based on the number of boardings and was 11th in that earlier data. It has now shot up to become the 4th busiest station which is a massive jump and could be one of the big reasons behind the rise in patronage we’ve seen on the Western line. Interestingly it hasn’t had the same sort of increase in people alighting (unless they make up a lot of the unknowns).
  • Manukau has been the biggest mover after Henderson which has gone from 34th at the end of March to 38th. Panmure is also continuing to climb the station rankings and I’ve heard suggestions that some month’s patronage has been more than double the same month in 2013.
  • The bottom three stations are unchanged although the exact order has shifted slightly. All three combined make up just 0.9% of all patronage. We know Waitakere is set to close once the Western Line is electrified and AT in the past have suggested closing both Westfield and Te Mahia, both of which were being decided on at the AT Board meeting yesterday.
  • Britomart dominates patronage but not as much as you would think. Trips to and from Britomart make up just 55% of all patronage which is less than most people would probably think.

Station Patronage 2013-14

The results get more interesting when you start to look at where people are travelling to and from. As an example for my local station – Sturges Rd – I can see just 37% of people boarding a train there go to Britomart.

Trips from Sturges Rd 2013-14

The two graphs below show the boarding and alighting at each station on a trip towards Britomart (Newmarket boardings are not included).

In the Western Line graph below it highlights that for Western Line passengers, Grafton has now edged out Newmarket as the second most important destination. For the Western line just 40% of people onboard a train bound for Britomart travel all the way.

West Line towards City 2013-14

The profile of the Southern/Eastern lines is quite a bit different with Britomart dominating more and taking 67% of all the trips for trains heading towards the city.

South Lines towards City 2013-14 - 2

It’s fantastic to final get this level of detail and I look forward to when we’ll be able to see it on a regular basis plus see it for at least the Busway stations too.

As mentioned above it would be neat to see what visualisations of the data you can come up with. The data is here.

Regional Land Transport Plan throws up a few surprises

Today the Auckland Transport board are meeting, I’ve already covered the board report and in this post I’ll look at the draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP). As a brief description the RLTP

  • Sets out the strategic direction for transport in Auckland including how AT proposes to give effect to the transport components of the Auckland Plan and AT’s strategic themes within the fiscal constraints of the funding provided in the LTP.
  • Is consistent with the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.
  • Brings together objectives, policies and performance measures for each mode of transport.
  • Sets out a programme of activities to contribute to this strategic direction. It outlines both the Basic Transport Network and the Auckland Plan Transport Network.
  • Includes transport activities to be delivered by NZTA, KiwiRail, the NZ Police, AC and AT.

The draft RLTP will be open for public submission from 23 January – 16 March 2015 which is the same time as the council’s Long Term Plan (LTP). We already know much of the detail about what the RLTP holds as it has come out as part the discussion of the LTP over the last few weeks. In particular that there are two transport networks proposed, what’s known as the Basic Transport Programme – a severely constrained network that will see many critical projects such as new transport interchanges put on hold – or what’s known as the Auckland Plan Transport Programme which is the everything including the kitchen sink approach. We’ve discussed the plans before including the sticky mess the basic plan produces.

What’s interesting about the draft RTLP is some of the language used and even more so some of the suggestions for Auckland’s future and it’s some of these aspects I’ll cover in this post. Perhaps most importantly is the document suggests that Auckland Transport are starting to realise that yesterday’s thinking will not solve tomorrow’s problems and AT’s Chairman Lester Levy’s says exactly that in his introduction. He also makes a few other bold statements including that Aucklanders deserve better than choosing between poor transport outcomes or paying an extra $300 million a year.

That language carries on through the document and some parts feel like they could have been written by us. While I’m quite cognisant of the fact that these words need to be backed up by actions, the change in the discussion isn’t an isolated case as we’ve started to see similar comments from other agencies such as the Ministry of Transport and the NZTA. That gives me hope that in coming years we’ll see some real improvements in transport planning in Auckland and across the country.

Some of this comes through particularly strongly in the problem definition section of the document – page 30 in the PDF – which lists the four key problems that need to be addressed. The first one identifies that limited transport options are having a negative impact.

1. Limited quality transport options and network inefficiencies undermine resilience, liveability and economic prosperity

Underdeveloped public transport, walking and cycling networks mean that Auckland continues to have high reliance on private vehicle travel and low levels of public transport use, walking and cycling. Private vehicles account for 78% of trips in urban Auckland.

This high dependency on private vehicles means not only that there are long traffic delays but that many people have no choice other than to travel by car. Cars take up space that could otherwise be used to address Auckland’s housing shortage, improve environmental outcomes, improve economic performance, reduce social inequalities, improve health and safety and improve transport affordability. It also increases the risk to the economy from future oil price shocks.

….

Investments in the rail network and the Northern Busway are already making a difference, and Aucklanders have been taking up these new choices in numbers that exceed all forecasts. Annual surveys of travel to Auckland’s city centre confirm that the growth in public transport travel is already making more capacity available on key links for freight and business trips.

While the fourth problem recognises that we’re basically at the end of the era of being able to build cheap roads to expand the transport network. It also notes that expectations of congestion free driving should be a thing of the past

4. Meeting all transport expectations is increasingly unaffordable and will deliver poor value for money

Providing new or expanded transport infrastructure to respond to growth is becoming increasingly expensive and inefficient. Land corridors designated in the past for transport purposes have now been used, and constructing transport infrastructure on land already used for housing or as open space is expensive and unpopular. The Victoria Park Tunnel and the Waterview Tunnel are two examples of roading projects that have been constructed as tunnels to minimise adverse environmental and community impacts, at significant additional cost.

….

It is clear that expecting a high level of performance from the transport network for all modes in all locations at all times and for all types of trips is increasingly unaffordable and will not provide value for money. The level of performance can appropriately be expected to vary according to location, time of day, type of trip and mode of travel.

And it is carried on into the sections about specific modes/projects. Section 6 (page 41) is all about public transport

Everyone benefits from good public transport, including road freight businesses and car drivers. As more roads are built, more people choose to travel by car and soon traffic congestion is at the same level as before the new road was built. However it is possible to build our way out of traffic congestion by building a public transport system that is good enough to attract people out of cars (16).

Not everyone who uses public transport has a choice. For people who cannot drive, or cannot afford a car, public transport opens up opportunities for education, work and a social life. A public transport system that works well for the young, the old and the mobility impaired, and serves the whole community including low income neighbourhoods, builds a stronger, more inclusive society.

And on the City Rail Link they say:

As more and more people want to live in Auckland, more efficient transport is needed. Cars simply take up too much space, and successful cities around the world have each had to solve the problem of how to get ever more people into and around the city as land and space become more valuable.

…..

More people catching the train and bus to and through the city centre will free up parking and traffic space which can be reallocated to make room for the growing numbers of pedestrians. Projects like the Victoria St Linear Park will replace sterile tarmac with spaces which encourage people to linger and enjoy being in the centre of a world class city. The successful transformations of the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter and Britomart are a model for how vibrant and lively the heart of our city can become.

Can you imagine the Auckland Transport of a few years ago describing a road as sterile tarmac?

There are numerous other statements that surprised me in my skim though but perhaps the most significant was this about the future of access to the city centre

While the CCFAS was designed to address regional needs it also highlighted residual city centre access issues, particularly from the central and southern isthmus not served by the rail network including:

  • Key arterials with major bus routes are already near capacity will be significantly over capacity in the future even with the CRL and surface bus improvements
  • If not addressed now, there will be area-specific problems, including the impact of a high number of buses on urban amenity, in the medium term and acute issues on key corridors in the longer term

To address these issues, work is currently underway to provide an effective public transport solution for those parts of inner Auckland and the City Centre that cannot be served by the heavy rail network, with CRL; that supports growth requirements in a way that maintains or enhances the quality and capacity of the City Centre streets. A range of options are being explored including light rail.

Re-implementing light rail in Auckland would surely be a mammoth task but there could certainly be some benefits to such an idea. This is especially true on some of the central isthmus routes which already have high frequencies, high patronage and a local road network which supports a good walk up catchment. Of course Auckland Transport would need to show just how they could pay for such a thing when funding is so constrained but if it possible it would certainly be one way for them to highlight that they have been thinking differently about transport than they have in the past. Could this be what the secretive CCFAS2 has been about?

Auckland Isthmus tramlines

The old Tram Network

And let’s not forget we’ve suggested a Dominion Rd tram as part of our Congestion Free Network.

Auckland Transport December Board Meeting

The Auckland Transport Board meet tomorrow and while it might be earlier in the month than usual due to Christmas, there’s no shortage of information. As usual here are the things that caught my attention.

The closed session is once again packed with reports, some are listed as being due to commercial sensitivity and others to allow free and frank discussion with the information released later.

Items for Approval/Decision

  • Diesel Rolling Stock Sale
  • Managing 2014/15 Programme
  • AMETI
  • CCFAS2
  • Dominion Road
  • Bus Service Commercial & South Auckland Tender
  • PT Fare Annual Review
  • Street Lighting Acquisition
  • Te Mahia /Westfield
  • Southern Station Review

Items for Noting

  • Deep Dive – Service Provision Options
  • CRL Update
  • Heavy Rail Strategy update
  • Service Extension Options
  • Te Atatu
  • EW Connections
  • Draft Statement of Intent 2015-16

There are a number of quite specific items there and one I’m surprised about is the annual fare review seeing as we just had fare changes implemented in July that resulted in fares for bus and train trips using HOP reducing. The Te Mahia / Westfield stations will be about whether AT close them as proposed in the new Bus Network. They are the two least used stations on the network with each having less than 100 people use them per day.

Onto the board report

Funding was approved for property purchase and construction for the $26 million Te Atatu Corridor project which will widen and upgrade parts of Te Atatu Rd and Edmonton Rd. Included in the project are some walking and cycling improvements however they are inconsistent. In some places cycle lanes will be on the street while in other places they will just be shared paths. I guess there wasn’t enough room for proper cycling facilities after the addition of a 2.5-3m median.

Funding was also approved for the design and construction of the Upper Harbour Cycleway. As someone who rides along this road weekly the improvements are welcome although I suspect they will ignore the biggest issue along the route being the Upper Harbour Dr/Albany Hwy intersection which is possibly the most dangerous in Auckland. Fixing that is likely dependant on a future 30m+ of an upgrade to that section Albany Highway.

Later on in the report an additional mention is made about the awarding of a number of service contracts. Two are singled out as providing much better value than anticipated with a combined saving of almost $5m compared to what had been budgeted.

  • Security Guard Services and Patrols – Contract awarded to Armourguard. The successful tender resulted in a saving of $2.1m compared with the two year budget forecast
  • Public Transport Facilities Cleaning – Contract awarded to City Cleaning Services. The successful tender resulted in a saving of $2.7m compared with the two year budget forecast

For specific projects AT are working on the ones that caught my attention are:

Penlink 

Auckland Transport is progressing a planning strategy to ensure ongoing security of the Penlink corridor. This involves lodgement of an alteration to the existing Penlink designation and a suite of consent applications to allow up to four lanes on the Penlink alignment to reflect the updated design, and to extend the lapse date by another 15-20 years to align with the current draft ITP. Some changes to the existing designation boundary are proposed, however, the majority of the proposal will fit within the existing designation footprint. Notification is proposed in early 2015 due to the Christmas and New Year period. Key Stakeholder engagement is continuing and two open days are also proposed to provide the general public with an opportunity to discuss the project and planning process in more detail.

Discussions on alternate procurement methods continues with interested parties. These will be brought to the Board if they progress to any substantial proposal.

I can understand the need to retain the designation but quite where AT will find the over $350m needed for Penlink is unclear.

Devonport Wharf Transport Interchange

AT say the project completion will be delayed by two months to May 2015 after the contractor encountered construction difficulties below the Wharf Boardwalk.

Otahuhu Bus-Train Interchange

Enabling works are underway and AT say the project is still on track for completion at the end of next year which they say is “to align with the expected roll-out date for PTOM (South) in February 2016“. This suggests that the roll out of the new network has once again been delayed as it had been due to roll out in the middle of next year.

City Centre Integration

City Centre bus infrastructure planning is focussing on the Fanshawe St Busway, Wynyard Interchange and Downtown Interchange. A series of workshops will commence in December with the University and AUT to progress issues and options for the Learning Quarter Interchange and east-west bus corridor.

A City Centre Transport Framework is being developed with NZTA to collate and map out transport initiatives and issues across the city centre, as context for future development. Completion due mid-2015.

 

It’s good to see the Fanshawe St busway progressing as that will help further improve the PT experience for bus users from the North Shore. It is particularly important as at peak times 60-70% of all people using Fanshawe St are on a bus despite buses only having 22% of the space in the corridor. While the amount of space buses have won’t change, what should improve are the bus stops which should become more station like.

CEWT Fanshawe St

Swanson Park and Ride

AT say the tender should be awarded by now with construction starting soon. They are expecting the project to be complete by April next year. It will see 136 new car parks added to Swanson station for a cost of $2.5m. It will include improved lighting, signage, CCTV, additional platform shelters, walkway canopies to the footbridge and stairs, and new platform surfacing and marking.

Other PT improvements:

AT say they are continuing to do shadow running of test trains on the Southern and Western lines. Electric trains will be introduced to the Southern Line in early 2015 with a fully electric timetable by April which I assume means the Western Line too.

The Manukau interchange is being targeted for completion by early 2016.

HOP

The usage of HOP dropped slightly to 70% in November which has attributed to less university and secondary school students using services due to exam breaks.

HOP ticketing usage Nov 2014

AT have a special day pass for use during the NRL 9s in late January which includes discounts to some tourist attractions. They can only be purchased from Ticketek, are $25 and as yet don’t say how discount from the attractions purchasers will actually get.

HOP NRL 9s HOP daypass

Default to Chaos

One of the factors behind the stunning 18% increase in rail patronage over the last year is bound to be the improved reliability that we’ve been seeing. With greater reliability people can trust services more and are much more likely to use them. That improved reliability resulted in a record 92% of all trains in November being on time.  What’s significant about the results is it isn’t simply the result of new electric train being more reliable but that we’ve seen improvements from the old diesel trains too. The graph below from Auckland Transport’s latest statistics report highlights the network performance for the current and previous financial year. As a comparison I remember a few years ago where it wasn’t uncommon to see a result in the 70’s.

Rail Network Reliability

Kudos has to go to all involved for getting the reliability up, some of it is due to better infrastructure such as the new signalling system and the rail network no longer being a constant worksite while other improvements are likely due to better maintenance and management of the trains themselves.

Unfortunately it seems that when something does go wrong the response still leaves a lot to be desired and that has been highlighted a few times in the last few days.

On Thursday a train breakdown outside Britomart caused chaos.

After the week’s second transport debacle, in which about 3000 commuters had their trips to the city disrupted by a broken train outside the Britomart tunnel on Thursday, the mayor blamed “decades of neglect” of the city’s infrastructure.

“We risk repeats of this morning’s delays until the day the [$2.4 billion] City Rail Link is built and Britomart stops being a dead end,” Mr Brown said in a brief statement, issued by his office in the absence of his availability for an interview.

Auckland Transport says 15 trains were disrupted, many of which unloaded passengers at Newmarket Station so they could transfer to buses, after an emergency brake on a new electric train was erroneously triggered outside Britomart.

It took about 45 minutes to shunt the train into Britomart, and about another hour for services to return to normal.

My understanding is this was caused by an error in the signalling system that Kiwirail have known about for weeks but failed to act on. Also despite Len’s suggestions it’s something the CRL wouldn’t have fixed. I was luckily not affected by this particular incident as my train was just ahead of the one that had the issue but many other readers did. Unfortunately it sounds like issues are responded to still leaves a lot to be desired with poor or non-existent communication to passengers the order of the day.

In the piece above AT say passengers were unloaded so they could catch buses, the only problem being that most buses at that time probably couldn’t handle the extra demand and it would take some time to get spare ones in.

Another incident appears to have occurred last night following Christmas in the Park with services cancelled with no apologies or explanation given to customers as to why. Due to the extra number of people out potentially thousands were affected.

It seems like this is something that crops up every few months but Auckland Transport and Transdev really need to get these issues and how they communicate to customers sorted rather than the default setting being chaos. This is especially important as the increasing use of trains means more and more people are affected when something goes wrong.

November 14 Patronage

The number of people travelling on buses and trains has continued to surge in November resulting in more than 75 million trips over the previous 12 months, the first time that’s happened in over 50 years. That means the number of trips taken in the last year is up by 5.7 million (8%). The Rapid Transit Network comprising of the Northern Express and the trains continues to be the star performer with the annual number of trips increasing by 17%. There has also been solid growth in the bus network which carries the majority of people in Auckland with patronage up 6.8%.

14 - Nov AK Patronage table

14 - Nov AK Annual Patronage

The rail network has the highest annual growth of all modes up 17.5% and patronage is up 12.3 million. Within that the two small lines currently served by electric trains are up 20-30% which perhaps gives an indication of what we can expect once the bigger lines go electric. For the month of November patronage on the Manukau Line services alone was up 50%. I imagine that sort of growth will only continue with the new timetable too. Apart from the electric trains one of the reasons given for the improved patronage is that train punctuality and reliability has improved with November recording the highest result Auckland has seen with 91.9% of all services arrive at their final destination within 5 minutes of their schedule. The Manukau line was the highest at 96% and the Western Line the lowest at 89.3%.

If you recall back to my post the other day and the most recent advice from the Ministry of Transport on the CRL from August where they said

Growth of 1.4 million trips for the year to June 2014 is the highest annual growth in Auckland rail patronage achieved to date.

If growth continues at 1.4 million trips per year, annual patronage would hit 20 million trips around 2019/20. We expect patronage growth to continue at a similar rate as for the year to June 2014 until around 2017/18, as the full electric train fleet comes into service and the new bus network is rolled out. After 2017/18, we expect the rate of patronage growth to slow and at this stage do not anticipate it is likely that the threshold of 20 million trips well before 2020 will be met.

Well patronage is now up over 1.8 million trips and not showing signs of slowing down.

14 - Nov AK Rail Patronage

The Northern Express is also seeing fantastic growth this year with annual patronage now up 14.4% and rising above 2.6 million trips.

14 - NEX AK NEX Patronage

What’s also notable about this is that over the same time period the number of vehicles that cross the Harbour Bridge every day has dropped by 2%. Of course the NEX doesn’t include all bus trips across the harbour bridge and it would be fascinating to see just how many there are in total.

AHB Nov - 14

New PT Brand on the way

Auckland Transport is to launch new bus livery next week that will eventually roll out across all buses in the region. Once complete there will no longer be the multi coloured mess we have now with every operator having their own competing brand. Where this is going to be particularly useful is in areas where multiple operators run services, for example along Gt North Rd which is served by buses from NZ Bus (Metrolink and Go West) along with Ritchies. Integrated ticketing has made catching the next bus easier and a common livery will help reinforce that the PT network is all part of a single system. As such this clearly represents AT taking greater ownership of the customer experience rather than just leaving it up to the operators.

Auckland Transport is about to give the city’s public transport network a fresh, clear, consistent brand.

Over the next three years the branding will be phased in starting with the LINK services and the Northern Express.

Auckland Transport’s General Manager Marketing and Customer Experience Mike Loftus says a single identity will give Aucklanders and visitors a clearer understanding of what public transport is on offer and which areas specific buses, trains and ferries serve.

“Most metropolitan cities have a single brand network that is easy to recognise and enables clear, consistent communication with customers. Currently in Auckland there is no single identity, we have a variety of brands and looks. Customers relate to buses by the operator name rather than the wider public transport network”.

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Public Transport Mark Lambert says having a single public transport network will ultimately build public confidence in the developing and improving public transport system. “Knowing that all the services are integrated and part of the same system will help grow patronage”.

The branding will mean common livery across public transport vehicles but differentiated by colour depending on the type of service.

The implementation of the livery is already underway and budgeted for on the electric trains.

Costs for the bus fleet will be kept to a minimum through:

  • retention of ocean blue for Rapid Network services (Northern Express is already this colour)
  • retention of red, green, orange and light blue for existing targeted services of the City LINK, Inner LINK, Outer LINK and Airbus
  • the rest of the bus fleet to be transitioned as part of new contracts and costs incurred through new contract rates

Mr Lambert says Auckland’s bus operators are aware of the changes and are working with Auckland Transport.

The Auckland Plan looks to double public transport trips from 70 million in 2012 to 140 million in 2022. The Auckland Plan’s priorities for Auckland’s transport system include “a single system transport network approach that manages current congestion problems and accommodates future business population growth to encourage a shift toward public transport.”

The new branding will be unveiled next Tuesday 16 December.

This is something we first highlighted at the end of September after it appeared in the Auckland Transport Board report. In addition an image of what the buses may look like was included although it’s possible that there have been tweaks or changes to the designs since September so we can’t say for sure what they’ll look like.

Updated from AT: As you know We have the big brand reveal nextTuesday which is really important to us as part of our public transport and customer work. We would most appreciate it if you could take down the images of the branded buses until the launch.

Possibly related to all of this is this opinion piece from Pattrick Smellie highlighting that some of the operators aren’t happy with the new contracts that AT will be rolling out.

Instead, they argue that AT has produced draft contracts that contain almost none of the elements of the desired “relational” contract model, sticking instead with a pre-2008 “transactional” approach.

Not only that, but they argue AT is trying to lump private bus operators with contract terms that make them bear the risk of things that only AT can control, and which could see them financially penalised if things go wrong.

Especially galling was that AT had drawn up these draft contracts over a three-year period, yet made them available for feedback from bus operators only in September, at which point all hell broke loose.

Concerned not to be tarred with the easy accusation of “resisting change” when they have been seeking it, the bus operators – principally Infratil-owned NZ Bus, supported by the New Zealand Bus and Coach Association – sought expert advice from accountancy firm KPMG and investment bank Cameron & Company.

Both concluded that the draft contracts were seriously deficient, even after some of the most onerous elements were withdrawn.

There was insufficient security of tenure, risks were badly mismatched, and financial incentives were unlikely to work as intended because of the punitive mindset underlying the contracts.

The result was likely to be a cost-cutting, compliance mentality rather than a value-creating, innovative environment in which new investment would be encouraged, both sets of advisers concluded.

However, when final submissions on the new draft contracts closed this week, their basic shape had not altered significantly.

Bus operators now hope that the central government funding body, the New Zealand Transport Agency, which must sign off the new contracts, agrees that they don’t do the job. Transport Minister Simon Bridges is aware of the issue, but not yet engaging actively.

It’s hard to tell if this is just the bus companies having a whinge or if there is something deeper that’s concerning them. One suggestion I saw yesterday was that AT are going to be controlling the advertising both on and in buses. That should hopefully scale back some of the horrid full bus wraps we see regularly on some buses. The problem is that a decent number of our bus operators currently don’t have any advertising at all so this could see the practice become more widespread. Hopefully it’s something we’ll find out next week when the new livery is revealed.

Uptown Pocket Park

Auckland Transport has been busy over the last few years buying up properties along the route of the City Rail Link in preparation for when the project will finally get the green light. Most of those properties are going to have buildings already one them however one site in particular has been an empty lot for many many years.

Symonds St Pocket Park now

That situation could have continued while we wait for the CRL however fantastically Auckland Transport, the Council, the Local Board and the local Business Association are hoping to get together with the community to create a temporary pocket park on the site this Sunday.

Symonds St Pocket Park

What a great initiative and way to make better use of the land for the next few years at least.