April-15 Patronage

Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays. This year was no different although there ended up being the same number of working days as April 2014. Overall patronage for the month edged up 3.7% compared to April 2014 however there is quite some variation between the modes.

 

2015-04 - Patronage Table

2015-04 - Total Patronage Chart

The real focal point – as it has been for many months now – has been the stellar growth in rail patronage. In April it hasn’t disappointed, up almost 16% compared to April 2014 and up 22% annually and even more for both measures if normalised to take account of the differences e.g. events. To put things in perspective, 12 months ago the annual patronage on the rail network was just under 11.1 million trips, now it’s over 13.5 million. That means it remains well on track to exceed the government’s patronage targets for the CRL some time during 2017/18. It’s also worth noting that AT have now upped their projection for this financial year (end of June) to suggest that we’ll reach 13.8 million trips

 

2015-04 - Rail vs CRL target

In some ways I think AT are lucky that achieved the results they did given that operational performance was so bad achieving just 68.4% of services arriving within 5 minutes of schedule.

2015-04 - Rail Performance

With buses the Northern Express continues to perform well and was up over 8.5% for the month and 17% for the year once again showing it’s the Rapid Transport Network is where the most growth is happening. Other buses were actually down slightly although a reason for this isn’t given.

Ferries have had surprisingly strong growth of late and were up almost 15% for the month. AT suggest that a large part of the growth has some from the new Explore ferries.

2015-04 - Ferry

Lastly a quick update to my post last week about train costs. In it I included a chart showing that subsidies per passenger km were starting to decline on the rail network which is a good thing.  The stats for this month show once again subsidies are reducing which will be the result of more and more electric trains coming in to service. In a few months I’d expect that line to be even lower too.

PT Subsidy per Passenger km

AT’s Ferry Development Plan

This week Auckland Transport announced they were looking to update the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) with a number of developments and one of those was to include the outcomes of the Ferry Development Plan. AT have now published the development plan which provides some more information into to their thinking around ferries.

First up, how ferries perform today. The map below shows where current ferry services run to.

Ferry Development Plan - Current routes

In the year to the end of March 5.4 million trips were taken on ferries which is up 5% on the year before and close to a peak reached in mid-2012. That patronage makes up around 7% of all public transport trips.

2015-03 Ferry Patronage

Around 77% of all ferry patronage comes from just two routes – Devonport and Waiheke -however AT also say that in the morning peak around 49% of trips are coming from other services. That indicates that the Devonport and Waiheke services do well off peak – probably due to tourism. The number of passengers arriving in the city in the current morning peak are shown below.

Ferry Development Plan - Current AP patronage

The Development Plan is focused on how AT will develop ferries over the next 10 years and covers both infrastructure and services. The modelling for it also considers the impacts over a 30 year period.

The overall takeaway outcome is that there are not any viable opportunities for new ferry routes and that the focus should be on improving the routes we already have. That means increasing capacity and services so that they can handle the predicted demand and provide regular all day service – just like what is being done with the bus and rail networks (note: regular service is different from frequent service so might only be hourly off peak). The additional daily services AT expects to add to each route are shown below and there is a more detailed version on page 21 of the development plan.

Ferry Development Plan - Increased Services

It is expected that between now and 2026 ferry patronage will increase from 5.4 million to around 7.5 million. Much of the growth is expected from just a few of the routes and the growth in AM peak trips is shown below and is based on integrated fares and no surcharge (more on that soon)

Ferry Development Plan - Modelled Growth

To accommodate that growth more vessels and improvements to existing ferry terminals will be needed – such as the recently announced new terminal at Half Moon Bay. In addition to the terminals, AT want to expand the Park n Ride at a few stations. The capital costs for all of this development is around $34.2 million and almost half of it is for the redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal. The Benefit Cost Ratio of the terminal improvements are shown below and as you can see the result for Half Moon Bay is crazy high.

Ferry Development Plan - Ferry BCR's

You’ll notice the table has ‘with surcharge’ and ‘no surcharge’ and as mentioned earlier the modelling is based on no surcharge. AT say they want ferries to have integrated fares but that it isn’t possible just yet.

Potential patronage has been modelled assuming integrated fares with and without a ferry surcharge. A surcharge is necessary initially to maintain the affordability of ferry services and to avoid demand for unavailable capacity. In time, as patronage and capacity increase and costs are reduced, the surcharge will be reduced and eliminated.

Included in the development plan is analysis of the current park n ride users which I found quite interesting. As you can see most people make fairly short trips to the ferry but there are some quite long ones, especially to Half Moon Bay. Some seem quite odd such as driving from Albany next to the busway station to Devonport or Bayswater to catch a ferry or from Remuera to Half Moon Bay (perhaps they were going to Waiheke though).

Ferry Development Plan - Park n Ride

Lastly AT did look at the options for expanding ferry services including to Browns Bay, Takapuna and Te Atatu. If they were implemented the map below which also includes the SHA areas is how the ferry network would look however the all have BCR’s of less than 1 and as there’s little time savings compared to road-based modes it’s not expected they would attract enough patronage.

Ferry Development Plan - Proposed routes

Overall I’d say that the outcome is right, focus on get the existing services working well

RPTP update: Integrated Fares, LRT and more

In 2013 Auckland Transport adopted the current Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) – a document required by legislation and which sets out how the regions public transport system will be developed and operated. The 2013 RPTP was significant as among other things it officially added the New Network to Auckland’s plans. There were however a number of issues left unresolved and in the last 18 months there have been other developments in AT’s thinking on PT in Auckland. As such AT are now consulting on a variation to the RPTP to include all of this. The consultation will cover and be limited to only four specific areas:

  • The proposed introduction of simplified zone fares
  • Proposals for a new light rail transit (LRT) network on some major arterial routes
  • Service and infrastructure changes arising from the Ferry Development Plan which was approved by the AT Board in December 2014
  • Revised service descriptions arising from community consultation on the new bus network

Submissions on the RPTP variation open from today to 05 June and AT hope to have the variation adopted in July. Below is a bit more detail about each of four areas mentioned above.

Simplified zone fares

This is another name for integrated fares and AT are setting out how they think the system should run. This includes both the fare zones themselves and future fare products.

For HOP card users, fares will be based on the number of zones travelled in as part of a journey. A journey may involve travel on up to three different services, provided the transfer between services is made within the prescribed transfer time limit.

The zonal fare structure will apply across all bus, train and future light rail services. For ferries, the existing point-to-point fares will be retained, subject to further investigation of how they should be incorporated into the integrated zonal structure in future. The different approach to ferry fares reflects the fact that some ferry services are deemed exempt services, and not subject to the policies in this Plan. It also reflects the higher operating costs and premium quality of ferry travel.

The fact that ferry services will sit outside the rest of the fare structure seems to once again highlight the stupidity of the government’s decision to bow to the lobbying of fullers and allow some of the ferry routes (Devonport, Stanley Bay, Waiheke) to sit outside of the rest of the PT system. The zone boundaries are based on approximately 10km intervals from the city centre. We saw a low res version of the proposed zones around a month ago.

RPTP Integrated Fares Zones Map

I still think there needs to be some larger zone overlaps, particularly between the Isthmus to Manukau North/Waitakere zones and Waitakere to Upper North Shore. As an example it seems like the Upper North Shore zone should extend to cover Hobsonville Point.

Looking to the future AT say they hope to replace the monthly passes with weekly caps that will automatically limit the amount that customers will be charged for travel in any calendar week. They also say that in future that using stored value on a HOP card will be a minimum of 33% off the cash fare to encourage HOP use. As a comparison currently all fares 3 stages and over are just 20-26% of cash fares. AT also mention wanting to look at ways of using fares to grow patronage – especially in the off peak where there growth doesn’t affect operational costs. This includes wanting to:

  • Investigate and implement off-peak fare discount options to spread peak demand and encourage off-peak trips
  • Introduce 24/72 hour pass options to encourage off-peak travel by residents and visitors
  • Provide fare incentives for weekend family travel

All of these things are aspects we and many readers have suggested for a long time so it’s great to see AT pursuing them. One thing that is important to note is that it’s not likely all new fare products will be introduced at once and instead AT are likely to stage implementation over a period of time.

Light rail

PT services can’t be implemented if they aren’t in the RPTP and so AT are adding in the references to light rail now so that it’s possible for them to proceed with the project in the future should they wish to. We’ve already covered off AT’s light rail proposals quite a bit already and the proposed variation focuses most attention on the changes that would be needed to implement light rail on Queen St and Dominion Rd. There isn’t a huge amount of new information in the document with one notable exception – mention of light rail to the airport.

Subject to the outcome of these investigations, approval to proceed and funding, AT proposes a staged implementation of light rail, with completion of the initial stages (Queen Street and Dominion Road, with a possible link to Wynyard Quarter) within the 10-year planning horizon of this Plan. A possible extension of this route to the airport is also under investigation, along with metro rail options

The potential extension to the airport is also shown in the map below. I still believe that duplicating and extending the Onehunga line would be a better option due to a speed advantage compared with going via Dominion Rd- although it would possibly be a more expensive option.

RPTP potential LRT + RTN Map

Ferry development plan

Ferries are often touted as an area Auckland should focus on more and frequent suggestions included adding ferries to places like Browns Bay, Takapuna and Te Atatu. The RPTP suggested a review of the role of ferries and so last year AT created a Ferry Development Plan that was approved by the board in December. The outcomes from the development plan are included in the proposed variation. While I haven’t seen the full plan it appears from the variation information that AT’s have taken a sensible approach.

The Ferry Development Plan focuses on improving existing services and infrastructure and on greater integration of the current ferry network with local bus routes and supporting feeder services. It calls for service level improvements on existing ferry services to reach the minimum levels specified in the RPTP, with further increases to be implemented in response to demand. It also identifies a number of ferry infrastructure improvements and renewals that are needed to address capacity and customer amenity and safety issues at key ferry wharves.

The Plan also evaluated proposals for extensions to the existing ferry network, including new services to Browns Bay, Takapuna and Te Atatu. It concluded that due to the high infrastructure costs involved with new services, the priority for additional resources should be on improving the frequency and capacity of existing ferry routes, rather than network expansion.

The reality is the immediately viable ferry routes have already been developed and with the bus infrastructure that exists (or will shortly) it will be very hard for ferries to compete on speed, frequency, coverage and operating costs with some of the other locations mentioned. Getting service on existing routes up to regular all day every day frequencies will help make them a much more viable form of PT and useful not just for commuting.

New Network service descriptions

As mentioned at the start the RPTP sets out how the PT system will run and that includes exact and minimum frequencies. Since the RPTP was adopted AT have consulted on the new network for Hibiscus Coast, Pukekohe, South Auckland, West Auckland. The variation will update the RPTP with the changes that have already been consulted on.

There are also some changes to the network categories and maps with the new ones shown below.

RPTP Network Categories

As our network exists now, as you can see not much of the network meets the frequent definition being just a few bus services and the Southern line north of Penrose although arguably it should also be considered frequent between Westfield and Puhinui. You will also notice many of the ferry routes don’t exist on the map as they don’t have all day frequency.

RPTP Current Network

By 2018 with the new network implemented and all electric trains rolled out this is what we should have.

RPTP Proposed 2018 Network

And by 2025 with the CRL and even more bus improvements this is where the city will be.

RPTP Proposed 2025 Network

A New Ferry Wharf for Half Moon Bay

Some good news for residents of Eastern Auckland with news that AT now has plans for a new ferry terminal for Half Moon Bay, something I know the local board and local councillors have been pushing for some time now.

Half Moon Bay Terminal Walkway Inside

A new Half Moon Bay ferry wharf will provide passengers more shelter and improved access to buses.

Plans for the new facility, which Howick Local Board and Auckland Transport are working together on, are being shared with the public. It will be similar in design to the Hobsonville Point Wharf.

Ferry services are expected to begin from the upgraded facility in late 2016. About 1500 passengers a day use the current facility.

The $4.3 million project includes a proposed covered pontoon and wharf at the end of Ara-Tai, south of the existing passenger ferry pontoon. Also proposed, subject to funding, is improved and safer access to buses, with sheltered stops in the same location.

Howick Local Board Chair David Collings says the board is happy to see progress after ferry users have waited a long time for improvements in unsatisfactory conditions.

“This will deliver a facility that’s going to protect them from the weather but will also be of a very high quality.

“A quality Half Moon Bay ferry facility is one of the board’s top priorities. We’ve been very prudent with our allocation of Auckland Transport’s Capital Fund for local boards and saved it so we can now direct up to $2.5 million to help make the project happen.

“As they say, ‘we’ve been saving for a rainy day’, so we can now make sure Half Moon Bay ferry passengers can be sheltered on rainy days.”

Auckland Transport Project Director Nick Seymour says the new wharf will have much better shelter for passengers with the walkway and pontoon boarding area both covered.

“It will also be more accessible for people who are mobility impaired and provide improved safety for people getting on and off ferries.

“The new facility will be purpose-built for passengers, providing a transport hub with bus and ferry services located together.

“People can find out more about the proposed design and give feedback at two public information days or by going to Auckland Transport’s website. There will also be information at the existing ferry wharf,” Mr Seymour says.

There are two open days both being held at the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, Ara-Tai, Half Moon Bay. The times are

Tuesday, 5 May 2015 – 4 pm to 7 pm

Saturday, 9 May 2015 – 10 am to 1 pm

AT say the new gangway and pontoon have already started being built off site and that construction at Half Moon Bay is expected to start early next year. They also say the features and benefits include:

  • New ferry pontoon will be designed to provide better levels of passenger service and comfort.
  • Better protection against the elements, with the canopy providing shelter from the prevailing wind and rain.
  • Improved safety getting on and off ferries.
  • More accessible for people who are mobility impaired.
  • The wharf structure will incorporate elements reflecting the history of the area, including items which make reference to local Mana Whenua values.
  • Separation of passenger ferry movements from leisure boat movements, improving sea traffic flows.

Below are a few images of what’s proposed.

Half Moon Bay Footprint

Half Moon Bay Terminal - Towards Musick Point

View of proposed facility looking towards Musick Point

Half Moon Bay Terminal - Up Tamaki River

View of proposed new Half Moon Bay facility looking up the Tamaki River

Downtown to Takapuna: A great, underappreciated cycle commute

This is another post from Peter who you can see we’ve now allowed to post directly [ Matt]

I recently started a new job in Takapuna. Unfortunately, it’s just far enough away from my home on the isthmus to be inconvenient for commuting purposes. Driving means winding through town to get to the motorway and then dealing with the traffic freakshow on Esmonde Road. Taking the bus means transferring in town, and sometimes a 10-15 minute wait if you’re unlucky. (Or worse. Last Friday I mistakenly got on the 922 bus, which only goes to Takapuna after a half-hour tiki tour through Birkenhead and Northcote. If you’re going to Takapuna, take the 839, 858, 875, 879, or 895 instead.)

So when the weather and my out-of-shape thighs permit, I’ve been cycling up to Takapuna. Even without the Skypath, this is proving to be surprisingly easy. I cycle down Symonds St to the ferry building, take the ferry across to Bayswater, and then cycle up to Takapuna on the Bayswater pipe bridge and shared path, which lets me avoid battling traffic on Lake Road. (See map below.)

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna Map

If you commute to Takapuna from the city centre or inner suburbs, I highly recommend that you consider taking the bike. On a good day, I can make it to work in 40-45 minutes, which is competitive with cars and faster than the bus. (Getting back’s a bit harder as I have to go uphill, but I can still do it in 50-55 minutes.) You get to ride on a completely uncrowded ferry, which seems to be a rare experience in Auckland these days. Cycling on the shore side is very safe, as Bayswater Avenue doesn’t get a lot of cars, and the shared path gets none.

And it’s a really beautiful ride to boot. Probably one of the best cycle commutes in Auckland.

And now, for the Tour de Bayswater by cameraphone.

Here’s the view from the Bayswater Ferry back to the city centre on a sunny morning. The ferry runs every half-hour during the peak periods, and hourly during the middle of the day (see the pdf timetable). I was running a bit late on the morning I took these pictures, so I cycled like mad down Symonds St only to have to wait on the wharf as the ferry emptied out.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 1

The ferry is always completely full with commuters when it arrives in town at 8:20 – but I’m usually the only person to get on in the other direction. That is an insanely unbalanced peak flow!

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 2

The bike racks are completely full on the Bayswater side – in fact, they seem to be fuller than the expansive park-and-ride. Auckland Transport seems to recognise that a lot of cyclists use the ferry. A few weeks ago I got a quick bike tune-up and hot chocolate at a winter pit-stop sponsored by AT and Bikewise.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 3

Then it’s up a small hill and onto Bayswater Avenue, which is dead quiet at this hour. Many of the kids at the local Belmont Primary cycle or walk to school, which cuts down the traffic quite a bit. I usually only see three or four cars.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 4

And then it’s off the road and onto the shared path down the side of O’Neill’s Cemetery. At 8:40 in the morning, it’s generally populated by dog-walkers, who sometimes need a bit of notice of approaching cyclists.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 5

The new pipeline bridge is fantastic. You feel like you’re gliding over the mangrove flats, which can be a pretty extraordinary sight on a good morning. It’s also a perfect demonstration of how good cycling infrastructure can make biking easier by linking up areas that are hard to move between by car. It adds a direct connection between two of the little finger peninsulas on the shore.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 6

The shared path wends its way around the bays before terminating at Francis Street. From there, it’s an uphill cycle to Jutland Road, another low-traffic side street.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 7

The intersection of Jutland Road and Lake Road isn’t fantastic. The curb bulbs out just before the intersection, forcing cyclists to squeeze between the cars while making the turn. Frustratingly, this intersection leads to the painted cycle lanes on Lake Road.

For safety’s sake, I usually hop up onto the sidewalk around this intersection. This isn’t an option on the trip back, so I usually do a hook turn using the pedestrian crossing button. I have to wonder what AT was thinking when they built such a terrible intersection between two of the major bits of cycle infrastructure on the shore.

Jutland Rd / Lake Rd intersection 1: Where’s the space for cyclists?

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 8

Jutland Rd / Lake Rd intersection 2: Still not seeing any space for cyclists.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 9

Jutland Rd / Lake Rd intersection 3: The painted cycle lane appears, at long last, in the left corner of this photo.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 10

Moreover, the painted cycle lanes on Lake Road end in a dangerous way at the intersection with Esmonde Road. Rather than continuing along Lake Road to Takapuna, they take a left and go part of the way down Esmonde Road (i.e. towards the motorway interchange) before vanishing entirely. There’s no obvious, direct way for cyclists to continue through the intersection, which forces me to merge across a lane of left-turning traffic. Fortunately, traffic speeds slow down a bit north of the intersection, which means that the last bit of the ride is civil.

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 11

I probably haven’t picked the right time of year to start cycling to work – being winter and all – but it can be a pretty rewarding trip back at the end of the day. The ferry provides an impressive view of the harbour at dusk. Here’s a last look at our beloved coathanger and a few of Auckland’s many sails:

Peter Cycle commute to Takapuna 12

AT proposing more ferries to Gulf Harbour

There are many aspects that need to come together for a successful and well used public transport system. Above all else, frequency is the single most important one of these and as the saying goes, Frequency is Freedom. So it’s good to see Auckland Transport proposing to increase the number of ferry services to and from Gulf Harbour.

Good news for residents and visitors to Gulf Harbour, the number of ferry sailings each day between Gulf Harbour and Auckland is increasing to 12.

During peak times sailings will increase from two to three with another two sailings each way in the middle of the day, which should appeal to workers and students alike. There are now shopping and visiting options for those not needing to travel at peak times.

Auckland Transport wants the community to get involved and for people to have their say on the proposed timetable.

Auckland Transport Group Manager Public Transport Services, Mark Lambert says this draft timetable is the result of feedback AT has received about improving services to Gulf Harbour.

“It’s important to get behind these initiatives so that we can further improve public transport options for all Auckland residents.

“We want to hear from both current and potential users if these sailing times are right for them,” says Mr Lambert.

Fairway Bay Development consultant Michael Webb-Speight says “The survey we ran last year showed huge demand for increased ferry services. We are very keen for people to get involved and have their say. These additional sailings will make a huge difference to Whangaparaoa Peninsula commuters working in the CBD.”

As part of the process ferry operator 360 Discovery Cruises will be handing out information flyers to existing ferry passengers, and thousands of questionnaires will be mail dropped over the next week with the objective of canvassing both bus and car commuters.
360 Discovery Cruises Manager, James Bailey, says strong growth in passenger numbers has already been experienced due to increasing congestion on the motorway system. “It’s only 50 minutes by ferry from Gulf Harbour to the city, which is a lot less than the driving time from many suburbs.”

The new timetable could start next month subject to consultation.

Consultation closes Sunday 29 June.

You can see the consultation here.

There are currently only four services a day so increasing that to 12 is a substantial and positive increase. Here are the proposed changes to the timetable

Gulf Harbour Ferry Consultation

The services are still a long way off being frequent – and probably won’t ever be good enough to be part of the Frequent Network but it does seem like a move in the right direction.

AT say that if this change happens it will likely be implemented in July and the changes will be reviewed again after 12 months. They also say they are expecting to consult on the New Network bus routes for the Hibiscus Coast area in July and that it includes improved bus/ferry connections.

Photo of the Day: New Ferry

The new Fullers ferry. I’m not sure what routes is serving so let us know in the comments

(sorry for the poor quality, photo was rushed on my phone while I was on the way elsewhere).

Takahe 1

Takahe 2

Photo of the day: Kea

We’ve had trains and buses already today so how about some ferry love to round out the PT options. Sadly no service improvements associated with this one today though.

The trusty Kea that plies the waters between the CBD and Devonport.

Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne

West Harbour ferry gets bigger

Some good news from Auckland Transport that ferry patronage out of West Harbour has increased to the point of needing a larger ferry.

A jump in passenger numbers means a bigger ferry has joined the run to West Harbour operated by Belaire Ferries for Auckland Transport.

Belaire Ferries Managing Director, Adam Tallentire, says the 90 passenger Spirit will now operate on the morning services along with 49 seaters Clipper and Serenity. “With this increase in capacity we are confident that even more commuters will consider the ferry as an alternative, a way to escape the on-going upgrade work on the North-western motorway.”

The new service was immediately popular, on the first sailing of Spirit on Monday 3 March there were 64 passengers (picture attached). The previous capacity on the sailing was 49 passengers.

The West Harbour service has seen a 56 per cent jump in patronage since capacity was last expanded in October 2011.

There are 14 return trips between West Harbour and Downtown each weekday.

A 56% increase in patronage over just a few years is fairly impressive, even if just off a small base. I imagine the service could be especially popular over the next few years now that the North Western motorway has been turned into a giant work site.

West Harbour new Ferry

Photo of the day – Evening Ferry

It’s a glorious Friday afternoon so how about some photos to look at taken from Queens Wharf (not taken today though, weather is much nicer)

Photo are copyright to Sydney