The true test of Auckland Transport

It’s now almost two and a half years since Auckland Transport came into existence: joining together the transport functions of ARTA and all the old Councils into one organisation. There was a lot of angst around Auckland Transport’s creation – why should something as political and as debated as transport be pushed away into a separate organisation from the Council? Would Auckland Transport follow the direction of the Council or that of Central Government? What benefits of having an operationally focused organisation that’s independent from the day to day politics of Council really bring?

While it hasn’t been an easy first couple of years (the mess of Rugby World Cup opening night being the absolute low-point for the organisation in my opinion) it seems that most people are reasonably happy with how Auckland Transport has gone over this time. However, with the next local government elections happening later this year and public transport patronage seeming to be in a fairly lengthy stalling phase, I think the next few months will really become a true test for the whole concept of having Auckland Transport as a separate organisation to the Council.

It’s clear that the patronage issue is starting to filter through to Auckland Transport, with the new Chair Lester Levy laying down the law pretty harshly at the December board meeting:

The Chairman noted this is not a new problem and simply restating the problem will not solve it. In his view, the rail patronage had not effectively grown since October 2011 and overall public transport patronage has not really increased since January 2012. More understanding about the root causes of this is needed and must be addressed in management’s comprehensive plan due to be present to the Board in February next year. The paper needs to address not only what will be done but most importantly how actions will be undertaken and why it is believed they will work. He re-emphasised that AT needs to be a customer led organisation which will require a mindset change within the organisation. Increasing public transport patronage needs to be elevated to the number one issue for AT.

Rail patronage not growing since October 2011. Gee I wonder what might have put people off.

The response to these comments, going to the Board today, sounds a bit like 25 pages of excuses and most of the ideas around improving patronage seem to be related to marketing (not that I’m opposed to marketing) instead of actually trying to make the system better. Some quick wins like better weekend rail frequencies still seem to be ignored yet again – for example, need I remind Auckland Transport that Saturday rail frequencies on the Western Line remain unchanged from 1994?

I’m genuinely hopeful that things will improved under the new Chair, who seems to have an extremely low tolerance of the normal excuses dished out by Auckland Transport management and who seems much more interested in telling a “genuine” story about how things are, rather than the typical Auckland Transport PR strategy of pretending everything’s hunky-dory no matter how bad they’re going. I guess I’m impatient for change though.

Another Board Paper reminded me of an issue that I think cuts to the heart of testing whether it’s worth having Auckland Transport as a separate organisation or not – the issue of bus lanes. Seeing a paper on bus and transit lanes going to the Board I was excited that there might be some discussion around future additional bus lanes – what are useful trigger points for them being necessary, which routes would benefit from bus lanes, what’s the timetable for the widespread expansion of Auckland’s bus lane system over the next few years and so forth. Instead, the paper discusses just about every other possible element of bus lanes except for the most important issue – where the next ones will be.

As well as bus lanes being something of a pet issue for me, I think they’re a good test of Auckland Transport’s usefulness for a number of reasons:

  • They make a lot of logical sense and provide significant benefit for low cost – but can be unpopular. Separating operation of the transport network from day to day politics through having a CCO is designed to enable sensible but potentially unpopular projects to occur where they contribute to the strategic direction the Council wants to go (i.e. improving public transport).
  • They assist other parts of Auckland Transport’s responsibility – most obviously in managing the public transport network. Before amalgamation it was ARTA who benefitted from the bus lanes but the city councils that needed to put them in, so there was little incentive to see bus lanes go in and probably a lot of arguing was necessary. I would have thought having a single organisation would increase the likelihood of bus lanes for this reason – but seemingly not.

There’s a lot that the public gives up in having Auckland Transport as a CCO – less direct oversight through elected members, probably less democracy in decision-making, certainly less information made publicly available. For that loss to be worth it, Auckland Transport needs to start delivering – delivering public transport patronage growth and delivering necessary but politically challenging improvements, like bus lanes. Otherwise we might as well just fold them back into the Council so at least we know what they’re doing.

Transport in 2011: some steps forward, some steps backwards

Trying to get my head around whether 2011 was a good year or not such a good year for advocates of a more balanced transport system like myself, is a bit of a challenge. There were a number of good things which happened, but at the same time there were also a number of steps backward. Here’s my brief summary of the year.

The early months of 2011 were a time when Auckland Council and Auckland Transport were still very much “settling in”. We saw some really interesting first glimpses of what the council’s vision for Auckland’s city centre was in January, we found out that Len Brown’s goal for public transport patronage was 150 million trips a year by 2021 (and we wondered how that would be achieved). We also saw construction of the now open Wynyard Quarter tram loop. Submissions on preferred options for the Puhoi-Warkworth section of the holiday highway were written.

The February 22 earthquake in Christchurch obviously stands out as the whole country’s biggest event of the year, but seemed to have a remarkably little impact on the transport discussion here in Auckland. The government passed over a golden opportunity to back down over Puhoi-Wellsford (or at least downgrade it to something more sensible at a time when the whole country would have understood such a move), while Auckland Council sensibly pointed out that it would be many more years before serious money for the City Rail Link project was required. Behind the scenes, it was becoming fairly clear that officials reviewing the business case for the CRL were unlikely to come to agreement on the project’s merits.

In March the Auckland Unleashed discussion document was released, outlining the Council’s vision – at a broad-bush level – for Auckland over the next 30 years. We saw a great video of Len Brown’s rail vision for Auckland, but once again this positivity was tempered by the government’s feedback on the document (weirdly released before the discussion document) that pushed for more sprawl and more roads. Following hot on the heels of all that spatial plan discussion, we finally saw some progress on the implementation of a smartcard ticketing system in Auckland, with the launch of HOP. Unfortunately the complexity of the deal done between Auckland Transport, Thales, Snapper, NZ Bus, NZTA and so forth meant that the launch was generally met more by confusion than celebration.

From the optimism of those early months (earthquakes aside), the middle months of the year were a little more depressing – although the superb patronage stats throughout the year tempered this disappointment. The 2012 Government Policy Statement for Land Transport Funding turned out to be even stupider and more roads-obsessed than its 2009 predecessor, proposing additional RoNS that were so crazy they didn’t even end up being adopted into National’s election transport policy. But perhaps the biggest disappointment of those middle months was the review of the City Rail Link project, with the narrow-minded thinking of Ministry of Transport officials ignoring matters as fundamental as the bus and car capacity of the CBD when assessing the merits of the project. It was not a great year for the MoT, who also managed to forget to record the spending of around $180 million.

On a brighter note, the actual implementation of the HOP card went smoother than most (including myself) had expected. Bus loading times declined dramatically thanks to the speed of tagging on (although I still get annoyed at the cash-paying idiots who block the whole entranceway – any chance of some signage NZ Bus?) On a personal note, June was a pretty epic month with baby Adele arriving five weeks earlier than anticipated, leading to a couple of weeks of very regular travel to the hospital.

August saw the introduction of the Outer Link bus, as well as significance reconfiguration of all Western Bays services. Although further tweaks have been necessary (and probably will continue to be necessary in the future), overall the changes were very positive and have led to an increase in patronage exceeding what was forecast. After that, all eyes turned to the Rugby World Cup, which began on that fateful day of September 9th.

The transport chaos of RWC opening night was very unfortunate, but told us some very insightful things. As suspected, the CCO model of delivering many of council’s services through separate agencies did mean that they became siloed and didn’t talk to each other over matters as simple as the number of people expected to attend opening night. The highly fractured structure of running public transport in Auckland meant that everyone could point the finger at everyone else, whilst avoiding responsibility for that happened. But more positively, we also saw (and hopefully didn’t put off forever) an unprecedented willingness of Aucklanders to use public transport. There were over 140,000 rail trips around Auckland on September 9th, there probably could have been over 200,000 if we had the system to cope with them. I don’t think we’ve seen too much long-term damage from that evening, but perhaps we might see some long-term benefit with the realisation that it very much is Auckland’s public transport system that lets us down in our quest to become a truly world-class city.

During, and just after, the RWC, we saw draft versions of a number of really important documents that will help guide Auckland’s future. These included, the Draft Auckland Plan, the City Centre Master Plan, the Waterfront Plan and an Economic Development Strategy. I put together a fairly detailed submission on the Auckland Plan, and overall many thousands of submissions were received by the Council. Final decisions on these plans will be made in the first few months of next year.

In September we also  found out one of the best pieces of transport news for the year – that we would get 57 electric trains rather than the originally proposed 35. The excellent work by Auckland Transport to secure this deal probably hasn’t been given the praise it deserves, especially as many tens of millions of dollars were squeezed out of the government as their contribution to the additional trains. It was also very welcome to learn that the trains are going to look damn nice too.

After the RWC was finished, the election rolled around pretty quickly. While the overall result wasn’t particularly positive, as it seems we will see more of the same from central government, there were some interesting outcomes. We will have our first transport planner MP, in the Greens’ Julie-Anne Genter, Labour’s new leader David Shearer has been a long-time supporter of public transport in Auckland, while Phil Twyford becoming labour’s transport spokerperson should also lead to a greater focus on Auckland transport issues. In the interests of fairness, we should give new transport minister Gerry Brownlee a chance before passing final judgment on him.

So overall it has been a pretty damn busy year when it comes to Auckland transport issues. As I noted at the start of this post, there have been a number of steps forward but also a number of steps backwards. 2012 should hopefully see the resolution of a number of these issues: a finalisation of the spatial plan, hopefully some agreed way forward on the merits of the City Rail Link, the proper implementation of integrated ticketing and many more interesting things.

I’m just hoping for a slightly less crazy year than this one.

October PT Patronage – more records broken

Much like September, the Rugby World Cup helped to boost October public transport patronage to some pretty impressive levels, especially for the rail network which had over 1.2 million trips, a new record. The monthly PT patronage report has all the details, and here’s a summary:It’s pretty impressive to see that we’re closing in on 70 million trips as our 12 month rolling total. It wasn’t so long ago that we passed 60 million trips. The 16.7% increase in total PT patronage is also very impressive, as while the World Cup clearly boosted our numbers, we must also remember that school holidays completely fell in October this year, whereas last year they straddled September and October.

But perhaps the most exciting numbers relate to the rail network’s patronage – which hit a staggering 1.2 million, the highest monthly total ever. It was up by over 55% on the same total last year. Western Line patronage was almost double last year’s total (obviously the RWC benefits were most clearly concentrated on the Western Line). Here are some of the details:This is the first time we’ve been able to make comparisons for year on year growth in Onehunga Line trains. The much higher 63% growth (compared to 36.5% on the southern & eastern) suggests that patronage on the Onehunga Line has consistently grown since the service was launched in September last year.

The graph below shows the longer term trends: As I noted above, the most spectacular numbers were on the rail network. Even though this was boosted by people travelling to and from Rugby World Cup games, Auckland Transport’s data shows that there were over 1 million ticketed (that is, excluding people travelling to and from games) rail trips in October. October was the fourth month in 2011 to have more than a million rail trips, and the third month in a row to break through this important threshold. The challenge will be this time next year for rail patronage to not experience big losses in year on year patronage – although I’m fairly confident we’re going to start to see reaching 1 million rail trips a month being more common than not in the not too distant future.

When it comes to bus patronage, the increases were a little more circumspect at 7.4%. Much of the increase was for trips within the isthmus, although I’m not sure the extent to which this was influenced by Eden Park bound trips. Here are some further details on bus patronage changes around the different parts of Auckland:  All up we have seen the RWC give a pretty massive boost to PT patronage over the past couple of months, but even pulling that out (which is difficult to do entirely) the numbers show a continuation of recent trends of strong growth. What will be interesting to see is how things hold up in the next few months as there are many more disruptions to the rail network in particular. I’m also hoping that Auckland Transport will be well prepared for March next year – as they seem to have a habit of failing to prepare for the busiest month of the year.

September patronage details

About a week ago I blogged about some basic patronage statistics for September – which were pretty spectacular. Auckland Transport has now released the detailed patronage report for September, which confirms the huge numbers (partly due to the Rugby World Cup of course). Here are the highlights:

Auckland public transport patronage totalled 67,682,156 passengers for the 12-months to Sep 2011 an increase of 6,059,096 boardings or +9.8%.

September monthly patronage was 6,634,342 an increase of 1,045,140 boardings or +18.7% on Sep 2010. Record growth is due in part to increased patronage due to Rugby World Cup 2011 matches held in Auckland during September.

Rail monthly patronage for September is 1,178,586 an increase of 285,538 boardings or +32.0% on Sep 2010. This is both a new monthly record and growth due in part to patronage from Rugby World Cup 2011 special event rail services.

Northern Express bus service carried 2,153,830 passenger trips for the 12-months with a growth in Sep 2011 compared to Sep 2010 of +14.5%.

Here are the details:These were record numbers for the rail system, with the Western Line numbers particularly reflecting the world cup game crowds. Even for services that you wouldn’t think were too impacted by game crowds: like the ferries and the regular buses, there were big increases. This is probably because of the large number of visitors who are using PT to get around. School holidays being shifted into October might have also bumped up the September numbers.

The report also has more detail on the RWC crowds – perhaps most interestingly noting that around 140,000 rail trips were taken on September 9th: surely a daily record for Auckland by miles:

Rail along with the Northern Busway forms the Rapid Transit Network. The month of September saw a huge increase in demand for travel on rail as the Rugby World Cup 2011 swung into action. On the opening day of 9th September 2011 alone final estimates indicate that rail services carried more than 140,000 passengers to and from normal business day activities (compared to an average 43,000 weekday movement), the opening match at Eden Park and the opening night celebrations at the Fan Zone outside Britomart station. The number using rail across the region to travel to or from these activities was more than three times the normal business day demand, concentrated during the early to mid-afternoon and this resulted in crowding on most services from around 1:30pm. On 17th September more than 25,000 fans were carried by rail to Eden Park and the Fan Zone and the following weekend of 24/25th September more than 60,000 supporters were carried over the two days in addition to normal weekend travel demand.

Here are the graphs showing monthly rail patronage over the past few years: Looking at details of bus patronage you can see that numbers on the isthmus were up pretty hugely. I guess that might include the shuttle buses to rugby games?

There’s also quite a lot of interesting data on the number of PT trips to and from the games: What’s good to see is that even after the chaos of September 9th, around 40% of people continued to travel by public transport to the Eden Park games, while the percentage of people travelling by PT to North Harbour Stadium games increased over time.

Integrated ticketing moves forward (slowly)

Further detail on the painfully slow implementation of integrated ticketing in Auckland was outlined in the October business report to the board of Auckland Transport. With the project being somewhat distracted by the silly A-Pass over the past few months, hopefully with the World Cup out of the way we might start seeing some real progress in the next few months: There are two interesting things to note in the paragraph above, first is that in February next year we will start to see something of a further rollout – with what’s called the “Limited Functionality Pilot”. From what I know (mainly from information provided by Thales at a couple of Campaign for Better Transport meetings over the past year) this is likely to involve a pretty basic system across NZ Bus services and trains, allowing stored value use on both the bus and train. Effectively what we have now on the HOP card will be able to be used on the trains (though still no confirmation from Auckland Transport over whether we’ll need to swap our current HOP card for a new one).

The second interesting matter to note is that there’s no set ‘completion date’ noted in the business report, just that the core system rollout will be from mid-2012. That word ‘from’ is quite concerning, as I was under the impression that by the middle of next year we would have a smartcard able to be used on all buses, trains and ferries in Auckland, even if more complexity fare issues (like whether we have fare-capping, whether we shift to zone based ticketing and so forth) will occur at a later stage. Hopefully Auckland Transport provide some clarification on these dates in the relatively near future.

On the subject of the A-Pass, which seems to have been put in place largely for political reasons (the embarrassment of not having an integrated ticket during the World Cup), the Business Report has a bit more information on the popularity of this ticket:

At the time of writing 1228 special A-Passes had been sold to RWC visitors. Over half of those (57%) were purchased through the ticket office at Britomart. Initial expectations were that the pass would be utilised for ferry travel in particular. However, use has been highest on bus (70%), followed by ferry (23%) and rail (7%), indicating that visitors have been travelling outside of the inner CBD during their time in Auckland.

A-Pass sales are highest on match days, suggesting that people are sightseeing as part of the overall match-day experience. Other significant sales periods are one day either side of matches. 

A graph showing the sales volumes is also provided: I do hope the A-Pass was useful in helping test the systems for integrated ticketing, as opposed to just delaying the rollout of the HOP card onto trains, ferries and other bus companies.

Huge PT patronage in September

The full public transport patronage report for September is yet to be released, but hidden within the general business report for the October board meeting we can see some pretty spectacular numbers – to be expected of course due to the Rugby World Cup:

September 2011 patronage was 6,634,342 passenger trips across public transport, an increase of +18.7% compared to September 2010. For the 12-months to September 2011 patronage was 67,682,156 passenger trips, an increase of +9.8% compared to the 12-months to September 2010.

The large increase in patronage in September is partly a result of Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC2011) matches held in Auckland. Special event PT services were provided for RWC2011 and fanzones on 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 22, 24, 25 and 30 September 2011 with integrated match and public transport ticketing across rail and bus special event services.

Rail patronage for the month of September achieved 1,178,586, a new monthly record and an increase of +32.0% on September 2010.

I wonder whether the big rail numbers in Auckland in September and October will finally push us ahead of Wellington’s rail patronage. I don’t have numbers for Wellington more recent than June this year, but it’s interesting to see how both the monthly and 12-month rolling totals (full data here) for Auckland and Wellington have converged over the past few years: 

Of course Wellington’s much smaller population means it has far higher per capita usage of the rail system (Auckland would need to be having more than 30 million trips a year to compete, something that’s probably 20 years away and requires the City Rail Link). But it’s interesting to see how much we’ve caught up since 2003. I would imagine that by this time next year Auckland may well have pulled ahead.

July NZTA Board Papers

NZTA continue to refuse to publish their board papers online (even though they spend around $3 billion of taxpayers’ money a year), so in the cause of increased transparency I have been doing Official Information Act requests for their board papers for a while now. Here are the papers from the latest meeting, with a short comment where I think they contain something interesting. A list of the documents is included below: Attachment 1 – Chief Executive’s Report. Quite a lot of the “progress on RoNS” information has been withheld, which is quite disappointing. Aside from that, there’s an interesting snippet about NZTA’s concerns over the Rugby World Cup opening night. More detail is provided in attachment 11 on this matter.

Attachment 2 – NLTF cashflow and programme management. This document is really interesting, as it details some of the significant cashflow problems NZTA is facing at the moment, which has led to a complete moratorium (and potentially even further measures) on new state highway projects for quite some time. This is summarised below: While some of the extra expenditure has obviously been unavoidable, it is somewhat concerning to heard about the discrepancies due to MoT not recording expenditure (further investigation showed that this was around $180 million, not a small amount!)

Attachment 3 – Quarterly Report on Borrowing. This seems a fairly standard and repeating report showing NZTA’s cashflow position. As per the previous paper, it’s clear that NZTA is really pushing their debt limits at the moment.

Attachment 4 – Refreshing the Investment and Revenue Strategy. This document outlined some possible changes that NZTA will be making to the way they prioritise transport projects, as a result of changes to the Government Policy Statement. The proposals are quite worrying, particularly in terms of focusing more emphasis on ‘strategic fit’ (which means little more than what is the Minister’s pet project).

Attachment 5 – NLTP activity funding class allocations. This gives us some hints about the level of funding NZTA is going to give to various types of transport over the next few years – it largely reflects the roads-obsessed Government Policy Statement, so is fairly depressing.

Attachment 6 – Proposed changes to funding assistance rates. This outlines some changes to the level which NZTA helps subsidise the different councils around the country in undertaking their work. It’s worth noting that Auckland gets a relatively low level of subsidy compared to most of the rest of the country.

Attachment 7 – Draft State Highway Asset Management Plan. I just glanced over this largely – it’s interesting to note how much property NZTA owns but isn’t currently used for state highways.

Attachment 8 – Pricing and Operation Principles for National Integrated Ticketing. A very interesting paper that confirms NZTA will take over the running of all public transport ticketing systems in New Zealand in the future, to enable interoperability. Snapper made quite a detailed submission raising concerns about the proposal but (thankfully) these have been dismissed by NZTA who note the importance of having independence the processing system from any bus operator. This is summarised below: 

Attachment 9 – Establishment of NZ Transport Ticketing Ltd. This seems to be the necessary legal requirements to establish the entity that will look after the integrated ticketing system referred to above.

Attachment 10 – Western Ring Route, pre-award review. This paper relates to the process NZTA have undertaken (or were about to undertake when the paper was written) to decide who would win the contract for constructing the Waterview Connection process. It’s an interesting insight into how these decisions are made.

Attachment 11 – General Business. This has a wide variety of information, although as noted under attachment one, it’s particularly interesting to see what was said about the concerns NZTA had about the Rugby World Cup opening night: Overall there’s a bit more interesting stuff than you normally get from an NZTA board meeting. Particularly in relation to integrated ticketing and the financial issues NZTA is currently facing.

Independent RWC transport report released

Auckland Transport have just in the last hour or so released the independent report into what went wrong on opening night of the Rugby World Cup. The report was prepared by Chris Moore of Meredith Connell and is a fairly extensive document at 48 pages.

Here’s the executive summary:

 It’s worth noting a number of points here, but in particular I did find myself chuckling about the point that if Britomart was a through-station it would have far more operational flexibility. An excellent point.

Further detail on what went wrong is provided throughout the rest of the report, much of which seems to have simply been the result of vast overcrowding on the rail network. The report makes some quite sensible conclusions: While this leads to the obvious question of “would things have been completely different if we’d known so many people would turn up?” the fact that the event was on a Friday, you had both a match and a huge event downtown, makes this issue somewhat questionable as well: I think generally this report seems to back up the two fundamental reasons for the problems that I identified a week or so ago:

  • ATEED didn’t communicate correctly to Auckland Transport the increase in expected numbers to the downtown area. Even though both ATEED and Auckland Transport had (independently it would seem?) both initiated contingency plans before the day, they still seemed to be operating on a “it probably won’t be that big” mindset.
  • The system, even with the best planning possible (which didn’t happen) would have struggled with the numbers of people on that Friday. Combining getting 60,000 people to Eden Park, 200,000 people into downtown and a Friday (with its own commuter and school demands) was probably too much for even the best drilled system possible to cope with. This is largely due to our historic under-investment in public transport.

I have only really glanced over the report so it would be useful to see what others think of it.

Transport plan for weekend’s rugby tests

The All Blacks versus France rugby match at Eden Park tomorrow night will probably be the biggest test of the transport system since the debale of opening night. Auckland Transport seem to be well prepared this time around though, as well as for Sunday’s game between Samoa and Fiji which has also sold out:

Extra transport for fans heading to Eden Park matches

Extra trains and special event buses will be operating for fans heading to this weekend’s double-header of Rugby World Cup 2011 matches at Eden Park.

From four hours before kick-off 100 extra special event buses will be free with a match ticket from outside Britomart Transport Centre. More than 100 additional train services are operating on each day. Extra buses will be provided across the network for people travelling to the Queen’s Wharf Fanzone.

For those not going to Eden Park there will be half hourly trains on the Western Line and from Westfield to Britomart trains will alternate half hourly between the Southern and Eastern lines. Last trains depart Britomart at about 1am.

Train operator Veolia Transport also has strengthened contingency arrangements in place, including standby trains and buses. Passenger volumes will be monitored at stations.

As a safety precaution the speed limit on New North Rd through Kingsland Village will be 30km/h for three hours before kick-off, part of New North Rd will then be closed from kick off until two hours after the match.

People should expect the transport system to be busy on both days as people travel to matches and to the Queen’s Wharf Fanzone.

For those going to the match the most important thing to do is travel early to beat the crowds.

For Aucklanders planning to watch the matches at the Fanzone there are a range of options. For example, although Quay St is closed, the nearby Downtown Carpark building is still open and along with the Victoria St Carpark is a maximum of $7.50.

Traffic will be busy in the area around Eden Park, some roads will be closed and areas close to the stadium are restricted to parking for residents only. People not going to the match should be aware there is potential for delays in the area.

Transport to Eden Park:


Parking restrictions and road closures will be in place around Eden Park and public parking will be outside the residential parking zones. If you are dropping people off at the event, the main drop off point is on Dominion Rd. Parking on streets outside the residential parking zones will involve a short walk to the stadium.People planning to drive are advised to carpool.
A limited number of accessible parking spaces will be provided in Bellwood Road (between Cromwell Street and Dominion Road), an orange mobility sticker is required for access. A shuttle service will operate between this point and the venue.

Walking: Following the Fan Trail from Auckland’s waterfront is a great way to get to the match, more information at


Taxi drop off points are on Bond St and Dominion Rd pre-match and after the match taxi ranks are on Dominion Rd and New North Rd
A mobility taxi rank is located in Bellwood Avenue near Cromwell Street for mobility drop off / pick up. A shuttle operates to and from the stadium. People being picked up need to make sure the vehicle is in place before the end of the match to avoid the road closures.

Special event services:

Travel is free with a match ticket on trains and special event buses from 5.30pm on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday. The special event buses from Britomart are free from 4.30pm on Saturday and 11.30am on Sunday. After the match, travel is free on special event buses until one hour after the match (or until the crowd has cleared) and until the end of service on trains.


To Eden Park from Britomart and the Civic Theatre on Queen St every 5 minutes , Albany every 10 minutes via all Northern Busway Stations, Takapuna from Hurstmere Rd every 15 minutes, Newmarket and Mt Eden every 10 minutes and from Manukau city centre/Botany Town Centre/Pakuranga Plaza every 30 minutes. Free shuttle bus from Whangaparaoa Plaza via Silverdale to Albany Bus Station (Saturday 5 & 5.30pm, Sunday 12 and 12.30pm).


Approximately every 5-7 minutes between Britomart and Kingsland (between 5.37pm – 7.44pm and after the match on Saturday and on Sunday from 12.37pm to 2.44pm and after the match), stopping only at Grafton Station on the way.
Three additional direct services from Papakura to the match, calling all stations to Newmarket, then Grafton and direct to Kingsland
Trains from the west run to Morningside approx. every 15 minutes in the lead up to matches and every 10 to 15 minutes after matches.

Let’s hope everything goes smoothly.

The transport system worked

After the chaos of last week, it was good to hear that Auckland’s public transport system worked well for those attending the Ireland versus Australia game at Eden Park on Saturday night. A Herald article today somewhat contradicts itself by saying that the buses and trains were ready but everyone drove – then noting some fairly large numbers of people who did catch the bus and train:

The Herald on Sunday polled 100 fans as they turned up for the game and found a mere 22 took the train to Eden Park. Almost a third had changed their travel plans after the disastrous RWC opening night – this time, more than half came by road.

The poll matched official figures last night, which estimated 22,300 people (41 per cent of the crowd) used public transport to get to Eden Park.

There was always going to be a pretty steep drop in the number of people trusting the train network in particular to get them to the game on time. Apparently the fan trail was quite popular, and clearly more people drove or took taxis to the game than had done so for the Tonga match.

But what really matters in my opinion is that the transport system seemed to work perfectly. The Auckland Transport Twitter account provided regular updates on how the rail system was going, as well as letting us know when various streets around Eden Park were reopened to traffic. While not everyone has immediate access to Twitter, I’m sure the media keeps an eye on it and if anything did happen then it would be possible for the message to get out pretty quickly.

What will be interesting to see is whether the fact that everything went smoothly on Saturday encourages people back onto the train network for future games. The chances of anything remotely similar to what happened on opening night occurring again are extremely slim, largely because it isn’t planned to hold another fireworks show downtown that will attract around 200,000 people. Maybe the system will be stretched a bit more on the night of the final (particularly if the All Blacks are playing in it), but certainly until then it would be quite surprising if things went wrong – at least in terms of having the system overloaded to such a degree again.

Oh, and on the field Saturday night’s game produced a pretty exciting result for the tournament as a whole. A quarter-final between Australia and South Africa looms as quite likely now, which is surely good news for New Zealand if one of those two teams gets knocked out before the semis.