There’s a cool video doing the rounds on the blogosphere right now which shows the Auckland public transport network working over a 24 hour period.
Watching it really highlights to me how radial the public transport network is. There are a lot of different public transport services (whether by rail, bus, or ferry) but most of them (with a few exceptions such as the Link) go into the center. They’re like the spokes on a wheel but there’s little to join them up.
In practise, having radial services translates for frustrating outcomes for Aucklanders who want to go from one side of the city to the other. It may not even be a particularly long trip but to get there you have to catch one bus into the CBD and then another out – thus more than doubling the time you have to travel and cost you have to pay.
You also often end up with services that follow very complex routes – trying to get every single person close to their house.
The New Zealand Transport Agency published a paper last year which said that having a grid like network is actually a lot more efficient than a radial or tailor made network. Having a grid means that you can run far fewer buses/trains but get more passengers a lot closer to their destination. Hopefully these diagrams help make that clearer.
However, to introduce a more grid like system in Auckland we’d have to restructure the fares as well because right now the fares effectively discourage people from transferring. For example, if you catch one bus for one stage and then another bus for two stages that’s pretty expensive – more so than just catching one bus for 3 stages. We need a fare system that makes transferring from one service or mode to another cheap.
The integrated ticketing project gives us a fantastic opportunity to look at restructuring the routes and fares of public transport services in Auckland to a more efficient grid like system and get more bang for our buck in terms of subsidies.
Sadly, so far what’s coming out of Auckland Transport doesn’t suggest the government is seizing that opportunity. But the Auckland Spatial Plan is a great opportunity to get these ideas out there.
What do you think when watching the video? Do you think Auckland needs a more grid like network? What other improvements could we make?