Auckland Council released the Mayoral Proposal today as part of its Annual Budget 2022/23 consultation process. With a growing desire to decarbonise the Auckland economy, there has been a significant focus on making improvements to the public transport system.
Auckland Transport surveys have identified that the two biggest barriers for Aucklanders to use public transport are frequency and coverage. While there have been improvements in frequency over the last five years, to date it has only been a minority of Aucklanders who have been within walking distance of a frequent bus and this has been somewhat marred by Auckland Transport’s annual service cuts which have seen a trimming of services, especially in evenings and weekends.
Under the proposal, approximately 170,000 more people and 140,000 more jobs would be within 500 metres of the rapid and frequent transit networks, thus increasing the percentage of Auckland’s population within comfortable distance of those networks from 40% to 51%, as well as other routes being upgraded to connector status meaning they would have 30-minute frequencies between 6am and 11pm, seven days a week.
Proposed improvements to the frequent transit network are as follows:
· NX1 will be frequent from Silverdale to Auckland (currently only Albany to Auckland)
· Route 361 will be upgraded to frequent (new route 39)
· Route 376 will be upgraded to frequent (new route 40)
· Route 670 will be upgraded to frequent (new route 67)
· Route 743 will be upgraded to frequent (new route 74)
· Route 762 will be upgraded to frequent (new route 76)
In addition, there will be four brand new frequent routes, being:
· West Coast Road and Henderson Valley Road (new route 15)
· Titirangi Road and Atkinson Road (new route 17)
· Highbrook, Otara, Puhinui, Roscommon Road, Clendon and Manurewa (new route 37)
· Drury South (new route 41)
These new routes are in addition to the myriad of improvements already planned to the frequent transit network, primarily in West Auckland, as well as the restoration of 15-minute frequency service until midnight on city centre routes.
Many other routes are also either being upgraded to connector status or are seeing service level improvements.
This programme of service improvements, among other projects, is proposed to be funded by a special rate of $574 million over 10 years (working out at around $1.12 per week for the average urban residential homeowner).
The Campaign for Better Transport welcomes these proposals. It shows what could be achieved through inexpensive improvements to the existing public transport network.
We are disappointed Auckland Council are only expecting this would result only an additional 14.7 million additional annual bus trips by 2032. Given the need to rapidly decarbonise, Auckland Council needs to be more ambitious about public transport patronage in the coming years, especially as an article in Stuff today has mentioned Auckland might need to grow its public transport patronage by ten times its current amount by 2030 to meet its target to halve carbon emissions by that year.
We look forward to seeing the detail in due course and believe more work needs to be done to ensure more Aucklanders are proximate to the frequent transit network.