and Howick & Eastern
have re-written virtually all bus services operated by Howick & Eastern, coinciding with the introduction of Train Services to Manukau Station on April 15th. While there are issues with how the Train Timetable is set out, this issue has been debated elsewhere such as the Transport Blog
and the Better Transport Forum
On the whole, the changes proposed do largely make sense, but there are elements of the Eastern Suburbs shakeup that could do with quite a bit more thought – particularly apparent mistakes that have been made on several routes, or not following up on promises made in the past by Auckland Transport. I will detail these below.
The new timetables can be found here:Howick, Bucklands Beach, Botany, Mission HeightsHowick, Botany, Half Moon Bay LocalManurewa LocalManukau Crosstown
And for consistency, the new Southern Line Train Timetable
Below you will find a selection of maps showing what runs now, and what will replace the present network, section by section.
Howick, Bucklands Beach and Botany Town Centre to Britomart
First off, the present Downtown to Howick and Bucklands Beach Route Map:
And the present Botany Downs and Mission Heights Map:
This whole area is being replaced by the below network:
Now for the Routes themselves:
Route 361:This route is a very simple renumbering of the former Route 61 service, no other alterations have taken place.
Route 500: More or less replaces our current Route 681. The frequency of this route will be every 30 minutes between Mission Heights and Botany Town Centre, where a short working of this same route commences providing a 15 minute frequency between Botany Town Centre and Britomart via Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga, Panmure, The Elleslie – Panmure Highway, Great South Road, Newmarket, Auckland Hospital and Symonds Street. During peak periods, in peak direction, the Botany T.C. short working is replaced by the Route 501 service, explained next. Some morning peak inbound services commence from Kilkenny Drive. Frequency is doubled from the current service provided by the former 680 route which I think is very worthwhile considering the vast area this route covers.
Route 501: Replaces the former 680 route in part, however this route only operates during peak periods in peak direction. Formerly, Route 680 formed the primary route between Botany Town Centre and Britomart, with a Route 681 bus from Mission Hrights connecting with this service every trip. This service is removed. In all, this makes a far more straightforward core service to Britomart than what was on offer previously. I personally am very supportive of this move.
Route 550:Replaces the former Route 50 service to Howick and Cockle Bay. The former Route 51 service is withdrawn. Route 50 suffered from a reasonably frequent timetable that did not follow a regular pattern, some hours having a bus every 15 minutes off peak, some only a half hourly service, others a single trip with two Route 51′s making up the balance. What Route 550 does is take the same route that Route 50 provided, but gave a clock face 20 minute frequency during the day. This part of the route I like. This route is supplemented by frequent Express services that span a great portion of both peak periods. However, one aspect of the Peak Express service that I find puzzling is that in the morning, the Inbound Express trips travel via the University of Auckland Tamaki Campus and then via Tamaki Drive, however the Afternoon Express trips travel via Symonds Street, the Southern Motorway exiting at the Ellerslie – Panmure Highway Offramp. Why can this not be a consistent routing one way or the other at both ends of the day?
Route 551:More or less the former Route 55, the only real alteration is a minor route change to provide a service along Cascades Road.
Route 552:More or less the former Route 52. It runs to a very similar timetable as before, however one aspect I find puzzling with the timetable, is that route 52 travels half hourly between Bucklands Beach and Pakuranga Inbound during the day, with every second bus continuing to Britomart, the other connecting to another service. However, Outbound, all of the return trips commence from Pakuranga Plaza. I am unsure if this was a mistake or whether Howick are actually running empty buses back to Pakuranga Plaza empty from Britomart. Another issue with the outbound Timetable is the issue of clarity – all trips requiring transfers give the route number of the bus the passenger would need to catch from Britomart to transfer at Pakuranga Plaza (fair enough), but gives no indication of what route number the bus from Pakuranga will display. Common sense tells be we are talking about a 552 bus, and not a 553 or 554, but the timetable needs to actually state this. Auckland Transport would do well to do a little proof reading on this one, purely so that the timetable can actually make sense!
Route 553X: Runs to the former 53X route and timetable. No other changes.
Route 554X: Runs to the former 54X route and timetable. No other changes.
Route 589: Exactly the same route and timetable as for the present 689 Route, however this has been renumbered to make the numbering of the route consistent with others in the area.
Howick and Botany Local
Lets take a look at the present route map for the area:
And compare that to the new map:
And the new routes:
Route 545: Exactly the same route and timetable as it was before, no changes have been made.
Route 565: Replaces the Western Half of the former 660/661 routes. This route runs to a half hourly schedule all day. All services commence or terminate as appropriate at the Half Moon Bay Marina – previously only a handful of trips did so. Looking at the timetable as laid out, it would appear that Route 565 trips upon arriving at Half Moon Bay Marina, form Route 575 services to Middlemore Hospital, and vice versa. I cannot see how a 25 minute wait for 575 services at Half Moon Bay could be justified.
Route 575: This route has been extended. Previously this route only operated between Botany Town Centre and Middlemore Hospital via Highbrook and Otara Town Centre. This section of the route has not been changed. However this route has now gained the Eastern Half of the former Route 660/661, and a portion of the former 51 route between Cockle Bay School and Granger Road. As mentioned above, I believe that 575 trips upon reaching Half Moon Bay will form a route 565 service to Botany Town Centre.
Route 580: At this end of the route, Route 580 is cut back to finish at Howick Village. During peak periods this route will run to a slightly higher frequency than it does now..
Again, lets look at the present route network:
And the new map:
Not too much is changing in this area so I will only run down the routes that are being altered:
Route 466: This route is now covered under the Manurewa Local timetable and I will cover this route in that section.
Route 575:At this end of the route there are no changes to timetable or route however as mentioned before, is extended to Half Moon Bay via Cockle Bay.
Route 580:At this end a relatively minor Route Change, which sees the route terminate at the new Manukau Railway Station. However this is currently the only route to serve the station directly. I will cover this in more detail shortly. This route was formerly through routed with Route 466, ie every 580 arriving at Manukau formed a 466, and every 466 made a 580. This no longer takes place.
For the final time the present route map:
And the New Map:
Now besides the obvious inclusion of the 466 route to this new map for Manurewa, can you see any changes?
Well, you’d be right. This area is significant in the lack of changes presented!
The one key factor that should really define these four routes is Manukau Train Station, particularly the 466. Ask yourself,in which direction will the majority of commuters in the suburbs between Manurewa and Manukau going to be travelling? Of course, the answer is North. Localised routes within the area surrounding Manukau and Manurewa should be the first to be relocated to the Manukau Train Station, yet the only route that actually does call in at the station is the 580 from the North East? Hardly useful to anyone at all!
I personally believe, pending completion of the new Bus Interchange at the Manukau Railway Station, Local Routes such as the above routes, 454, 455, 456 and 466 should all be extended to the Manukau Railway Station. There is room for a small selection of routes like these four, and 568 & 580 to park and complete passenger work as between them, and those four routes at busiest only account for 16 buses per hour. However this small collection of routes are – between them – the most useful for anybody arriving at Manukau Railway Station, as they serve the localised collection of suburbs around the Station Locality, especially the 466. This is one aspect of the changes taking place on April 15th that I think Auckland Transport have managed to seriously screw up, and they will do very well to change this!
I’m not asking for every bus passing through Manukau to serve the Station – that would be entirely impractical until the Bus Interchange is complete. But please, at least make the local buses accessible to the locals!