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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

NZ Herald:
A bus driver sacked for allegedly stealing loose change has been awarded more than $14,000 in compensation.

Maria Kolo’ofai was dismissed as a casual driver for Dunedin Passenger Transport after a passenger on the Northeast Valley route wrote to the company last August raising questions about her handling of a fare.

The complainant said the driver took another passenger’s fare, which had been paid in small denominations, but was not seen to sort it into her cash box. The complainant questioned where the change had gone.

Company director Kayne Baas arranged a disciplinary meeting with Ms Kolo’ofai the following day, at which she denied taking the money.

She was dismissed later that day in a letter from Mr Baas that said management had lost all trust and confidence in her.

Mr Baas noted Ms Kolo’ofai had earlier been dismissed for theft and had been warned her job was her “last chance to be honest and stay employed as a bus driver in Dunedin”.

She had previously been sacked from Citibus, which was later bought by Mr Baas’ company, for “selling canaries” – a practice in which drivers resell used tickets to passengers and keep the fare for themselves.

Giving evidence at an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) hearing, Mr Baas said he had taken Ms Kolo’ofai on board to “wipe the slate clean”.

But he decided she had stolen the money because it was rare to receive complaints from passengers and there was no reason to disbelieve the account given.

It emerged a day or two after Ms Kolo’ofai was sacked that the complainant was the partner of another driver who had a negative attitude towards her, and the complaint may have been malicious.

Mr Baas subsequently talked to the complainant and the other driver and satisfied himself there was no bias.

Ms Kolo’ofai was not told the name of the complainant until after she had been sacked, and was therefore unable to draw on that at her disciplinary hearing.

ERA member David Appleton found the company’s investigation into the allegations was insufficient, and there was insufficient evidence that to conclude Ms Kolo’ofai had stolen any money.

He found she had been unjustifiably dismissed and ordered the company pay $6949.28 in lost wages and $7500 for humiliation, loss of dignity and hurt feelings.

But Mr Appleton denied Ms Kolo’ofai reinstatement, noting she had pleaded guilty to eight counts of benefit fraud in 2010, which was not disclosed to the company when she was hired last June and was cause for concern.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

MAXX 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 Heights

Howick, Botany, Half Moon Bay Local

Manurewa Local

Manukau 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..

Manukau Crosstown

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.

Manurewa Local

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?

No? Really?

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!

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Bus companies may have to compete for routes in a move intended to slow the pace of increasing fares for Wellington commuters.

Greater Wellington regional council has welcomed an announcement by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday that will allow public-private partnerships for public transport.

The proposed change will let bus firms hold contracts for set routes. It is hoped increased competition will drive operators to improve services to attract customers.

Mr Brownlee said the Public Transport Operating Model would provide better value for money “by incentivising investment from the private sector and improving the design of public transport networks by regional councils”.

The new model comes after Environment Canterbury faced a barrage of problems when it tendered out services in 2010, which culminated in police hauling buses off the road for being unsafe.

Environment Canterbury eventually changed documents so it could reject tenders deemed too low to run an effective service.

Greater Wellington economic wellbeing committee chairman Peter Glensor said the change would increase competition and benefit passengers.

“As well as giving operators more incentive to provide better services, the model gives them more financial certainty, which should encourage them to invest and be innovative in their businesses,” he said.

“If we can grow patronage at a faster rate, of course that has huge benefits in terms of being able to share out the costs better.”

That could mean an end to big fare hikes, although fares were unlikely to decrease, he said.

The model is subject to a law change. The council could then divide routes into “units” which companies would compete for through a tender process.

Passengers were unlikely to notice any change to services as a result, Mr Glensor said.

“It will also encourage genuine competition in our tendering process, something we haven’t seen in Wellington for quite some time.”

The Bus and Coach association also welcomed the change, saying commercial behaviour would bring benefits to public transport.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Christchurch red-zone bus tours will be resurrected as a money-making venture, with passengers paying to see the earthquake-hit city.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has released a “potential business opportunity” tender for a private company to run inner-city tours.

Tenders will close on April 13, and the tours could start running as early as May.

The successful bidder will run the tours as a commercial venture rather than a public service, with no limitation on how much the company can charge.

Potential bidders who spoke to The Press yesterday said the ticket price would have to be significant to cover costs. One bus operator suggested a minimum of $10 a ride.

Last year, 30,000 people paid a gold-coin donation for a red-zone bus tour. Cera ran those tours at a loss, subcontracting out the operational side but retaining overall control.

This time, the bus tours will “be operated as a commercial venture”.

The tender document says the company will have no recourse if the venture proves unprofitable.

The tender comes two days after it was revealed parts of the central city could be closed for up to 18 months. Access to the red zone has been difficult. In March last year, frustrated business owners stormed the cordon in an attempt to gain access to their buildings.

Red-zone tours for a stream of celebrities and politicians have also sparked public anger.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said yesterday last year’s tour cost Cera – and ultimately the taxpayer – money. Some commercial operators were keen to run the tours this time.

“We wanted to give the bus industry and the tourism industry the opportunity to make some money and let some other people have a look at the CBD.”

Ticket prices would be included as part of the competitive tender process, which should help keep them reasonable, and a sensible operator would not charge more than people were willing to pay, he said.

“Operators know if they charge silly prices they will end up on the front page.”

Sutton said he was confident there was enough public interest to support a commercial venture.

However, some bus operators wonder if red-zone tours can be profitable.

GoBus ran last year’s tour with Challenge Events. Its Christchurch operation manager, Laurie Renwick, said it was questionable whether there was enough demand to support a commercial venture. “I’m not sure if there is going to be a market because half the buildings aren’t there any more.”

A minimum of $10 a ticket would be needed to make the venture profitable, he said.

Dale Coulter, of Challenge Events, said he was interested in managing the tours again but needed a bus operator to join him in a joint-venture bid.

A commercially run tour would be more flexible and could include commentary and information booklets, he said.

Leopard and Red Bus, which both competed unsuccessfully to run last year’s tours, are still considering lodging a tender.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Auckland Transport (AT) says it welcomes Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee’s announcement today of a new public/private partnership framework for procuring bus and ferry services.

The introduction of the new framework, called the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM), has come about after a review of the Public Transport Management Act 2008 (PTMA) by a working group led by the Ministry of Transport comprising the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Bus & Coach Association. The PTMA came into effect in January 2009, replacing the Transport Services Licensing Act 1989 (TSLA), providing powers to regional councils to plan and manage urban bus and ferry services within their regions.

The PTOM is the new framework for building an effective and co-operative long-term public transport public-private partnership between regional councils (Auckland Transport in Auckland) and public transport operators. This will be achieved through collaborative planning, joint investment and risk and reward sharing.

Regional councils will secure service agreements through a mix of competitive tendering and negotiation (where appropriate).

Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, David Warburton says, “Auckland Transport is currently finalising new forms of public transport service agreements to permit commencement of the implementation of PTOM from mid-2012. The majority of bus and non-commercial ferry services will be operated under new performance based agreements between AT and private sector service providers from that point”.

“Under the new framework, both parties have a stake in, and are reliant on each other, for delivering affordable urban bus and ferry services that people want to use. The public/private model has been developed jointly by key stakeholders (government, Auckland Transport, regional councils and operators) involved in the delivery of public transport services, employing a partnership approach from the start.

“Performance of services will be highly incentivised under the new contracts through reward of contract term extensions for the highest performing services against a set of pre-determined criteria of patronage growth and subsidy value for money while ensuring quality and performance of services are delivered”.

“Auckland Transport is confident the new model will create an environment of true partnership between public and private sector parties in the specification, design, procurement and delivery of bus and ferry public transport services”, says Dr. Warburton.

Chief Executive of New Zealand Bus, Zane Fulljames says, “The new framework will drive a quantum leap in service provision and growth in public transport usage through an effective partnership model and performance based agreements. Certainty will enable operators to

invest with confidence, recognising the requirement for value for money and an appropriate return on investment”.

Dr Warburton says, “The introduction of PTOM means public transport users should see better integration of services, improved services and frequencies, better quality of buses and, overall, more focus on customer needs while operators will have greater certainty around investment and innovation. It will also act as a key enabler for the formation of one connected and integrated public transport network, integrating bus, rail and ferry services across the region for the first time. The new network will be rolled out by Auckland Transport over the next three years”.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Oil drums have been piled high at Parliament today by the Green Party to highlight the importance of retaining Wellington's trolley buses.

The 11 oil drums represent the amount of diesel the Green Party estimates the council saves each day by using trolley buses.

The Greens say that by using electric trolleys the council saves approximately $940,000 in diesel costs every year - nearly $3000 a day.

The party wants the Wellington City bus review, which will affect all timetabled bus services in the city, to keep the trolleys, save the overhead wires and invest in light rail.

Diesel buses will replace trolley buses on several routes under plans.

The nine trolley bus routes would be cut to five as some of the proposed routes don't match the existing electric network, meaning some services in Seatoun, Aro St, Hataitai and Taranaki St would switch to diesel, Greater Wellington senior public transport planner Doug Weir said.

Trolley buses would continue to run from Lyall Bay on a peak-only route and on proposed core routes to the Wellington Railway Station from Island Bay, Wellington Zoo, Miramar North and Kingston.

Green MP Gareth Hughes said some parts of the review were good but it was essential the trolley buses and overhead wires were fully utilised and provisions for a light rail network integrated into the review. "The trolleys are iconic to Wellington and safeguard commuters and the council against petrol price increases.''

Mr Hughes said the trolley buses saved more than 1.5 million kilograms of carbon emissions per year.

In his submission, Mr Hughes called for routes to Seatoun and Aro Valley to be redesigned for trolley bus use. "They help create a cleaner city with less carbon emissions and air particulate pollution. They safeguard commuters and the council against petrol price increases.''

He also said light rail was essential for Wellington's narrow corridors and crowded streets. "One train can carry as many people as five buses, uses cleaner electricity and generates very low emissions.''

Submissions on the bus review will be accepted until Friday.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Last Friday saw what seemed like a belated announcement – that the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) had acquired all its necessary approvals and will be implemented in the relatively near future. PTOM is the system under which bus and ferry services will be contracted by regional councils (or Auckland Transport). The announcement was welcomed by Auckland Transport and NZTA, although questioned by the Green Party as missing the big transport questions faced at the moment: booming public transport use and stagnating traffic volumes (while funding priorities are the complete opposite to these trends).

The contracting of bus and ferry services has been an ongoing argument in New Zealand for pretty much the last 20 years. The current/previous system effectively prohibited the logical planning of public transport networks, by splitting individual services into either commercial (run without a subsidy and over which the transport agency had almost no control) or contracted (operated with a subsidy and therefore much more control). The cabinet paper on PTOM describes the problem with this system:

At the moment, public transport services are delivered through a mixture of commercial and contracted services. It is up to operators to identify what services they wish to provide on a commercial basis (ie without public subsidy). A commercial service can be a single timetabled service running from one point to another (for example the 10.48 am from Smithville to the city). Regional councils then determine what other services are necessary to the urban public transport network. These services are then ‘contracted around’ the commercial services to fill service gaps.

The practice of registering single timetabled services as commercial has hampered regional councils’ ability to provide an integrated public transport network and achieve network efficiencies, as these services are not under contract with the regional council and do not have to conform to service standards or fare standards. The presence of commercial registrations has also arguably contributed to poor tender outcomes (on average just over one bid per tender in Auckland and Wellington) and higher prices than in regions where competition is more robust. This has led to increased tensions between regional councils and operators.

The 2008 Public Transport Management Act (PTMA) sought to resolve this problem, but the operators moaned and the new government reviewed the legislation before it could even be given effect to. The result of the review is PTOM – which is described in quite a bit of detail in this earlier blog post.

From reading through the most recent cabinet paper on PTOM many of the most important gains from the PTMA seem like they’ve been retained, although there are a few little nasty parts of PTOM which may hold back our ability to truly achieve the kind of improvement to our public transport system that is so desperately needed. Before I get into those details, let’s start with outlining what we really need from the contracting system:

  • The ability to plan an integrated network (therefore, the ability of the public transport agency to define the routes and timetables of every single service)
  • The ability to implement integrated ticketing and integrated fares (therefore, the ability to ensure operators accept the integrated ticket and fare system)
  • The ability to share risks and rewards from higher or lower patronage between the public transport agency and the private operator. This provides an incentive for both parties to grow patronage while also ensuring an ability for ‘cross-subsidy’ from the more commercial to the less commercial routes and means no more ‘cherry picking’ of the most commercial routes by operators.
  • The ability to measure performance standards and include matters like punctuality (measured properly, not this rubbish) in contracts.

So what’s the good news about PTOM in achieving these goals? Well a few paragraphs from the executive summary of the PTOM cabinet paper answer a few of the questions above:

The introduction of PTOM represents a fundamental shift in the delivery of urban bus and ferry services. Under PTOM public transport services, that form part of the region’s urban public transport network, will be grouped together into units and provided under contract with the regional council to enable stronger network co-ordination and a basis for joint investment. This replaces the existing practice ofoperators being able to register single timetabled services on a route as commercial, and regional councils having to ‘contract around’ these services with subsidised services — a practice that led to poor tender outcomes and network development.

 Units will be operated on an exclusive basis for the duration of their contract, and where appropriate procured through a mixture of competitive tendering and direct negotiation based on unit performance. Sufficient units will have to be put out to tender to ensure confidence in costs. Operators will still be able to set up new public transport services outside of the existing urban public transport network. These services will be exempt from contract and will not have exclusive operating rights (ie other operators will be able to set up competing services).

Both legislative and administrative changes will be required to implement PTOM. PTOM encompasses a range of planning, funding and procuring tools that have been developed with the needs of the three largest public transport markets (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) in mind. Many of these tools may be utilised by smaller markets, but not all will be mandated through legislation. I recommend that amendments to legislation be kept simple and limited essentially to the introduction of the unit concept and the requirement for all public transport services to be under contract with the regional council unless exempt.

Properly implemented, PTOM will introduce competition to the system by incentivising operators to compete for exclusive operating rights and directly negotiated contracts. Contractual arrangements allow regional councils to prevent exploitation of these provisions through regulating fare setting and use of cost benchmarking.

The rest of the cabinet paper further answers the questions I set earlier in the post. By combining all services along a particular route (or group of routes) into a single unit, it’s possible to plan a logical network (at least within units), the ‘cherry picking’ issue is resolved, units will be operated on a risk/reward sharing basis – giving all parties an incentive to generate more patronage. All units (except exempt services, which I will get onto soon) will be contracted – meaning that even commercial units will need to provide for the timetable and route structure decided upon by the public transport agency. All units (once again, except for exempt services) will need to accept integrated ticketing and be included in integrated fares networks – should the PT agency want them to be.

So that’s the good news, and largely ticks all the boxes above. Units will be incentivised to become more commercial, by having  fares cover an increasing proportion of their operating costs, because the more commercial a unit is, the more likely it will be contracted through direct negotiation rather than by open tender. Operators dislike open tenders because it introduces significant risk of losing the tender for that area.

Theoretically, the system sets up a framework to get better value for money from our spend on public transport services. Now I have little doubt the government has done this because they want to reduce spending on public transport, so it’s possible to throw even more money at their pointless and stupid Roads of National (Party) Significance – but improving cost-effectiveness of PT services by enabling better network planning has significant benefits regardless of this. With patronage increasing so fast in Auckland, a most cost-effective contracting system means that for any additional funding (and PT funding will not decrease in Auckland while patronage is growing so quickly) we should be able to get more extra service for the same amount of money. All we need is a different government in 2014 (something that’s looking increasingly likely) to boost funding for public transport and we have the ability to create a vastly better system.

That’s the good news, so what are the catches? Well as PTOM is meant to be a giant compromise between all parties, there are a couple catches to be aware of.

  • Exempt services. A number of PT services will be exempt from PTOM and while some of these are rational (like inter-city services) others make less sense, except as part of a fairly messy compromise. Bus routes that are currently fully commercial at all times will be exempt (this includes the Airbus in Auckland), while perhaps more significantly ferry services that are fully commercial will similarly be fully exempt. This includes the Waiheke Ferry – which means that there will continue to be little, if any, control over how that ferry operates in terms of its fares. It may also include the Devonport Ferry, if that runs on a fully commercial basis at the moment.
  • An aspect of the transitional arrangements which seems to allow for a proportion of units to be rolled over to the existing operator for an incredibly long 12 year contract without open tendering. This is seen as a concession to reflect the existing investment in commercial services – but sounds pretty bizarre. I just hope the roll-over of these contracts allows for full network planning to occur and also allows for some assurance that a competitive price is achieved.

Overall, it seems like PTOM is a step in the right direction – although that will largely be dependent upon whether we really do achieve the efficiencies the system is designed to achieve, how the units are structured in terms of their interaction with one another, whether the ‘catches’ listed above turn out to be particularly problematic and whether any of the efficiencies gained are spent on further improving the system to reflect rapidly increasing patronage, or whether they are siphoned off to be flushed down the toilet on another pointless RoNS project. So to an extent, we will have to wait and see.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The other day Cabinet approved the new framework for urban bus and ferry services, otherwise known as the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM). The changes are a result of a review of the Public Transport Mangement Act 2008 (PTM), which was introduced by the Labour Government prior to the 2008 election. Many aspects of the PTM have been kept, and overall it isn’t too detrimental. Fundamentally, the PTOM will change the field thus:

The introduction of PTOM represents a fundamental shift in the delivery of urban bus and ferry services. Under PTOM public transport services, that form part of the region’s urban public transport network, will be grouped together into units and provided under contract with the regional council to enable stronger network co-ordination and a basis for joint investment. This replaces the existing practice of operators being able to register single timetabled services on a route as commercial, and regional councils having to ‘contract around’ these services with subsidised services — a practice that led to poor tender outcomes and network development.

The PTOM also aims to improve value for money and increase the commercial viability of services (i.e, make services more efficient and reduce reliance on subsidies to cover costs) . The situation around single-timetables services applies more to Auckland and Wellington than Christchurch:

Current situation

14. At the moment, public transport services are delivered through a mixture of commercial and contracted services. It is up to operators to identify what services they wish to provide on a commercial basis (ie without public subsidy). A commercial service can be a single timetabled service running from one point to another (for example the 10.48 am from Smithville to the city). Regional councils then determine what other services are necessary to the urban public transport network. These services are then ‘contracted around’ the commercial services to fill service gaps.

 15. The practice of registering single timetabled services as commercial has hampered regional councils’ ability to provide an integrated public transport network and achieve network efficiencies, as these services are not under contract with the regional council and do not have to conform to service standards or fare standards. The presence of commercial registrations has also arguably contributed to poor tender outcomes (on average just over one bid per tender in Auckland and Wellington) and higher prices than in regions where competition is more robust. This has led to increased tensions between regional councils and operators.

Only Auckland and Wellington have generally used commercial registrations to register single-timetabled services rather than all the timetabled services on a route. Only 3 percent of single timetabled services in Christchurch were registered as commercial and these services were all on a few routes and covered all the timetabled services on those routes. This was due to Environment Canterbury’s decision to not accept commercial registrations for anything less than all the timetabled services on a route, something I feel helped create a much more cohesive public transport network than either the two northern cities (for example, Christchurch already has integrated ticketing). As we now know, the two commercial routes operated by Redbus were dropped earlier this year, the 29 (Airport) becoming a contracted route, and the 10 (Airport-Cashmere) being covered by amendments to other bus routes.

Canterbury/Christchurch is, of course, on of the three big metropolitan areas, and the recent earthquake situation adds a whole other dimension to the public transport equation. On progress in the three big regions, the Cabinet paper said this about Canterbury:

ECAN is in the process of implementing some aspects of PTOM as appropriate for post-earthquake circumstances. It is expecting to directly negotiate new contracts with incumbent operators, rather than going out to tender, given the significant changes to the network that are likely now and over the next 5 years. The council will use price benchmarking to assist with the negotiations. It is focussed on using a partnership approach and on growing commerciality. New contract agreements, the concept of a unit, collaborative planning, and a league table will be introduced.

So what does it all mean for Christchurch? Well, expect some big changes to the network to be announced during 2012. In fact, this is what ECan have said about upcoming changes to the Metro bus network in the draft 2012-22 Long Term Plan (LTP):

In the 2012/13 financial year we aim to introduce a new network of services that will make more effective use of resources whilst also better meeting postearthquake travel patterns and returning fare revenue to sustainable levels.

It is clear ECan are looking at shaping the bus network into a system that is both more efficient and effective. We have discussed on here many a time how to do that, by organising the network into a tiered system (here and here). For example, why have lightly patronised bus routes running through the CBD and right across the city? Leave that to the major, or “core”, bus routes with local routes feeding into that core, and frequent, network at suburban hubs. Suddenly, you bring more people into the catchment of fast, reliable (thanks to bus priority concentrated on major bus routes) and frequent public transport services, instead of wasting resources trying to connect everyone directly to a bus route that goes to the city.

I think that approach is going to be the one ECan moves toward. The trick will be to move more people with less, and when you consider the nature of some of the bus routes around the city I think there is plenty of scope to do that. Bus routes like the 15 (Bishopdale – Cashmere), which meander right across the city are a waste of resources. Something along the lines of what Wellington is proposing to do with their bus routes is probably more where Christchurch should be heading.

The focus on commercialisation and better value for money is not too bad all up, and probably sounds a lot worse than it is. I actually think it will facilitate a more effective network. Some public transport services, those that are fully commercial, will be exempt from PTOM in what is in effect a compromise with operators. This shouldn’t have much of an effect on Christchurch given the different nature of the bus system to Auckland and Wellington, and the events over the last year. The only issue I can foresee is there may be a struggle to land the 50 percent farebox recovery ratio, particularly the hit the Metro system has taken recently. However, it seems targeted rates and NZTA funding will help in the meantime to ensure the viability of the network as it attempts to “catch-up”. It is too easy to look at ECans tentative proposals for a “new network” as some type of ‘cut’ situation. I don’t think that will be the case at all. It is important to remember that ECan are determined to get patronage back up to pre-quake levels, and even surpass them, as a high priority, and they are confident they can do that while moving toward a network that is more cost-effective.

You can check out the PTOM Cabinet paper and associated information here.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

At the transport committee the other day we leant about our sexy new trains but that wasn’t the only interesting presentation that was given. Auckland transport gave an update on what is happening toimprove buses across the region including a sneak peak of what the future network could look like. There are a few key things that are combining to enable us to provide a better bus system, the first is integrated ticketing (not much mention needed there) and the second is the new contracting model PTOM which was discussed by Peter the other day. With AT able to sign new contracts they have finally taken the opportunity to take a clean slate approach to the bus network.

One of the requirements of PTOM is that AT divide up areas into units with each unit containing one or more bus routes and a full timetable (so no cherry picking of services by operators). AT has chosen to divide the city into 50 units and each unit will be contracted out separately through a mix of tendering and negotiation with existing companies. The contracts will include revenue sharing between AT and the operators and have incentives built as well as KPI’s and penalties for not meeting requirements. Due to the size of the task AT will be spreading out the contracting and changes over 3 years with 1/3 done this year, 1/3 next year and the last lot done in 2014.

In previous PT plans AT had split the network up into three levels:

Rapid Transit Network

  • Rail & Busway = right of way and frequency

Frequent Transit Network (previously known as the QTN)

  • High Frequency Bus (& ferry) network: connected routes at least every 15 minutes, 15 hours / day, 7 days / week

Secondary Network (previously known as the LTN)

  • Local / feeder / shuttle services
  • Peak only services
  • School services

Here is a diagram showing the kind of thing they are hoping to achieve:

So instead of a network that has lots of services going everywhere but low frequencies, we can with the same amount of resources make a network that with some simple transfers allows much higher frequencies. Even taking into account the time of the transfer this can often lead to faster journey times (perhaps they could be improved with pulse timetabling).

Based on how planned funding and continuing on with how we have been developing our rail network currently it is estimated that we would end up with following high frequency network. It contains the busway, the rail network, the link services and only 10 other arterial routes.



Ignore the dotted lines

However by applying the methodology pointed out just before we would get a high frequency network that looks like this: (remember services on this network would be running at least every 15 minutes for at least 15 hours a day and for 7 days a week)

As you can see it is vastly different and my understanding is that the population covered by the ‘frequent’ network is around three times the business as usual version. There would also be secondary services that fill in many of the gaps that run at a lower frequency as well as peak only services and school routes. Here is an idea of what the total network could look like when secondary services are added (this image only focuses on the isthmus and west). The red routes are the high frequency ones shown above while the blue and purple routes are secondary or tertiary routes. The blue lines actually operate at worst at every 30 minutes 7 days a week

Here are some of the benefits and issues that AT identified

  1. Less duplication, especially in rail corridors and on North Shore
  2. More consistent service levels – “all day” network of frequent services which can be relied upon for many journeys, not just at peak commuting times
  3. Improved reliability
  4. Trade-off between frequency and “one-seat” for some journeys
  5. New ways of designing passenger infrastructure to facilitate bus – bus transfers at key intersections

Speaking to the presentation they said that this fantastic new network not only dramatically improves services but also uses the same amount of resources as the current inefficient network does. They  also identified that changing the network so drastically may see a temporary dip in patronage but that over the long term it not only recovers but grows at a faster rate and this has been witnessed in many cities overseas. There will of course be people upset about having their bus stop and route moved so there will be quite a bit of consultation later in the year.

You can watch the presentation here.

I really get the feeling that over the next few years we are going to see absolutely massive improvements to out PT system. By 2016 we will have a completely redesigned bus network, rail will be electrified and most of the new trains will be running, we will have integrated fares that make paying easier and through better contracting we should hopefully see the level of subsidies required start to plummet. It could turn out to be one of the most important periods in Aucklands transport history.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Passenger Karen McLean hands a gold coin donation to Otago Heritage Bus Society Inc volunteer Dave Harris as she boards a special Easter Sunday service in Dunedin yesterday.

Mr Harris said the Good Friday and Easter Sunday shuttle service across Dunedin proved popular with people doing messages, going to work or church and families looking for a cheap day out.

The cost of a ride was a gold coin or an Easter egg and all money raised after the costs of fuel and making the Leyland Leopard 194 bus, which was retired from urban service in Dunedin in 2010, road legal would go towards the neurosurgery campaign, society chairman Philip Riley said.

Egg donations would go to food banks.

The service ran between St Clair and Normanby between 9am and 7.45pm.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

To eastern suburbanites stuck in rush-hour traffic on Remuera Rd, it seems there's nothing more infuriating than being passed on the inside by a busload of commuters from less-salubrious suburbs to the south.

Local politician Ken Baguley has been on his hind legs about the inequities of it since the Remuera Rd buslane was first signalled at the old Auckland City Council back in February 2008. For four years, he and his fellow "victims" have been banging on about the evil bus lane, and finally they've worn the transport bureaucrats down.

Last week, Auckland Transport (AT) raised the white flag and proposed a compromise which the locals grabbed.

Instead of having to live with a nasty bus lane, Remuera will be graced with a T3 lane instead, an exclusive lane for Mummy to rush her two kids back and forth to school in the Remuera tractor, which buses will also be allowed to share.

It's not exactly the victory Mr Baguley has long demanded. He wanted the bus lane replaced with a T2 lane, which welcomed any vehicle with two or more passengers, but the T3 is better than nothing and also the sort of encouragement needed to keep the anti-bus lane campaign alive.

 

What's depressing is that AT's backdown comes on the heels of burgeoning public transport patronage figures. If these statistics signal anything, it's that as new life and regularity are pumped into Auckland's long-neglected public transport network, new customers do, in rapidly expanding numbers, climb aboard the buses and trains and ferries.

In a report to the Orakei Local Board last week, AT pledged continuing support for "the regional policy of maintaining High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes on major arterial roads of which Remuera Rd is one". It said research by AT had identified bus lanes as "the preferred option" on Remuera Rd, but conceded T3 lanes, allowing buses, cars with three or more people, cyclists and motorcyclists, could be considered on a trial basis.

It said T3 lanes "have an equivalent efficiency to bus lanes, but at the same time provide private car users with improved transport options ... and is a more preferred outcome for the Orakei community than bus lanes".

No doubt it is, because it gives the private motor vehicle the chance to claw back the strip of rush-hour roading given away four years ago to the exclusive use of public buses.

It's as though the experts, after four years of political pressure, have given in to the brow-beating. I'm the sceptic. Put an Aucklander behind the wheel of a car and offer them an inch more tarmac and before they've switched on the ignition, they'll be claiming the whole road is again theirs. The July 2011 AT Bus and Transit Lanes Review highlighted Auckland car drivers' distain for bus lanes as soon as we know Big Brother is not watching.

Surveys in March 2009 and March 2010 of the Main Highway-Ellerslie bus lane showed compliance of 98-99 per cent. That's while it was being monitored by the enforcement agencies. In September 2010, enforcement was removed, and by the next survey in March 2011, compliance had plummeted to 66.1 per cent.

Policing a T3 lane is going to be much more tricky, and that's not even the point. The attraction to passengers of a bus lane is that it's the equivalent of a rail line, an open highway that isn't shared. This factor is a key carrot in persuading commuters out of cars and ensuring public transport is fast, efficient and regular. The July 2011 review emphasised the need for effective public transport in a successful modern city. It said in the next 40 years, the passenger network would have to carry nearly three times its current load "at high frequencies with reliable travel times".

Our road system will play a large part in this and "it is in this context that bus and transit lanes are both beneficial and necessary". The report called for the retention of bus lanes along Remuera Rd, Dominion Rd and Fanshawe St.

Noting that buses carried only a third of the people travelling along Remuera Rd in the morning rush hour, compared with 53 per cent on Dominion Rd and more than 70 per cent on Fanshawe St, the suggestion was to "explore opportunities to enhance bus patronage" on Remuera Rd, not to take a step backwards, which is what AT is now about to do

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

More people than ever before are travelling by bus in the Bay of Plenty.

Both Tauranga and Rotorua have had major increases in bus passengers, with Rotorua’s Cityride passenger numbers skyrocketing from 81,245 in March 2011 to 98,896 in March 2012 – an increase of 17,651 passengers.

This is the first time more than 90,000 passengers have used Cityride services in any month.

In Tauranga, Bay Hopper passenger numbers have leapt from 152,000 in March 2011 to 164,624 in March 2012 – an increase of 12,624 passengers.

This is the first time more than 160,000 passengers have used Bayhopper services in any month.

Bus passenger numbers in the Bay of Plenty have been increasing exponentially since the service began operations in 2001. There are now 13 buses servicing 10 routes in Rotorua and 35 buses servicing 11 routes in Tauranga.

Transport Policy Manager Garry Maloney for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which manages bus services in the region, said several factors had led to the surge in passenger numbers, including Tauranga’s new bus interchange on Willow Street which had helped raise the profile of public transport in the city.

“We believe it’s a mixture of rising fuel costs and our passengers now having more viable services available to them. We are seeing more and more new users and our existing users are using the service more often. It’s great to see the services performing so well and coming to fruition. There is a real buzz in Rotorua and on Willow Street in Tauranga, with all sorts of people coming and going on the buses.”

Bus timetables, which were upgraded in February this year, are constantly monitored and reviewed and will continue to be adapted to reflect the needs of the communities they serve.

Rapidly rising passenger numbers continue to influence any timetable changes that are made, with the most popular route in Rotorua being Route 2 (CBD – Polytech).

In Tauranga, Route 1 (which runs between Pyes Pa and the Mount Hot Pools) and Route 2 (which runs between Windermere Polytech and Salisbury Ave are the most popular.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Brian Rudman didn’t hold back in his column yesterday criticising Auckland Transport for folding under pressure of the utterly retarded Orakei Local Board, and agreeing the get rid of the Remuera Road bus lane and turn it into a T3 lane:

To eastern suburbanites stuck in rush-hour traffic on Remuera Rd, it seems there’s nothing more infuriating than being passed on the inside by a busload of commuters from less-salubrious suburbs to the south.

Local politician Ken Baguley has been on his hind legs about the inequities of it since the Remuera Rd buslane was first signalled at the old Auckland City Council back in February 2008. For four years, he and his fellow “victims” have been banging on about the evil bus lane, and finally they’ve worn the transport bureaucrats down.

Last week, Auckland Transport (AT) raised the white flag and proposed a compromise which the locals grabbed.

Instead of having to live with a nasty bus lane, Remuera will be graced with a T3 lane instead, an exclusive lane for Mummy to rush her two kids back and forth to school in the Remuera tractor, which buses will also be allowed to share.

While Remuera Road is not exactly a Dominion Road or Fanshawe Street in terms of the number of buses it carries, it is an important and increasingly popular bus route. In fact, bus use in Auckland is booming at the moment, which makes Auckland Transport’s decision even less logical, as Brian Rudman’s article points out:

 What’s depressing is that AT’s backdown comes on the heels of burgeoning public transport patronage figures. If these statistics signal anything, it’s that as new life and regularity are pumped into Auckland’s long-neglected public transport network, new customers do, in rapidly expanding numbers, climb aboard the buses and trains and ferries.

The actual performance of a bus lane compared to a T3 lane  obviously remains to be seen – and for that reason it’s good that this is just a trial. But the principle behind this just feels like a step in the wrong direction, especially when we are likely to need to significantly grow the bus lane network over the next few years.

I thought we were meant to be improving public transport in Auckland, not undermining it? Auckland Transport need to grow a spine on issues like these.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Hawke's Bay Regional Council reported a record breaking number of public transport trips on the goBay bus network last month.

HBRC Transport Coordinator Megan Welsby says March is traditionally goBay's best month and passenger trips this March were the highest on record.

There were 71,681 passenger trips in March, an increase of 12% on the previous record high set in March last year. In 2011 Hawke's Bay people made 616,198 trips on the public transport network.

"With an increase of 27% for the first quarter of 2012, we're well on track to beating all previous records" says Megan.

She says a lot of work has been undertaken recently to ensure that all bus stops are marked and timetable information installed at key stops. Investigations are also underway for a 'text-a-bus' service and the installation of bike racks on buses.

"With 11 routes to choose from and services between Napier and Hastings now operating every 15 minutes in peak times and every 30 minutes in off-peak times, public transport is now a realistic and practical option for Napier and Hastings residents, and also visitors to the region."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

A. Additional information on current Auckland Plans fit together

At the recent Auckland Branch Meeting there was discussion regarding a number of Auckland Plans currently being consulted on and specifically a question about what the "Auckland Strategic Plan" is and how it fits in.  I undertook to look into this and report back to the branch.

Please find attached an excerpt from the Auckland Council Draft Long Term Plan.

The BCA's submissions to date on the various Auckland Plans are available on our website at  http://www.busandcoach.co.nz/members/submissions.asp

(See attached file: 1.3.3 Understanding council plans - LTP Draft.pdf)

B. An update on Mt Eden-Maungawhau

In response to some questions raised by Auckland members the BCA put questions to Auckland Council.  At the Auckland Branch Meeting I summarised the response verbally.  Below is a the email content.  Any members willing to assist as referred to at the end of the email should contact the BCA.

Dear Raewyn
 
Thank you for your email regarding concerns over the  recent changes at Maungawhau.  I have answered as per your bullet points.  
 
1.  There are no toilets available due to the cafe/kiosk being closed which we have heard is due to earthquake risk.  Can you please clarify is this is correct and whether there are any plans to rectify this situation.
 
There are still public toilets available at the Maungawhau Entrance on Mt Eden Road.  The kiosk has signage on the doors giving map directions to people these public toilets. This ‘you are here’ map/ aerial photo sign shows visitors the proximity and routes between the kiosk and the public toilets.
 
Your members’ comments quite rightly reflect the popularity of opening the additional toilets at the kiosk due to the repainting and tidy up of the kiosk for the RWC 2011.  The upgrade at that time made toilets publicly available that had not been accessible before and was above the service outlined in September 2010. 
 
The Kiosk is closed due to Structural Engineers saying the building needed further inspections , (where a portion internal scaffolding may need to be erected) to ascertain what extent of strengthening work is required to lift the building’s compliance in terms of performance in an earthquake. This involves a design report which is currently underway. This design report is due in 4-6 weeks, and will contain priced options for Auckland Council to consider.
 
2.  Access to the parking area is restricted by overhanging trees, and if any vehicle is parked on the access road where we drop off passengers to walk to the mountain, a coach would have difficulty in getting around.  Could you please look into trimming the trees to improve access to the parking area. 
 
Yes, this area is due to be inspected again for a check of the vegetation and for maintenance pruning undertaken.  The last time this was done was spring 2011 we jointly worked on this with a bus generously provided by Philip Manning. This approach surveyed the dimensional requirements of the largest vehicle in the Johnston’s fleet.  This was very helpful and this inspection will go over the areas identified by the driver last time.
 
3.  Members report that no security staff or officials were visible to them while they were there.  Could you please clarify the staffing arrangements so I can advise members. 
 
Auckland Council has met with Police and there is an on going Police undercover patrol structure in place which involves unmarked cars and undercover officers patrolling Maungawhau.  Police have resourced a specific operation at the Maunga which liaises with the Tamaki Hikoi guides from time to time.  The Tamaki Hikoi guides have also, by virtue of their site presence, been indirectly responsible for either intercepting attempted crime in progress or being on scene for any incidents that have occurred.  The Tamaki Hikoi guides all carry two-way radios and there have been instances where they have communicated observations of concern quickly to Police as a result.  The Tamaki Hikoi guides presence in essence performs a visitor service and as a result is having a positive effect on deterring crime and creating behavioural change on the maunga.  This service operates from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm every day, except on a few occasions where weather, coupled with low visitation, shortens the period of operation.  
 
4.  Members report that if the access road is restricted it could be impossible to arrive at the second bus parking area.  This would jam up the area until somebody moved.  Could you advise how you think the area is working in terms of flow and whether any improvements can be made to this aspect?  
 
The experience over summer has been that bus drivers and Tamaki Hikoi guides have proactively worked together to plan and manage vehicle movements and parking. The Guides have a good working relationship with the regular drivers and companies, to the point of specifically planning for busy times, e.g., when cruise ships are known to be in the city, and for coordinating shuttle presence for tours arriving with passengers that are likely to require shuttles in order to get to the summit.  At times, extra shuttles have been coordinated on the basis of drivers’ requesting this in advance.  This all forms part of the 12 month trial to assess what the ongoing customer needs are across all of Maungawhau, including pedestrians and drivers.   
 
5.  Members report that when they visited one coach was parked at the bottom facing Mt Eden Road.  Passengers would have walked to the mountain from this point.  Two parking spaces are available at this point while up to six parking spaces are available opposite the old Kiosk if it is possible to get there.  Members report the access to Mt Eden is not ideal, and they except that at times some drivers could get quite frustrated at the time they would have to wait.  This concern appears to again stem from experience that access and flow aren't working well and we'd welcome your views on this.
 
Thank you for your feedback on this topic as some further work is being considered for the lower roading areas this autumn/ winter.  These comments reflect some ongoing and direct feedback drivers’ have also contributed to site staff.  Our project team is completing concept work for some more enhancements at Maungawhau involving additional paths from the lower bus parking areas, including new way finding and interpretation features to direct visitors from parked vehicles to their experience on the Maunga.  I will ensure the most recent concept is forwarded to Philip Manning as his input to date as your Auckland representative has influenced this approach.  There are constraints at the site, particularly when demand is high and typically on days that cruise ships are in Auckland.  We appear to be getting mixed messages in this respect – ie that buses are not going to Maungawhau whilst access and parking are at a premium due to high volumes of visitors?
 
6.  The electric car /shuttle carries 13 passengers and we're aware it is only intended for passengers who have difficulty walking. We're interested in how you think this is working and what the plans for the future are in this regard. 
 
The 12 month shuttle trial is revealing extensive visitation to Maungawhau, although the current ’peak period’ is expected to diminish during April. The Tamaki Hikoi guides report that many international elderly visitors thought to be likely customers for the shuttles decline an offer to the summit in a shuttle opting instead to test themselves on foot.  At times when there are no people of limited mobility groups have graciously accepted a shuttle journey to the top and have contributed favourable comments.  An initial report on the first quarter is currently being prepared and I will forward you a copy once this is completed later this month.   
  
C. Follow up on discussion on Brake Testing Standards
There was further discussion at the branch meeting of the different results that reportedly occur between brake testing at roadside by CVIU and at testing stations.  I had been asked to relay this explanation (which I had previously sought) from NZTA:

Variance between CoF inspection and roadside:
The testing, protocols and safety requirements of vehicles and their components at both CoF and roadside inspection are the same, but the testing environment is different and vehicles must be safe for both environments. In the testing station a vehicle undergoes its inspection in a controlled environment where, for example, the load for brake testing is pre-determined and known. On the road the vehicle may have a different load for each trip and can fail a roadside brake test, if the brakes are not working effectively with the particular load being carried. Other factors can also influence the outcome of roadside testing, including the environment (wet/ hot/ dusty) and nature of previous work (city/ long haul). A well serviced vehicle will continue to pass in all environments.

From the discussion that ensued after this explanation was given it was clear that this did not satisfy all members' concerns.  I have raised this with NZTA subsequently focusing specifically on the unacceptable situation where a vehicle could pass a brake test at a testing station and then be expected to know the brakes were not maintained or performing at the level to ensure a roadside test would be passed, or more importantly that, the brakes were operating safely.  

I am awaiting a response from NZTA and will share this at the appropriate time. 


Kind regards,
Raewyn J Bleakley
Chief Executive Officer 

Bus and Coach Association New Zealand (Inc.)

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

There were no fatalities on New Zealand roads this Easter at the same time that long distance bus usage is up by record breaking amounts. Nakedbus.com CEO, Hamish Nuttall thinks it is no coincidence.

“With so many people choosing to travel by bus, where the drivers are experienced and knowledgeable, it really is the safer option. Fewer cars on the road means fewer inexperienced drivers and ultimately less risk to the general public,” he says.

Passenger numbers are up 42% for the company compared to Easter last year, which means more people are choosing to ditch their cars and hop on board affordable transport options. “58% of our customers used to travel by car,” says Nuttall, an avid bus user himself.

“Most of our customers are your average Kiwi’s travelling around to see friends and relatives, both young and the slightly more mature.”

“We had to increase our services all around the country to cope with the demand and we will continue to do so as demand continues to increase around the network throughout the year.” In the last year, nakedbus.com has increased its capacity levels by 30%, as the 5-year-old bus company continues to experience high growth and popularity of their services.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Rotorua saw a big increase last month with Cityride passenger numbers skyrocketing from 81,245 in March 2011 to 98,896 in March 2012 – an increase of 17,651 passengers.

This is the first time more than 90,000 passengers have used Cityride services in any month.

In Tauranga, Bay Hopper passenger numbers leapt from 152,000 in March 2011 to 164,624 in March 2012 – an increase of 12,624 passengers.

This is the first time more than 160,000 passengers have used Bay Hopper services in any month.

Bus passenger numbers in the Bay of Plenty have been increasing exponentially since services began in 2001. There are now 13 buses servicing 10 routes in Rotorua and 35 buses servicing 11 routes in Tauranga.

Garry Maloney, transport policy manager for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which manages bus services in the region, said several factors had led to the surge, including Tauranga’s new bus interchange on Willow St which had helped raise the profile of public transport in the city.

“We believe it’s a mixture of rising fuel costs and our passengers now having more viable services available to them. We are seeing more and more new users and our existing users are using the service more often. It’s great to see the services performing so well and coming to fruition.”

Rotorua bus user Justine Horua said she was using the bus more this year for getting into town.

“I use it every time I have work. It is a good service. It stops right outside my house. You don’t have to pay for parking in town either.”

Bus timetables, which were upgraded in February this year, are constantly monitored and reviewed and will continue to be adapted for community needs.

Rapidly rising passenger numbers continue to influence timetable changes, with the most popular route in Rotorua being Route 2 (CBD – Polytech).

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

A Wellington bus driver who crashed his bus 10 times in 18 months has failed to keep his job after his last accident involved him hitting a skip bin.

A decision by the Employment Relations Authority has ruled bus company Go Wellington was justified in sacking Ray Cutter in February last year, saying Mr Cutter’s right to job security had to give way to passengers and road users’ rights to safety.

The final straw was when he crashed into a skip, tearing a hole in the bus and showering passengers in glass, the month before.

Mr Cutter had blamed problems with the bus’s brakes but investigations ruled that out.

However, Mr Cutter’s union advocates argued that his final warning should have lapsed as it was made more than six months before the crash.

But the ERA said that did not apply as his final warning was not for a definite time period, and it was impractical as it meant a driver could have a crash every six months and never be dismissed.

Mr Cutter was first employed in 2009 and had six crashes in his first six months, which led to the company giving him extra training. But a month later he hit a parked truck and then was involved in a T-bone collision with a car, which led to his final warning.

After his final warning he scraped a courier van before his driving was assessed.

His driving assessors said his defensive driving was good “apart from the specific recurring theme”. He sometimes used his mirrors too late and need to react more quickly.

However, they believed they could do nothing more to improve his driving.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

AT has it’s board meeting today and as usual I have gone through the open reports to find out what new information is available. Probably the most interesting thing in this months report is an update to the board on both rail and bus performance issues, many of which have been raised on here before.

Rail

We see just how complex things are and with so many different parties and potential points of failure it is not surprising the amount of finger pointing that seems to go on.

Rail services operate on a fixed network with multiple interfaces and strict operating rules.
There are multiple parties involved in the delivery of passenger rail services in Auckland:

  • Veolia Transport operates the trains and has the direct interface with customers for service delivery;
  • Auckland Transport owns rolling stock except the locomotive stock which is leased from KiwiRail;
  • Auckland Transport owns infrastructure on stations platform and manages the stations (cleaning, maintenance and security);
  • KiwiRail Network owns and maintains the tracks and signalling system and controls train movements on the network;
  • KiwiRail also maintains the rolling stock;
  • KiwiRail freight and long distance passenger services (Tranz Scenic) have running rights on the network shared with Auckland metro services

There are a couple of key reasons that have been identified that cause poor performance

  • Network upgrades – upgrades of track and signalling to support ten-minute peak services and preparations for electric trains has a major impact on service operations particularly over the summer construction period by the imposition of temporary speed restrictions through line work-sites and across track recently constructed; this will continue until mid-2013.
  • Failures of signals, points and equipment used for the safe control of train movements. KiwiRail is currently upgrading all signaling and train control equipment; to be complete by 2012;
  • Operations – variable passenger loadings that result in extended station dwell times to ensure everyone has an opportunity to safely board and alight the services (e.g. due to special events). This is also influenced by a mixed fleet with different capacities.
  • Train faults – reflects the age of the equipment in use and demands placed on the equipment to maintain the planned service levels; steady improvement in performance has been seen recently through enhanced maintenance;
  • Other causes include weather events, actions of other parties (including public trespass on tracks) and conflicts with freight trains.

The update also gives a breakdown of performance based on each line along with some of the key issues. Speed UM and Speed DM refer to the amount of minutes trains on the line are delayed as a result of speed restrictions due to works on or around the lines (UM – Up Main or trains travelling in a northerly direction, DM = Down Main or trains heading in a southerly direction).

I would still like to see this information broken down by at least peak and off peak services so we can get a better picture of where things are going wrong but I suspect that it won’t look pretty for those peak services. Most important though is what is being done to improve performance.

  • KiwiRail has been requested to review trends of signaling and points failures to increase route cause identification and corrective action including enhanced pre-planned maintenance
  • KiwiRail has been requested to review the failure of freight trains and advise improvements to be implemented.
  • The introduction of EMUs into service from 2013 will result in a much improved service with fewer delays and cancellations. The maintenance contract includes a performance regime reflecting these expectations. The work that is being progressed to upgrade the network in preparation for the introduction of EMUs from 2013 has potential to impact on service delivery. However, a review of reduced speed restrictions or “permission to progress” processes on live sites is being urgently progressed by Veolia and KiwiRail to lessen this impact on punctuality. While a rebase of the timetable for extra travel time due to track works up to mid-2013 is not ideal, rail timetables need to reflect actual operating conditions and this may be needed.
  • Much of the existing diesel rolling stock (trains) is at or past design life, particularly the motive units, and some equipment is no longer supported by the manufacturers. While it is important to acknowledge these factors, actions have been taken that are aimed at managing the impacts to customers. Delays due to train faults has reduced as greater preplanned maintenance has been undertaken.
  • A new track access agreement is being finalised with KiwiRail Network that will be signed in April. For the first time this will include a performance regime linked to the impact on services caused by network failures and train control and therefore for the first time shares risk and reward of service performance with KiwiRail;
  • A new passenger services agreement has been negotiated with Veolia Transport with the expectation that the operator will enhance the management of the track access and rolling stock agreements. A performance regime that reflects these priorities is included in the new contract; to take effect from 1 July;
  • The upgrade of the signalling system being completed as part of the electrification project will allow safe bi-directional running on each line so that a blockage on one track (caused by, for example a disabled train) can be bypassed using the other track, albeit with a reduced level of service. This capability is expected to be fully available by mid-2012 across most of the network. However, Veolia and AT has been identifying where this can be implemented now to reduce delays due to train and infrastructure failures;
  • The roll-out of real-time signs at stations, and linking these to real-time tracking, will improve information to passengers.

To be honest I am a bit blown away by the fact we have been paying huge sums of money to Kiwirail for access to the tracks and for maintenance and we haven’t yet had a contract with them that includes penalties for the network or train control not performing to set levels.  Also interesting to see that we have a new contract with Veolia, I wonder how long that is for as I thought the old one still had time to run on it. Many of the other issues are things that we will just have to wait for things like electrification to be finished.

Bus

  • Bus service reliability and punctuality is driven by a base timetable and schedule that reflects current and time based travel times and operating conditions (e.g. peak versus off-peak travel times), bus priorities through bus lanes and traffic signal phasing with pre-emption; also high frequency service to reduce the customer impact where services are delayed.
  • The three year review and redesign of all bus services in accordance with the updated PTNP will improve bus reliability and punctuality by providing base timetables and schedules that are current and service routes that deliver on travel requirements of customers that reflect actual travel times and operating conditions. Bus lane and bus priority requirements per route will also be addressed as part of each bus service review and redesign.
  • However in the short-term, existing bus service timetables must be corrected to reflect actual travel time and operating conditions. A project has commenced that is systematically reviewing all existing bus service timetables and schedules and correcting against actual measured travel times and operating conditions using the GPS tracking bus real-time system. This will ensure that all timetables reflect the average travel time for the time of day, improving significantly in the short-term existing bus service reliability and punctuality. Engagement with bus operators has commenced as revised timetables will require variation to existing service contracts and commercial registrations.
  • A service performance measurement and monitoring system is under development on the back of GPS tracking of buses using the bus real-time system. This includes the monitoring of reliability and punctuality against schedules. The system compares GPS tracking of services against timetable schedules for use in continuous improvement of service reliability and punctuality with bus operators. The system is still under development, however, it is currently starting to be used on some routes in addition to the traditional on-road spot checks and monitoring.
  • Currently, bus service reliability and punctuality measurement and reporting is undertaken by bus-operators. This is consistently stated in the monthly PT Statistics report, however, upon completion of the above system, using the bus real-time system, reliability and punctuality will be reported by Auckland Transport.

There are some pretty positive things in here and I am really pleased that we will be moving away from the current system where the bus companies self report their performance which leads to them all saying that buses are on time 99.99% of the time. It will be interesting to see how those figures change once some proper tracking is implemented.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

About 5,500 responses have been received on the proposed changes to Wellington City bus services and are about to be analysed and evaluated by Greater Wellington transport planners.

The proposed changes aim to create a new bus network for Wellington City, with high frequency, 6-am – midnight services on core routes, better cross-city connections and more weekend and evening services in most suburbs.

Cr Glensor said all the feedback would be analysed over the next six to eight weeks. “It will take some time to evaluate the responses and develop the next steps in this process. Trying to balance the desire for an efficient, consistent and coordinated bus network with the wide range of travel needs is a big challenge.”

When feedback on the changes has been evaluated and analysed a report will be presented to councillors, proposing the next steps for the bus review.

Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee, says early indications are that there’s a mixture of positive and negative feedback. “As is the case with all consultation, you’re more likely to hear from people who aren’t happy with what’s being proposed. For example, I’m aware of people who haven’t responded because their travel would be more or less the same under the proposed changes so they didn’t feel they needed to give feedback.”

He says the large number of responses should provide staff with a clear picture of the aspects of the proposals that need further work.

“There’s been a lot of interest in proposed connections and people are very keen that shelters at connection points are adequate and connections would be coordinated well. If we do proceed with connections, we would be committed to ensuring that shelters were more than adequate in terms of size, safety and comfort and that all such shelters were in place before the changes took effect.  Connections would have to be carefully planned and timed; that would be absolutely crucial.

“Certainly from the information sessions that were held, the emails that we received and from reports by councillors of meetings they attended, there seem to be some common issues which will need to be worked through.

Cr Glensor said during the consultation there was some misinformation circulated about the proposals for trolley buses.  Under the changes, the trolley bus fleet would be fully utilised.”

“There’s also been a lot of interest in the proposed changes to bus services in the northern suburbs so we’ll be working through issues there as we will with issues in other areas.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The 6-month trial service between Napier and Westshore via Ahuriri, which started in October, is proving to be very popular and is being extended pending a decision on its future.

The ‘Hopper’ currently travels from Dalton Street Napier to the Napier Health Centre, along Tennyson Street, Shakespeare Road, Battery Road to the Dommett Street entrance of the Princess Alexandra Village, into Ahuriri Village and along West Quay to Westshore. The return journey travels from Westshore along Pandora Road to the Battery Road entrance of the Princess Alexandra Village, along Ossian Street into Ahuriri Village, along Hardinge Road, Battery Road, Milton Road, Napier Terrace, past the old Hospital and Botanical Gardens, back to the Napier Health Centre and Dalton Street.

Passengers are invited to email suggestions/feedback to hopper@hbrc.govt.nz

Timetables are available from the Hopper driver, from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, by phoning 835 9200, from Napier Library, Napier I-site Visitors’ Centre, or see below. For more information phone Megan on 833 8032.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

A subway could be the centrepiece of Wellington's public transport in the future.

Greater Wellington regional council has named the eight options it plans to investigate further as part of a Public Transport Spine study for Wellington - including an underground heavy rail system.

The $1m study is looking at options for the city's public transport from the railway station to the hospital - a distance estimated at 3.7km to 5km, depending on the route.

The options, except the subway, would either go along the waterfront or through the central city.

From 88 options, the list has now been narrowed to eight:

 

  • A heavy rail extension underground along a route to be determined.
  • A heavy rail extension at street level along the waterfront (following the quays).
  • Two on-street bus options along a central route (similar to the Golden Mile) or along a waterfront route, with both options then continuing south along Kent/Cambridge terraces, through to Adelaide Road.
  • Two bus rapid transit options along the same two routes as above (waterfront or central). This involves buses running in a separate space on the road from other traffic.
  • Two light rail options along the same two routes as above (waterfront or central).

 

These options will then be narrowed to a short-list of up to four ideas, which will be costed and sent out for public consultation.

Options that have now been rejected include mini-buses and personal rapid transit or 'pods' due to their limited capacity to meet peak-hour demand.

Two alignment options - a northern one via The Terrace and a southern one via Taranaki and Wallace streets - were ruled out because of their gradients, accessibility issues and a lack of opportunity for land use development and increased public transport use.

The Terrace could be used for supplementary services.

Greater Wellington chairwoman Fran Wilde said this latest step in the study provided ''tangible options'' which could be investigated further.

''It will be interesting to see how they stack up in the next round of more detailed assessment. High quality, highly efficient public transport along this crucial spine is imperative, not only for the future of Wellington City but for the entire region.''

The investigation from here will ''flesh out'' the options, including what they would actually look like.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who campaigned on a platform of bringing light rail to Wellington, said she was interested to see how the eight options would be assessed.

 

The short-list is expected to be finalised around the middle of this year. Those options will then be developed in detail including specific alignments, engineering requirements, environmental and land use impacts and costs. The evaluation will be completed by early 2013 and the four options will go out for public consultation.

The Wellington Regional Transport Committee will the hear submissions and recommend which option should be included in the region's transport planning.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Some interesting insight into the thinking of NZ Bus is in the latest issue of Infratil’s investor update which came out last week.

NZ Bus was acquired by infratil in 2005 at a price which was a discount to the value of the assets of the business. A transaction at such a price is saying “if you were starting again with these assets, you wouldn’t put them together in this way”. the subsequent six years has involved changing the way the company operates so that capital invested in new systems, staff, buses and depots does not represent $0.90 coming out for $1.00 going in.

This has meant developing stronger relations with the regional transport agencies and a more efficient business. Government has also done its bit by developing a regulatory and contracting regime based on commercial incentives and clearly differentiated roles for transport agencies and private operators.

2012 will be a watershed year for bus public transport, especially in Auckland, as new contracts are offered to operators through a mixture of tenders and private negotiations. The contracts will provide operators with the certainty necessary for investment in services, and with the opportunity to position for longer term growth.

NZ Bus currently provides about half of all Auckland’s public transport passenger trips. It aims to win its share of the new contracts, but achieving this will depend on NZ Bus being both relatively efficient and able to earn a fair return on the capital required. If a normal contract entailing 20 new buses means investing up to $10 million the returns have to justify the allocation of funds.

At the time of its acquisition in 2005 it was hoped that NZ Bus would be able to expand by competing on a level playing field with private cars and trains. It was believed that if Government (central and local) allocated funding to where it would create the greatest urban transport benefit for Auckland and Wellington, then that funding would favour an expansion of bus public transport. The cost of additional roadways or rail services was an order of magnitude greater than expanding and improving bus public transport. In fact transport decisions were made on political rather than economic grounds and the bus share of the urban transport funding pie shrank. The more open contracting regime, greater government focus on value-formoney, and high fuel prices all auger well for bus public transport in the future.

I certainly get the feeling from that last part that they aren’t happy about the investment that has happened in rail over the last decade, regardless of how justified it might be but I guess that is understandable as they would want more money invested with them.

In 2012 NZ Bus expects to agree new long-term contracts with Auckland Transport. These contracts have evolved through a prolonged consultation between regulators and service operators and they should result in better public transport at a lower cost. In anticipation NZ Bus has been improving its efficiency and its ability to deliver services people want to use.

There is also a series of graphs which are probably the most interesting bit of the update. The first graph shows just how poor patronage is compared to a number of other cities but it isn’t something we didn’t already now. The targets set by the council as part of the Auckland plan should have us at about 70 trips per person per year in a decade which would put us near where Wellington is today and the long term goal is to have 100 trips per person in 30 years. The second graph is probably the most concerning for NZ Bus, over the last 7 or 8 years their share of PT trips has continued to drop, this is largely due to growth on the rail network and on the North Shore with the NEX which is run by Ritchies.

Over the last five years NZ Bus’s costs per passenger have been almost flat which has allowed a 12% fall in the real level of contract subsidies and a less than 3% increase in real passenger charges.

In this second series of graphs, the first one is quite interesting as it focuses on patronage on Mt Eden which is one of the ‘B Line’ routes. They were introduced in early 2010 and you can see that since then there has been almost consistently solid growth, as they say, this has come largely from increased frequencies and reliability which are two critical factors for customers. It will also be really interesting to see what happens to that last graph once PTOM comes in fully.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Plans to introduce more public transport bus routes in Invercargill have been scuttled because of NZ Transport Agency funding constraints, the city council says.

The council last year unveiled draft plans, which went out for public consultation, for a radical revamp of Invercargill's bus service, which was to have buses running more regularly.

The plan was to replace the existing 10 suburban city bus routes with four circular bus routes operating in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

However, the agency, which contributes 50 per cent of the total cost of the Invercargill bus service, has since told the council it will not increase its funding contribution in the next three years.

Invercargill City Council senior traffic management officer Eddie Cook told councillors this week the four new bus routes, which would have had 104 departures from the CBD a day, would now operate only clockwise, totalling 60 departures a day.

This was 30 fewer daily bus departures than there were now.

The average travel time for passengers on the new routes, which begin on December 1, would increase from 20 minutes to between 25 and 30 minutes, he said.

The other big change was that the free buses on Saturdays and from 9am-2.30pm on weekdays would be abolished. Those buses would now cost $1 for each journey.

Cr Neil Bonifacetold the meeting he believed Invercargill's new bus service would be worse than the current service.

The council shouldn't "kowtow" to the agency, he said, later describing an agency representative who previously spoke at a council meeting as an "idiot".

After the meeting, Mr Cook said the 370,000 bus users in Invercargill each year would still fit into the 60 daily bus trips earmarked for the new service.

The NZ Transport Agency's decision not to increase funding to the council meant if the number of bus routes was not reduced, then ratepayers would have to pay extra in the long term, he said.

Though the number of daily buses would decrease in the city, more money was being spent on bus shelters and marketing.

Agency acting chief executive Stephen Town said it was being upfront with councils that there was no additional funding for new off-peak public transport services in smaller centres. The focus for public transport investment was congestion relief in large urban areas, where it was needed most to help grow the country's economy.

"We are urging local authorities to look for ways of making more efficient use of existing services within existing budgets."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Press Release – NZ Bus
In the wake of the death of Herman Curry last Friday, NZ Bus has called for a quantum shift in attitudes towards health, safety and security of public transport staff.

“Our absolute focus is on the safety and security of all people in our business and across the industry. If a shift to a completely cashless service is the required game changing solution, then that option must be explored at pace by the industry, unions and funders” said Mr. Zane Fulljames, CEO NZ Bus.

NZ Bus has led the way in substantially reducing the amount of cash carried by drivers through the introduction of smart card technology, and also by refusing to bow to pressures to allow topping up of smart cards or purchases of passes on buses.

Nevertheless, even the relatively small amounts carried by drivers today places them at needless risk as was the case at our Waterloo depot last Friday. All of our drivers are provided training to help reduce the risks of escalating potentially violent situations, and this has helped reduce the severity of incidents, but the risks still remain.

Many have publicly called for CCTV on buses, security gates and guards at depots, and even protective cages for drivers in buses. In our view, these measures all tend to either move the problem elsewhere or create additional risks. We strongly believe that removal of cash is the optimal solution, and that the technology exists in our business today to achieve that. Over 70% of transactions in Wellington, for example, are paid for using Smart Cards. It is only a small leap to move to 100%.

“The root of the security issue here is cash, CCTV monitoring and barricading public transport personnel in to their workplace is not the solution” Mr. Fulljames went on to say.

Of course, there are other benefits to be driven off smart card usage. For instance, many parents tell us how smart cards have reduced the risk of bullying of their children through removal of cash. In addition, the use of smart cards drives efficiency in the bus network by speeding up boarding times and provides more accurate data on which we and partners rely to design more efficient services.

“Public transport providers and their staff should be focused on working with key partners on improving customer service levels , quality, reliability and frequency of services, delivering value for money and reducing environmental footprints not on when the next theft or assault will occur” Mr. Fulljames concludes.

“We thank others in the business community who are lending support to these views and look forward to constructive consideration of the issues by all industry participants.”

 

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