Introducing… Auckland and Auckland Transport
Auckland Transport is pleased to be a member of UITP and sincerely appreciates the opportunity to provide this brief introduction and update on its activities.
Auckland Transport is unique in New Zealand. It was established by an Act of Parliament in 2010, following the amalgamation of eight separate local authorities in the region. In simple terms it is responsible for all transport activities (excluding national highways) – local and arterial road building and maintenance, street lighting, footpaths, community consultation and engagement, and of course, public transport (bus, rail and ferries). It is the guardian of some 18.6 billion of publically held assets.
The region is experiencing unprecedented growth (population increase of 170,000 in the past three years alone – or a new Aucklander every 20 minutes). That phenomenal growth is evidenced in a staggering 800 vehicles being registered on Auckland’s roads every week. As a result, at peak times in particular, congestion is now reaching chronic proportions.
Key initiatives or projects underway include:
- The construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) – a 3.5km, largely underground, extension to the CBD/CBD fringe network, which will halve travel time and double frequency and capacity. To ensure maximum benefit from the CRL, Auckland Transport has just placed an order for 15 more three-car electric trains, which will be built in Spain by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF). The extra trains will arrive in 2019 and CRL is due for completion in 2023.
- The newly elected, Labour-led, government has prioritised the introduction of light rail, starting with a line from the Auckland CBD to its international airport. This is a project Auckland Transport has been working on for some 18 months and is well positioned to deliver on once government funding is committed.
- The entire region’s bus network has been redesigned with thousands of routes changed to provide easier and more frequent connections (“hub and spoke”). Known as the ‘New Network’ this has involved significant consultation with effected communities and negotiations with bus operators. The results in the areas which have been implemented so far are, however, spectacular – patronage up by 20%.
- Integrated fares and a “smart card” for public transport trips. The HOP card (similar to Oyster and Miki) is now used on 93% of all journeys, which compares extremely favourably to other international jurisdictions.
- A reprioritisation of scarce road space to incorporate 24x7 bus lanes and double-deckers.
- This month saw the introduction of new Transport Officers on the train network. New legislation gives these on-board and on-platform staff the ability to issue instant fines for fare invasion whilst also providing enhanced customer service and security.
As cities around the world recognise, there is no quick solution to the challenges of rapidly increasing urbanisation. It requires a mix of infrastructure improvement, service increases and demand management/behaviour change.
Whilst public transport alone is not a “silver bullet” it is certainly a key to helping relieve congestion and deliver on the promise of Auckland being “The World’s Most Liveable City”.