The PT Picture for Devonport
In light of the imminent cut to the Stanley Bay Ferry and the question in the air over whether we stick with the 807/806 buses or include AT Local, this post is looking at elements of our PT picture for the Devonport Peninsula.
Auckland is growing at an exponential rate. It’s a city of 1.7mill and stretches from Wellsford to Pukekohe. If there are two cars on average per household, that’s a massive demand being placed upon our roads. The Auckland Harbour Bridge is the most travelled route in NZ with 171,000 vehicles taken on it daily, and 30,000 public transport trips. Current and future growth is already placing a strain on the crossing and so a business case has been developed by Waka Kotahi to create a more resilient transport network. This will eventually include a new rapid transit connection from the CBD to the North Shore that supplements and integrates with an upgraded Northern Busway and PT network.
You may wonder why a rapid transit connection rather than a new bridge for cars? I think in this case it’s a bit more than simply responding to the climate crises. Ultimately we’re a city that lacks good public transport. Until we adequately invest in this area, we will never see behaviour change. We’ve already learned that building more roads just leads to an increase in single occupancy vehicles, and that this infrastructure and transport model is not sustainable. A city such as Perth is smaller than Auckland and yet PT use is higher. Why? Because in Perth, they built the network, they prioritized it. We need to accept that this is the future for Auckland’s transport investment. We’re a growing city and we simply can’t accommodate that many more cars on the road.
This is why I have been really disappointed with the cuts to the PT system on the Peninsula and I know many others have too. It’s important though, to understand why these cuts are being made and what some of the solutions and improvements may be.
Let’s start with the Stanley Bay Ferry, which, from early next year, will no longer run. The decision to suspend this service was influenced by the following points:
On the bright side, $150,000 of the $ saved from this service is going into improving the 806/807 bus service which will better connect people in Stanley Bay and Cheltenham to the Devonport Ferry Terminal.
In my opinion the AT Local got some bad political press when it first launched. Some LB Members from the previous term considered it was an elitist taxi service for the well-heeled Devonport. However, the intention for the pilot was to see if an on-demand ride share service could successfully reduce the number of cars on the road. If yes, then ideally it would be rolled out in other areas. Influencers should have reserved their judgement until the end of the trail to give it the best conditions to roll out.
Devonport was an ideal location to test its success, because of the user dependency on the Lake Road corridor, the key Ferry destinations that commuters were wanting to be connected to, and the 3km radius that captured a large number of dwellings.
The other complaint I often heard about the Local service was the concern about its level of subsidy. Obviously as it began, the subsidy was higher, because it takes time for people to try new things out. Now, though, its daily trips surpass their target and the subsidy is $9.75 per ride vs $9.28 for a bus ride.
It’s worth too, looking at AT’s measurements of success.
I personally love the convenience of the AT Local, and given its reliability, ease of use, and comfort many locals have taken to making it their PT option of choice. My neighbour, in fact, uses it every morning and every night, connecting him to the ferry and back again. Like our family of 5, his family of 4 only have one car. When PT is that good, you don’t need another. I will be waiting with great anticipation on whether or not we get to retain this innovative, electrically-charged PT solution.
Elected member of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for the 2019-2022 Election Term.