Almost Over PT!
We can’t expect a perfect 100% run – road works and accidents hold up buses, rail is prone to breakdown and operational issues.
But I have struck it bad this week and it’s highlighted to me how important it is to bring forward as a priority the plans for realtime information for train stations.
Here’s an example from yesterday.
I had to be somewhere in the city at a particular time. Absolutely, no leeway.
I planned the trip well ahead but the train arrived five minutes early and was heading away as I approached.
Or was it actually late?
How would you know.
There is no information at the station and no easy way to find out.
I headed down the road for a bus and according to the bus real time sign, one was 13 minutes away.
As it turned out, I had one of those increasingly frustrating ridiculous countdowns on the signs – the time for the arrival counted down, then turned into a DUE and then a DLY and then vanished off the screen as if it were a ghost bus that was a figment of my imagination or a desert mirage.
The multi-million dollar system has always been flaky.
The official explanation has been sometime absurd about drivers who don’t turn on their GPS confusing the system.
It’s a heart stopping moment when you have to be somewhere to see an expected service vanish off the screen, especially if it is replaced with nothing but a scrolling message at the bottom promoting Maxx.
And then with finely tuned hearing I discovered that that original train was not 5 minutes early but must have been a horrendous 20 minutes or so late as the next service that I had hoped to catch left the station, making it 15 minutes behind schedule.
No bus to catch and another train missed on a timetable that had become so screwed up, it was unreliable.
Wellington is getting real time info and some key Auckland train stations will get it but it won’t happen until the RWC at the earliest. ARTA will say only that “once the real time data feed is available from the ONTRACK train tracking system service ETAs will be displayed.”
We actually need it now. It’s the time rail services are most unreliable.
And ARTA needs to fix the wobbly electronic bus sign information system once and for all.
And the Maxx website journey planner should be taken off line and overhauled. Has anyone at Maxx really tested it? It’s often a joke. Everytime I tried it this week, it recommended some ridiculous walk to the destination.
And while I am in a rare grump, how come two LINK buses arrive at the same time? I thought they were suppose to be spaced apart every 10 minutes.
Roll on the days you don’t need bus timetables and they arrive every 15 minutes, as is being tried on busy roads like Dominion.
On a brighter note, I drove to the airport this afternoon via SH20. I couldn’t face trying to co-ordinate an airport bus via a train journey. SH20 on a not too congested journey is great. Can’t wait for it to be completed.
This weekend, I might start hunting for an SUV. I hear they are all the rage.
* In the April performance rail stats, the proportion of services that operated on-time or within five minutes of schedule improved significantly to 80.7%, compared to 66.2% in March, but this was still below the performance of 85.4% recorded in April last year.
Western line services recorded the greatest improvement with 72.7% of services operating on time or within five minutes of schedule, below the 86.3% result in the same month last year but an improvement on the 50.2% recorded in March.
In April the number of Southern and Eastern line services that operated on-time or within five minutes of schedule was 84.8% which represents the best monthly performance figure for this group of services this financial year, and is only slightly below the 85.0% recorded in April last year. The improvement is linked to the reduction in signal faults and the removal of conflicting train movements at Newmarket as well as a significant reduction in the track speed restrictions imposed across the network during the month.
Patronage continued to soar. This April, more than 193,000 more people boarded public transport compared to last April, an increase of over 4%.