Regular Commuters Get Raw Deal


If the emails to AKT is anything to judge by, enough regular commuters are fed up with trying to work out how their regular train services work around the Rugby World Cup.

Interruptions to services, changes in route, rail buses, no trains …. it’s too much for them despite Auckland Transport’s efforts to explain how it works.

Railbuses are never a good alternative. They seem to take for ever, go on a strange Tiki tour around back streets to get close to railway stations and you have to work out which bus stop they operate from.

Rail buses are only for the desperate

Now comes the ridiculous news that one week out from Christmas, regular commuters get the bad deal again when the normal Christmas eve rail closedown happens a week early.

That means no trains between Britomart and Newmarket in a week people are still working and rushing about before Christmas.

All because of the January 20 Big Day Out in which trains are planned to get BDO-goers to Mt Smart Stadium.

It’s nonsense. BDOers do not need trains. For years the promoter organised bus service operating from Real Groovy has been a popular way to get there.

Last year that bus service leaving Real Groovy on 450 Queen St regularly from 9am until 2:30pm – returning from the stadium’s O’Rorke Rd exit from 9.30pm until 1.30am returning to the Queen St /Wellesley St area.
Urban Express ran from the New Lynn transport centre to Mt Smart. After the event Niterider buses and Northern Express buses ran until late.

Just add more buses. Like the RWC events, organise them from various points of Auckland, not just the CBD. It has wqorked for the last few weekends.

Good on Auckland Council Transport Chair Mike Lee going into bat for regular commuters.

It’s a bad call AT. Especially after months of disruption for regulars.

We are already in for another month of no trains with pre-electrification work and the lowering of the tracks for the planned Parnell stop - something that has to be done before electrification is finished in that area.

The Parnell station continues to be in a strange twilight zone. It’s still planned and the work to be done there over Christmas gives the impression it’s still on track. But funding approval for the $15m project has yet to be finalised.




  1. Matt L says:

    I was pretty annoyed when I read this in the granny this morning. As you say, we have been suffering with irregular services for weeks and to have to suffer more for just the BDO is wrong. I would also suggest that more people would use the train on the lines that pass through Parnell in the week before Christmas than would use it for that one day in January.

  2. Matt says:

    This just in: Auckland Transport is rethinking a plan which would disrupt commuter trains in the busy pre-Christmas week, after being challenged about alleged preferential treatment for Big Day Out concert-goers.

    Good. Bugger the special events, if you’ll pardon my French. Commuters are the ones who keep the services going and justify all of this work. Piss on them too much and they’ll stop coming.

  3. s says:

    While the real groovy busses help, there are still many thousands of people who take the trains. Every time I’ve used the southern line to get to the BDO it’s been absolutely packed, either from the city or manurewa.

  4. George D says:

    I hate it. I’ve taken to presuming that trains don’t run on weekends - because planning to use a train is almost inevitably a bad idea.

    Given that things will be happening for the next 15 years (CBD link included) I’m either going to have to get used to it or move to somewhere where they do rail upgrades properly.

  5. Ingolfson says:

    I have no problem with weekend closures if they are used to upgrade our rail system - but otherwise fully agree with Mike Lee that regulars shouldn’t be the ones dumped on buses all the time.

  6. Matt says:

    George, most of the work will be done by the end of the 2012/2013 Christmas break, because it has to be completed before the electric trains start arriving.
    Beyond that the only existing line that’s going to need upgrading is Onehunga, so the end is well in sight.

    The CRL, well, who knows how they’ll do that. It’s going to be a while before we need to care, but I’d guess they’ll bore starting from the western end and finish into Britomart. That’ll minimise disruption to services.

  7. Ben says:

    Raw deal all round alright (except for the BDO lot). Said long before, closing the line early for Xmas due to the BDO was a stupid idea, and still say its a stupid idea.

    Xmas is a busy time for all and the network needs to be fully open.

    Anyhow I thought the BDO was ejecting itself from Mt Smart?

  8. Matt says:

    Ben, 2012 was always going to be at Mt Smart, and BDO only talked about investigating other options. They’re seriously constrained by the nature of the festival, needing at least three performance areas that don’t interfere with each other acoustically, and there are very few venues that are easily contained for security and also have a layout amenable to the BDO format. I can’t think of anywhere else in Auckland that could equal Mt Smart, except maybe one of the race courses, and then there are issues around resource consent and the willingness of the operators to have their grounds torn up by tens-of-thousands of concert-goers.

  9. Ben says:

    Ah well.

    Anycase closing the line before Xmas is still one for the looney bin :|

  10. Pim says:

    Do the people going to the rugby games and the big day out and events like this even pay for tickets? I mean it must cost a fortune. I think they should still pay.

  11. Matt says:

    Pim, no, a ticket to the event gets you free carriage on rail and bus services operated by AT that are going to the event. I’m not sure if the organisers pay AT anything, but they damned well ought to.

  12. Ben says:

    Matt raises a good point. Last I heard (and could be entirely wrong) the price of the transport fare was built into the ticket.

    My cynical side tells me though I highly doubt it.
    Esp when special tickets for the BDO transport are sold both on the train and bus.

  13. Matt L says:

    Ok lets try to put some things into perspective. AT didn’t publish patronage stats for the Oct – Dec period but they did still collect them. Their first board meeting of the year was in the middle of Feb and in the business report they state that a record 33% of the crowd used PT (rail and buses) to get to the event which equated to about 30,000 trips and was a 20% increase over 2010.

    As we don’t have December 2010’s results I have had to go back to 2009, in that month the western line alone carried 184k people and the network operated for 24 days so an average of 7666 trips per day including weekends. From 2009 to 2010 patronage increased on average by 13% and from 2010 to 2011 it is about 20%, assuming that trend continues it means we should see the average daily patronage in December at about 10400 and over the course of a week it would equate to about 73000 trips.

    So only a portion of the 30k that used PT to get to the game used rail and even less would have come directly from town. By comparison from the Western line alone it appears that closing the network a week early would disrupt about 73k trips and there would also be no/disrupted services for those using the Onehunga or Southern line trains which would push the figure even higher.

    To me the solution for the BDO seems simple, run trains direct west to south which will provide services for those areas. Run special buses for all other areas.

  14. James B says:

    @Pim If it is anything like last time the ticket price did not include transport. Instead they had a special $12 fare or something like that. I can’t remember for some reason the night got a bit blurry.

  15. TFT says:

    Firstly, it is KRG who are closing the network here, not Auckland Transport, and secondly Veolia are the train operator who are contracted to manage a track access agreement on Auckland Transport’s behalf and therefore agree to the closures.

    Based on normal commuters only, the week before Christmas is traditionally quieter than the 4th week in January, so what is all the fuss about here ?

    For once, it would seem that the normal commuter is being looked after by Veolia and the quietest 4 or 5 week period has been identified for the shut between town and Newmarket, which just so happens to avoid the biggest annual special event of the year.

    So what is the problem with what has been proposed?

  16. AKT says:

    @TFT Quieter? But not quiet enough I would suggest.
    I don’t see why people still working and still rushing aorund getting stuff before Christmas should be so inconvenienced.
    January right through is quiet in Auckland. Baldwin was closed until the first week of Feb this year and train travel was not back to normal.
    It’s the principle that train commuters -the regulars who keep coming - keep getting inconvenienced.


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