Auckland Transport (AT) is regrettably changing some public transport services across Auckland in response to Auckland Council’s emergency budget and customer demand.
The reworked budget requires a $10m cost reduction in public transport operating expenditure compared to the pre-COVID budget.
Mark Lambert, AT’s Executive General Manager of Integrated Networks, says by making changes to existing services and unfortunately deferring some improvements, AT will achieve the necessary savings and support Council’s budget reductions.
This will mean being able to make much-needed improvements to areas where there is increased customer demand for services, without the need for additional public funding.
Mr Lambert says AT looked at services which have been in place for some time but where patronage was low - in some cases as few as 3 customers per day.
In other areas, such as the rural north and south, patronage is low on some bus routes - but communities have limited other public transport options so these have been kept.
Across the network, less than 0.5% of passengers will be affected by the changes, with the vast majority having good alternatives. This is not taking into account the people who will benefit from service improvements.
“AT is seeking to deliver a public transport system that meets the needs of our customers, within the constraints of the emergency budget,” Mr Lambert says.
“We acknowledge that some customers will unfortunately be inconvenienced by the required changes, but we are focusing on removing or reducing services where good alternatives exist for those affected.”
Changes include the removal of some peak time bus services where they duplicate other all-day services, and poorly patronised routes or sections of routes where there are alternative options for customers.
Planned expenditure on additional train service capacity will unfortunately be deferred, while customer demand is reduced due to COVID-19.
Ferry service resources will be reallocated from the Stanley Bay service, which will cease on Christmas Eve, to the Hobsonville Point service from late January 2021. This will allow much-needed investment in the ferry service network, while recognising that Stanley Bay has low patronage and Hobsonville demand is growing significantly, often leaving customers behind.
AT understands this will be disappointing for Stanley Bay ferry users, but recognises that alternative options exist. With limited availability of vessels and budget constraints, it allows AT to meet growing demand at Hobsonville Point. This will increase overall use of the ferry network, without increasing Council and central government public subsidy expenditure.
Two new additional services each morning and afternoon will be added to the Hobsonville ferry.
Other planned improvements will continue - with increased frequency on some bus routes and changes to existing bus routes to serve new housing developments. A Sunday bus service is also being added for the first time in the Laingholm community.
The first changes come into effect in December 2020, with the peak-only 728 and 729 bus services ceasing operation, and the Stanley Bay ferry service ending on Christmas Eve.
Most changes will come into effect in late January 2021.