In a milestone for the city’s transport services, Auckland Transport will soon be calling for tenders to operate its New Network bus services in south Auckland (including Pukekohe and Waiuku).
These will be the first tenders called under the new Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) system and the first PTOM tenders called to create the long awaited New Network. This will mean major improvements to the way people travel on bus, train and ferry.
With the southern tender process leading the way, invitations will be called progressively for bus operators to tender in other sectors; west Auckland will be next later this year.
The tenders for Auckland’s south bus services will open on 17 August and close on 28 September. The successful tenderers will be named early in 2016 and should be operating the New Network Services by October 2016.
General Manager, AT Metro, Mark Lambert says the New Network will create a region-wide network of bus, train and ferry services. The key principle is to run a number of high frequency services that are designed to work together through easy connections, using what is called a “hub and spoke connected network”.
“By having more frequent services operating every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, seven days a week, you can just turn up and go. They will meet connecting services at transport interchanges - the spokes, the interchanges being the hubs,” says Mr Lambert. “Think of the London Underground but using train, buses and ferries.”
The services, where appropriate, will feed train services rather than duplicating them.
Mr Lambert says “This will maximise the efficiency of the new electric rail fleet and between buses and trains, provide more direct and frequent journeys for south Auckland and the rest of the region.”
The call for tenders represents a milestone both in providing bus services to Auckland’s travelling public and also in the way they are provided. PTOM is a service contracting framework under the Land Transport Management Act (LTMA) 2003, ratified by NZ Transport Agency (NZTA). It subsidises passenger routes and incentivises service providers to maximise efficient and effective delivery of public transport in a partnering arrangement with AT.
“Basically maximising income and minimising subsidies will come from increasing the levels of patronage by improving the experience through convenient, safe, fast, frequent and reliable services in quality vehicles.”
The system is very similar to those successfully operated in London and several Australian cities.
PTOM is welcomed by NZTA, it recently approved AT’s Request for Tender process and documentation that will be used to attract tenderers and select the operators.
The Agency’s Regional Manager, Planning and Investment, Peter Casey, congratulates AT on getting to this important milestone.
“This is a tremendous step forward in implementing the Public Transport Operating Model in the Auckland region, and I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of AT and the bus industry in working towards this objective over a number of years.”
Under PTOM about half the region’s bus services will be contracted by competitive tender and the balance will be directly negotiated with the current bus operators.
These arrangements differ significantly from the current part contracted and part-deregulated system in which bus companies receive fare revenues and subsidies.