When the first stop on the Eastern Busway opens in the next month, it will mark the second addition to Auckland’s rapid transit network (RTN) this year after the new AirportLink which passes through the fabulous new Puhinui station which opened. in July. These two additions are the first changes to the network since the opening of the Manukau branch and station in 2012 and the addition of the NX2 via Midtown in 2018.
But if there haven’t been so many changes to the RTN in the past decade, there will be plenty in the coming decade with:
- the addition of the City Rail Link
- new extension of the Eastern Busway
- new stations in Rosedale on the Northern Busway and three new train stations between Papakura and Pukekohe
- North-West Bus Improvements
We should also see the addition of the light rail and hopefully make progress on the bus route from the airport to the botany as well.
Recently Auckland Transport released a new rapid transit card, or maybe you could call it its first rapid transit card, previously it was just called the rail card and the bus lane was stuck .
It’s good to see them finally start to present the rapid transit system as a single entity, although I have a bit of feedback on them for future versions – as an update will be needed. during the opening of the first stage of the Eastern Busway. .
- One of the beauties of schematic transit maps is that they don’t need to match geography perfectly, but just do a good job of depicting it. But I don’t think AT has done a good job here. The map is way too tight vertically which makes the north bus line and the south line tiny while the west line looks really long.
The map index in particular is something not normally seen on rapid transit maps and should be ditched in favor of stretching the map a bit. It would also mean that they could drop the battleship style belt, which would make it look cleaner. Maybe they could even drop the blue bar at the bottom since there is a lot of white / empty space to put the ATs logo.
- The Northern Busway should be presented more like rail lines with the NX1 and NX2 each given its own lines. Especially since each low-frequency ferry route, including those reserved for tourists like Rakino Island, has its own line on the map.
- It’s good that they show the Eastern Busway greyed out as under construction as well as Rosedale Station, but odd that they don’t include the City Rail Link. Likewise, they should also show improvements to the Northwestern Bus and new stations between Papakura and Pukekohe. The main reason for adding these future projects is to help show the general public some of what is going on to provide better public transport in the region.
- There is an error on the Western Line with Sturges Rd and Ranui in the wrong direction.
- There are many stations not shown on the map with easy connections to frequent buses, such as Mt Albert. Should they also be shown on the map instead of just the locations with larger bus stations?
On a somewhat separate note, when was the completion of Rosedale station postponed to 2024. As far as I know, the Constellation Dr bus lane extension to Albany is expected to open in about a year, so why is it going to take another two years to add shelters, elevators and stairs. Is this another victim of AT’s funding priorities?
While we’re on the subject of rapid transit cards, another thing I’ve been thinking about recently is whether we need to change what we call every row on the card. The West, South, and East lines make some sense now, but are hardly imaginative and really don’t make much sense once the City Rail Link opens, which will fundamentally change the rail map. For example, the most likely outcome is that the west line will go to Otahuhu and the south and east lines will become one. Likewise, although the light rail is currently known as the City Center to Mangere, I doubt that is the name it will bear if it is built and it would be even less appropriate if it were eventually extended to the North Shore.
So how could we call them instead?
Looking abroad, there is a range of options, such as:
- In some cities, especially those in Australia, the name is based on the terminus stations of the line. Based on that, we could have something like the Swanson-Otahuhu line, the Pukekohe-Manukau line, or the Hibiscus-Britomart line. They are somewhat descriptive but not that interesting.
- In other cities, they use letters or numbers to describe them. Paris, for example, numbers for its metro lines (1-14), letters for its RER network (AE) and numbers prefixed with the letter T for its trams. New York also uses a mixture of letters and numbers. Seattle is shifting this year to letters and numbers. If we were to go this route, the letters might be preferable to stand out against our bus numbers. Simple letters or numbers have the advantage of being easy to have uniform signage to announce the line, like these new ones from Seattle, but are not so descriptive or so exciting.
- Finally, some cities use unique names for their lines, such as the various London Underground lines or the Vancouver Skytrain lines. It’s the closest to what we have now and of course we have Link buses as well, but we can definitely do better. Could we get more interesting and name them after personalities from Auckland’s past? What about the Te Reo names?
What do you think, should we change our names of rapid transit lines and if so what naming convention should we use and especially for these, what suggestions do you have?