Auckland buses face a major shakeup, and the region could be divided into zones similar to London's network as authorities look to streamline services and fares.
Changes to about 400 services proposed by Auckland Transport are being put up today for a month of public consultations.
Regular services could be cut to about 130, bolstered with 40 peak-only commuter runs, but the council body says there will be only minor changes to coverage. It says its priority is to simplify the network in return for service frequencies of 15 minutes or better between 7am and 7pm each day along about 30 bus corridors, and more often at peak times.
These will be complemented by "connector" buses running every 30 minutes, and localised and targeted services.
It has created a Tube-style map showing services running in Auckland, and the "zones" fares could soon be linked to.
Network planning manager Anthony Cross said that although "some" people would have to walk further to bus stops, that was unlikely to be more than about 200m in most cases, and frequent bus services would be put within reach of many more Aucklanders.
Cutting out duplication would mean relying more on feeder buses for passenger transfers to high-frequency routes, including rail, and developing transport interchanges at key locations such as Otahuhu, Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd in Henderson.
Public transport operations manager Mark Lambert said getting passengers used to making easy transfers was an important step towards gaining maximum benefit from the proposed underground city rail link.
Passengers would gain a 50c discount for transfers until a new fare system could be introduced by the end of 2014, in which there would be no charge for swapping between services within each of six new zones.
Mr Lambert said Auckland Transport was seeking public comment only on the overall structure of the new system for now. There would be opportunities for more detailed consultation at each stage of a three-year rollout to 2016, starting next year with South Auckland, Titirangi-Green Bay and some parts of the central isthmus.
The draft plan also points to a Government requirement to increase the contribution of passenger fares to transport costs from 44.3 per cent now to 50 per cent.
Auckland Council transport chairman Mike Lee warned that higher fares would undermine the push for greater patronage, but welcomed the route restructuring, saying the region could not have a "more inefficient, expensive, ramshackle bus system" than at present.