We can do even better, says AT

By Amelia Wade

Punctuality and reliability hitting targets but Super City’s transport bosses are aiming for more improvements.
Morning commuters hurry to work on a train arriving late on the Southern Line at the Britomart Station, at approximately 9am. Photographed for an Auckland Transport train feature. 18 June 2015 New Zea
Morning commuters hurry to work on a train arriving late on the Southern Line at the Britomart Station, at approximately 9am. Photographed for an Auckland Transport train feature. 18 June 2015 New Zea

Morning commuters stuck in Auckland's rail system yesterday may find it hard to believe but the public transport network is generally reliable and punctual.

However, Auckland Transport accepts it can still improve on getting commuters to their destination reliably and on time.

That admission will be welcomed by users who endured long peak-time delays yesterday morning when a train broke down between Newmarket and Britomart stations - a crucial part of the network.

A passenger on the stalled train said it was stuck about 150m from the Newmarket station for about an hour.

That glitch aside, a report card created by the Herald for the city's train, bus and ferry networks shows patronage, reliability and punctuality have all been improving over the past few years while customer satisfaction has remained steady at about 83 per cent, which is the agency's target.

But passenger satisfaction with journeys on ferries has fallen from 90.5 per cent in December 2013 to 88.2 per cent last December.

The card uses information from Auckland Transport's monthly transport indicators.

AT Metro head Mark Lambert said: "They [users] want to get to their destination on time and they don't want to wait too long or rely on a timetable."

For the first half of last year, the agency saw poor performance in punctuality and reliability but since then the bus and train networks have been hitting record figures.

The improvement in the rail punctuality, reliability and frequency can be put down to scrapping the old diesel engines last July and replacing them with the new electric carriages, Mr Lambert said.

The effort meant record patronage figures - in the year to February there were more than 15.8 million passenger boardings, an increase of 21.6 per cent on the year to February 2015.

Mr Lambert said public transport patronage was at its highest since the 1950s when the tram network was dismantled. But the agency hadn't quite hit its target growth of 6.6 per cent, falling 0.7 per cent short in the year to February.

Once the City Rail Link was built, the network would better manage a breakdown like yesterday's.

With the height of March Madness behind it, the agency is set to roll out new promotions to maintain the momentum of the busiest month of the year and to continue to attract new customers.

This will include making the network more reliable, punctual, frequent and easier to understand. One of the key projects will be the roll-out of the new bus routes this year.

"We're pleased with the growth we've seen, but of course we want more," Mr Lambert said.

Public Transport Users Association co-ordinator Jon Reeves said Auckland Transport needed to work on maintaining last month's high patronage because the frustrations of the overloaded network meant people got "turned off".

Regular fare rises also moved people away from public transport.

"Auckland Transport go out of their way to find reasons to increase pricing, when in the current economic environment, holding them steady or, shock horror, a decrease could happen given the economies of scale they are enjoying with the increased passenger numbers," Mr Reeves said.

The data about on-time performance seemed unusual as the association got "endless contact" from its members that the Inner Link buses were delayed by up to 15 minutes.

Transport Blog's Patrick Reynolds said AT was struggling to meet demand and the report card showed "our systems are too small and weak to cope with the growth".

8am delays

DW @LikeTheBand
Train driver just told Newmarket passengers to get off at Grafton, then went to Newmarket anyway. Psych! @AklTransport

pkstowers @pkstowers
Broken train I'm on cannot release brakes so can't be towed. No trains at Britomart for 45mins. Also problem on East line. @AklTransport

- NZ Herald

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