Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ride the B Lline

Mike Lee has been a strong advocate for a sustainable city for many years. Mike is currently the Chairperson of the Auckland Regional council and he has achieved much including a huge expansion in our net work of Regional Parks .
Improved rail services and bus lanes he has also been largely responsible for.
His proposal for B Line along Dominion is another example of Mr Lee' walking the talk'.
This proposition will get Auckland moving and ensure the viability of out main streets shopping and commercial centers.
We may even get a song about the B-line as hip as ride the A line is.
Mike is also a city council candidate for the Waitamata ward in the coming elections

Your story Friday 25 June about the B line proposal for bus traffic along Dominion Road may be the shot in the arm needed to get Auckland moving .Many people talk, but this proposal is walking the talk. Mike Lee, NZ Bus and others responsible should be congratulated. Trams used to get to Onehunga in sixteen minutes from Queen Street.

The B line system has the potential to produce such efficiency.

The Link bus and improved and more frequent train services to Newmarket are winners and also something we are proud to celebrate and to talk about.

There are issues that continue to plague and disrupt efficient transport in Auckland. If city councillors rode our busses, trains and ferries perhaps they will grasp the importance of our transport system and may become proactive.

.If we are to be a Supercity then we need to get transport working throughout the city. A rail link to the airport should also be expedited .

Abridged and published in the New Zealand Herald Monday 28 June 2008

Below is mike original article as published in the New Zealand Herald Friday 25 June

ARC chair and Waitemata and Gulf City Vision-endorsed candidate, Mike Lee, today slammed the Auckland City plan to allow cars into the bus lanes on Dominion Rd, calling it a retrograde step.

He said encouraging bus travel required lateral thinking and thinking outside the square. Launching ARTA’s b-line fast bus initiative, Mr Lee told the gathering that if Auckland City “really has a problem with bus lanes on the side of the road, then its time we gave serious thought to putting bus lanes down the middle of the road.

“This would, in one step remove the conflicts between buses and parking vehicles and vehicles pulling out of, or into, driveways.
“The safety of passengers would actually be enhanced by having traffic lights at each ‘super-stop’, allowing them to get from the side of the road to the platform where they wait for the bus. And the buses would be able to move faster. ”

b-line, launched today at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, halfway down Dominion Road, as the Mutton Birds song goes, celebrates ARTA’s promotion to change the perception you have to wait forever for a bus so it’s easier to drive and aims to increase bus patronage during peak times.
The yellow branding of b-line for buses in Dominion Road and Mt Eden promote the fact buses weekdays from 7am to 7pm are never more than 15 minutes apart.

NZ Bus is introducing shortly new NZ-made buses along the Mt Eden route. NZ Bus CEO Bruce Emson said that while 15 minutes was the promise, the aim was closer to 5 minute frequencies.
The b-line service will later be developed along other routes such as Sandringham, New North and Great North Rds.
But the launch happens only a few weeks after Auckland City ignored city council officers’ recommendations and decided to allow T2 lanes – meaning Dominion Road bus lanes could also be used by cars with more than one occupant.
I put up video showing how difficult Dominion Road bus travel is already at peak time – and Auckland City transport committee chairman Ken Baguley has explained why the decision was made.

Mike Lee launches b-line

Mr Lee told today’s guests, which included Mr Baguley, that it was most unfortunate that at the very moment that Dominion Road has been chosen as the “flagship route” for bus improvements in Auckland, Auckland City Council is considering removing bus lanes, and allowing cars with just one passenger into the lanes.
“The mayor (John Banks) and the council needs to be in no doubt that this will be a retrograde step and inevitably lead to significant delays for bus users.
“The reason why Dominion Road is such a popular bus route is because catching the bus here to get into town is faster and more convenient than driving. Auckland City Council needs to understand that compromising the effectiveness of the Dominion Road bus lanes is in direct conflict with the ARTA B-Line initiative.
The chair said that Dominion Road’s public transport needs to be enhanced, not undermined.

“After all, transport experts believe that in the not too distant future this route is ideal for modern light-rail: which can absorb the planned increased future demand for public transport and at the same time encourage intensification and a quality urban environment along this key corridor.
“As a step towards this longer-term goal, we need to think laterally about how public transport can be improved along this route? So that this “B-Line” idea has a real sting in its tail, and Dominion Road gets to be known as the best bus route not only in Auckland – but the best bus route in New Zealand.

“By a real sting – I mean a bus service that can really move much more people – much more quickly. Like a railway with trains on rubber tyres.
“We need to remember that people are logical in their transport choices: They will choose what is fastest, cheapest, most reliable and most convenient. If we want more people to use public transport, then that is what we need to give them: a service that makes sense to use.

“In order to do that, we must make an intensive effort to tackle problems that are delaying buses. We need to take a “whole-of-route” approach to operational improvements including traffic signal timing changes; more effective signal pre-emption – in other words when the bus comes the lights turn green straight away – just as in the leading PT cities.

“We must tackle critical customer amenity and infrastructure issues – e.g. poor lighting at stops; substandard bus shelters; and the need to site bus stops where people actually are – not just because bus stops have always been located in a particular place.

“We need to think about off-board ticketing at the most heavily used stops to speed up boarding – or even do what Sydney does and have faster pre-pay bus routes.”

b-line bus brought special guests to the launch

Mr Lee said that with the recent focus on rail, it was easy to overlook that fact that nearly 80% of Auckland public transport trips are by bus. The b-line name was based on a very successful initiative in Vancouver which has been very successful..

Vancouver was a city that Auckland can learn a lot from: both cities have broadly similar populations though Vancouver has 2.1 million people while we have 1.4 m – however we do have similar densities, Auckland at 18.9 people per hectare and Vancouver 17 people per hectare. Both cities also have a similar percentage of jobs in the CBD: Auckland at 13.5% and Vancouver at 12.6%. Yet while Vancouver’s rail system is fairly limited, it has managed to achieve a 17% public transport modeshare of trips to work, while Auckland in comparison has only 7%.

The average Vancouverite takes 135 public transport trips per year, while the average Aucklander only takes 40.
“What has made Vancouver’s B-Line system effective, and will make Auckland’s B-Line equally effective is not so much flashy marketing but rigorous attention to the fundamentals:

* the buses must be attractive
* must operate on time
* must come frequently
* they must be able to travel fast along the corridor, people must be able to board quickly
* if necessary people must be able to transfer freely and conveniently to other buses or trains

“To this end it must be said ARTA is making great progress – following on from the signing of an integrated ticketing deal late last year- we look forward to the implementation of smart-card integrated ticketing in Auckland next year.”

Mike Lee: "A bus service that moves much more people, more quickly"

Mike Lee also made passing reference to the remaining big yet-to-be approved rail projects.

“I think its fair to say with the final government approval of the electrification project rail, the battle for rail in Auckland has been fought and won, apart from major projects like the CBD rail tunnel and rail to Auckland International Airport – which will need a political push.”

More photos of the b-line marketing from today’s launch here