New Zealand

October-23 AT Board Meeting – Greater Auckland

Yesterday the Auckland Transport board met again and here are some of the highlights from it.

Closed Agenda

One of the things that’s been notable in recent meetings is that far fewer items are being put in the closed session – and consequently the open sessions have far more interesting papers in them. This is great to see so well done AT.

The only thing of note in the closed agenda is the next few tranches of Property Rationalisation – which is noted as “Carpark Properties“. I wonder if this includes the proposal for the sale of the Downtown Carpark?

Business Report

Another recent change to board meetings has been a much leaner business report – previous versions tended to range from 30-60 pages in length, the new one is just over 2 pages. Some of the interesting comments from this report includes:

Customer Citizen Satisfaction

Only having 40% of the public satisfied with you feels like a really low bar.

AT Market Insights and Voice of the Customer September quarter: We have returned to our natural levels of satisfaction with two in five people satisfied with AT’s overall performance. Fewer people claim to be critical of AT and there has been a strong improvement in the number of Aucklanders claiming that AT listens and responds to Aucklanders’ needs.

Cycleway Wayfinding

In the absence of actually delivering lots of cycleways, AT have been installing wayfinding signs.

New wayfinding has been installed at over 150 locations across eight cycle paths across the city centre. This links the City Centre Cycle Loop with many other paths and routes customers use across Tāmaki Makaurau. Cycling options are now more visible than ever, and customers are supported with intuitive wayfinding throughout their journeys.

Don’t get me wrong, good wayfinding is critical but the concern is that AT think “that’s all we can do for active modes“.

An example of one of the new wayfinding signs that includes the error of having Westhaven and Wynyard as the same distance.

Eastern Path Stage 4

Some good news though is AT now have resource consent for the final stage of the Eastern Path – between Tamaki Dr and Orakei Train Station – however, it is unknown when construction will start.

Resource consent was granted for Section 4B (boardwalk around Orakei Basin) of the shared path by an Expert Consenting Panel under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020. Affordability within the capital programme is being assessed to progress.

HOP Expiry

In early October we highlighted that HOP cards were starting to expire and questioned why AT weren’t proactive about it. Since then AT have started sending out notifications and the board report gives some more detail about it.

AT HOP cards issued 10 years ago and still in circulation are starting to expire. 32,500 active cards (used in the last six months) will expire between now and the end of 2025 requiring replacement cards and transfer of any residual balance to the new card. As the expiry date is not printed on cards, there is a risk that customers may try to use their card unsuccessfully once expired. The next step will be to notify registered cardholders in advance of the expiry (91% of affected cardholders are registered) and AT servicing teams and public transport operators are ready to support should customers encounter any difficulties with an expired card.

Ferry Services

There’s an interesting set of papers on AT’s ferry services, including some of the issues around reliability and their future procurement plans. This is something that probably would have been discussed in a closed session in the past.

There’s quite a bit in the papers but one thing that stood out to me was this table which breaks down ferry routes by cost to operate (Annual Gross Payments – AGP) and ridership based on pre-COVID levels. One of the reasons I find this particularly interesting is that is that typically ferries have looked good on a cost-recovery basis due to the inclusion of Devonport and Waiheke but this shows most of our ferry routes have quite high costs for relatively low usage.

Wellesley St Bus Improvements

We covered this on Monday however it’s worth noting that the board did agree to fund the stage one works between Queen St and Albert St

National Ticketing Solution and Open Loop programme update

Lastly, there’s a paper on the National Ticketing System (NTS) and ATs plans to allow for Open Loop ticketing – which will allow for payments by non-HOP card sources like credit cards.

They say AT’s Open Loop solution is currently in a detailed design phase and is on track for a planned for implementation in mid-2024 which is in advance of the NTS roll-out. AT’s work is being designed to integrate with the NTS, however, they also say that the initial implementation will only allow a limited open loop roll-out to credit cards with a smart chip. So presumably that means no phone wallets till the full NTS solution is delivered.

As expected, it seems this is being done ahead of the NTS with the aim of “reducing complexity and providing a seamless customer experience during the NTS transition“. In other words, they will likely push for as many people as possible to shift to these sources of payment so that there is less need for wholesale change when the NTS system is rolled out.

That roll-out isn’t likely until 2026

  1. The target end-state of AT’s ticketing transformation journey is to transition to the NTS. Waka Kotahi plans to implement the NTS programme in phases, with Environment Canterbury (ECan) as Phase 1 and a planned go-live in August 2024 (the bus solution). The AT NTS team continues to actively contribute to development of this solution.
  2. Auckland is currently planned for Phase 3 implementation during 2026, starting with bus, followed by rail and ferry implementations. Detailed programme sequencing planning during October 2023 aims to confirm the phased implementation for all Public Transport Authorities (PTAs).

If you’ve looked at the papers, was there anything else that stood out to you?

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