Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Farce that is Auckland City Public Transport

Have you ever tried to catch a bus in Auckland?

The whole process leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

For starters, there's trying to find information. Go to maxx.co.nz and try and figure out where a particular bus route goes... And those that don't really fit nicely into a particular region (such as the 007 which, if I understand it correctly, goes between St. Lukes and Sacred Heart College) are impossible to find. You can't search via bus route. No, that would be too easy. And hell, wouldn't it be nice if you could see where the stages started and ended? Miss Bird got mugged at one stage because bus drivers kept telling her the stage end was one stop earlier than the sign that said "Stage End".

Add to that the monstrosity that's Hop.

If you look here, you'll see that stage 2 involves upgrading your Hop card. Brilliant! Way to manage a transition! It was bad enough that transitioning to the Hop card involved 3 or 4 different dates and people stranded on bus stops as some buses had upgraded (even when that region wasn't due to be transitioned for another week or so) while others hadn't.

And then there's the functionality.

The new touch screen machines in front of the bus drivers have a few problems. You'll notice they press the screen 4 times for a single ticket. One to go back a screen, one to say "Adult" or "Child" fare, one for the number of stages and one to actually print out the ticket. Rather than the more sensible approach of allowing the driver to change one or two fields (i.e. change the number of stages), the driver is forced to go back a screen and start from scratch.

I've heard a few drivers complain that the screen is far too bright for evening driving. It's distracting, causes some glare on the window and hurts the eyes. Surely a dimmer wouldn't have been too hard.

I got charged a penalty today. I have no idea how it happened as I ALWAYS swipe on and off again. Always. I've been quite anal about it. However, there's a couple of possibilities.

  • If you're going to the end of a route, and the bus driver presses buttons before you swipe off, there's the chance that you're unable to swipe off. I suspect this is what happened to me as when I did swipe off yesterday, it showed 0.00.
  • If when you swipe off, you miss the short beep (as opposed to the talking machine when you swipe on) but assume you heard it, then once again you're open to a penalty.
There is no information about how much you may be paying in penalties. How it's worked out or if it's a consistent price or anything.

Then you've got the monthly passes - broken up by zone. I went to buy one. $200. It turns out though, you can only buy them at the beginning of the month. Heaven forbid you might want to buy one half way through the month...

Given that Auckland suffers from some quite serious traffic problems, you'd think they could get this sorted. Provide easy to find, relevant, convenient information. Think about the drivers and different conditions in which they drive in. Make sensible choices for transitioning. And again... information, information, information.

It's no wonder that Aucklander's don't have a positive reaction to public transport...

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