For public transport (PT) to be successful it needs to be frequent and affordable. Before the rise of the car that is exactly what it was where I grew up in the city of Manchester. A car was a weekend luxury rather than a commuting option.
Auckland Transport is trying to make PT both but there are so many constraints to its success that uptake will be limited and patchy. One of the constraints is the much vaunted Hop Card. Its intent is laudable and, frankly, only to be expected in a modern city. However, it has features that make it unattractive to the occasional traveller as explained in a letter the East and Bays Courier.
A regular overseas business traveller who lives in Auckland says there are three reasons he doesn’t have a Hop Card when he has similar cars from London, Hong Kong, Osaka, and Shanghai; a 25cent top up fee, a use it or lose it after 60 day clause, and a two year expiry date. All useless for the infrequent traveller.
The advertising on the back of a bus shown in the picture demonstrates the desperation from AT at its lack of success. As Mark Thomas, Local Board member for Orakei, says “I’m not sure who Auckland Transport thinks the ‘posh’ people of Auckland are, but a better reason ‘normal’ people don’t use PT is well expressed in the letter to the East and Bays Courier."
There’s surprise over the lack of support for subsidised ferry services after an initial uptake. Too expensive and inconvenient say letter writers to the Herald. Although rail passenger travel is up it’s not going as well as expected, mainly because of the increase in fares.
Full marks to AT for trying to introduce PT systems but they need to take heed of the fundamental message that it needs to be frequent and affordable. That effectively means huge subsidies as well as retro-fitting Auckland. Can we afford it? I doubt it.