Simply not good enough
Last week Auckland Transport did a soft launch of their new Commute App. The intention of the App is to demonstrate the difference in time and cost between using a car and using transit in Auckland. The intention is meant to show that transit is quicker and saves you money.
Unfortunately I do not quite think something someone thought it through over in Auckland Transport before launching the App – well not for its original purpose anyway.
Well unless you are within a few kilometres of the Auckland City Centre where taking transit is faster and costs less than taking a car, the App will end up telling you the car is often faster and the cost savings are technically negligible to the point it is cheaper to take the car!
Below are some samples I tried on the App using Papakura as the starting point as this is where I am based:
From top to bottom. Note: this is in peak hour so transit frequency and reliability is considerably lower in most cases especially with rail:
- Papakura to Manukau Bus Station
- Papakura to Sylvia Park
- Papakura to 135 Albert Street a.k.a The Tower or Council HQ. The same also applies for Town Hall where the Councillors meet.
In all cases the car is faster than any form of transit to and from Papakura. Even Manukau City Centre which is close by was faster by car in peak hour (it is even faster in off peak with a trip taking under 15 minutes).
Monetary savings become moot in this argument as well. Auckland Transport calculated the costs at $0.79/km which is the IRD standard for claiming travel. Catch is you can claim mileage using your HOP Card for official business use as well. One thing the calculations do not also show is Productivity Lost or Opportunity Cost owing to the slowness of transit.
In my cases the car is faster than transit by anywhere for one third to one half. This means by taking the faster trip I am spending less time commuting which means more time elsewhere such as family, a coffee house, the gym, and less money on Early Child Care fees. While taking transit means less carbon emissions and chances of doing work on the bus/train that I could not do in the car the time gaps are too wide and the opportunity costs are too high. A high opportunity cost means less discretionary spending which fuels the service economy along.
In the end while the Commuter App is noble in its intensions it demonstrates rather loud and clear what we have known for years: that our transit system is woeful and changes made by Auckland Transport are too slow for what it is worth.
This woefulness and slowness has direct impacts on the Economy through opportunity cost (time I have otherwise lost being stuck on transit that could have been spent elsewhere), congestion (we are in our cars as it is faster), and monetary (ties back into opportunity cost through time otherwise lost thus less chance of spending money).
The very same woefulness and slowness being repeatedly being pointed to Auckland Transport for the last eight years only to be hounded out for stating what the App clearly says today and what Auckland already knew. Someone in AT owes an apology accordingly to the City and to advocates.
For the rest there is work to be done that does not include moving at a glacial pace!
[I also use transit from Papakura to Town Hall and back despite it being considerably slower. But Papakura is to Manukau is car every time.]