Tag: Customer Service

Guest Post: Turning passengers into shoppers – adopting a Japan-style public transport service model for Auckland

毎日が旅であり、旅を住みかとしている Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home – Matsuo Basho Guest Post by Rob Mayo.  Transport service provision in Japan, along with retailing and consumer product … Continue reading Guest Post: Turning passengers into shoppers – adopting a Japan-style public transport service model for Auckland

A Direct Message to Auckland Transport

Yes I am Talking to You

 

Yesterday I posted about the 2011 and 2012 rail patronage statistics coming through via a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request. In the same post down at the bottom a “direct” message was also written “to” Auckland Transport.

 

I am going to repost the message to AT here after the “irony” alarms were set off this morning in Twitter. No sooner than I had tweeted that: “Awaits to see if anyone from @AkTransportBlog has another “moment” on the buses or trains this morning #whyohwhy #basicsfirst” – a comment came up from one of their regular readers saying: “My 8:05am 839 outbound Shore bus started 13min late due to Transpower & @AklTransport closing Fanshawe bus lane. You closed the wrong lane!

Face-palm right there. Last I checked the Transpower works on Franshawe Street continue until March when “March-Madness” occurs (that being schools, universities and all businesses are back and transport systems face a large surge). So if problems are coming up now down at Franshawe then Lord help those in February and March if it does go to custard down there.

 

So here it is again – my message to Auckland Transport

 

I am not your enemy and I don’t want to be your enemy.

Your goal is the same as my goal (I think after a head scratch) and that is: to build and maintain (and this includes in the customer service satisfaction and confidence in using our public transport) a world-class public transport system that is: easy to access, easy to use, easy to understand, and most of all it is affordable to all – for our most liveable City.

However something has gone horribly wrong your direction and we are now seeing a sustained and systemic patronage slip in our rail network – a backbone (but not the sole back bone) to keeping the citizens and visitors of this city moving. I have no interest in attacking you Auckland Transport as that is counter-productive.

But your experiences that I have had with you both good but more hostility does not (and with absolute respect) leave me with much confidence in you nor your abilities in achieving the goal – it just simply does not. What is not also helping in my confidence towards you is the feedback I hear from infrequent and frequent passengers – customers of Auckland Transport on the public transport system which I am sorry as much as I want positives, I only see overtly negative feedback on experiences.

Your goal is my goal and all I want to do – am trying to do is as a ratepayer (your master, your employer – not the other way around) is “do my bit in” making our transport system better. Whether that be through praise in what you do right, constructive criticism to overcome the weaknesses, or offer alternatives and ideas others might not have thought of in getting our transport system moving forwards – not backwards as we are seeing; this is my way in doing my part in achieving the goal so that our transport system  is: easy to access, easy to use, easy to understand, and most of all it is affordable to all – for our most Liveable City.

You would have now doubt read my “FIRST STEP IN IMPROVING AUCKLAND’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT” post that sums up the current feelings towards you – Auckland Transport on the customer service and experience of the current system; and if you haven’t then I recommend strongly in reading it.

So what say you Auckland Transport – I am pitching with everything I have (skills, experience, knowledge, ideas, and pure passion and enthusiasm (my former co-workers can vouch for those two) to you – to make our transport system a better place in partnership with you. You know where to find me, you know where to contact me.

I await your reply. 

 

-Message End-

 

2011-2012 Rail Patronage Stats – And a Direct Message to AT

2011-2012 Rail Patronage Stats – For Auckland

 

Direct Message to Auckland Transport also included

 

While undertaking my normal cruising through blogs and social media that I keep an eye on, someone had filed a Local Government Official Meetings and Information Act (LGOIMA) request into the 2011 and 2012 Auckland rail patronage statistics – in which the numbers have been released by Auckland Transport.

 

You can see the patronage information HERE on page two or in the embed below

Accordingly the disclaimer from Auckland Transport applies: “The following sets out the observations of train passenger boardings by station following a single weekday sample during the month of May. The data is representative of a “typical” weekday usage but is subject to daily/seasonal variances. Auckland Transport does not warrant the accuracy of the counts.”

Source: Auckland Transport

It is of also to note that it is mentioned by Auckland Transport that there were service disruptions (I am trying to remember them) in 2011 and 2012 which “could have” affected “normal” patronage demand on the network.

 

So in other words the statistics are pretty next to worthless as you need an uninterrupted day to gauge “normal” patronage demand properly.

 

The Request and Stats

Source: Auckland Transport

Disclaimer: [as above]

 

What can I get out of these stats?

  • Papakura is still the third busiest station
  • Increase on patronage on the Western Line but slump on the Southern and Eastern Lines (again there were disruptions on those life which WILL affect numbers)
  • Onehunga is underwhelming – which means those passengers are getting on at Ellersile making the Onehunga trains appear busy in the peaks
  • Manukau. The comment from my Facebook will be more apt in describing this one:
    • As for Manukau, well George you and I have been down this road with Manukau. With the station 700 metres short to where it short and an observation on that concrete post, it was the entire reason behind my urgency to you and Mike Lee to see that South Link be built in order to get that patronage up

 

Now arguably these measurements were done in May when (looking at the Auckland Transport rolling 12-month patronage statistics) there was still growth, however since August 2012 there has been what is now a systemic and noticeable decline kicking the patronage levels back to July-August 2011 levels (so a full total back slide rendering efforts and good work gone in – useless). You can see my views on this backsliding over at my “FIRST STEP IN IMPROVING AUCKLAND’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT” post.

 

To which I have this message to Auckland Transport:

 

I am not your enemy and I don’t want to be your enemy.

Your goal is the same as my goal (I think after a head scratch) and that is: to build and maintain (and this includes in the customer service satisfaction and confidence in using our public transport) a world-class public transport system that is: easy to access, easy to use, easy to understand, and most of all it is affordable to all – for our most liveable City.

However something has gone horribly wrong your direction and we are now seeing a sustained and systemic patronage slip in our rail network – a backbone (but not the sole back bone) to keeping the citizens and visitors of this city moving. I have no interest in attacking you Auckland Transport as that is counter-productive.

But your experiences that I have had with you both good but more hostility does not (and with absolute respect) leave me with much confidence in you nor your abilities in achieving the goal – it just simply does not. What is not also helping in my confidence towards you is the feedback I hear from infrequent and frequent passengers – customers of Auckland Transport on the public transport system which I am sorry as much as I want positives, I only see overtly negative feedback on experiences.

Your goal is my goal and all I want to do – am trying to do is as a ratepayer (your master, your employer – not the other way around) is do my bit in making our transport system better. Whether that be through praise in what you do right, constructive criticism to overcome the weaknesses, or offer alternatives and ideas others might not have thought of in getting our transport system moving forwards – not backwards as we are seeing; this is my way in doing my part in achieving the goal so that our transport system  is: easy to access, easy to use, easy to understand, and most of all it is affordable to all – for our most Liveable City.

You would have now doubt read my “FIRST STEP IN IMPROVING AUCKLAND’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT” post that sums up the current feelings towards you – Auckland Transport on the customer service and experience of the current system; and if you haven’t then I recommend strongly in reading it.

So what say you Auckland Transport – I am pitching with everything I have (skills, experience, knowledge, ideas, and pure passion and enthusiasm (my former co-workers can vouch for those two) to you – to make our transport system a better place in partnership with you. You know where to find me, you know where to contact me.

I await your reply. 

 

AT COO Interviewed – On Auckland’s Transport

Chief Operating Officer Talks About Auckland’s Transport – Yet Still Misses the Basics?

 

On Friday; Auckland Transport posted up on its website an interview with their Number Three – Chief Operation Officer Greg Edmonds with TV9’s Asia Focus.

From Auckland Transport:

Transport in 2013: Greg Edmonds interview

Last reviewed: 11/01/2013 2:46 p.m.

​Watch this interview on AsiaFocus by TV9 with Greg Edmonds, Chief Operating Officer of Auckland Transport.

Mr Edmonds answers questions about integrated ticketing (HOP), its benefits and the rollout to buses that will begin in April.

He also speaks about measures Auckland Transport is taking to continue to grow public transport patronage. These include integrated ticketing, electrification of the rail network and electric trains and the redesign of bus networks to better integrate them with the rail network.

Watch the recording of the interview on TV9.co.nz. Length: 20:25

 

And so I watched the interview and took some notes on the following aspects (with some help of other keen eyes and ears):

Noted from Interview with AT-CCO Greg Edmonds

 

1.52min
“Looking for a population of 2-2.5 million people in 10yrs”

Where are the people coming? 2030 was when Auckland was due to hit the 2-million mark so is there something statisticians not telling us?

2.39min
“Current Dual HOP card system”

Why couldn’t AT get it right in the first place? It’s not that Auckland is the first place ever to use such a system. However I have covered this since my alternative to Snapper in February Last Year)

4.55min
“Rail patronage dropping since RWC – How to fix public transport patronage:

  1. Integrated train/bus/ferry timetables
  2. $600million electrification
  3. 10min a train will turn up (all day every day, 7 days a week)
  4. 15min a bus will turn up (all day every day, 7 days a week)
  5. City Rail Link post 2022 (or rather 2025)”

My Reply: From observations and experiences: trains/buses running around just about/or empty all the time outside peak hrs. However will another million people in the city in 10yrs and an aging population use their free travel passes their might be a bit more usage. But doubling usage by another 70 million in 10 years is somewhat overly optimistic given the current situation. I have also touched on AT not getting the basics rights with Customer Service in the FIRST STEP IN IMPROVING AUCKLAND’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT post which basically states all the investment in infrastructure means squat if the customer service experience is least to be currently desired. More on this again later)

7.21min
“Greg Edmonds stating passenger numbers not dropping”

Someone asked me: “I wish someone would confirm whether they dropping or rising and all officials/bureaucrats stick to the same story line.” The answer to that lies in the patronage stats from Auckland Transport which is currently stating there is overall growth in public transport patronage, but declines in Northern Busway patronage and a rather disturbing 14-15% drop in rail patronage which shows no sign of currently slowing down.

8.00min
Greg Edmonds not concerned about overall public transport use trends.”

Someone said this to me (so not my own words): “Naturally he’s not… he’s selling the fear factor of 2-2.5 million people being in Auckland and the place turning into chaos.” In saying that, however I might go an explore Edmonds comment around that remark. His role clearly dictates that he must be concerned around overall public transport trends for if they either:  fall through the floor in patronage, or the Customer Service situation does not improve – then his head might be on Councillor Mike Lee’s PLATE!)

9.25min
“Real time information system not accurate…”

I cannot comment on the Passenger Real Time Information Display System (RAPID) currently due to previous employment however a reader did ask this: (Question) “Why couldn’t AT implement a system that would work right in the first place? It’s not as though Auckland has the first system in the world. How much did this mistake cost ratepayers and who has been held accountable for it?”

10.51min
“We have patronage “Targets” – by 2020 achieve 140 million based on investments being made”

Observation: It means an extra 70 million rides in seven years, that’s an increase of 10 million per year which with the current problems AT are facing with public transport – it could be a case of “barrow” and “uphill”.  The slide in rail patronage which is becoming entrenched and systemic needs to be reversed. The question is: “how is Auckland Transport going to honestly reverse that slide?”

A remark from a reader: “Looking forward to reading what the honest and true figures are this time next year while hoping all AT staff are made to ride the buses for a year to see first-hand what really goes on in our public transport network”

 

15.18min
(This was noted by me and from feedback by readers as well): “No plans for the North Shore Rail Line despite apparently according to Greg Edmonds: NZTA starting the second harbour crossing around the 2015-2016 mark. Now last I looked NZTA were in the building of that tunnel crossing, going to include I believe a heavy rail line that can be joined to the City Rail Link on the CBD side while extending along the Northern Busway – replacing it.”

To me this is a rather flippant attitude of Greg Edmonds in regards to the North Shore Line and could be very well contradicting both the Mayor’s and NZTA’s plans for the eventual North Shore Line. Auckland Transport should be very well making plans for the Busway to be replaced by the North Shore Line (Heavy Rail) as was “planned” when the busway was built. Heavy Rail (The North Shore Line) can carry upwards of 900% more passengers at full capacity than the busway ever could at full capacity, while allowing a seamless train trip from the North Shore to either: the CBD, New Lynn, Sylvia Park, Newmarket, Manukau, Onehunga, THE AIRPORT, Papakura, Botany, or even Pukekohe. The North Shore Line would connect a relatively isolated part of Auckland back to the main isthmus and allow for growth on the Shore that would be better catered for.
I shall let readers making their own call on the Greg Edmonds interview but those were my thoughts (as well as some others who gave feedback).

 

For the benefit of Auckland Transport’s Chief Operating Officer – Greg Edmonds, I shall re-stick the Customer Service post here below for him to go and read – as I don’t quite think he has quite joined the dots to our dismal public transport performance (including that of the CCO as well):

FIRST STEP IN IMPROVING AUCKLAND’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT

 

Posted by BR:AKL_Admin01 on January 10, 2013 · 

 

Treat Humans as Humans

 

Not as numbers, not as dollar signs, not as a total pain in the ass that should be treated begrudgingly.

 

While I have been running commentary on things like Rail Efficiency Programs and operational models post City Rail Link to boost patronage via infrastructure and operations, another blogger raised a very fine point on something that is very well hammering our public transport patronage statistics – our customer service.

 

Before I highlight the said post from the other blogger, a quick reminder: Auckland Transport asked for submissions to its Regional Public Transport Program (RPTP) of which the hearings are next month (and that I am attending). One of the main focuses Auckland Transport was looking for in submissions to the RPTP was the “Customer Service Portal” – in other words the quality and level of customer service in our public transport system from front line staff right through to AT bureaucrats in Henderson.

This post is by virtue of an extension to my submission on the RPTP as well as replicating a point made at another blog.

 

So lets take a look at Customer Service on Auckland’s Public Transport System

This is from Auckland Transport Blog:

 

By Guest Post, on January 7th, 2013

This is a guest post by John P

The Ministry of Transport, bless ‘em, actually have a lot of interesting information on their website if you know where to look. One of the things they do is carry out a Household Travel Survey, which surveys 4,600 households in various parts of New Zealand each year. There’s plenty to look at, and you can check out various results at their transport survey, but for today I’ll look at a summary they put together on public transport use – taken from here.

The thing that stands out to me is a table showing the percentage of people who use public transport in NZ’s major cities. From this, 53% of Aucklanders surveyed hadn’t used PT at all in the last year. This put us on par with Christchurch and Dunedin, both of which are significantly smaller, neither of which have rail, and neither of which are particularly PT-oriented cities. We’re well behind Wellington, where only 27% of people hadn’t hopped on a train or bus at least once. Remember that (greater) Wellington is around the same size as Christchurch, and both cities are less than a third the size of Auckland.

Wow, that’s not a good start. How about people who haven’t used PT in the last month, but have in the last year? 17% of Aucklanders fell into this camp, in line with the other cities except for Wellington.

So, by this point, we can see that only 30% of Aucklanders had used public transport in the month before they were surveyed. We were in between Dunedin (26%) and Christchurch (34%), and well
behind Wellington where 46% of the people had used it at least once.

The last few lines of the table below are asking people how many days in the last month they had used public transport. I won’t dwell on it except to point out that half the Aucklanders who used PT in the last month hadn’t used it very often. Only 14% used it on 5 days or more, ahead of Dunedin (11%) but behind Christchurch (16%) and Wellington (27%).

Wellington is leaps and bounds ahead of Auckland, but I think we all knew that. I think these results are a pretty telling scorecard, and, to put it mildly, Auckland doesn’t look too flash. The majority of Aucklanders never use public transport at all, and most of those who do don’t use it very often. Two basic questions come out of this:

  1. Why don’t Aucklanders use PT very often?
  2. How do we improve PT usage in Auckland?

Questions that are answered in a number of different posts in this blog! A redesign of the network, and rail electrification, should help boost patronage over the next few years. But the thing is, we should really be aiming to get to where Wellington is now in the short to medium term. Anything less is short-changing ourselves in my opinion.

 

You can read the full article over at the Transport Blog site.

However the two questions in red are the points being raised and I answered over there. My answer was:

John (P) while a great post I think (from experience) the obvious is missing to give our flagging P/T patronage especially our rail patronage good kick until the infrastructure comes on cue over the next 10-30 years.

I take note here:

  1. Why don’t Aucklanders use PT very often?
  2. How do we improve PT usage in Auckland?

Questions that are answered in a number of different posts in this blog! A redesign of the network, and rail electrification, should help boost patronage over the next few years. But the thing is, we should really be aiming to get to where Wellington is now in the short to medium term. Anything less is short-changing ourselves in my opinion.”

Those are the two questions we are all seeking to actually answer and the reason why (to my personal disagreement as well as Councillor Mike Lee not being amused either) AT are about to embark on spending our money on “professional experts” ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855436 ) in finding “fixes” to our rail slump,

 

However again Councillor Mike Lee has hit the nail on the head right here with this comment from another article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10857062

“Mayor Len Brown says the arrival of the trains will be “a huge step on the path towards the kind of integrated transport system an international city like Auckland needs”.

He believes the electric units – which will have greater acceleration and braking power than the existing diesel fleet – will make rail patronage “rocket” and create even more pressure for a 3.5km underground rail extension from Britomart to Mt Eden.

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

“I would not bank on electric trains in themselves fixing chronic underlying human management problems,” he said.”

 

Basically cutting it short why don’t Aucklanders use P/T much and how do we improve our P/T usage in Auckland? Well the infrastructure part of the answer is being dealt with so to me it is rather irrelevant in this point in time. The actual answer came from Dr Lester Levy – Chair of AT:

Dr Levy said he agreed there was a need for “critical measures” to be adopted and Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services.

And there is the answer right there and there – he said it himself: ” Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services”

THAT TO ME IS (and excuse the caps) PRIORITY NUMBER ONE above else at the moment.

2013 is going to be long and interesting year getting the patronage back round again. However (and in my opinion (what ever that is worth these days)) we (by we I mean AT, Council, the p/t user, you guys here at the blog, myself, and others who give a damn about our city) can do this – slowly but surely. :D

 

Now I am going to extend the “situation” from another Transport Blog commenter emphasising the point:

George D

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

He’s right. It doesn’t matter how fast and shiny the trains are if they’re still late and unreliable, and riding them costs more than ever. Every time fares rise, demand decreases – we’ve actually reached the point now where we’ve passed an equilibrium and ridership is decreasing towards a new equilibrium with those who are prepared to pay for a particular level of service.

 

Now since then a few more comments from Transport Blog have come up however I can’t specifically address those issues at the moment.

But as for my point and George D’s point, the writing for Auckland Transport is literally on the (virtual) wall. Improve customer service FIRST (and restore affordability to fares while at it) or all this multi-billion investment in our public transport system is going to be an utter waste if Auckland Transport can not get the basic human to human interaction right. People (both front line staff and passengers) just want to be treated like humans and be able to at least have a pleasant experience on our public transport network – even in times of disruptions. It can be done, it has been done and it is straight forward if the culture (and tools) are there.

 

There will be more said on this matter next month when I front up in front of members of the Auckland Transport Board next month for my RPTP hearing. However 5-minutes doesn’t quite seem long enough to hammer on about the “Customer Service Portal” at this current rate of dissatisfaction out there.

 

As I said: “There will be more said on this matter next month when I front up in front of members of the Auckland Transport Board next month for my RPTP hearing. However 5-minutes doesn’t quite seem long enough to hammer on about the “Customer Service Portal” at this current rate of dissatisfaction out there.”

 

Long way to go folks, long way to go.

 

First Step in Improving Auckland’s Public Transport

Treat Humans as Humans

 

Not as numbers, not as dollar signs, not as a total pain in the ass that should be treated begrudgingly.

 

While I have been running commentary on things like Rail Efficiency Programs and operational models post City Rail Link to boost patronage via infrastructure and operations, another blogger raised a very fine point on something that is very well hammering our public transport patronage statistics – our customer service.

 

Before I highlight the said post from the other blogger, a quick reminder: Auckland Transport asked for submissions to its Regional Public Transport Program (RPTP) of which the hearings are next month (and that I am attending). One of the main focuses Auckland Transport was looking for in submissions to the RPTP was the “Customer Service Portal” – in other words the quality and level of customer service in our public transport system from front line staff right through to AT bureaucrats in Henderson.

This post is by virtue of an extension to my submission on the RPTP as well as replicating a point made at another blog.

 

So lets take a look at Customer Service on Auckland’s Public Transport System

This is from Auckland Transport Blog:

 

By Guest Post, on January 7th, 2013

This is a guest post by John P

The Ministry of Transport, bless ‘em, actually have a lot of interesting information on their website if you know where to look. One of the things they do is carry out a Household Travel Survey, which surveys 4,600 households in various parts of New Zealand each year. There’s plenty to look at, and you can check out various results at their transport survey, but for today I’ll look at a summary they put together on public transport use – taken from here.

The thing that stands out to me is a table showing the percentage of people who use public transport in NZ’s major cities. From this, 53% of Aucklanders surveyed hadn’t used PT at all in the last year. This put us on par with Christchurch and Dunedin, both of which are significantly smaller, neither of which have rail, and neither of which are particularly PT-oriented cities. We’re well behind Wellington, where only 27% of people hadn’t hopped on a train or bus at least once. Remember that (greater) Wellington is around the same size as Christchurch, and both cities are less than a third the size of Auckland.

Wow, that’s not a good start. How about people who haven’t used PT in the last month, but have in the last year? 17% of Aucklanders fell into this camp, in line with the other cities except for Wellington.

So, by this point, we can see that only 30% of Aucklanders had used public transport in the month before they were surveyed. We were in between Dunedin (26%) and Christchurch (34%), and well
behind Wellington where 46% of the people had used it at least once.

The last few lines of the table below are asking people how many days in the last month they had used public transport. I won’t dwell on it except to point out that half the Aucklanders who used PT in the last month hadn’t used it very often. Only 14% used it on 5 days or more, ahead of Dunedin (11%) but behind Christchurch (16%) and Wellington (27%).

Wellington is leaps and bounds ahead of Auckland, but I think we all knew that. I think these results are a pretty telling scorecard, and, to put it mildly, Auckland doesn’t look too flash. The majority of Aucklanders never use public transport at all, and most of those who do don’t use it very often. Two basic questions come out of this:

  1. Why don’t Aucklanders use PT very often?
  2. How do we improve PT usage in Auckland?

Questions that are answered in a number of different posts in this blog! A redesign of the network, and rail electrification, should help boost patronage over the next few years. But the thing is, we should really be aiming to get to where Wellington is now in the short to medium term. Anything less is short-changing ourselves in my opinion.

 

You can read the full article over at the Transport Blog site.

However the two questions in red are the points being raised and I answered over there. My answer was:

John (P) while a great post I think (from experience) the obvious is missing to give our flagging P/T patronage especially our rail patronage good kick until the infrastructure comes on cue over the next 10-30 years.

I take note here:

  1. Why don’t Aucklanders use PT very often?
  2. How do we improve PT usage in Auckland?

Questions that are answered in a number of different posts in this blog! A redesign of the network, and rail electrification, should help boost patronage over the next few years. But the thing is, we should really be aiming to get to where Wellington is now in the short to medium term. Anything less is short-changing ourselves in my opinion.”

Those are the two questions we are all seeking to actually answer and the reason why (to my personal disagreement as well as Councillor Mike Lee not being amused either) AT are about to embark on spending our money on “professional experts” ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855436 ) in finding “fixes” to our rail slump,

 

However again Councillor Mike Lee has hit the nail on the head right here with this comment from another article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10857062

“Mayor Len Brown says the arrival of the trains will be “a huge step on the path towards the kind of integrated transport system an international city like Auckland needs”.

He believes the electric units – which will have greater acceleration and braking power than the existing diesel fleet – will make rail patronage “rocket” and create even more pressure for a 3.5km underground rail extension from Britomart to Mt Eden.

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

“I would not bank on electric trains in themselves fixing chronic underlying human management problems,” he said.”

 

Basically cutting it short why don’t Aucklanders use P/T much and how do we improve our P/T usage in Auckland? Well the infrastructure part of the answer is being dealt with so to me it is rather irrelevant in this point in time. The actual answer came from Dr Lester Levy – Chair of AT:

Dr Levy said he agreed there was a need for “critical measures” to be adopted and Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services.

And there is the answer right there and there – he said it himself: ” Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services”

THAT TO ME IS (and excuse the caps) PRIORITY NUMBER ONE above else at the moment.

2013 is going to be long and interesting year getting the patronage back round again. However (and in my opinion (what ever that is worth these days)) we (by we I mean AT, Council, the p/t user, you guys here at the blog, myself, and others who give a damn about our city) can do this – slowly but surely. :D

 

Now I am going to extend the “situation” from another Transport Blog commenter emphasising the point:

George D

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

He’s right. It doesn’t matter how fast and shiny the trains are if they’re still late and unreliable, and riding them costs more than ever. Every time fares rise, demand decreases – we’ve actually reached the point now where we’ve passed an equilibrium and ridership is decreasing towards a new equilibrium with those who are prepared to pay for a particular level of service.

 

Now since then a few more comments from Transport Blog have come up however I can’t specifically address those issues at the moment.

But as for my point and George D’s point, the writing for Auckland Transport is literally on the (virtual) wall. Improve customer service FIRST (and restore affordability to fares while at it) or all this multi-billion investment in our public transport system is going to be an utter waste if Auckland Transport can not get the basic human to human interaction right. People (both front line staff and passengers) just want to be treated like humans and be able to at least have a pleasant experience on our public transport network – even in times of disruptions. It can be done, it has been done and it is straight forward if the culture (and tools) are there.

 

There will be more said on this matter next month when I front up in front of members of the Auckland Transport Board next month for my RPTP hearing. However 5-minutes doesn’t quite seem long enough to hammer on about the “Customer Service Portal” at this current rate of dissatisfaction out there.