Regional buses connecting to intercity rail

The Waikato Regional public transport plan 2018-2028 is to ‘Implement mass transit start up projects’ which include
* Passenger rail Hamilton to Auckland
* High capacity, rapid and frequent bus corridors within Hamilton
* Rapid and frequent public transport services between Hamilton and Cambridge, Huntly and Hamilton, and Te Awamutu and Hamilton. P13

The three projects success depends on having integrated timetables so buses arriving at the Rotokauri station before the train leaves, not just after it leaves; at present the Huntly bus #21 leaving from Hamilton Central at 5.50am would arrive 3 minute after the train leaves Rotokauri, then picking up passenager as it pass through Horotiu, Ngaruawhia and Taupiri, it arrives 12 minutes after first train has left Huntly.

With a 5.30am start, the regional bus catchment route linking to the Auckland train timetable is 85km long, with 6.5km of it having a 10-minute frequency between Hamilton Central and Rotokauri, arriving before the last train leaves for Auckland from Rotokauri. The Huntly bus (#21 Northern Connector) having a 5.30am plus a 6.10am start allows early passengers to choose a long wait at Rotokauri or just in time in Huntly.

This 5-year $92m* start-up includes $2,246,000 (HCC Meeting 27 Aug 19 p14) to build 105 car parks ($20,000 per car park) at the Rotokauri station. The business case** says ‘approximately 15% are expected to come from Horotiu by car, and the remainder from rural parts of the Waikato district that are easily accessible to The Base via car … WRC will ensure that the existing bus services integrate well with the rail timetable’(p48**). For every person arriving by bus 25m2 of land within 500m of the station can be saved and put to more productive use than the storage of unused motor vehicles.

The existing evening timetable completely misses the last train home. Having an 8.00pm bus is still early. It would work for rail commuters, but the real benefit would be an increase in people socialising in Hamilton.

*‘Of that cost, $79.8 million would come from NZTA and $12.57 million from local authorities’ Waikato Times – New commuter rail service gets a name: Te Huia to fly between Hamilton and Auckland – by Mike Mather 05 Feb 2020

**Business Case Nov 2018 – time table page 69 The Base 6.41am

Category: News

Comet Bus Vs Wuppertal Schwebebahn & Kassel tram #1

Hamilton’s Comet bus service is a linear public transport service providing a direct route from Hamilton’s southwest suburban bus routes to the Hospital, city centre and Rotokauri transport hub. This post’s focus is on the 10km Hospital to Rotokauri section, benchmarking Hamilton’s Comet bus service against similar services operating in Europe.

Photo from publictransportnz instagram

Wuppertal opened a 13 km linear public transport service in 1901. The 30-minute trip (p4*) runs between 5.12am and 11.23pm (p11*), providing the city with a 3 minute pulse (p44*). (*Wuppertal and the Suspension Railway, Travel Guide by Michael Malicke).

Kassel’s Tram line #1 travels from the bottom of Wilhelmshoher Park along Wilhelmshoher Alle’s straight 4.5km road (for comparison, Te Rapa Straight is about 2km long) picking up passengers from Wilhelmshoher Train Station mid-way, turning to travel through the city centre then to Kassel’s northern suburbs. This post will only focus on the 5.2km section from Wilhelmshoher Park to Konigsplatz (city centre), basically because I have not been north of Kassel’s Central train station.

All three routes (Wuppertal, Kassel and Hamilton) share a mix of land uses. Wuppertal has two major urban centres (Elberfeld and Barmen) and five other districts, which are predominantly small towns with their own centres, so all along the route you find mixed land use. Kassel’s Wilhelmshoher Alle feels as though citizens were able to build and site their homes or businesses along the street where they wanted and where it suited and was convenient for them, so living, business and shopping are mixed. Hamilton’s Hospital-central-Rotokauri route already has mixed land use, but often the single use zones are large and long, limiting the type of diversity one would find in many European cities.

The seven bright orange Comet buses run every 15 minutes between 6.30am~7pm weekdays and half hourly in the evenings and at weekends. Hospital to Town: 9 minutes and Transport Centre to The Base: 18 minutes. It takes half an hour to travel 10km.

The Wuppertal Suspension Railway runs every 2-5 minutes throughout the day (*p45) starting from 5.12am (p11*) and every 15 minutes in the evening (*p46) with the last train at 11.23pm (p11*). It takes half an hour to travel 13km.

The Kassel tram #1 runs every 15 minutes from 5.38am and every half hour after 8.00pm to midnight; after this there is a 1.00am and 2.00am service. On Saturday and Sunday tram #1 runs no less than every 30 minutes from 8.00am to 8.00pm (on Saturday between 10.00am and 6.00pm, tram #1 runs every 15 minutes). The timetable allows 22 minutes to travel the 5.2km section from Wilhelmshoher Park to Konigsplatz (city centre).

Should Hamilton’s Comet bus service be better? Adding Hamilton’s #12 Fitzroy bus to the Comet service would bring the frequency to every 10 minutes, putting it between Wuppertal (population 354,382, density 2,100 ppkm2) and Kassel (population 201,585, density 1,888 ppkm2) for frequency. The hours of service let Hamilton down. Kassel is hard to beat with Tram #1 running almost 24 hours a day (link to Kassel time table). The Wuppertal service starts half an hour earlier than the Comet timetable, which has an earliest start of 5.45am and its last stop at 9.39pm, which is an hour and a half earlier than Wuppertal’s last 11.23pm service.

Link to Kassel public transport network –ßenbahn_Kassel

Category: News