The Outer Link is one of Auckland’s most iconic bus routes. It has helped grow public transport patronage by linking many of our key attractions with a good frequency and its distinctive orange branding. However, the Outer Link has served its time for Auckland. Our city is maturing and as part of this our public transport network is changing from a focus on providing for peak trips to our city centre, to complete network that connects its citizens to everywhere at all times of the day. Auckland Transport has proposed splitting the Outer Link roughly in half, with one service running between Pt Chev and Newmarket through the city (referred to as the Outer Link), and the other running between Pt Chev and Glen Innes (following the route of the 650, and referred to as the 65).
The Outer Link is one of Auckland’s most iconic bus routes. It has helped grow public transport patronage by linking many of our key attractions with a good frequency and its distinctive orange branding. However, the Outer Link has served its time for Auckland. Our city is maturing and as part of this our public transport network is changing from a focus on providing for peak trips to our city centre, to complete network that connects its citizens to everywhere at all times of the day. The Outer Link is also becoming increasingly unreliable due to its long circuitous route, meaning fewer people will use the bus as they don’t know if it will show up on time.
Often the focus is only to our major infrastructure projects like the City Rail Link (which will be a game-changer), but our bus network will play an equally important part of how we get around the city. Buses still carry the vast majority of our public transport users, and the frequent network, a cohesive, crisscrossing network of routes that operate at a minimum 15-minute frequency, from 7 am to 7 pm, 7 days a week - is the new backbone, allowing easy and quick transfers between routes to connect you to more destinations quicker. Ultimately, this allows more people to get out of their cars which helps reduce road transport emissions.
One of the key features of the new network is crosstown routes that run at high frequencies, allowing for a wider variety of journeys, and not just the white-collar slog into town. The crosstown routes are crucial to the ultimate success of the entire network. And however iconic and beloved the Outer Link is, it is standing in the way of ensuring that the network is comprehensive enough to give as many people the transport choice they need. The Outer Link is useful, but is wildly unreliable, and takes away funding from a crucial crosstown route (the 650), which it follows for roughly half of the Outer Link’s route.
Auckland Transport is proposing splitting the Outer Link to run from St Lukes to Newmarket via the city, allowing the 650 to become the 65 frequent route running from Point Chevalier to Glen Innes and creating important connections to St Lukes, Balmoral, Green Lane with the racecourse and hospital and Remuera Rd. The improved frequency will make for easier connections to the Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden and Manukau Road buses as well to offer better connections across the city.
The other major benefit of this plan is it removes the circuitous nature of the Outer Link route which is the cause of its delays and inability to keep to schedule. In its current format, there is no end of the route for drivers to stop and take breaks at and to give chances for buses to restart the route and get back on schedule. The Circle Line in London is a great example of this change happening elsewhere in the world as in 2009, the circle was broken to create ends to the line similar to what Newmarket and St Lukes will be for our Outer Link.
The Auckland Transport proposal also includes a new link, the 640 from Dominion Road through Mt Eden to Newmarket, this replaces the connection lost from the change of the Outer Link and closure of Mt Eden Station.
Auckland Transport has the proposed changes out for consultation until December the 23rd. The changes will be a positive contribution to Auckland’s evolution and maturing as a city.
You can submit in support of these changes here