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Golden Mile Bus Capacity Assessment

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

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Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Opus International Consultants Limited
Wellington Office
Prepared by: David Dunlop Level 9, Majestic Centre
Principal Transport Planner 100 Willis Street, PO Box 12-003
Wellington, New Zealand

: Telephone: +64 4 471 7000
Facsimile: +64 4 471 1397
Reviewed by Tim Selby
Team Leader Transportation Date: 3 August 2006
Reference: 5c0978.00
Status: Final

This document is the property of Opus International Consultants Limited.
Any unauthorised employment or reproduction, in full or part is forbidden.

© Opus International Consultants Limited 2001

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment


1 Study Background and Objective............................................................................................. 1

2 Existing Bus Operation ............................................................................................................ 2

3 Operational Improvements (options and concepts).................................................................. 4

4 Discussion on Bus Capacity and Journey Time ....................................................................... 6

5 Conclusion............................................................................................................................... 8

Appendix 1
Graphical Representation of Bus Numbers on the Golden Mile (By Link)

Appendix 2
Bus Stop Design and Capacity

Appendix 3:
Bus Stop Queuing Theory

Appendix 4
GWRC 2006 General Traffic Flows

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

1 Study Background and Objective
To quantify the bus capacity for the ‘Golden Mile’ route from the Wellington Railway Bus
Interchange to Courtenay Place.

The study will address the following matters:

 Quantify the existing bus numbers on the route
 Identify opportunities for increasing bus capacity along the corridor (for example, by re-
allocating road space)
 Identify benefits of these techniques to improve bus capacity

This study looks at two key operational scenarios in accordance with work currently being
undertaken by WCC considering the provision of additional bus services through the
Golden Mile as part of the North Wellington public transport strategy. These scenarios

 Existing route with current traffic mix and a number of bus related improvements to
address capacity and bus operational issues.
 Existing route with all other vehicles excluded and a number of bus related
improvements to address capacity (bus on bus) and bus operational issues.

There is a relationship between bus journey time and number of buses using the route.
However, a number of other factors, such as link width and bus stops play a key part in
determining maximum numbers of buses. This relationship changes depending on the level
of intervention given to provide bus priority along the route. As the number of buses
increases towards the maximum capacity of the route, journey times increase. By
implementing a range of bus priority measures, the number of buses that can be
accommodated increases before having a significant increase in journey time.

Various studies are currently being undertaken to look at service provision approaching the
CBD (North Wellington Public Transportation Study, Wellington City Bus Priority and wider
scope of the Ngauranga to Airport Strategy Study). However, it is now recognised that
operation within the CBD itself also needs to be assessed in order to determine whether
further increases in bus numbers can be accommodate under existing operating conditions
and what interventions are needed to accommodate the various different growth and
service provision scenarios being developed.

The brief has focused on improved capacity for buses, which is considered to be the
number of buses which could operate on the network (regardless of the level of service).
Given that this is not a realistic assumption in terms of bus planning and operation, it is
assumed that capacity can be increased at the expense of general traffic and bus journey
times. However, the later is not considered a viable solution on the basis that passenger
satisfaction would decrease and therefore demand for capacity may decrease. It should
also be recognised that a key objective of effective bus planning should be achieving a
reduction in journey time variability.

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

2 Existing Bus Operation
The “Golden Mile” is the corridor of convergence for the majority of bus services in
Wellington, with over 140 buses per hour on the Courtney Place section in the AM and PM
peak periods (in both directions) and over 180 buses per hour on the Lambton Quay
section for the AM and PM peak periods (in both directions). This corridor includes certain
sections of one way bus operation and existing bus only and bus priority provision. Table 1
displays the number of buses per hour (peak periods) using this corridor.

Table 1 – Scheduled Number of Buses per Hour - Golden Mile (June 2006)
North Bound South Bound
AM Peak PM Peak
AM Peak PM Peak
Road Name (8:00 to (17:00 to
(8:00 to 9:00) (17:00 to 18:00)
9:00) 18:00)
Wellington Station 79 53 63 89

Lambton Quay 106 85 77 101
Hunter Street (between
Lambton and Customhouse)
0 0 85 101
Custom house Quay
(between Hunter and Willeston 0 0 85 101
Willis Street 92 82 88 101
Dixon Street ( between
Taranaki and Victoria)
79 71 0 0
Manners Street ( between
Victoria and Willis)
79 71 0 0
Victoria Street (between
Dixon and Manners)
110 96 0 0
Wakefield Street (between
Victoria and Cuba)
0 0 78 86

Courtenay place 77 68 68 79

Average Number of Buses 89 75 78 94

A graphical representation of the bus frequency by particular link over the length of the
Golden Mile has been displayed in Appendix 1.

The numbers of buses currently operating over the Golden Mile is considered to be high at
present, providing a very intensive bus corridor and comprehensive network of routes to a
wide variety of bus links through Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and the Kapiti

The journey time for buses and general traffic on the Golden Mile has been displayed in
Table 2, providing an indication of the directional differences between schedule bus times,
recorded times and modelled times for buses and cars.

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Table 2 – Differences in Average Golden Mile Journey Time Information
2002 Bus WTSM
2006 Bus 2002 Bus Survey Model - WTSM Model
Peak Schedule Survey Survey Range Bus - General
Direction Period Bus Time (Opus) (GWRC) (GWRC) (2006) Traffic (2006)
North AM Peak 12:00 13:06 15:40 12:90-18:00 13:90 09:50
Bound PM Peak 15:00 23:25 20:80 17:60-23:90 14:60 10:70
South AM Peak 12:00 12:35 14:30 11.90–16:70 07:90 05:90
Bound PM Peak 15:00 16:13 19:10 17:00-21:20 09:20 06:40

It is evident from the journey time information, that significant scope exists to reduce
journey times and variability and improve capacity. It is important to note that the lowest
time recorded bus journey time was 10:40 north bound and 11:00 south bound (GWRC
Saturday operation) which could be considered an optimum time under current conditions
(with low passenger loadings).

The key observed problems associated with the existing Golden Mile can be grouped into
three key classifications:

Link Capacity:
 Capacity for buses on sections in which general traffic is permitted and no (or limited)
bus priority exists.
 Bus on bus delay in locations in which inadequate capacity exists for buses to pass
buses or get through the network at points in heavy cross flows exist (bus stops a
major problem)
 Interaction between pedestrians and buses at uncontrolled crossing points.
 Loading and parking disruption and delay (including enforcement).
 Trolley bus breakdowns and delay to other buses and general traffic at points in which
sufficient space to pass does not exist.

Signal Operation and Capacity:
 Signal and intersection delay.
 Limitations in bus detection and priority.

Bus Stops:
 Bus stop capacity associated with dwell time
 Dwell time associated with ticketing.

Highlighted below are key parts of the Golden Mile which have recorded and/or perceived2
impacts on journey time and capacity:
 Limitations and delay between Manners Street, Willis Street and Lambton Quay
(primarily north bound).
 Interaction between pedestrians and general traffic (including buses) in Courtney
Place, Dixon Street / Cuba Mall and the southern end of Lambton Quay.

In order to verify this information and assess the current situation, a brief survey was undertaken on the 27th of June 2006 in order to
assess existing bus journey and dwell times over the length of the Golden Mile.
Based on GWRC (2002) study and Opus assessment and engineering judgement

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

 Narrow sections of road at the southern end of Lambton Quay and pedestrian
crossings on Courtney Place – limiting through traffic in the event of parked or stopped
vehicles (including trolley bus breakdowns).

 Delay associated with intersections at: Willis Street / Manners Street, Mercer Street /
Victoria Street, Manners Street / Victoria Street, Taranaki Street / Courtney Place /
Manners Street, and Lambton Quay / Bowen Street.

Bus Stops:
 Bus stop capacity and dwell times on Manners St, Willis St, and Lambton Quay.

The corridor currently has provision for standard diesel and trolley bus services. However,
trolley bus services are limited by the provision of one track in either direction over much of
the Golden Mile, with the exception of Lambton Quay (Stout Street to Bowen Street) north
bound or Courtney Place (Allen Street to Cambridge Terrace) south bound.

3 Operational Improvements (options and concepts)
The issues highlighted in Section 2 indicate that there is potential for improvement over the
length of the Golden Mile, with much of the scope for improvement being at specific
locations at which significant delay is currently occurring. Although the route is subject to a
variety of different demands (e.g. pedestrian movements), the ultimate output would be the
delivery of increased bus capacity, a reduction in journey time, and improved reliability
and/or variability.

A set of ideas and options have been identified in order to achieve improvements in bus
priority along the existing corridor, these included: traditional bus priority and traffic
management measures, technology, enforcement and controls, equipment, and operating
practices. These measures have provided the basis for this desk top study, however
significant additional work would be required in order to quantify the actual benefits and
feasibility for implementation. A summary of the key issues and bus priority interventions
has been displayed in Table 3.

A number of additional concepts and options (e.g. GPS tracking, bus pre signals etc.) have
also been identified as part of the wider Corridor Study and have not been included in this
study in detail due to the timeframes and scope of work identified by WCC. These
measures should not be precluded from being investigated on this or adjacent corridors in
the delivery of the wider project.

Research and examples from other countries suggest that journey time and variability can
be reduced significantly by implementing bus priority interventions similar to those
mentioned in Table 3. Such measure would be subject to detailed assessment in order to
quantify the level of benefit that could be achieved and at what cost. It is also important to
note that these interventions focus on journey time and variability and would help to
address current variations and reduce the impact of increased bus capacity on the network.

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Table 3 – Summary of Bus Priority Issues and Options
Potential Journey
Constraints 3 Issues Interventions
Time Savings4
Link (45%) Limitations in Bus way or general traffic
10 – 15%
road space for removed
buses Increased number of dedicated
5 – 7.5%
bus lanes
Bus on bus delay Introduction of split bus stops
due to road width and other measures to allow
buses to pass buses at bus
Interaction Improved pedestrian control and
between traffic crossing management
and pedestrians
Loading and Enforcement strategy (corridor 2.5 – 5%
parking disruption approach to bus areas and
(including parking)
Trolley bus delay New buses and improved
and disruption technology to reduce and/ or
avoid current problems (trolley
Signals (30%) Signal and GPS tracking of buses (real time
intersection delay information, signal co-ordination
and route management)
5 – 10%
Limitations in bus Signal approach and exit
detection and detection systems
Bus Stops Bus stop capacity Increase speed of boarding and
(25%) associated with exit through improved (ramped
dwell time etc) 2 door access
2.5 – 5%
Dwell time Cashless and/or electronic
associated with ticketing

Following discussions with the Wellington Cable Company, it was identified that the
reduction in pinch points on the network and the introduction of new trolley buses would
completely remove the relatively minor operational impact currently associated trolley
buses and knock on network delay. New trolley buses are designed to reducing the
likelihood of the ‘sticks’ coming of the tracks and buses have an auxiliary power supply to
allow them to be self propelled for approximately 250m, thus avoiding breakdowns, delays
and safety impacts associated with existing trolley bus operation.

Based on this brief investigation and the technology improvements being made, this study
has not considered the removal of trolley buses to reduce bus delay or improve capacity

Including approximate percentage (%) of total route journey time average of based on GWRC survey (2002)
Figures quoted provide an indication of the type of range that could be achieved for each of our key interventions based on examples
elsewhere in the world and represent a % saving of the total journey time (note that you may either implement bus ways or bus lanes -
not both).

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

4 Discussion on Bus Capacity and Journey Time
This study has identified a number of mechanisms that could be introduced or developed in
order to improve bus priority, associated bus journey times, and capacity through the
Golden Mile, with or without the reduction of general traffic.

The bus journey along the Golden Mile can be considered to consist of:

 Free flow journey times between signals and bus stops (referred to as link capacity);
 Waiting time at signals;
 Bus loading and unloading time at bus stops (dwell time); and
 Waiting time at bus stops, being the time spent in a queue to enter the bus stop or, as
in the case along the Golden Mile, also the time taken queuing to leave the bus stop.

Each of these elements contributes to the overall journey time and reliability of the service,
and hence the attractiveness of bus transport over other modes. Any one of these
elements also affects the number of buses that can travel along the Golden Mile.

As the number of buses increases towards the capacity of any element (node or link),
journey times increase and reliability decreases. The reliability of bus journey time is a key
factor to maintaining a quality passenger transport service.

The first key indicator that the number of buses using the Golden Mile is nearing capacity is
the results of the GWRC survey (2002) and the Opus verification of this in 2006, which
shows that buses are struggling to keep to timetables, with variable journey times (Refer
Table 2).

The maximum number of buses using the Golden Mile at present is about 100 buses per
hour in one direction. This is well above the figure of approximately 40 buses per hour used
as a guide by Transport for London5 when planning and designing bus stops and routes.
However, in saying this, the loading and unloading times of buses in London will be much
longer than in Wellington given that the buses are generally larger than the buses used in
New Zealand. In practice, there are approximately 180 buses per hour in either direction
using Oxford Street in London, which is one of the most congested bus routes (This route
does have split stops with the average stop only serving about 60 buses per hour).
Therefore, the figure of approximately 100 buses along certain sections of the Golden Mile
could be increased; but it likely to result in a reduction in the level of service, in terms of trip
times and reliability.

The Highway Capacity Manual6 (2000) suggests that between 50 and 130 buses per hour
in either direction is the capacity for bus only links based on maintaining a ‘very high’ level
of service.

Journey time and improved reliability can be achieved by optimising each part of the bus
journey, including increasing link speed, reducing waiting time at signals, improving bus
loading and unloading times, and reducing queuing times at bus stops.

Transport for London Accessible Bus Stop Design Guidance, 2006
Transport Research Board 2000

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

It is likely that the capacity of the route in terms of the number of buses while maintaining
adequate journey times and reliability is presently constrained by the bus stops.

Table 4 shows the estimated travel time and bus capacity figures for the existing network
and what could potentially be achieved following a number of key enhancements to the
operation of the bus network.

For the purposes of this study, an average journey time (either direction) of 16 minutes has
been used. The possible journey time savings identified are assumptions based on
pervious projects Opus have worked on, research examples and technical outputs.

The link capacity for buses was calculated noting that a low speed urban street has a
vehicle capacity of about 600 to 900 vehicles per hour, depending on the side friction,
intersection delays and other impediments to free flow. If a bus is considered equivalent to
4 cars the theoretical capacity of the of a single lane bus only link on the Golden Mile is
between 150 to 225 buses per hour.

The bus stop capacity of 150 to 200 buses per hour was estimated using a simply queuing
theory model presented in Appendix 3. It assumes that dwell times can be reduced
through such interventions such as electronic ticketing. Further improvements to bus stop
capacity could be achieved using multiple doors (for entry), providing loading platforms,
allowing buses to pass at bus stops, and providing different bus stops for buses with
different destinations.

Table 4 – Journey Time Estimates and Capacity of Buses (either direction)
Using the Golden Mile
Now Enhanced Situation
Constraints Journey Capacity (number Journey Capacity (number
Time (min) of buses per hour) Time (min) of buses per
Link Capacity 7
12 75 – 130 9 – 10 150 – 225
& Intersections
Bus Stops 4 75 – 150 2–3 150 – 200

Total 16 11 – 13

The journey times and capacity estimates for the enhanced bus routes assumes the
following enhancements:

 Dedicated bus lanes or bus way with general traffic excluded.
 Signal detection and priority at intersections.
 Electronic ticketing
 Improving bus stop and link design to allow buses to pass each other.

A capacity of 300 buses per hour could be achieved if a high quality bus route was provided by way of exclusive bus way and if delays
at intersections were minimised by significantly reducing the number of intersections or giving bus priority at intersections.
A capacity of 300 buses per hour could be achieved if some of the buses were express buses or if buses with different destinations
used different bus stops.

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

 Increasing bus stop capacity by providing space for two flags. E.g. allowing buses to
stop at different locations on the network rather than one bus stop. (refer Appendix 2)

Capacity improvements can be obtained simply by providing bus priority measures.
However, this capacity further increases when other traffic is removed.

5 Conclusion
It can be concluded that significant scope currently exists to reduce journey time, improve
reliability and increase capacity over the length of the Golden Mile.

The use of bus priority measures associated with link, signal and bus stop intervention
would provide the basis for these improvements. The reduction of bus on bus delay at
stops and associated capacity needs to be addressed, while delay and capacity
approaching signals is also a fundament issue.

With the introduction of these interventions, capacity could be increased by 100 to 200
buses per hour in each direction.

The information presented in this note is indicative and should not be quoted as a
quantified period or figure; however it does provide some idea of savings and potential
increases in capacity that could be achieved. In a more detailed study, individual links
would be examined and capacity assessments based on specific locations, with greatest
attention placed on ‘critical’ or limiting links. It is suggested that a modelling tool such as
PARAMICS is developed in order to assess individual stop, link and corridor based
interaction, operation and quantify the information contained in this note.

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Appendix 1
Graphical Representation of Bus Numbers on the Golden Mile (By Link)

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Golden Mile AM Peak Bus Frequency

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Golden Mile PM Peak Bus Frequency

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Appendix 2
Bus Stop Design and Capacity

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Bus Stop Design Concepts and Issues

The review and redesign of these stops (and possibly all stops on the Golden Mile) will provide the
most significant capacity improvement on the network while retaining existing traffic flows.
Currently the majority of bus stops on the Golden Mile have only one flag for all services and
frequency levels well in excess of the ‘recommended’ bus stop design requirements. The splitting
of stops does result in a loss in interchange for passengers and can increase confusion; however
services on the Golden Mile can be broken into 2 groups by direction:

• North bound
o Destination northern and western suburbs (majority of pick up)
o Destination Railway Station (decreasing pick up the closer buses get to the station)

• South bound
o Destination southern and south eastern suburbs (majority of pick up)
o Destination Courtney Place (decreasing pick up the closer buses get to Courtney Place).

Bearing in mind the majority of delay associated with bus stop dwell time is linked to pick up and
not drop off, significant benefits could be achieved through either a reduction in the number of
stops for those buses approaching there destination) or the preferred option of separating these
stops from the existing heavy pick up services.

Provided the design of the heavy pick up stops is sufficient, capacity on the bus network can be
increased significantly. Figures 1 and 2 below display the design and operational principles
associated with increased capacity and more effective operation of bus stops on the Golden Mile
(similar approach could be adopted for one way stops also with less road width requirement).
Ideally the bus stop should have the capacity to minimise delay to all routes on the corridor, while
also providing the ability for bus passengers to interchange between routes (may be limited to a
number of key locations such as Cuba Street).

Figure 1 – Primary and Secondary Bus Stop Design

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Figure 2 – Split Bus Stop Design (pedestrian crossing)

The actual length of the bus stop cage will also influence the capacity of the stop; however
this is not considered a major problem on the Golden Mile as very long bus stop cages
currently exist. Should bus stops be split, consideration should be given to the length of the
cage in relation to the frequency of services and the type of bus operation (e.g. trolley
buses being able to pass traditional buses).

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Appendix 3:
Bus Stop Queuing Theory

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Predicting Bus Numbers Along Golden Mile
Using A Simple Queuing Theory Model
Prepared by Dr Wayne Stewart
8 July 2006

Uses Standard Queuing Theory
Graph below show Mean wait (sec) to enter the bus stop given number of buses per hour
and various dwell time (which is the time the bus is suing the bus stop).
Queuing theory assumes that the mean arrival rate of buses = the standard deviation.

Using standard queuing theory model, the existing bus stop situation is modelled as having
2 servers. If we increase the dwell time measured for Golden Mile of 25 sec by the GWRC by
5 seconds (i.e. total dwell time of 30 sec) to account for additional wait time for a bus to leave the
stop. This is necessary as even though a bus stop can accommodate two buses, the second bus
can not leave until the first leaves. GWRC measured total wait time (i.e. wait to enter and wait to
leave) as 50 to 90 seconds for total Golden Mile journey, giving a 10 second wait per bus stop.
We can calculate the additional 5 sec wait to the measured dwell time by assuming that half this
wait for arriving half is for leaving.

Therefore assuming the present level of service is defined by an average wait time of 5 seconds at
present, then the queuing theory (see figure below) shows that we should be able to
accommodate about 100 buses per hour, which is about what we are getting….so model looks OK

London assumes 40 buses per hour as a design guide. Some other overseas guides assume 60
buses per hour along congested streets. Overseas may experience larger dwell times due to the
size of their buses and increased distances between bus stops than what we have in the Golden
Mile. Portland State University suggest using a dwell time of 60 seconds, which is much larger
than the 25 sec measured by GWRC study along Golden Mile. If we assume a 60 sec dwell time,
then buses per hour should be restricted to 40 (which is similar to the guide used in London)

If we assume that electronic ticketing reduces dwell time by 30% then a dwell time of 20 seconds
could apply. This shows bus numbers could increase to 180/hour

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Wait Time (sec) versus Bus Numbers
Existing: - 2 Stops with 30 Sec Dwell Time
Electronic Ticketing: - 2 Stops, 20 Sec Dwell Time
UK: - 2 Stops, 60 Sec Dwell Time
Wait Time (seconds)

Existing Situation
Electronic Ticketing

Existing wait time (Measured by GWRC)

0 50 100 150 200 250 300
Bus Numbers (buses/hour)

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

Appendix 4
GWRC 2006 General Traffic Flows

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

AM General Traffic by Link (WTSM – 2006)

Golden Mile Capacity Assessment

PM General Traffic by Link (WTSM – 2006)