Auckland Transport has kindly sent me some really useful data showing boardings at each station on the rail network for the years between 2003 and 2010. The excel worksheet can be accessed here, and the information is shown below: It’s worth remembering that these are boardings only, and they’re also just a snapshot. Auckland Transport have this to say about the data:

Under the existing manual ticketing system there is no reliable method of regularly recording the numbers using stations. Auckland Transport, and its predecessors, has commissioned annual surveys to monitor long term trends and changes in the usage of the rail system over time. These are “snapshot” surveys that record the number of passenger boardings across the network on what is considered to represent a typical weekday. To avoid the variations that result from holiday periods, the survey is conducted on one day in May of each year.

The first survey was carried out by Gabites Porter in 2003, immediately prior to the opening of Britomart, and was designed to serve as a base against which changes in travel pattern as a result of the introduction of services to Britomart had on the use of trains. Gabites Porter was retained to repeat the survey the following year.

Following the change in operator from August 2004, the surveys for the years 2005 to 2008 were performed under the management of Connex/ Veolia as part of the reporting requirements under their management contract. The original data making up the records for these years has not been independently verified except that queries were raised, and some corrections made, where there appeared to be missing and/or inaccurate data in the original results submitted.

From 2009 ARTA and ARC combined the collection of data for the rail patronage survey with other surveying requirements used to monitor progress towards the achievement of the objectives set out in the Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy and Traffic Design Group (TDG) was the successful tenderer for this work. TDG was retained for the 2010 surveying round.

It will be good when the HOP system allows an accurate analysis of patronage to be undertaken on a daily basis. Maybe it could be time to think about closing Westfield, Te Mahia and Waitakere stations?

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42 comments

    1. He said less than use the rail network than P2W which we have seen them give figures as high as 27k (although vehicle numbers are are less). I hope they can get 2011 results out soon.

    1. Yep New Lynn should see a decent increase

      A couple of things that I noticed about the Western line which I use,
      1. You can see a clear jump when double tracking was finished in the various sections e.g. New Lynn to Henderson in 2006, Henderson to Swanson in 2008
      2. Moving the Boston Rd station to Grafton was pretty successful
      3. I’m surprised by the increase at Fruitvale as it still seems pretty quite on the trains I use, defenitely doesn’t seem as busy as Sturges Rd
      4. There is still very little justification to keep Waitakere open, 90 boardings a day and no sign of grown is very bad. I think we should consider replacing it with a bus feeder to Swanson.
      5. My obversations are Henderson patronage is more spread out over the day rather as it doesn’t seem that strong at peak times.

      1. Waitakere needs a park’n’ride to work in that sort of environment, how far is electrification planed to go? perhaps a passing bus or two would help too.

        1. Electrification only goes to Swanson. We’re likely to end up in the stupid situation of running train shuttles at enormous cost to serve barely 100 people a day.

        2. Why only boarding data? Do they have alighting data for all these years as well?

          Considering the service and facilities provided to western line passengers hasn’t improved or has gotten worse since DART started, when all the other western line stations have seen such improvements, I’m not surprised to see that the numbers haven’t improved.

          There will also be distortions in the Waitakere numbers from when Veolia not uncommonly truncate late running Waitakere services to Swanson (to keep to their KPI?), as happened to me again this morning. If the Waitakere passengers are lucky a Veolia provided taxi will eventually arrive and run between Waitakere and Swanson, in which case those boardings will likely be counted as Swanson boardings.

          Fortunately, the Waitakere Park and Ride is currently being expanded considerably.

  1. Close Westfield but first build a bus interchange at Otahuhu and redirect buses into the station via Tui St and Railway Lane. There’s a big underserviced hinterland down south and the buses seem to all be kept carefully away from the stations….. First get real ticket integration and zone charging happening… Otahuhu couldn’t be much more isolated from a catchment as it is now, those numbers are heroic.

  2. Ellerslie is another under performer, and looking at it it’s not hard to see how it could be improved. It ought to run between the foot bridge and the vehicle bridge, with the later widened and bustops added to make it an interchange station a la Perth. Or at the very least it needs a southern foot bridge, from Hewson St over to Sultan.

  3. Would there be a significant saving in closing Waitakere?

    – Only half the Western trains go all the way out to Waitakere.
    – I don’t think there are any staff employed there.
    – That track needs to be maintained for the freight trains passing through.
    – Stopping doesn’t delay other passengers because it is at the end of the line.

    So would there be a cost saving in closing it?

    Especially if you have to pay for a bus and driver to replace it.

    1. Further west [well north really] of Swanson is interesting. Especially Kumeu Huapai, out the back of John Key’s electorate office, the MP for Parnell north. His party clearly want to turn this line into a cycleway for the funemployed. The spread of these two towns along SH16 is a classic example of appalling unplanned sprawl. But where to from here? Could this area be turned into a funky semi rural dormitory suburb? Well, looking ahead, if the line was double tracked and electrified, and park’n’rides and co-ordinated bus routes were designed, it could be managed well. What are the chances? Where does all this sit on the plan for AK? All the money, of course, is going into turning SH16 into a Joyceian Highway….. Ulysses heads north-west.

      1. The problem with Huapai is while it has a rail line through it, if you are heading to town it will be much faster to go via the motorway as the distance is much shorter so with the exception of people going to places like Henderson or New Lynn there wouldn’t be many people who would pick the train over the road connection (even if that was via bus)

        1. and when petrol is $5/litre?

          if electrification if only as far as swanson, surely they could do another trial, this time with a shuttle train between swanson and huapai?

  4. agree Waitakere should close as a regular stop, apart from on shuttles to Huapai/Kumeu. Only a handful of houses within walking distance, so everyone has to drive anyway, so not too much hassle to ask people to drive to Swanson.
    would be major saving once electric trains are running as a diesel set will need to be based there, also if it is closed now still will be big saving. 5km fuel for a train is much more than for a bus, especially a 5 car set.
    Also the time saving could mean quicker turnaround time for trains.

    Not so sure about Te Mahia and Westfield, with Westfield the Veolia/Kiwirail staff use makes it worthwhile, although I guess with the EMU depot going in at Westfield this will largely cease in a few years, so it can be closed then.
    With Te Mahia the pocket that it serves is somewhat isolated from bus services. Also station is very hidden from Great South Road thus much reducing potential patronage from this side of the street.
    Needs a much better access to Great South Road, shouldnt be too expensive to buy one of the little car yards.
    However this cost will need to be balanced off against what bus service improvements coudl be made for the same amount of money.

    In the long term I would like to trains working express from Papkura – Manurewa – Homai – CBD.
    Another service would then run Papakura – Glenora – Takanini – Te Mahia – Manurewa – Homai – Wiri – Manukau.
    This would reduce journey times for the 85% of passengers from Manurewa, Papakura and Pukekohoe; while expanding the reach of the network.

  5. so they monitored for the whole day? So while there were 35,000 passengers actually there would have only been about 17,000 people (assuming that people get counted twice – once when they board in the morning and once when they board in the evening)?

    1. I would guess that there would be more than 17,000 people using the system in total as a significant percentage would take it only once.

      More importantly, if a service is there twice or more a day then shouldn’t that be acknowledged? It is the same when you are counting vehicles on a road or similar.

  6. * I say close Te Mahia and Takanini and open a new station in the Glenora area.
    * Truncate the Western line at Swanson unless a service extending to Huapai/ Waimauku is established in which case it can stop at Waitakere.
    * Close Remuera and Westfield without replacement
    * Not sure what to do about Baldwin Avenue and Morningside though, they are very close together. I would say close Morningside because its so close to Kingsland but it has been recently upgraded.

    1. I always thought they should have closed both Morningside and Baldwin and opened a new station at St lukes Rd, that would have given a good connection to cross town buses was still be close the baldwin walking catchment. That would have the advantage of speeding up the timetable a bit as well (I think Baldwin is definitely busier this year with the new station though so we really need to see the 2011 stats. Remuera and Greenlane are both in the process of being done up so that will hopefully help them.

  7. If Auckland’s development was concentrated in the CBD then you’d expect half the boardings to occur in the center. But Britomart is well less than a third of boardings and even Britomart plus Newmarket is only a third of boardings. That means a lot of people are taking trips that don’t go in to the CBD and that reflects Auckland’s distributed development.

    It is encouraging to see the growth in the network. But 17,000 passengers a day (assuming two boardings for each passenger for a return journey) is still only just over 1 percent of Aucklanders. By contrast the Airport handles as many aircraft boardings each day as the entire rail network, and the Airport is well over three times as busy as Britomart.

    1. “Britomart is well less than a third of boardings and even Britomart plus Newmarket is only a third of boardings. That means a lot of people are taking trips that don’t go in to the CBD”

      No it doesn’t. Clearly you’re trolling again (what’s up with all the anti-PT trolling? Did Joyce send you?) A boarding at Glen Innes is, for example, most likely to be going TO Britomart.

      1. If a boarding at Glenn Innes was going to Britomart then there would be a return boarding at Britomart destined for Glenn Innes. If boardings from all stations apart from Britomart were all destined for Britomart then there would be an equal number of Britomart boardings for the return trips, and exactly half of total boardings would be at Britomart. But the actual number is less than a third. People are taking trips around the suburbs, which is what you’d expect in Auckland. It’d be interesting to see the corresponding figures for Wellington where I’d expect the boardings at Wellington Railway Station to be much closer to half of total boardings.

        As for airport versus railway station… In London, Victoria is the busiest tube and train station with 70million entries and exits and 5 million interchanges a year. That’s more than Heathrow. It’s interesting (to me, at least) that in Auckland the Airport is a MUCH busier transport terminal.

        But… Seriously WTF? I can’t see anything anti public transport at all in what I wrote. Or anything that remotely approaches trolling. And what’s with the bizarre Joyce comment? Is it not possible to disagree with you (or to write something that you don’t understand) without being “sent” by someone you don’t like?

        1. Over half of trips either begin or end at Britomart. Think about it: 17,000 people use the rail system each day (assuming people generally take 2 trips a day) and there are 10,000 boardings at Britomart.

        2. True. If exactly half of all boardings were at Britomart then 100 percent of trips would begin or end at Britomart. That doesn’t contradict what I’ve said. There are 7-8,000 people each day taking suburban trips around Auckland, which is what I would expect in Auckland but isn’t what I’d expect to find for a more centralised city like Wellington. I wonder how many of those suburban trips are students going to and from school? I also wonder how many suburban trips aren’t counted because tickets aren’t clipped? Assuming that ticketing is a factor in counting passengers, rather than employing people at stations to tally people wandering down to the platforms.

  8. With better connecting buses that stop as close as possible to rail that would make a huge difference – think Panmure & Greenlane. Regarding the Waitakere station, if urban planners were doing there job properly they would re zone around the station and get a subdivision built. This could then be done in more centre’s around the rail line further out to Helensville & beyond. The track exists.

  9. If you boarded at Britomart, that means that you probably alighted there as well. On that basis, of the 35,750 system boardings reported in 2010, 20,296 of them were either boarding at Britomart or arriving at Britomart (=10,148 * 2). This is nearly 57 percent of the total system movements; and it is slightly higher than 2005, when Britomart boardings-plus-alightings comprised 55 percent of all movements that day.

    The equivalent ratio in the Wellington system is about 90 percent boardings-plus-alightings at the main Wellington station, which makes for an interesting comparison.

    1. Exactly, the Wellington terminus model is very poor for Auckland. It’s time we got on with building the Metro system we need. And in fact I think that’s what we should call it too.

      Of course those hopeless cringing lickspittals at the MoT have Wellington in front of them as NZ’s ‘successful’ rail model. We have a very different geography, both physical and social, in AK and need a very different [and better] system. I keep saying it, but the CRL isn’r really about the CBD, it’s about through routing.

      1. Not sure I agree. There are very good operational reasons for through-routing trains, hence the CRL, but there is not much demand for through-routed journeys (eg. Henderson-Otahuhu). If the Auckland CBD develops in the way we want it to, the share of terminus journeys to the CBD will increase as a share of all trips anyway.

        Also, Wellington’s model works fine for Wellington. Its bus demand, which is pretty strong for a city of its size *, is also concentrated on the CBD, and then on suburban centres, rather than on trips which go through the CBD and out the other side.

        * 100 trips per person per year on the bus in Wellington City; this is about double the rate for bus use on the Auckland isthmus AFAIK.

        1. Err, that my very point Ross, ‘works fine for Wellington’ but is a crap model for AK. When we have an actual network there will be a variety of journeys, and Britomart numbers are likely to fall initially when the CRL is in, as city travelers will be distributed to other handier stops, especially Aotea. But then the whole big ramp up in utility of the faster and, more direct and convenient system will surely grow the whole pie. So Obi I think this is where the rather harsh ‘Joyce-like’ label for your view makes sense as it seems that in your comment above you do, like Joyce, see nothing changing in the use of the network once it is significantly improved. This is surely unlikely.

        2. Ross in fact I really disagree. You can’t imagine someone from west Auckland enrolling at MIT and going daily to their Manukau City campus? Or working at the Court? This is the very crux of the argument about expanding the network. We have an imbalance at Britomart because that’s where the network goes….. no one catches a train to the airport, why is that? Oh that’s right it isn’t there.

          I might shop at Sylvia Park via the train if a, there was no price penalty for changing trains, and b, if there was a convenient service across town to get there. Yes the CRL will help the CBD grow without further drowning in street traffic and ugliness but it will also open up way better interconnection between the parts of Auckland currently on the routes and allow the network to expand. And every expansion makes the rest of the network more useful in an exponential way.

          Currently it is such a stunted thing, with very few synergies, and therefore rather like a big useful present for Auckland waiting to be unwrapped. Electrification and higher frequencies, and Manukau will help but the real key to this unlocking this gift is the CRL

    2. Thanks for the Wellington figure Ross. It agrees with my observations on the odd occasion I have taken the train there out to my parents in Kapiti. Leaving the city, almost no one gets on the train anywhere apart from a handful at Porirua.

      We obviously need to size trains for peak load. That’ll be when arriving at and leaving the busiest station, which is Britomart. Leaving Britomart, passengers will be exiting within a few stations and the carriages will be gradually emptying. In which case, new passengers boarding for suburban travel is money for nothing… you’re transporting people without having to increase system capacity. It should be encouraged. Maybe the fare structure should be changed to penalise people entering the center (say Britomart and Newmarket), but make suburban travel really cheap or even free. That’d recognise that it’s the city center peak hour traffic that drives the size of the train fleet.

      1. Auckland’s system actually has a lot more potential than Wellington’s for things like good off-peak flows, trips to places other than the CBD and counter-peak flows. These are all good things in the long-run for the financial sustainability of the system.

  10. So what caused the big loss of patronage from Pukekohe?

    TBH, the numbers at all stations look on the light side to me. I wonder if the counts were made for all services, right from 5am through to late night?

    1. The comment in the spreadsheet says they think the person doing the survey counted everyone twice. It will be really interesting to see how much impact the Hop card has when that rolls out, I think we will find a lot of patronage that hasn’t been counted.

  11. Can someone explain a few things – when was the data collected? did they do all stations all day all on the same day? if they did that’s a bloody big job, if they didn’t the data doesn’t tell us much.

    And can someone explain what this means for travelling into the centre – as far as I can see 23,000 used the network outside of newmarket and britomart, broadly speaking this might mean there were 11,000 people (assuming most will be on return journeys), there are 12,000 travelling from (this is just boarding isn’t it?) brit and newmarket? I’m sure I’ve heard that 75% of passengers travel into britomart and newmarket (a reason why they’re gating these two stations), but I can’t see how these figures back that up – or tell us anything. Can someone give me an idiots guide to what this data actually tells us? because I’m sure I’m missing something.

    1. Basically if we round it out to there being 34,000 boardings a day of which 10,000 are at Britomart and 2,000 are at Newmarket we can assume that everyone who boards at those two stations probably also got off there earlier/later in the day. Therefore 24,000 out of 34,000 trips are likely to have either begun or ended at one of those two stations. So just over 70%.

      1. There is a fair bit of residential around both Newmarket and Britomart now too. So quite a few journeys will originate at these stations.

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