Auckland transport has released the patronage stats for June. The month is also the end of the financial year for AT so these also represent the stats that will go into the annual report. Here are the highlights from AT:

  • Auckland public transport patronage totalled 71,087,755 passengers for the full 2011/12 financial year to June 2012 an increase of 5,324,100 boardings or +8.1%.
  • June monthly patronage was 5,613,682 an increase of 45,648 boardings or +0.8% on June 2011.
  • Rail patronage for the full 2011/12 financial year to June 2012 achieved 10.9 million passengers, +10.5% on the previous year.
  • The Northern Express bus service carried 2,279,860 passenger trips for the 12-months, a growth of + 10.8%.
  • 36.33% of the 43,300 match attendance for the 9 June 2012 All Blacks vs Ireland Test at Eden Park used special event public transport services.

Total patronage for the year has increased by 8.1% which is a pretty spectacular result, especially compared to motorway volumes which remain flat (e.g. traffic on the harbour bridge is down 0.5% compared to the period last year). Here are the main graphs.

Perhaps the most concerning thing is the continuation of a recent trend of weak rail patronage, trips were down -5.5% compared to June last year. AT note that there was one less business day and that this year there was a full Queens Birthday shut down compared to only a partial one last year and that these account for a difference of about 6.7%. They also note that while sales of normal tickets have increased, there has been a reduction in the number of student tickets sold over the last 6 months. Lastly the poor recent patronage obviously has AT worried about what will happen in September and October. The annual results still include the additional patronage from the RWC which is estimated at 192k for September and 210k for October and as these months roll around it is likely to appear that rail patronage has dropped off.

Unfortunately we still get the self reporting of the bus companies suggesting that they have up to 99.89% punctuality and it’s interesting to note that the ferries are reported this way too.

And while it isn’t really public transport, I like having the cycle counts included in the report. These show that compared to June last year, cycle trips are up 7.7% (the numbers re taken from automatic readers on a number of routes.

Interestingly the report mentions some preliminary results from the annual modal share study which looks at how people get to the CBD. Its good to see another increase and when walking and cycling are added in I would suggest that over 50% of people are not arriving in the CBD by car now. That trend will only continue as we improve our PT services.

Mode share comparisons into the Auckland CBD between use of the private car, public transport, walking and cycling are surveyed annually in March by Auckland Council. This is undertaken between 7am and 9am. Provisional summary results show a trend of 44.3% (2009), 44.0% (2010), 42.4% (2011) and 45.5% (2012) for public transport mode share.

Lastly it was in the main business report to the AT board but there is mention of the new Manukau car park that opened mid June, AT had this to say:

The Ronwood Avenue car park opened on 18 June 2012. So far, only a handful of cars have started using the car parks. The daily tariff is $7.00.

For the many millions spent on it, about $20m if I recall correctly, I certainly hope that things pick up

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27 comments

  1. Didn’t AT want to build another, even larger, carpark in Manukau before the council knocked it on the head.

    What a waste of money this one has been. I can think of about 20 million better uses for our transport budget than more parking in Manukau.

  2. That 0.1% drop on the Southern/Eastern should be scaring the hell out of AT. 1) It drags the whole rail network’s performance stats down, 2) it’s a bad sign when people stop using public transport. Population in Auckland is growing, it should not be possible for a properly-run transport service in an under-serviced city to see patronage declines. This screams of the mismanagement of services on those lines about which I’ve been talking. The Southern, in particular, gets thoroughly shafted. 40-something minute gaps between services in the weekday mid-evening is unacceptable.
    I hope someone is taking this seriously. We keep on hearing about how much work is going into making services better on the Western, but what about the Southern between Otauhuhu and Newmarket? Nobody seems to give a flying fruitcake about that part of the network, but it’s a big passenger catchment if you also include Onehunga.

  3. Correct me if i’m wrong but isn’t that drop largely explained by the way the Manukau Line is counted; -107, 000 and +82, 000.

    But yes, there needs to be improvements worked on where possible; I know there’s little to work with till the EMUs arrive in numbers and are commissioned but couldn’t the off peak service improve?

    1. Those numbers don’t add up, though. The total annual decrease on the Southern is ~7k. 82+7!=107. There’s an absolute drop in patronage, with or without the Manukau Line.

      I know there’s no rolling stock available, but there’s scheduling that can be changed. 48 minutes between services is unacceptable at any time, but especially when it’s occurring before 8pm on a weekday. Nearly 20 minutes between services in the morning peak is unacceptable. The Southern Line is in dire, dire need of service frequency improvements, and if that has to come by re-routing some services off the Eastern Line, so be it.

      Matt L, at least you’re getting 15-minute frequencies at peak. And don’t get me started on what pretends to be off-peak rail service in this city. They’re paying the staff and they have the rolling stock, it’s simply not good enough and it’s something that can be fixed right the hell now rather than needing to wait for the EMUs.

      1. I agree that the service is poor and could and should be better. And that this is the way to continued growth. My point above was that it is a 25k net drop not a 107k one, that’s all.

        1. It’s not even 25k, it’s only 7,080 according to the table. 0.1% isn’t much, but it’s a drop at a time when there should be sustained growth on every line; even allowing for the Manukau Line services cannibalising passengers there should have been positive growth, not negative.
          I mean, the Western Line grew by over 16%, and as Matt L has observed that’s with no additional services. In that environment there should have been so much growth of patronage across the Eastern and Southern Lines that the introduction of the Manukau Line would still have not created a shrinking on passenger numbers.

  4. Matt Clouds – I can assure you that the western line hasn’t had any improvement in services. There are still exactly the same number of trains at peak as there were 5 years ago and off peak is not much better. At weekends we still only get hourly services and on Sundays there are no trains past Henderson.
    Basically the money that has been spent has fixed many of the infrastructure problems like removing the single track sections but it is yet.

  5. Nice to see the counters show a cycling traffic increase – especially seeing that the March region-wide counts were rained on, and thus had a 6% drop. So seeing that counts which don’t depend on a single day’s weather show continued increase is a good sign.

    Still need to get my hands on the March counts though, to find out if there were any outliers at particular locations.

    1. Yes, but I think that trend line is very dodgy – they’re plotting month by month rather than 12-month rolling average. Hence confusing seasonal effects with trends.

  6. Unreliable services, fare increases.

    Rail demand in Auckland is quite elastic, as people have alternatives in most cases, and are quite price sensitive (they feel poor, and rail can seem expensive). The reliability issues that the network faced in previous months put a dampener on demand, and putting up fares sharply in March had a negative effect – this alone would slow, kill, or even reverse growth for a while.

    1. It’s also important to note that it follows a number of months of slow and negative growth.

      After 7 years of sustained growth (without a single negative month until earlier this year), the dynamic does appear to be changing. As Matt notes above, this simply shouldn’t be happening. Identifying and addressing the reasons for a slowdown is extremely important. (Obviously I think the two I’ve identified are among the most important)

  7. I suspect the situation with parking at Panmure has something to do with it, so more are using glen innes which means that park is full by 730, so as a result people get to GI and say bugger it I will drive to town. I have noticed that traffic on Tamaki Drive is much worse now than it was a couple of months back, so more people are driving, even though it can take 45 mins as opposed to 10 on the train.

    Personally I would rather get the train, but the council have made a total pigs ear off the parking n our part of town it is just not worth it.

      1. Yes, especially given that parking is already almost universally subsidised and congestion (in Auckland) almost universally prevalent at peak times. Amazes me that people cannot see any issues with subsidising parking when we already have too much of it. And why they can’t accept the need to get rid of minimum parking requirements … rant rant rant.

      2. I don’t think Panmure or Glen Innes where the Train Stations are could be described as a Town Centre. You just need to visit the area on a Saturday to see they are barely used. I would also suggest that without CarParking people won’t visit the Town Centres and will go where they can park, which is why Shopping Malls are thriving in NZ.

        1. And by adding car parking all you do is turn the “town centre” (or whatever you want to call it) into a shopping mall.
          This video here nicely explains the problems with car parking.

  8. NZTA released there State Highway traffic volume monthly report for June yesterday. I noticed May report showed increase of nearly 7% for heavy vehicles, This month is back to what is now normal again at zero.
    Can anyone explain what was special about May.

    1. Possibly just natural variation – although could be due to factors like school/public holidays impacting on supply chains and/or labour markets.

      So overall volumes were negative in Q1 2012 but positive in Q2 – am interested to see how they track for the rest of the year. My gut feeling is that the economy is building up some steam coming into spring and that this may cause some growth in traffic volumes compared to recent years; fuel prices also seem to have stabilized or even slipped slightly.

      Meanwhile road work related traffic disruption in Auckland seems to have eased off with the VicPark tunnel and Newmarket Viaduct projects coming to an end, so that should bring some good news for drivers and enabled some otherwise suppressed vehicle trips from taking place. Long term is, of course, towards lower per capita vehicle travel – which is an economically and environmentally positive outcome methinks.

  9. I thought one of the main reasons for that car park building was to be able to free up some land currently used by surface parking for development?

    1. I don’t have so much of a problem if a parking building is used to facilitate that extra development that will improve the urban environment elsewhere in a town centre but I do have a problem if the parking it replaces isn’t closed immediately. With the current economic climate we are not likely to see those ground level sites developed for some time and by the time it does happen people will have come to expect that the parking building was just additional to what parking already existed so will demand more to mitigate the loss of it.

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