Patronage results for October are out and just like September there was a big drop as we shake off the post RWC boost which made annual figures look good for a while. Here are the Highlights of the report

Annual Auckland public transport patronage for the 12-month period to end-October 2012 was 70,179,157 boardings an increase of +2.2% (+1,516,488 boardings) compared to the 12-month period to end-October 2011.

The previous 12-month period to end-October 2011 against which the +2.2% growth rate relates included significant additional public transport use between 9 September and 23 October 2011 as a result of one-off special event public transport services to and from matches for Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC2011) and also general uptake as a result of enhanced service levels particularly on rail. Estimated underlying growth normalised for RWC2011 therefore shows an improved positive trend at +4.8% for the 12-months to end-October 2012.

Financial year-to-date (FYD) for the four months to October 2012 and monthly October 2012 patronage compared to the same periods in 2011 has reduced by -3.9% (+3.0% normalised for RWC2011) and -7.9% (+1.2% normalised for RWC2011) respectively, largely as a result of the 2011 RWC2011 impacts. 12-month and FYD trends will continue to be normalised until RWC2011 impacts are transitioned.

Negative patronage impacts also resulted from cancelled bus services due to NZ Bus industrial relations activity and weekend rail network closures for rail electrification infrastructure works.

Two year patronage results also illustrate positive underlying growth trends compared to the same period in 2010 at +12.2% for the 12-months to end October 2012, +8.5% FYD and +7.5% for October 2012.

This month AT can’t hide behind the fact there were two less business days and it is interesting to see at the end that they are showing patronage compared to two years ago. I get the feeling that every month they are trying to find some information to justify the results. Here are the numbers:

Once again as expected rail was the hardest hit with patronage dropping by 28% compared to last year but at least it was above October 2012. The next few months will be quite interesting as we will see the reporting change due to the introduction of HOP meaning we should get much more accurate numbers. Even with the RWC numbers no longer in the rolling totals, I was interested to see what patronage might have been if the trends we saw before the RWC had carried on. There had been a pretty stead line of growth for around 2 years so drawing a line through that gives the graph below.

This suggests that had the trend we had seen continued, we should now be seeing annual patronage at around 11.3 million per year where as this months result sees it at 10.2 million. Thats a difference of ~1.1 million trips or over 90,000 per month. About the only thing that has really improved seems to have been rail reliability which is likely to mostly be due to the new timetable that came into effect. 87.1% of trains were recorded as arriving at their destination within 5 minutes of their scheduled time and that is one of the highest numbers I can recall (it won’t look so good for November though). Of course once again the bus and ferry companies have self reported that they are on time 99% of the time.

Lastly its the cyclists who have been the one of the only modes growing this year but even they had a sluggish month with cycle counts up only 0.2% on October 2011.

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    1. That would be the logical thing to do – especially as the Western Line’s Saturday frequency is that same as it was in the mid 1990s. I think the compelling point of Matt’s graph is to show that the downturn in the past few months isn’t just RWC, it’s a rather worrying trend.

  1. Shocker! Clearly rail is falling off. Buses and ferries are doing alright. Any idea as to whether this is due to capacity constraints (full services) at peak?, or something more across the board?

        1. EMUs will have much reduced operation costs than diesels, especially if they run under driver only operation. That makes it all the more easy to run more services on the all-day pattern, effectively the number of people you need on board for each run to make sense gets lower.

          The RPTP specifies ten minute all-day frequencies, so that would be amazing.

  2. 2 Things 1) If you google search ” Auckland Transport models update” you get the link below.
    Slide 13 is the key one to look at. Here it states “Value of time” has elasticity of 1.0 for work travel and 0.8 for non- work travel. Public transport fares are given elasticity of 0.25. Therefore making the journey to work 10% faster will increase users 10% and decreasing price 10% will increase users 2.5%. So getting the Western line faster would seem to be the key for me.
    2) Is there any data similar going back earlier?

  3. There are two major drivers of demand for a product: quality (real and perceived), and price. Both have changed in the last decade. The direction either pushes in is obvious, it is only the magnitude which is debatable.

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