We frequently look at what is happening with transport trends and have looked in the past at measures around vehicle kilometres travelled and vehicle ownership. However we haven’t really looked at what is happening as much at a regional level and so that is what this post is about.
First up let’s look at car ownership. The Auckland vehicle fleet has grown by 32% since 2000 which is fairly significant, in fact the only region in the country that has had a greater level of growth is the West coast. Unsurprisingly cars make up the vast majority of the vehicle fleet at ~86%. The biggest areas of growth have been in motorcycles and buses however both are off a very low base so don’t really register on this graph but can be clearly seen on the following one which indexes vehicle numbers back to 2000.
So we have had some pretty big growth in vehicle numbers in Auckland. Does that mean we must love our cars? Well interestingly no, not really. While we have seen the vehicle fleet grow, on a per capita basis the Auckland region has the third lowest ownership rate in the country with only Wellington and Gisborne ahead. It is possible some of this is related to the fact that Auckland has a younger population and therefore simply are not able to buy a car.
Below is a graph just showing Auckland compared to the NZ total.
Auckland has lots of cars but by far not the most on a per capita basis.
We consistently hear from some quarters that Aucklanders love to drive however once again that doesn’t seem to be the case. In the 2012 year, despite the population increasing and over 20,000 vehicles being added to the Auckland fleet, there was in total fewer kilometres driven than the previous year. The changes are even more dramatic when you compare the results against the city’s population. On a per capita basis we are at the lowest level of driving since at least 2000, possibly even further back. Once again Auckland actually has one of the lowest per capita results with only Wellington below us (and by a significant amount at ~7000km per capita). Way out as the most driving region is Canterbury with the average person driving almost twice as far as Aucklanders do each year.
So what can we learn from all of this, well while the vehicle fleet is growing, Aucklanders simply aren’t buy as many cars as the used to on per capita basis. Further and perhaps key, even those that do have a car are generally not driving them as much. The amount of distance people travelled appears to have peaked in 2006 and has continued to fall. Just imagine what would happen to both of these figures if we have a fully operating Congestion Free Network giving people some real choice in how they get around.