We already knew that rail set a new record in March by rising above 11 million passengers for the first time. What we didn’t know is just by how much it had passed and how the other PT modes fared. We do now seeing as the patronage results have finally been released and it turns out there were some new records from the other modes too.

Auckland public transport patronage totalled 71,108,511 (adjusted to 71,000,588 to account for a patronage reporting anomaly on the Waiheke Ferry service¹) passengers for the 12 months to Mar-2014, an increase of +0.7% (adjusted to +0.8%¹) on the 12 months to Feb-2014.¹ March monthly patronage was 7,305,925, an increase of 510,826 boardings (adjusted to 573,994¹) or +7.5% on Mar-2013 (adjusted to +8.5%¹), normalised to ~ +3.9% accounting for additional special event patronage and one more business day and one less weekend day in Mar-2014 compared to Mar-2013.

Notable is the 12 month cumulative record patronage recorded on rail, Northern Express and the Rapid Transit Network (RTN), and record single month results for rail Southern / Eastern Line, Northern Express and Other Bus (excluding Northern Express) services.

Rail patronage totalled 11,050,980 passengers for the 12 months to Mar-2014, an increase of +1.6% on the 12 months to Feb-2014 and +11.0% on the 12 months to Mar-2013. Patronage for Mar-2014 was 1,174,588 an increase of 171,621 boardings or +17.1% on Mar-2013, normalised to ~ +7.3%. Year to date rail patronage has grown by +14.0%.

The Northern Express bus service carried 2,371,275 passenger trips for the 12 months to Mar-2014, an increase of +1.3% on the 12 months to Feb-2014 and +6.4% on the 12 months to Mar-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Mar-2014 was 262,431, an increase of 31,323 boardings or +13.6% on Mar-2013, normalised to ~ +8.5. Year to date Nortern Express patronage has grown by +5.6%.

Other bus services carried 52,429,668 passenger trips for the 12 months to Mar-2014, an increase of +0.7% on the 12 months to Feb-2014 and +1.9% on the 12 months to Mar-2013. Other bus services patronage for Mar-2014 was 5,374,783, an increase of 368,902 boardings or +7.4% on Mar-2013, normalised to ~ +3.8%. Year to date other bus patronage has grown by +3.1%.

Ferry services carried 5,256,588 (adjusted to 5,148,665¹) passenger trips for the 12 months to Mar-2014, a decrease of -1.1% (adjusted to +0.04%¹) on the 12 months to Feb-2014 and -4.1% on the 12 months to Mar-2013 (adjusted to +5.0%¹). Ferry services patronage for Mar-2014 was 494,123, a decrease of -61,020 boardings or -11.0% (adjusted to +2,148 or +0.4%¹). Year to date ferry patronage has decreased by -5.9% (adjusted to +197,678 passengers or +5.3%¹).

You’ll notice some a reference when talking about the total and ferry passenger figures. If you remember there was a lot of question as to why they had fallen so much and Auckland Transport had said they were looking into it. Here’s what AT found.

Due to a reporting anomaly on the Waiheke Island to Devonport ferry service the previous year’s 2011/12 (July 2011 to June 2012) & 2012/13 (July 2012 to June 2013) annual reported patronage for public transport and ferry totals have been overstated. Similar anomalies in the reporting for this financial year 2013/14 (July 2013 to June 2014) have been corrected. Adjusted figures using corrected data for all years are provided in brackets where relevant throughout this report.

Seeing as the Devonport and Waiheke services are fully commercial and most people aren’t using HOP, I wonder if the reporting anomaly comes from the patronage being self-reported?

14 - Mar AK Annual Patronage

The increase in the patronage on the Northern Express in March was substantial, up 13.6% on the year before which was the previous monthly record. The Northern Express is impacted by what happens on other buses from the North Shore and the good news is they were also setting new records.

14 - Mar NEX Total

In fact at least compared to any other time since the beginning of 2002 this was the highest month for bus patronage.

On rail the increase was driven by increases in weekday patronage with the average number of passengers per day almost reaching 50,000. Weekend services were about the same as the year before. In addition Auckland Transport has said that a massive 15 services exceeded the passenger thresholds they have set of 1 person standing for every four sitting. Another 6 were close to exceeding that limit. Note: this is not individual services across the entire month but services per day.

14 - Mar AK daily rail patronage

One downside is we still get the tinpot dictator stats for bus and ferry punctuality, which is based off the bus companies self-reporting how they are going – and basing it off when a bus starts its run rather than when it arrives at its destination like happens with rail. AT have been promising for years to change this to a metric they control and showed early versions of it last year some time but yet they still go with the self-reported number.

14 - Mar AK Bus punctuality

Back to the good news, lastly we have cycling. Like the other modes it also set a record with over 94,000 cyclists recorded on the handful of automatic cycle counters around the region. That’s the first time it’s reached over 90k.

14 - MarAK cycling annual

Note: the cycle counters are at Upper Harbour Drive, Great South Road, Highbrook, Lake Road, North-Western cycleway Kingsland and Te Atatu, Orewa Cycleway, Tamaki Drive (E/bound), Twin Streams path.

So we have a very good news month when it comes to patronage. Buses are up and setting new records, rail is up and setting new records, ferries are up once you adjust for the previous anomalies, and cycling is up and setting new records. By comparison, vehicle volumes on the Harbour bridge declined again, down 2% on last year although a few of the other parts of the motorway network did see some growth.

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  1. Looks like some more motorways need to be fast tracked to try and halt this PT growth.

    If the success of the Northern Express is not overwhelming proof as to the complete lack of foresight being shown by not building a busway on the northwestern motorway at this time when the entire thing is being rebuilt I don’t know what is.

    1. What’s more the NEX patronage is typically less than half of all the patronage that actually uses the busway. The rest comes from other bus services that happen to use it for part of their journey, services like the 881

  2. Not surprised Matt that North Shore bus numbers have been great. walking along Fanshawe St to work in the morning and seeing buses from all over the Shore packed to rafters!

    1. Yes and counter + off peak too. My buses from the city to Takapuna in the mornings (and always the opposite in the evening) are always packed.

        1. Critical is connecting the Central Connector to Britomart an then to the Northern Busway via continuous lanes. The backlog of buses due to traffic on Anzac Ave, and Customs back up Symonds Street would be comical if it were for AT’s complete lack of interest in doing anything about it, instead allowing a few dozen cars delay thousands in buses.

  3. Fanshawe St buslanes will help boost and retain Shore bus users too. Western Line strong but not really up from Feb, needs additional frequency urgently… been promised for so long. Southern and Eastern growing like topsy… Panmure opening contributing to that?

  4. Great. It really does show that if you provide the service people want at a price they’re comfortable with, you’ll get the use this city needs.

    So… isn’t it about time we reduced patronage again by hiking fares?

    1. Cash fares only please – the gap between prepay (HOP) fares and cash fares (in 2013 $) is the lowest its been for some time, so we need to start hiking cash fares to widen this gap to reflect the higher costs of cach only fares.
      See page 5 of this report https://at.govt.nz/media/368243/Item-10-Monthly-transport-indicators.pdf (from the board reports pack on the AT website).
      Graph in bottom left quadrant shows the comparison of cash and HOP fares over time in 2013 $.

      Graph on same page on lower right corner shows %age of users using HOP by mode. Trains lead the way at 60%, buses next at about 48%.
      So some way to go before HOP is king on all modes.

    2. I saw that announcement recently that AT were indeed planning to raise fares, but I haven’t seen anything since. Know anything about that Matt?

      1. That was by AllAboutAuckalnd and I kind of wonder if that was a bit of link bait?

        Haven’t heard anything about fares but do know the Board are keen to lower them substantially which I’m actually opposed to as well. Would rather they left them as they were (with exception of bigger discounts for HOP users and off peak trips) and use the money to improve service.

        1. I would prefer they left them as they are until they can implement our new integrated network with large zones. Then set them in line with what other successful transit regimes around the world charge their patrons.

        2. Holding/lowering HOP and increasing cash, adopting the Wellington 50c policy for the latter would be a good start.

          Be interesting to see what comes out of the closed sessions in the next three AT board meetings, around integrated fares and new parking machines, the latter seeing as presumably they will want HOP and possibly paywave/paypass enabled..

  5. Be careful about vehicle stats south of the bridge – ATs report says the Tip Top corner vehicle counters has been broken for some time so they are simply using same time last years numbers as this years numbers. Why its not been fixed but thats a NZTA issue I expect.

    The Board Report Traffic indicators side notes says this about traffic volumes:

    “State Highway Traffic Volumes – shows the average daily traffic at key state highway locations. Compared to the same month last year, average daily traffic volumes for January
    2014 were down 4% on the Harbour Bridge, but up 4% on SH1 at Orewa-Puhoi, 3% on SH1 at Drury, and 6% on SH20 at Puhinui.
    Note: The loop counting site at Tip Top Corner is currently not working. Source: NZTA Data ”

    So as harbour bridge traffic is down 4%, and SH20 at Puhinui is up 6% I’d assume that means less vehicles are crossing over the bridge via SH1 than they used to.

    Very good to see the trains are steaming ahead, and also note that train punctuality (arriving at end destination within 5 minutes of scheduled time) and Service Delivery (train arriving at end destination at all) are in the high 80s and high 90’s respectively. With the laggards on Punctuality being the Western, Southern and Eastern Lines (Manukau and Onehunga being star performers with punctuality)..

    And with Trains nearly reaching a weekday peak of 50,000 a day in March, which is truly astounding.
    And on that point I expect Trains to beat their SOI (Statement of Intent) goal figure for the 12 months ending 30th of June of 11.4m and also overall for PT to beat the SOI of 74m.
    And we won’t get the full EMU effect yet either.

    1. I have a spreadheet filled with the monthly figures that the NZTA publish so wasn’t going off that report but the sites for which there are figures available. Using the figures that compare YoY result for the month rather than the 12m rolling things are a little different.

      Wellsord – up 1% (It moves up and down a lot but has typically been falling)
      Alpurt – up 2% (not clear how much of this is new growth and how much a shift from the free route which is no longer reported on).
      Harbour – down 2%
      Upper Harbour bridge – up 10%
      Royal Rd to Hobsonville Rd – up 5%
      SH1 at Panama Rd – no data, hasn’t been working for 4 of the past 5 months)
      SH20 at Puhinui Rd – up 4% (growth starting to slow here)
      SH1 at Drury – up 1%

      Graphs here http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/our-analysis/transport-statistics/traffic-volumes/

      1. Matt the transport statistics for Rail need updating on the Transport Statistics area
        – I think we’ve probably well exceeded Wellingtons Monthly usage in Feb and March,
        We may not have beaten their 12m rolling total yet, but your figures in the graphs for rail passenger stats only go to Jan 14,

        1. Was just about to update that. The figure for March was higher than any individual month Wellington has had that their records online show (which is back to Jul 99). Don’t have Wellington’s March figure yet though but Auckland’s really stands out. Only months that are higher are the two during the RWC. That graph currently to Feb

        2. I also meant to mention that the Auckland Rail patronage groph on the same page is due to for an update too?
          – looks like it only goes to the end of 2013 on that one and also looks like the actual patronage is trending along your dotted line (which is excellent).
          And when you do update it I assume you will include Panmure station opening in the Jan 14 data point as per the other major events on that graph?

        3. Updated now. Can’t really update that second graph till we get June’s results as it is based on AT/ACs financial year. Good point about Panmure although it doesn’t really change the service proposition hugely. Of course electrification will be on there and have data for the Onehunga Line so interesting to see how that compares.

  6. It’s a bit hard to see from this data, because they only monitor a few cycling sites around the city (compared with ALL of the PT patronage), but examination of MoT Household Travel Survey data will tell you that rail trip numbers in the region are still behind cycling trips, i.e. about 30,000-40,000 trips per day for rail vs 40,000-50,000 trips/day for cycling. Now let’s compare how much is spent on trying to grow each mode… 🙂

    More seriously though, I do wonder whether the AT Board, staff and general public are somewhat misled by these monthly stats into thinking that cycling really is a “minor” activity because the bus/rail stats are all in the millions while the cycling ones are only in the tens of thousands. Perhaps AT should attempt to use their automatic monitoring sites to try to scale up to a regular region-wide estimate of all cycling? (of course this does presume that their sites are representative of cycling growth across the whole region, which is another whole discussion…)

    1. No attempt is made to grow cycling mode at all, it’s not seen as anything but a fringe activity by people who aren’t worth paying any attention to. Until recently AT didn’t even bother recording stats, and the few measurements they did made they never bothered to even include in any reports. Look at how every single cycling project is endlessly delayed, case in point the Beach Rd Cycle lanes which are supposed to connect into the soon to be completed Grafton Gully cycle way, have been pushed back another 3 years. Their contempt for cycling is pretty telling in regards to the types of people that worth their and their general mentality.

        1. As Jan Gehl has pointed out so many times, one of the reason traffic planners/engineers were able to be so successful in changing our cities to favour cars was that they were good at measuring traffic volumes and being able to use that to justify more space being handed over to cars. Even now it’s very rare to have info on pedestrian or cyclist numbers other than for one off counts every now and then. Auckland has a few automated pedestrian counters but even then they’re only in a few places.

      1. “case in point the Beach Rd Cycle lanes which are supposed to connect into the soon to be completed Grafton Gully cycle way, have been pushed back another 3 years”

        Beach Road has NOT been pushed back. I have communicated with the project manager in charge, and he has confirmed to me (and thus Cycle Action) that it is on track for September. That will be a very tight deadline – glave has been thrown down – but it’s not the 2017 deadline that was mentioned once. That was apparently a comms fu**-up.

      2. I think this is a better example of dragging the chain.

        The EPA ordered NZTA to pay Auckland Council $8M towards the Waterview cycleway mid 2011. There is design work here dated March 2011 https://at.govt.nz/media/imported/3790/AT-Agenda-Item-10(v)-Proposed-Waterview-Cycleway-June2012.pdf
        Three years have passed, no works have started, not even the easy bits, or quick wins. Look how much motorway construction has happened in the last 2 years.

        This is the latest I can find from the council, 4 March 2014 http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CGUQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Finfocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz%2FOpen%2F2014%2F03%2FAE_20140305_AGN_4905_AT.htm&ei=kx1bU77IA82ElQXI4YGgAQ&usg=AFQjCNEqf6YcRepBwuaZU07I8TKiTeMLpw&bvm=bv.65397613,d.dGI&cad=rja
        “The Waterview Walking and Cycling project is required as a condition of the decision of the Waterview Connection. The Unitec Board approved new development strategy for Precinct. Consultation with Ngati Whatua to restart based on alternative route. Draft SAR has been received that proposes a preferred route. This will allow property purchase to proceed. Public engagement will commence in March 2014.”

        So they’re only just getting around now to purchasing the land at the backs of about 4 houses on Phyllis St. I noticed for sale signs on a couple of these yesterday.
        I haven’t seen any recent “public engagement”, or construction schedule thou. Pretty tardy.

  7. FYI, the unit reported for cycling is cycle movements. While there could well be 94,000 (or more, or fewer) cyclists in Auckland, the data is about something else.

    Also too bad they’re still not publishing individual counter numbers. Facilities like Orewa (short, closed loop in a reserve) shouldn’t be aggregated with Lake Rd (on-street lane). Not all cycling is alike. In fact, the metric I’m most looking forward to is bike parking occupancy at PT stations.

    1. Given that nationally, something like 25-30% of people have typically cycled in the past year, there’s probably at least 300,000-400,000 Aucklanders reasonably familiar with cycling “recently”…

      No doubt some of that 94,000 counted includes (a) the same people passing multiple count points on a trip and (b) the same people making multiple trips (e.g. to work and home). Doesn’t really matter too much as a reasonable measure of change in cycle-km (esp. if it is believed that the chosen sites present a representative mix of the different types of cycling, such as commuter, school, recreation, shops, etc). Probably about as accurate as the limited sample in the Household Travel Survey…

      1. Glen,

        >> Given that nationally, something like 25-30% of people have typically cycled in the past year, there’s probably at least 300,000-400,000 Aucklanders reasonably familiar with cycling “recently”…

        Would you call them “cyclists”? Would they? I’m sure there’s an interesting discussion to be had there, but why not keep it simple and call the data what it is?

        >> Doesn’t really matter too much as a reasonable measure of change in cycle-km

        Saying “94,000 cyclists” isn’t stating a change, it’s an absolute term. Of course, the percentage term is more acceptable in this respect.

        >> (esp. if it is believed that the chosen sites present a representative mix of the different types of cycling, such as commuter, school, recreation, shops, etc).

        Why don’t we include mountain bike trails, velodromes and stationary bikes too? It’s important to identify the facilities that make a meaningful difference to the built environment and urban fabric — mainly, the ones on streets, and which have everyday utility and maximum exposure.

  8. good to see a return to solid growth. With HOP now fully implemented you’d expect that to drive slow and steady growth as people get used to the increased convenience (and in some corridors higher effective frequencies) that it delivers. Exciting times, especially with faster/quieter/nicer trains and New bus Network still to be rolled out.

    Also, I’d agree with other commentators: Cutting fares is not a good idea. Much better to hold fares at current levels, which effectively is a reduction in real terms over time. Auckland’s PT fares are not that high; it’s the poor levels of service that are the main problem. In saying that targeted discounts for concessionary passengers could work well.


    1. Hmm 6 car EMU is going to be a tight fit then – assuming that EMU went nearly to the buffers at the end of the track.

  9. I forgot to mention earlier, ATs documents mentioned that they now include in their Passenger counts people caught travelling without tickets (the Ticket Inspectors have to file returns on numbers caught with no ticket so that the official numbers are increased.
    This means that the fare evaders %age is tracked and the fare evaders still do count for official passenger purposes.

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