The patronage results for April are out and they look pretty good considering the circumstances. To me the main challenge in April to me was that both Easter and Anzac day fell within a week of each other resulting in one week with only three working days. To me Auckland had a bit of a Christmas/New Year feeling to it as it seemed like half of Auckland had taken those three days off.  Here’s Auckland Transport’s summary of the results.

Auckland public transport patronage totalled 71,238,398 passengers for the 12 months to Apr-2014, an increase of +0.3% on the 12 months to Mar-2014 and +3.5% on the 12 months to Apr-2013. April monthly patronage was 6,063,413, an increase of 237,810 boardings or +4.1% on Apr-2013, normalised to ~ +8.2% accounting for additional special event patronage and one less business day and one more weekend day in Apr-2014 compared to Apr-2013. Year to date patronage has grown by +4.8%.

An over reporting of ferry patronage between November 2011 and February 2014 has been corrected in this report. The reported 71,238,398 passenger trips for the 12 months to Apr-2014 is the highest rolling 12-month result exceeding the previous reported highest results in July and August 2012 with corrected ferry patronage.

Rail patronage totalled 11,100,409 passengers for the 12 months to Apr-2014, an increase of 0.4% on the 12 months to Mar-2014 and +11.7% on the 12 months to Apr-2013. Patronage for Apr-2014 was 978,839 an increase of 49,429 boardings or +5.3% on Apr-2013, normalised to ~ +13.2%. Year to date rail patronage has grown by +13.0%.

The Northern Express bus service carried 2,382,822 passenger trips for the 12 months to Apr-2014, an increase of +0.5% on the 12 months to Mar-2014 and +5.5% on the 12 months to Apr-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Apr-2014 was 214,185, an increase of 11,547 boardings or +5.7% on Apr-2013, normalised to ~ +10.2%. Year to date Northern Express patronage has grown by +5.6%.

Other bus services carried 52,627,112 passenger trips for the 12 months to Apr-2014, an increase of +0.4% on the 12 months to Mar-2014 and +1.7% on the 12 months to Apr-2013. Other bus services patronage for Apr-2014 was 4,454,848, an increase of 197,444 boardings or +4.6% on Apr-2013, normalised to ~ +8.0%. Year to date other bus patronage has grown by +3.3%.

Ferry services carried 5,128,055 passenger trips for the 12 months to Apr-2014, a decrease of -0.4% on the 12 months to Mar-2014 and +4.3% on the 12 months to Apr-2013. Ferry services patronage for Apr-2014 was 415,541, a decrease of -20,610 boardings or -4.7% on Apr-2013, normalised to ~ -1.2%. Year to date ferry patronage has increased by +4.1%.

These increases flow through to the overall graphs, showing that we really have fully recovered from the post World Cup ridership dip.

14 - Apr AK Annual Patronage14 - Apr AK Rail Patronage 14 - Apr AK Bus PatronageAuckland Transport’s board papers also note that rail boardings on the Onehunga Line during early May (not captured by the April data above) were much higher than usual as people checked out the new electric trains – which first ran on Monday April 28. Last year May had higher rail patronage than March, it will be interesting to see whether that’s repeated this year leading to a new record month.

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  1. April is a holding month – holding on from the annual star performed of March, which it can’t seem to match due to holidays.
    It was also a holding pattern for the new electric trains to enter service and start to impact the numbers.
    Which they have – but not in the way that AT would have hoped.

    You’re right about the Easter break impacting the figures, I took that week off, as did others at my work.
    Too good a chance to pass up those 3 days to have 10+ days off, like Christmas.
    I did take a few train rides during the month and that Easter/Anzac week period though to make up for it.

    And as usual for a holiday period, the trains were not running on Easter, hopefully the last Easter that we’ll put up with that crap for a while.

    But even so the weekend patronage for April is up on the same Month last year.
    And while the weekday patronage fell back (as expected) but it is still holding its own and is better than February weekday figures so poised for strike at that 50K average number..

    So several records are in the offing this month as a result of the April holding pattern:

    1. Weekend patronage breaking 20,000 daily average (all those folks checking out the new electric trains by going to/from Onehunga each weekend in May making these trains full must help achieve that figure surely?)
    2. Weekday patronage breaking 50,000 daily average (got close to it in March, and sank back to 45,000 in April), ready for a big rebound in May.
    3. A new low in Punctuality for Onehunga trains due to the consistent late running of the new trains.

    You can see the last one has already started in April figures thanks to the abysmal performance of the new trains the last 3 days of April – Onehunga stats plummeted from 95% “YTD” punctuality to 89.6% – and thats after only 3 days of slow running new trains.
    Imagine what it will be like after a solid month of crap punctuality – 20% is my pick for the May service delivery figure for Onehunga.

    And if so AT will have to sort these issues out prior to the Eastern line becoming Electric later this year or they might as well re-plan the entire Eastern Line timetables now to account for the delays slow running electrics will cause when they enter service.

    I don’t think AT can reach 12m trains trips a year rolling average by May, but should be that easily by June, but maybe there might be a surprise waiting in Mays figures?

      1. Seems to be several factors conspiring I gather.

        1. European Train Control System (ETCS) is very picky about getting to close to or exceeding the speed limits
        and when coupled with:
        2. Existing track speed limits under ETCS too low on some stretches and max allowed speed of 80k on the good bits means the Electrics can’t make up lost time when they lose any and still have to take forever to pull into some stations – so that means they run late all the time
        3. The Trailer car door ramps seem to be slower than expected to extend and pull back in – resulting in longer stopped (dwell) times at each station.
        4. Partitioning of work load (door operation etc) between Driver and Train Manager has also resulted in slower stops than necessary
        5. Workload on Train Driver with ETCS seems a lot higher than with the old Diesels so its taking longer for drivers to get to grips with the system
        6. Diesels don’t have full ETCS so can ignore ETCS limits willy nilly without too much penalty if they do so (as they have been doing for ages anyway)

        All in all, not a lot that can be fixed quickly – track speeds and ETCS outside of AT’s control, as KR determines speed limits.
        AT can probably sort out 4, 3 maybe CAF can address ? but until then 3, 5 and 6 are facts of life so need to be handled accordingly by all.

        Case in point – someone was retweeted on the AT tweet feed last week about how a SA set and EMU were in Britomart tunnel side by side jheading to Britomart.
        SA set had come to a halt, doors opened, and all passengers disembarked and through HOP card barriers and on their way, and EMU had not even come to a stop!

        Not good. But proof that Electrics have a way to go to catch up with the older diesels.

        1. These trains should be ‘running’ into the platform at good speeds like they’re designed to (and like they do overseas), instead they have them crawling along at 10km/h at a snails pace whilst coming into the platform to stop.

          1. You would think that it was reasonable for them to be running full speed until the last possible second, and then decelerate as hard as possible to a complete stop. Could probably be doing 40-50 as the nose reaches the platform.

          2. Sailor Boy – the limits imposed on Britomart are due to it literally being the end of the line. The trains must throttle down to a speed that would allow the line’s buffer stop to halt the train safely.

            Now, if Britomart was a through station…

      2. You would think so, but apparently they’re STILL running as late as ever. It just amazes me AT does not look at best practice overseas as to how things should be done. There is no reason they should be slower than the old trains.

        1. Greg N’s analysis is spot-on. Both the ETCS and speed limits are subject to international standards, so AT and TransDev are applying best practice. Driver experience is the big issue, and this will improve over time. I thought all speed restrictions between Onehunga and Britomart had been lifted, but maybe not. That is a KiwiRail responsibility, subject to track monuments and video evidence of pantograph performance.

          1. I simply don’t buy the argument that these trains are being run to ‘international standards’, when I was in Auckland the other week the trains are WAY slower than any suburban train I’ve seen in Australia, not so much the running speed, but the deceleration and dwell times are horrendously bad.
            Why the heck do they have the TM in the passenger compartment opening doors with a key? It looks so amateur. Surely it would be far better if they were in the driver compartment opening the door with a button like they do virtually everywhere else. In the driver’s compartment, they could also monitor the surveillance cameras and making sure everything is going well, whilst also staying in contact with the driver to make sure the service is running on time. At least this is what happens in Sydney and it’s far more effective.

          2. I don’t buy it either. These are implementation problems, and they must be sorted out.

          3. At least they are using international standards rather than British standards. Otherwise they would have to cancel the whole system each time some leaves land on the lines.

  2. I can believe the new EMUs are slower than the old trains. Only in NZ lol…as for patronage, if they addressed faulty fix machines and fare evasion, you’d see a 15% increase in my view.

    1. Remember we are talking about the first couple of weeks of the trial line of an entirely new network. These are teething problems, precisely the problems that doing test service on one line irons out.

      Give it six months and the problems will be gone, well before even half the fleet is operational.

      1. Provided that KR and AT use the Onehunga line as a path finder to iron out these issues before the next line comes on stream.

        But I have a sneaking suspicion/expectation that the same issues with Onehunga, will recur again when Manukau goes electric, due to the lack of “applied lessons” from Onehunga rollout.

        And as Jonno says, a lot of issues go back to Driver experience, and unless you’re out and about and training up new drivers on the Onehunga line, they won’t have any real experience of real trains with real passengers prior to Manukau coming online either – which was the supposed problem with Onehunga as they had no prior experience (apart from empty trains being driven around the tracks).

        Agreed in 6 months they’ll have a lot of issues ironed out, but when they go all electric (as is rumoured for all weekend services later this year) then won’t be a good look if all weekend services run late then will it?

      2. I hope you’re right, but I have a feeling they’re going to put it in the too hard basket and slow down the timetable, even slower than it is at current. This will be disastrous for rail patronage if this happens. They can be the most comfortable trains in the world, but if they’re too slow no one will want to use them.
        May’s on time stats will be an interesting read……….

  3. “Remember we are talking about the first couple of weeks of the trial line of an entirely new network”.
    What does this mean? The Onehunga Line is exactly as it has always been. Every twist and turn could have been noted and computer simulations should have been done to see how these trains performed and to make improvements accordingly. And 6 months to get it right -spare us.

    I am brave enough to say itt -AT’s introduction of these trains has been grossly substandard.

    And here’s another one! Well done for the bus lane on Fanshawe, but the difficulty is that when Fanshawe is full buses can’t turn from Albert due seemingly to turning circle issues. Although Chris doesn’t realise it a country can achieve significant economic gains from an efficient public transport system.

  4. I’m mystified by the apologetic tone taken by some towards the poor speed performance of the electric trains.
    I’ve ridden them a number of time. I am impressed by the interior design and layout, especially for carrying bikes.But the reality is the overall performance in terms of speed is falls short of the hype.

    The PT team in AT must have known about the flaws in the EMU performance on the current existing network, yet graffiti’ed the urban landscape to ‘sell’ the trains to the public. Where is the accountability – was it really justified to spend the huge advertising budget before performance was achieved ?
    It would be easier to swallow the fact our new super trains are creeping around the network if someone ‘fessed up and took responsibility for the failure to deliver on the expansive promises – and if we had some assurance the lesson has been learnt for next time.
    Here’s hoping …….

    1. Agreed,

      “…and if we had some assurance the lesson has been learnt for next time.”

      Thats what worries me too – that the lessons won’t be learned from the Onehunga line roll-out, and we’ll be in the same boat again and again as they roll out each new line with electrics.

      At least we now know why the word “faster” was stricken from the vocabulary list of approved of superlatives for their billboard ads.

      As the knew allright that they wouldn’t be faster any time soon..

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