The patronage results for May are now out and once again they look good.

Auckland public transport patronage totalled 71,774,868 passengers for the 12 months to May-2014, an increase of +0.8% on the 12 months to Apr-2014 and +4.6% on the 12 months to May-2013. May monthly patronage was 7,096,277, an increase of 536,470 boardings or + 8.2% on May-2013, normalised to ~ +10.3% accounting for additional special event patronage and one less business day and one more weekend day in May-2014 compared to May-2013. Year to date patronage has grown by +5.2%.

Rail patronage totalled 11,242,610 passengers for the 12 months to May-2014, an increase of +1.3% on the 12 months to Apr-2014 and +12.1% on the 12 months to May-2013. Patronage for May-2014 was 1,193,702, an increase of 142,201 boardings or +13.5% on May-2013, normalised to ~ +13.4%. Year to date rail patronage has grown by +13.1%.

The Northern Express bus service carried 2,403,544 passenger trips for the 12 months to May-2014, an increase of +0.9% on the 12 months to Apr-2014 and +6.1%% on the 12 months to May-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for May-2014 was 249,888, an increase of 20,722 boardings or +9.0% on May-2013, normalised to ~ +10.8%. Year to date Northern Express patronage has grown by +6.0%.

Other bus services carried 53,003,557 passenger trips for the 12 months to May-2014, an increase of +0.7% on the 12 months to Apr-2014 and +3.1% on the 12 months to May-2013. Other bus services patronage for May-2014 was 5,245,850, an increase of 376,445 boardings or +7.7% on May-2013, normalised to ~ +10.3%. Year to date other bus patronage has grown by +3.7%.

Ferry services carried 5,125,157 passenger trips for the 12 months to May-2014, a decrease of -0.1% on the 12 months to Apr-2014 and +3.8% on the 12 months to May-2013. Ferry services patronage for May-2014 was 406,837, a decrease of -2,898 boardings or -0.7% on May-2013, normalised to ~ +2.3%. Year to date ferry patronage has increased by +3.6%.

14 - May AK Patronage table

And here’s what the graph looks like,

14 - May AK Annual Patronage

The real star of the show at the moment continues to be the rail network which is seeing significant growth. Rail patronage in May was the highest single month yet with the exception of October 2011 which was during the Rugby World Cup and even then there isn’t much of a difference between the two. Further May last year was also 2013’s biggest single month for that year. Perhaps we need to stop calling things March Madness and start referring to May Madness.

14 - May AK Rail Patronage

Some of that patronage growth has clearly come from the Onehunga Line which AT say is up 37% (although comparing last year to this year it was up 50%. In the board paper AT have provided this graph to show the change in patronage compared to the average of the same day over the previous three months. You can see significant increases on weekend patronage which is likely to be a lot of people checking out the new trains.

14 - May AK Onehunga Line daily comparison

Bus use continues to grow again and was up 8% on May 2013 although the 12 month patronage result is still a little shy of it’s peak from 2012 – but not by much. I suspect we’ll see some new records being set with bus patronage in coming months

14 - May AK Bus Patronage

There was also good growth on the cycle network with the numbers up 19% on May last year.

14 - May AK cycling annual

In further good news HOP card usage is pushing ahead with it up to 64% in May from 60.5%. That’s a significant jump and means even more people will benefit from the HOP price reductions being implemented on July 6th.

HOP ticketing usage May 2014

All up a pretty good month for patronage

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  1. Good to see patronage increasing. There’s a little typo in there you might want to fix – the biggest month ever was Oct 2011 not Oct 2012.

  2. Good result for May (as I predicted it would be), still hoping June can get us over the SOI patronage for 2013/14 as we must be close if not having exceeded that number already by now in June.

    How much longer (no criticism of ATB or Matts intended here), will ATs Marketing Dept and general “PT-change deniers” continue to call these regular PT usage surges “March-madness” or “May-madness” and simply call them for what they are – the “new normal” in Auckland PT usage?

    Also seems a crying shame to have near a dozen new electric trains at Wiri sitting idle when the current costly to run DMUs and SA sets are totally loaded to the gunwhales day in and out – especially on the Eastern line.

    I suppose that problem is partly KR’s slow electrification and also the slow phase in of the new trains by AT.

    I understand the electrification is pretty much sorted now, so that very much leaves the ball in AT’s court to address “the new normal” sooner than they other wise would.

    1. Electrification of the network will be complete by September. Full EMU services on the Eastern Line will start not too long after that. The Southern Line gets converted to EMU services Q2 2015.

      1. Electrification will be completed much **sooner** than September Rob. So why the gap between then and Eastern line EMus operating?
        Especially given the all weekend services being electric in October.

        I know there is a set time for the driver, oops “Locomotive Egineer” side of things to be sorted between AT and KR and its drivers, but even so….

          1. They did clearance testing on the Eastern Line stations way back in March/April if I’m not mistaken (before the wires were done in fact, using diesel hauled EMUs), so any clearance testing down “south” is presumably in preparation for all electrics on those southern weekend later this year.

            As for Western lines, yep important, but don’t need that done prior to Manukau EMU services though, just they didn’t need that done before Onehunga went EMUs only.

    2. I agree. There must now be more than enough drivers trained to start other services earlier. Hope they aren’t being paid to sit round waiting to be scheduled on Onehunga. What is the hold up?

        1. The CE’s report states that in the lead up to ‘go live’ they will put the trains on informally, starting out with ‘Simulated’ or ‘Shadow’ running, and progressing to random night off peak and then random inter peak running before putting them into live operation on the Eastern line. I think the roll-out needs to be done properly to sustain the current momentum growth. No point rushing them into service only to end up with an issue.

          1. AT supposedly did all that before Onehunga went live, and what happened?

            Slow trains for the 1st month, dead slow trains the 1st week and crap service delivery (Onehunga line punctuality is now down to 74% a massvie 20+% drop in one month – worst month ever) – thats what happens if you follow the “steady as she’s goes we know what we’re doing” approach AT are taking.

            Yes you need to get your EMUs into service in an orderly fashion, but big bang launches for more than a few trains at once don’t actually work very well.
            As Onehunga showed as there are not enough slots on the current lines to allow full end to end testing and running of the trains beforehand on the lines they need to.

            The best way to do this is to bring working EMUs into the day to day services, start maybe at night, then inter-peak to get drivers up to speed – and just as importantly the trains up to speed as well (something that courtesy of ETCS seems is a mission in itself which no amount of “testing” seems to be able to mitigate ahead of live running if Onehunga and ATs excuses are to be believed), then finally the peak period. This means weeks or ramping up.

            And the time to start all that is sooner than later, not leaving it all to “September” for littel more than a glorified politicians wank-fest “big bang” – which will be a big cock up more likely.

          2. I think I used ‘live’ the wrong way there. The ‘live’ refers to full peak services. The CE’s report suggests they will be doing as you are proposing, which will be to introduce them slowly to get drivers up to speed and to assess conditions on the lines, which will be weeks of ramping up.

        2. Matt,
          AT should have enough trains and drivers right now for the existing 2 or 3 trains per hour for the Manukau services at least – i.e. simply putting EMUs on the existing Manukau run.

          Since AT already have mixed EMU/DMU/SA trains on the line from Penrose to Britomart, they can’t be too precious about being all electric or nothing on those parts of the line can they so why should they claim the same for Eastern Line?

          I know AT want to put all eastern lines trains as only going to/from Manukau (6 TPH) – but thats not been agreed to by KR who need to run freights down the same lines.
          And 10 minute gaps won’t cut their mustard.

          And based on what I see and hear, EMUs on the Eastern Lines can’t come soon enough.

          1. I have heard mention of heading to full weekend EMU service as a step along the path…. I can see that as a way to explore operational issues with more wriggle room. But then the O-Line only has low freqs anyway and look at the probs there…?

          2. Greg N: since only the first 500m of the Manukau Branch is live, running EMUs there would be a bit of a problem – and the NIMT (Eastern Line) north of Westfield has been live for less than a week (happened on 16 June).

  3. Add 20% to the rail figures for fare evasion/unticketed due to hop machines/fix machines being out of order.

    Will be interesting to see onehunga lines next month as patronage seems very skewed towards the front of the month.

    I agree will previous poster re:eastern line. People are often left stranded on platforms during peak hours…

  4. I’ve had four “repeat offenders” on my bus who pay cash on a daily basis. Three of them in the 50-65 age group, one in her 20s. None of them travel to Britomart where they could buy an AT Hop card, but two of them board or disembark at Mount Eden village, the only other place on the route you can buy a card. I’ve been pondering what’s stopping them buying a card. Is it lack of outlets? Do they not have access to a computer to order one online? Do they not trust online purchases?

    Recently the one I deemed most likely to hold out for cash turned up with a card. I nearly stood up and applauded! This week the younger one also started using a card. So that’s a 50% improvement. Will the fare changes in July be the tipping point for the other two?

    Most of the remaining cash payers are the Zone 1 passengers, often travelling only 2 or 3 stops. They have the least “skin in the game”, as the Zone 1 fares aren’t huge, and they are also the least inconvenienced by the dwell time caused by cash payers, as they are only aboard for a short duration.

    1. Need to get this Super Gold Card holders on to HOP. And AC/AT staff. I watched one leave a train without tagging off so I presume he didn’t have a card. Lost statistics.

      1. agree – actual ridership is understated by 5-10%. Could easily be the difference between reaching Government’s crazy CRL targets …

        1. Agree. has anyone done a cost-benefit analysis of greater enforcement through more gates and staff checking (particularly at smaller stations)?

        2. Hmm, not sure how you come up with that idea that somehow Goldcard users don’t count, to use a Gold card on AT PT services you need a (paper) ticket, so it “counts” as a trip surely? – after all that ticket is issued by the driver of the bus or got by the Gold card user from a ticket machine at the train station. as Paper tickets. So all those count as trips now.
          You can’t travel without a ticket, even if you’re a Goldcard holder.

          Agreed that putting Gold card onto HOP will make it dead easy for GC using folks to turn up and go, but they’ll still need to tag on (if not off) the system (and use it after 9am if they want it for free)..

          In any case, we could meet and exceed all the patronage targets we like and right now no National led government will do a thing about stumping up for their share of the CRL any time soon, and most definitely not while Minister Brownlee is MoT (and, more importantly, while Minister Joyce, as architect of the RoNS is still the puppeteer pulling the strings behind Brownlee/Key/English).

  5. promising how the rate of growth in rail patronage is now very similar to what is was pre-RWC. And that’s before electrification of major lines … very exciting!

  6. Looks like we are truly past, and are now exceeding the RWC patronage “blip” – which is good news.

    All we need now is a Minister of Transport who actually uses facts and logic to make decisions and is able to smell the PT change a blowin’ in the Auckland wind and for AT to keep on those bus priority measures they’ve recently started to keep the bus services moving until the new PTOM model and then CRL can lighten their load more.

    1. Great news all round. Greg N – as you probably know, that person is waiting in the wings, her name is Julie-Anne Genter. But to get her into the Transport portfolio of course requires a change of Government.

      If you care about the direction of transport in Auckland, talk to as many people around you as you can and explain why voting Nat/Act/UF/Cons is such a bad idea. Hate to be blunt, but this election is such a critical juncture for (not only but particularly) transport in Auckland.

      1. Yeah we all know National are a bad lot for Auckland, and to my mind, right now the best thing that can happen with them is not telling everyone already on the left to vote left – they know that.

        Its more telling all those former died in the wool ACT/FU and “never gonna vote left” National party followers to decide instead to vote Cons – and as result in 4.8% of Nationals share of votes being wasted votes – due to lack of 5% threshold crossing by Cons – thats just as good as the left pulling 5% more votes out of the hat.
        And would be a truly just reward for the way National Gerrymandered the MMP review process and did not alter the coat-tailing provisions as the review indicated it should.
        Or if Cons manage to get over 5% then they’ll self-destruct with some stupid lunatic policy within 6 months and we’ll be back to the Polls bythis time next year.

        Also remember Glen that there will be no JAG in Power (as MoT or anything else useful) – unless Labour gets enough votes to form the core of an alternative government. Greens can’t do it on their own, even if they get 20% of the votes.

        I’m not advocating for any political parties here, but agree when everyone except the current Government thinks CRL is needed now, then you have to do something as status quo ain’t gonna work.

  7. BBC, 20% is an admittedly baseless estimation, however over the last 2 weeks the westbound fix machine at kingsland has been totally out if order for periods of up to a week. Also, city bound Glen Eden tag on machine was out if action for at least 5 days. Extrapolate these kinds of outages across the network and I’d guess that 20% is about right. If AT ate estimating 4.5% then they are wayyyy out if touch.

    1. I think 4-5% is AT’s estimate of residual fare evasion. You’re correct to suggest that if technological outages are an issue then the proportion of unintentional “fare evaders” will be on top of this. 20% sounds high though …

  8. Two points from Patronage Chart:

    1. AKL’s nascent Rapid Transit Network is growing faster than standard services. Clearly higher speed and greater frequencies are valued by customers.

    2. The Western Line at 17%! Yet improvements haven’t even started there. No ten minute freqs, still old trains, and of course still that daft roundabout route into Britomart, the big [but not only] destination.

    So AT should

    1. Focus on a constant improvement of services to real Rapid standard: All day turn up and go frequencies, separate ROWs routes, and long service hours.
    2. Stop trying to wind back ridership targets

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