The news recently that Auckland had surpassed Wellington for rail patronage as well as passed the 12 million trips mark was good however as we and many others have noted, on a per capita basis Wellington is still well ahead. The per capita result got me thinking about how we measure it and whether the population figure used is ideal. It’s generally measured by dividing the number of trips taken by the population of the region
- Auckland – 12 million trips with 1.53 million people = 8 trips per person
- Wellington – 11.9 million trips with 0.49 million people = 24 trips per person
As you can see based on this Wellingtonians use trains 3 times more than Aucklanders do and for Auckland to have the same per capita rate patronage with it’s current population it would need to have around 37 million trips, something not likely possible without the City Rail Link (the modelling I’ve seen suggests Auckland won’t get patronage above ~25 million trips without the CRL).
While the residents of the capital definitely use trains more, the calculation is a very broad one as it uses the regional population. Both regions have large areas with a lot of residents that don’t live anywhere near a rail line that are extremely unlikely to use a train, for example the North Shore in Auckland or much of Wellington City except the parts near the Johnsonville Line.
For Auckland you can see this in the map below from the census Journey to Work data where train use is unsurprisingly concentrated around the rail network.
So it got me thinking about what the per capita results would look like if we based it just on the population that lives near a rail line. Reader Steve D helped me out and looked at the population numbers within all meshblocks that have some point within either 1km or 2km of a rail line.
This is only a close shot of Auckland to give an idea
And here’s Wellington
Based on the looking at meshblocks 1 or 2km from a train station the results are below.
So based on this Aucklanders still use the train less than residents of Wellington but the it’s not quite as bad as it appears when just looking at the regional level data.
Perhaps once Auckland gets the new network rolled out with integrated fares we might start to see per capita rail use in Auckland approach that of Wellington.