As Patrick so eloquently described in his Metro article – and post yesterday – Auckland is experiencing an unseen revolution in transport. While the pace of the change is becoming increasingly evident, what many people don’t realise is that this revolution isn’t new, instead it’s been slowly building up a head of steam for over a decade. Nowhere is this more evident than in the central city where the sure but steady change has now become so dramatic that it’s now challenging the stereotype of Auckland being a drive everywhere city. Despite the frustrations we see from time to time one shift is that public transport and active modes are increasingly becoming normalised and not solely for those not able to drive.

We can see this change quite clearly from the data collected annually since 1986 by Auckland Transport and prior to that the Auckland Regional Council. The data comes from a screenline survey which counts all vehicles and people crossing a certain location. In the case of the city centre that screenline survey takes place on all roads that cross the motorway moat that rings the city.

The backdrop to the change has been growth in employment and education coupled with vastly improved retail and hospitality offerings. It’s difficult to get figures for some of those areas however for employment Stats NZ figures show there are now over 100,000 jobs within the screenline boundary mentioned above. That’s up from around 80,000 in 2001 – an almost a 25% increase despite a few bumps along the way such as the Global Financial Crisis. In addition there were only around 10,000 people living in the central city whereas now there are over 31,0000 helping to bring energy and vitality to the urban environment – and all/most without needing to drive to get to work or play.

AKL CBD employment & population 2000-2014

For people who have to travel to the city for, not all are doing so during the morning peak but it’s certainly when the largest number are of 7am to 9am and this is what the Screenline Survey captures. What the data astonishingly shows is that increasingly the change in the transport use over the has exclusively come from modes other than driving more. This screenline data was presented to the AT board last week.

Back in 2001 some 39,000 people or 64% of everyone arriving in the city centre via motorised transport during the morning peak via did so by way of a private vehicle. That means either they were driving or were a passenger in a car. The remaining 21,100 came by bus (23%), train (5%) or ferry (8%).

In 2014 38,000 people entered by private vehicle representing a slight fall in numbers compared to 2001. That in itself is interesting as during that time we’ve made it easier to get to the city thanks to numerous road projects such as the Central Motorway Junction upgrade. However the big story is that the number of people arriving by public transport share has risen dramatically to over 34,400 (48%). The change is shown on the graph below.

CBD Transport Change

If we throw active modes in to the mix (not including those already in the city centre) then the number of people not driving to the city outweighs the number who do

The graph above is a great result but what’s powering it? Is it just lots more people using PT in general or some parts of the PT network doing much more work. The graph below shows the growth rate by mode. *It’s worth noting that it appears from some of the other data I was sent that the Northern busway refers to people and travelling from the North Shore, not just those on the busway.

AKL CBD mode growth

And the numbers compared to 2001.

CBD Transport Change #

Looking to the future we can only expect the current trends to continue, not least because there is nowhere else to squeeze in additional roads/lanes.

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  1. Imagine those figures with an NW busway, I know many people in the north-west don’t bother with the bus since the car is quicker since it has to sit in the same congestion but gets you straight door to door, especially those in Te Atatu Peninsula. I remember back when there was bus-lanes this was a different story, the buses blasted past all the traffic and were actually seen as a lot faster. The only exception was the Te Atatu Peninsula buses that went through Patiki during peak, which they have since removed (a good move, only off-peak should ever go through there IMO, unless bus priority is added).

  2. Look at that investment in Rapid Transit pay off. MoT, NZTA, and the government need to stop dragging their heels on this. Nothing short of the performance of a third of the nation’s economic output is at stake. Northern Busway extension, North Western Busway and of course the City Rail Link and the Third Main are clearly urgent and are certain to provide better return on the investment than the billions being planned to spend on more motorways.

    1. If you added the complete non-delivery of rapid transit in Christchurch to NZTA dragging its heels in Auckland you are probably talking about a half of the nation’s economic output.

      A word of caution about transit which I am sure you all get. It is not all about getting to and from the centre. In my experience orbiting PT that turns the system into something more grid like have high demand too.

      1. Of course, as you know from our region wide network, but Centre City demand drives lavish access throughout the wider network, when properly designed (we’re not there yet in Auckland, but post CRL and New Network & Busways, it will be). All journeys have two ends.

        But also you want a vibrant centre anyway, this is the most productive urban form thermodynamically and economically…. May Chch get its centre back, best wishes for a rebuilding 2015.

      2. I was in Christchurch recently for one night and saw that there is an extension to the tram lines under construction. It is not clear though if this is to provide another tourist circuit or actually the start of some kind of light rail network. Does anyone know?

        It didn’t seem as if it could be rapid transit but if there is going to be a scheduled tram service then that at least is a promising beginning.

        1. A pity. I was hoping it could be a good example for Auckland to follow in extending the Wynyard Quarter tram to the Ferry Building.

  3. I read in a post yesterday some fears about three years of disruption caused to the bottom of town by stage one of the CRL (sorry, the enabling works). Pity the poor North Western commuters who have suffered such disruptions since 2012 and it’s due to carry on until 2017. It’s forced PT bus uses back into their cars. It’s forced car commuters to drastically alter their drive times extending the peaks earlier and later. On the +ve it’s probably increase the cycleway patronage. And at the end of all this disruption there still won’t be a North Western Busway,

      1. Evidence there won’t be a North West Busway? – look at the plans, it’s missing. I’m sure NZTA have the evidence on the flows on the NW. You should ask them and do some analysis. It will come down to a result of the speed limit being reduced by 20%, the shoulders being removed and the remaining lanes narrowed by around 20% and snaked around obstacles. Under such circumstances people travel slower and any disruption like a breakdown or pullover, blocks a lane. Even motorbikes travel slower because lane splitting is now much more difficult and risky. All of the above from personal experience and pers comms from other Westies.

        1. As posted here before it was the cify councils that ruled out bus way on the nw motorway. Sorry to get in the way of your factless hate.
          Regards speed on the motorway buses cant travel at 100, and living out west and driving every day there has been no difference at all to the journey time.
          No idea where you think the roads have been reduced by 20%. A little bit yes, but 20%?
          Frequency of breakdowns? I guess this would be of an impact only in peaks but how frequent? Car on motorway breakdowns are under 1 – 20th the frequently the trains servicing the west break down. Didn’t know this? You should ask nzta and kiwirail and do some analysis.

        2. “Regards speed on the motorway buses cant travel at 100,”

          Nor can cars stuck in gridlock – but buses on their own right of way can still motor along at 70+ kph – still way, way faster than the door to door gridlock for the motorway lanes at peak.

          Thats what a dedicated right of way does/is for – it you know, privileges, the vehicles carrying the most people – or is that concept of prioritising traffic by capacity sounding too socialist for you?

          “Car on motorway breakdowns are under 1 – 20th the frequently the trains servicing the west break down. Didn’t know this? You should ask nzta and kiwirail and do some analysis.”

          Got some facts to back that claim up sunshine, or are you just going but your own gut feel here? What is the frequency of breakdowns of cars on the motorway v trains on the western line according to your sources?

          Regardless the key point is that the clapped out old trains are being replaced with new ones next year, so any breakdowns that do occur (and they do) will be much reduced over the current low levels now.

          The latest transport stats from AT for December show that the punctuality and service delivery of train services in Auckland is about the highest its ever been. (see this link, page 8) specifically:

          “Rail Punctuality – For rail, service punctuality in Nov-2014 was 91.9%, compared to the average for the 12 months to Nov-2014 of 88.5%. Service delivery was 98.3%, compared to the average for the 12 months to Nov-2014 of 97.4%” – Source: AT PT Ops / operator returns

          And in fact rail actual performance has been over the target set by AT for the entire last 21 months, with 1 month exception to that mid-Winter this year.

          For the Western Line, in November 2014: Services Planned 2,583, Services Cancelled 77, Services Delayed >5 min 269
          [see pages 15 onwards at: ]

          So, thats what, 3% of trains cancelled – 1 in 33, and 10% (1 in 10) delayed by more than 5 minutes – that means 87% of trains (and thus travellers) got there without undue delay or the train being cancelled/breaking down including peak time travel.

          Can you say that about SH16s (or any of the Auckland motorways) level of “uptime” and minimal lack of delays? Even when there is no construction going on?

  4. One way to stop car travel increasing (unless you increase car passengers) is to not increase the number of carparks. Those cars have to go somewhere.

    I still think the council should create a Carpark rates on inner city carparks (maybe a partial exemption if linked to a CBD residence).

    1. agree – it would seem to be a far more targeted way of raising revenue to pay for transport improvements.

      Only downside is administrative efficiency, but I’m sure if you keep it simple and large then these will be a small proportion of total revenue raised.

      1. Stuart 1 guy to count the carparks using a hop card to get around of course. Tell the rates clerks , job done for $1b per annum. Quite efficient. Imagine the time savings trying to justify the CFN programme to the NZ Car Agency vs a full committed planned entire programme to just get on with as AT sees fit.

        1. In fact do a council deal so we can buy the 400 hybrids for the rapid fleet now at $240m by 2016 and with $120m per annum 200 hybrids for 3 years, then all fares minus operating costs go into this revenue stream also so PT can really look after itself and advance like it needs to and not throttled by the car industry or government no matter who it is.

    2. Totally agree about land rates on business/commercial carparks citywide should be penalized and all funding into alternative modes. Just the city ones 50,000 at 10,000 each is almost full NZTA subsidy at $500m.

      1. Then you looked at outside CBD would that be up to another 100,000 even did them at $5000 per annum another $500m could build entire congestion free network incl CRL in 12 years no household rates or going cap in hand to the NZ Car mode agency.

    3. I disagree as parking taxes are a second best policy solution after road pricing. A parking tax would apply no matter what time of day or day of week you decide to drive and would apply to residents who might only use their car in off peak times. If you want to address congestion and encourage public transport at peak times then you would charge to drive across the CBD cordon.

      1. Well I disagree car mode promotion has caused this mess and it is an unsustainable mode of travel. It should be penalized or not promoted at all times. It is time car mode paid the price for poor travel option and especially the wasted space of carparks. Why should other sustainable modes pay for this mess. Blame government, petroleum industry for the last 60 years promoting inefficient travel and not providing safe, efficient options. I’m suggesting implement with the new bus network when there is a viable smart choice to all Aucklanders.

  5. so the majority of people travels to the cbd by other means than car. how long has that been for? shouldn’t we have a party to celebrate?

  6. Then you could put the original council transport budget of $600m on ferry’s, walking and cycling and go crazy with some light rail on Tamaki Dr etc and close some key walking and scenic roads to cars altogether. Overall that looks better. Where we are going we don’ t need more roads or minimal anyway. NZTA who?

  7. Given that our wise and benevolent government will not open the coffers until it can see that train boardings are about to hit 20 million pa, and given that detail design and consenting processes will take many months, followed by tendering, followed at long last by construction, it looks like at least six years’ growth on rail at 18% before the CRL is commissioned. That gets to about 50 million boardings pa.

    There is going to have to be some very different thinking if the rail system is going to cope with 50 million boardings pa before the CRL kicks in.

    Has anyone figured out the maximum capacity of the present system?

  8. Rail is going to need to be maximised with smart routing and more plant from what I can see. At the moment the focus needs to be on the bus network and really get that firing to max potential both with a 15min network as well as a rapid network so it gathers the patrons and does it share. At the moment it is tied up and ineffective. We need it to speed up and with that more capacity and be a strong arm in the network. This will maximize all modes, even car mode if 1 in 3 jump on. Motorway unclogged can use buses on rapid fire even if government still not opening this tap to buses individually.

  9. Does anyone know when skypath planned to open. Cycle very much part of the equation for mode shift required. Deliver safe linkages to the other alternative modes and access to key locations. Most of network just needs optimal width plus safe clearance and a white line for starters. Another throttled network with a lot of mode shift potential look at Netherlands.

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