Auckland Transport announced yesterday that annual rail patronage has now passed 14 million trips after reaching 13.9 million by the end of June. While it’s great to see the growth that’s occurring overall, it’s also interesting to know where it’s coming from – and by that I mean which stations are people coming from and going to. Recently Auckland Transport kindly provided me with the the station boarding stats for most recent financial year – 1 July 2014 through to 30 June 2015. This follows on from them providing the same data for the previous year meaning we can now start to compare the changes.

Before delving into the results it’s important to note that they don’t cover every single trip. Not included are trips from the likes of special events, missed tag on/offs and a small number of pass options e.g. the child monthly train pass which still uses a paper ticket. That means for the last year the data covers 12.4 million trips out of the 13.9 million in total that were taken (89%).

As expected Britomart dominates the results with trips to or from the station accounting for 60.2% of all rail trips. What’s more the percentage of trips to or from Britomart is increasing as it accounted for 57% of trips in 2013/14. By comparison the next busiest station is Newmarket with just 12.6% of trips. Note: as there are a large number of trips just between these two stations, the total trips involving both of them is 68.2%.

The map below shows comparatively how many boardings occurred at each station across the network. The orange is where the Southern and Eastern lines combine and the purple where the Southern and Onehunga lines combine.

Station Boardings 2015

Things get more interesting when you compare how stations have changed from one year to the next. As the 2013/14 data only covered 83% of trips I’ve adjusted it to make a more fare comparison. Some of the interesting things to note from it are:

  • Manukau has had massive growth of well over 120% more boardings compared to last year – this is likely due to the opening of the MIT building above the station and the increase in services thanks to the introduction of electric trains.
  • Panmure has also had a big year growing 71% over the last year and like Manukau it’s likely related to the station upgrade and better, more frequent services.
  • The average growth across the network was 22%, Other than the two above, the stations that grew faster than the average were (in descending order):
    • Newmarket
    • Britomart
    • Newmarket
    • Papatoetoe
    • Puhinui
    • Sylvia Park
    • Onehunga
    • Penrose
  • Conversely at some station boardings actually fell. These were:
    • Waitakere – which is now closed
    • Te Mahia
    • Fruitvale, and
    • Swanson
  • The Eastern line Stations of Glen Innes, Panmure and Sylvia Park are now all in top 10 stations
  • New Lynn has remained the third busiest station despite having much less frequency than all the other stations in the top 10, imagine how busy it would be with 10 minute frequencies like those Eastern Line stations.
  • It appears the idea of downhilling is still growing. This is where people from on the Western Line get off at Grafton and bus/walk/cycle from there to Uni or other places in the city then carry on down hill to Britomart to catch the train home.

The table below shows the boarding and alighting data for each station. You should be able to filter the columns to get different views of the data.

Like last year the data also breaks information down further allowing us to see just how many trips went from each station to each other station on the network. I’ll look more closely at that in a separate post and reader Aaron Schiff who made this fantastic visualisation of the data is already working on updating it with the latest results.

From what is above, what do you make of the results?

Lastly I hope that one day we can get the Northern Busway stations included in here as well.

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49 comments

    1. That station really needs to go. The patronage results here show the locals aren’t using it like they said they would so as to keep it open

      1. Is AT doing anything to boost patronage at Te Mahia? Like finding out if there are factors putting people off using it, finding out what could be done to encourage it, marketing, growing, developing?
        If it’s anything like what happened to Kaiwharwhara Station in Wellington, nobody bothered to do anything. Just made a visionless management decision to amputate a “little finger” they felt was dispensible. Now the network is minus a little finger. Morons.

    2. Wow. Just, wow.
      Bigoted much?
      I actually went and looked up your other comments on this blog to see if this was normal for you, and it appears it is a reasonable portion of the time.
      That’s a shame really.

  1. Interesting stuff. I still wonder how they (AT) reckon that Otahuhu or Manukau could be busier than Newmarket. Looking at the growth in Panmure suggest that electric trains and having a bus interchange may double the number of people using the station. I think those stations may make it into the top 10 stations in the future but I think top three stops are likely to remain the same until CRL is built (especially if more frequent trains are introduced along the western line)

  2. An analysis I’ve seen for the Sydney train data is weekday vs weekend boardings, which is classifies stations as either commuter or tourist, around what draws patronage.

    Is it possible to do peak vs off peak for the data to do something similar. I’m guessing not with the dataset you currently have.

    I’m also looking forward to the NEX/NWEX/SE-EX and Skypath data being able to be looked at to provide a more comprehensive transit picture.

    1. Except that they don’t just use Lincoln Road, they use also on their journeys use SH16, they use SH18, they use SH1, they use Nelson Street, Hobson Street, they use Universal Drive, Swanson Street, Great North Road… with all the costs and emissions and severance that causes, and all the multi-million-dollar projects it “forces” us to build.

      Nice try – as if the impacts and costs of Lincoln Road users were limited to Lincoln Road*.

      *Which is a horror example of what a road can do to an environment, by the way.

    2. Which makes Lincoln Rd and then Te Atatu Rd dead sitters for round two of the Light Rail program linking the train stations at New Lynn and Henderson with the bus transfer stations at the motorway interchanges and then on up the Te Atatu Peninsula for one of them. Thanks mfwic for insights that spark great ideas in PT.

    3. The growth means I am running out of roads to use for my smart alec comments. It wasn’t long ago that Dominion Rd carried more people than the entire rail system.

      1. The rail network is important in allowing any of those vehicles on any road to move at all in Auckalnd. The growth over the last year means there are about 30k fewer cars on our roads on any given weekday than there otherwise would be if they all drove (and bus pax is up too, so these aren’t just PT mode jumpers). The marginal user in AKL is a transit user, and every driver should blow them kisses each morning for this selfless act!

        1. But what about those of us who work at home? We are not clogging roads or filling up PT so maybe they should pay us a subsidy.

  3. And Quax will say that Manukau Station is nothing more than a “boondoggle” forever.

    Makes these poetic lines spring to mind: (apologies to Denis Glover’s Poem The Magpies ):

    “…
    And ‘Boon- woggle oggle boggle doggle’
    The Quax man said.”

  4. Pukekohe does not show as much patronage as it could if electrified because there are people driving to Papakura to start their rail commute.
    Referring to earlier comments about non-tagged trips; without gates (thus measuring) we will not know if they are genuine commuters or just joy-riders taking advantage.

    1. My colleague from Pukekohe has completely given up thanks to unreliable shuttles and just drives all the way now. The shuttles and transfers are not so much the issue, but how they are being operated so poorly by AT/Transdev.

  5. I’m always surprised Homai doesn’t do better. The park and ride is way better than Manurewa and driving distance is not much more.

    1. The increase in Homai is very evident by the increase of cars parking in the park n ride. I remember when Homai had more empty spaces rather than cars parked on them, now those empty spaces are slowly being filled. Wonder if I could see the day when Homai Park n Ride fills up and parking becomes an Easter Egg hunt.

      1. What you are actually observing is just one of the paradoxes of park n ride. Cars take up a lot of space and while this may give the impression of delivering heaps of riders, often this source is dwarfed by the much less visible walk up and transfer, even drop off (kiss and ride), and bike parking is less visible.

        If you look at satellite views of Perth’s big suburban stations they are surrounded by seas of parking, but bus transfer is over 80% IIRC.

        Still PNR is likely to be important for those edge city stations down south until the proposed equivalent population of Hamilton moves in on the countryside. Oh joy; dense sprawl.

        1. Homqi has between 300 and 350 carparks, which means that its probably a rare scenario where possibly as many as half of passengers park and ride. I catch the train from there every day, and there have been huge increases in carpark usage in the past 2 weeks especially. There would be less than 50 carparks left during the day now, when even a year ago I remember it being roughly half full.

        2. Albany station (and the Devonport ferry terminal) has preferential parks for HOV arrivals. I wonder if these parks are monitored and worth increasing in number? Useful concept to increase the efficiency of P&R everywhere

  6. Thank you Matt and look forward to Aaron’s results, these are fantastic representations and are hopefully availabel to AT and the Ministry of Bridges.

  7. I do not feel safe leaving my car at Homai and the bus I normally take stops at Manurewa first before Homai. The other advantage of Manurewa is that you can do your food shopping at New World before going home. Manurewa station has more security around it and also you are more likely to get a better seat at Manurewa. I also see a few people not tagging on at Manurewa and getting off at Homai or vice visa…so I think there are a few people who use the “free” train to travel between these two stations. The is probably more people living within walking distance of Manurewa station as well. That is just my opinion. In some ways I think these two (or four stations if you include Te Mahia and Takanini) are under preforming and I wonder what needs to be done to get more people in the area to use them. The new bus network should offer more frequent buses to Manurewa station, so that might improve things (Buses from Clendon, Manukau Cross-town, Weymouth, Manurewa East, Wattle Downs and The Gardens stop there). I wonder if having a Pukekohe -Manukau line would help things (say at a 15 minute frequency)? Or building better cycle parking at those two stations or gating Manurewa ? Approximately 82,000 people live in Manurewa and it is the 6th largest of Auckland 21 local board areas. Historically it has been one of the busiest stations (5 or 6), so it ranking at 10 is abit disappointing.

    1. Andy, I understand that the new feeder bus services will help this but they seem to be a long way off. Presently the proposed bus routes that we made submissions on a while ago (it seems like last year) are shown on the AT website but they have no implementation date. I would be interested to know when they are likely to be implemented? Has anyone heard about that?

    2. I feel Homai is safer that Manurewa. The area is pretty open so everyone can see what you are doing. However I do think that Homai should put out my security measure such as more CCTV Cameras just to deter individuals or have the security on the platform just walk around the carpark to make their presence known (standing around on the platform doing nothing seems kinda pointless)

    3. I think that Manurewa is under performing due to the intimidation from the youths who hang around there (just their presence is bad enough) and from the occasional organised violence between rival schools.

      1. Yep, Safety is a major deterrent for Glen Eden Station, Fruitvale, and Sunnyvale. Sunnyvale because of poor design as it’s under the road with an abandoned overgrown lot next to it. A young lady was raped last year walking home on the shared footpath. The council’s getting all excited with planting natives but when the bush matures they are creating spooky alleys so need to be a bit more strategic with their design.

  8. It would be interesting to know from AT how much these results influence their decisions about station upgrades – as the selections seem to be made more with future catchment growth in mind than current numbers(e.g. GI + Papatoetoe).

  9. There used to be express trains. They were great but always crowded. But without a third line I do not know how u could make it work. Currently commuter trains run at a 5 minute frequency north of wiri

  10. Why is Penrose (Onehunga Line stop) missing or is the (SL) include this? Penrose has a tiny little rough park and ride & some off road parking on the Onehunga side. I would be interested in how much of this is being used for park and ride compared to shopping or local worker use. Seems like the odd space or two when I normally look. Ironically there is quite a big car importer/seller right there which looks like a perfect space for park n ride if that were desirable.
    https://goo.gl/maps/xKzSu

  11. I wonder how much the percentage increase at Britomart reflects that people starting and ending trips away from there simply don’t pay now.

  12. I wonder why Fruitvale and Swanson dropped slightly? I’m not a local, are those stations out of the way?

    1. No, both of them “seem” more busy from what I have seen. However, a lot of Swanson patronage is actually Waitakere patronage as replacement buses and taxis (which trains were replaced by much of the time) actually in the past had people tag off at Swanson and just gave uncounted rides up to Waitakere. Many Waitakere residents I know have just jumped back in their PV for work commutes as they can’t be bothered with all the hassle of the bus and an even longer commute.

    2. Fruitvale has no parking or bus feed and is very close to New Lynn/glen eden.Kelston high etc probably accounts for a great proportion of use. I use Fruitvale as my daughter goes to primary school there. I wouldn’t expect to see much growth here until unitary plan kicks in and you get more local density.

  13. And the “experts” predicted the Waitakere users would drive to Swanson. The decline in Swanson patronage shows that Waitakere users are just driving to their destination.

    AT pulled their support of PT in the area, and the area is responding in kind.

    1. Exactly! That’s the way things work but visionless management clings to the notion that you can peel what looks to be useless dry layers from the outside of the onion without the layers underneath being affected. It doesn’t happen.
      I remember all the promises about buses providing “just as good a service” to replace the many rail services axed in Britain in the 1960s/70s. Same thing. People just abandoned public transport.

      1. And with an extra few hundred vehicle movements per week on the road over Waitakere hill there will of course be an increase in roading costs to AT, not to mention an increase in accidents which will financially cost us all. Of course the experts made sure these costs were included in their evaluation of the rail service. They wouldn’t be experts otherwise.

  14. Hopefully we see better numbers from reduced fare evasion, New Lynn gating will definitely help but Henderson is probably worse for evasion. Hopefully we see Henderson gated soon, maybe they can do something about the horrid vandalized glass in the over-bridge while they are at it?

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