Auckland Transport have released the patronage results for August and for we’ve now passed 80 million PT trips in a year. In total patronage was up 4.9% on August last year and annually it is up 9.4% which remains one of the highest levels of growth the Auckland network has seen in recent decades. Highlighting just how fast patronage is growing, it was only just over 18 months ago that annual patronage was at 70 million trips.
Given it was the first full month where all services (except Pukekohe) were run with electric trains it’s not surprise that once again the rail network remains the star of the show. It grew by just over 20% growth compared to August last year bringing the annual patronage up to just under 14.4 million, a 22.7% increase. The main growth remains on the Southern and Eastern lines which both saw patronage increase by over 25% compared to the same month the year before while at the other end of the spectrum the trips between Papakura and Pukekohe were down 0.8%. Another milestone is the average number of trips each weekday on the rail network for the previous year has now passed 50,000.
I believe that by now the government will almost certainly hearing the message about the strong patronage growth and that we are likely to pass the patronage target for the City Rail Link years ahead of the government’s schedule. I note that the Ministry’s 6-monthly report on the progress towards the targets still hasn’t been released and they’ve told me it is with the Minister. Perhaps even the Ministry now believe we’ll easily surpass the target.
One aspect that will be helping improve patronage has been that electric trains have seen reliability improve dramatically. In August over 90% of all services arrived at their destination within 5 minutes of the scheduled time which was up from less than 75% in June. Interestingly the highest performing line was the Pukekohe Shuttle although that will partly be due to the nature of the route i.e it’s much harder to lose 5 minutes on a journey if you’re only going 18km non-stop than it is if you’re going 30km stopping at multiple stations along the way. Interestingly while AT are still reporting on performance to the final destination, they have changed the formal measure to be match buses and be based on whether a service started on time.
Ferry patronage followed next in the growth stakes increasing 6% compared to the same month last year and is up over 10% annually. Of note the growth is happening more on the services contracted to AT rather than the exempt commercial ones of Devonport, Stanley Point and Waiheke.
Bus patronage saw the slowest growth at just 1.5% for the month although it is still up 6.6% annually. Within the bus patronage result the new split between the busway as well as the frequent buses outshone the rest of the bus network with the Rapid and Frequent buses up 5.1% and 3.6% respectively vs other buses at 0.6%. Overall the average number of trips on a weekday on the bus network is now 206,000
Another piece of good news is that use of HOP continues to rise. In August almost 74% of all PT trips in Auckland used a HOP card with rail the highest at just under 78%. It’s good to see that there has been some growth in the number of ferry users using HOP.
Also continuing to improve is farebox recovery which as of the end of July was at 47.4% – there’s always a 1 month lag with this measure. If current trends continue could hit 50% within a year which is above to the SOI target of 48% and a significant improvement on what we’ve achieved in the past.
Overall it’s pleasing to see that the trends are continuing to head the right direction, long may it continue.