Auckland Transport released patronage results for November yesterday and once again there were some great numbers – helped a little by there being one extra business day and one less weekend day. Even so it was another spectacular month for rail – which wasn’t particularly surprising given the strong growth we’ve been seeing and that near the end of November it was announced that Auckland had passed 15 million rail trips within a 12 month period.
For rail November was the third busiest month we’ve ever had, up 23.9% compared to the same month last year (adjusted to 21% when adjusting for the extra day) which itself was a 21% increase on November 2013. The growth increased the 12 month rolling total to 15.1 million – up 22.6% on a year earlier. One big contributor that I mentioned a few days ago is likely to be the improvements in reliability of services which reached a new monthly record in November of over 95%.
Given that some of the rail network remains open over the Christmas/New Year period – for the first time in probably more than a decade – and the shutdown that does occur in places is only for a week, I’m expecting patronage in both December and January to be very strong compared to what we’ve seen before.
Another aspect to remember is that based on current trends Auckland is on track to be about three years ahead of the government’s target for the CRL. On that topic yesterday Mayor Len Brown said “discussions with the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Transport were going well”. My guess is the government will make an announcement on their share of funding for the project within the first half of new year.
At a more detailed level there are some interesting results for the individual lines.
- Growth on the Western Line has kicked up a gear again and was up 20% for the month – I suspect growth will be even stronger once Auckland Transport finally move to 10 minute frequencies next year.
- The Eastern Line is still growing strong like it has all year. It is up 33.8% for the month and up a massive 40.5% for the year showing the value of frequent, fast electric trains on the line.
- There is remarkably good growth on the Pukekohe shuttle with usage up 53% on the same month last year although I suspect some of this is from the Pukekohe V8s that were in November.
Of course there’s more than just rail and the other modes saw increases too – just not quite as extreme. Bus patronage was up 4.1% for the month and 4.8% for the year although there is a noticeable difference with the results of the busway which was up a massive 28.4% compared to the same time a year earlier.
Ferry patronage did grow but only just with it increasing by just 1.7% for the month and 10.5% for the year. As I’ve highlighted before one aspect I’m keeping an eye on is the difference in between the commercially operated ferries (Devonport, Stanley Bay and Waiheke) and the ones contracted out by AT covering all the other routes. Interestingly the commercial ferries actually had a slight fall in patronage but that was covered by and a little more by the growth in contracted services that’s been occurring
One of the features you can see from the growth of all modes is that rail patronage is definitely making up an increasingly large share of the patronage pie. Now almost 19% of all PT trips are made on a train.