Last week I posted the latest data from Auckland Transport for how many people used each rail and busway station in the last financial year. I’ve been keeping track of the rail station data for quite some time, including from the annual counts prior to HOP existing. One aspect I find interesting is to see how the use of stations changes in comparison to the other stations on the network.

Using the most recent data I’ve updated a table I put together ranking each station by the number of boardings they had. It’s called the rug as it kind of resembles an abstract pattern on a rug. For the purposes of this it only goes back to 2011 as prior to that the changes in rankings are much more common and it makes the chart harder to read.

The station order on the left of the chart represents where stations were at the first point and stations can be traced through to now to see how they’ve changed.

A few notable features that stand out to me.

  • The top four stations have held their position for about the last two years, although looking at the actual numbers this is likely to change in the next six months due to …
  • Panmure has rising strongly since the vastly upgraded station was opened at the beginning of 2015. As the new bus network comes on stream I expect this to move up to become the fourth busiest station.
  • Manukau has been the strongest mover and benefited greatly from the improvements in frequency that came with electrification. Again the new bus network and bus station which will be next to the train station is likely to push the station much higher in the rankings
  • Another big mover, also on the Eastern Line, has been Sylvia Park
  • Like the top stations, the bottom stations have also remained the same for some time. As we know Waitakere – which was open for 19 days in this data – has now closed and so will drop off the list next time it is updated. Westfield is scheduled to close when the New Network goes live in October but Te Mahia had a reprieve from AT

Station Rail Stations Ranked Jun 2016

Is there anything that stands out to you?

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  1. I see Papakura after dropping in 2014 is trending back up to 6th place. It will probably increase as new developments begin to pan out in the area as well.
    Manukau continues to surge and willing to wage it equalling or nudging Papakura out of 6th place when the new Manukau Bus Station opens next year.

  2. Pukekhoe (or rather Pukekohe) shows the difference electrics make!
    With the growth that is occuring in that area and south of there this station should be getting a lot busier.

      1. The lack of PnR at Puke could have something to do with it, there are a lot of people that drive from Puke to Papakura. The inclusion of a Puke PnR with the station upgrade will have an increased effect on Puke passengers.

        1. Presumably this was an issue before the shuttles as well, whereas this is a trend that appears to have started after the shuttles were introduced.

          I agree though, park and ride would likely tip the balance back to Pukekohe in the future.

          1. It is not that Puke has decreased, it just hasn’t increased at the rate others have and that could be the lack of PnR facilities that will be improved with the upgrade.

          2. Pukekohe has two major problems currently:
            1. The transfer which adds another 10 to 15 minutes to what is a long trip anyway.
            2. Only every second or third train go to Pukekohe. This is a real pain the ass as you can’t just use any Papakure train but need to time it, and if you miss it you end up waiting another 20 to 30 minutes.

            Until there i electrification with trains every 10 minutes Pukekohe is not going to do well. I don’t think the battery trains are going to help as it seems they will also be every 20 to 30 minutes and not every Papakura train.

            The parking only has a very small impact.

          3. Adam the shuttle trip is 15 minutes (less if they can get directly onto an empty platform, not noticeably slower than an EMU would be able to do it) with 4 and 8 minutes between arrival and the departure of the connecting service so I find it hard to see where you get the 10-15 minutes longer the trip takes, even when there was a direct service to Puke and it wasn’t cancelled only every second train went there.

          4. Having taken the shuttle almost everyday since it changed I now leave 10 minutes earlier than I used to, and through I admit it is no longer 15 – it used to be but the times have been adjusted so is some improvement.
            As to every second train – what I mean is that if the whole network had been electrified then I see no reason every train especially during rush hour couldn’t go to Pukekohe – I was not comparing to the pre electrification service.

          5. Gating Papakura could see an increase in boarding at Pukekohe (along with probably Takanini, Te Mahia etc) as while Papakura is a destination for fare evaders it has also been shown as a tag on point for travelers from Pukekohe as there will be no convinantly placed tag machine between the arriving Puke train and departing Brito one. TIs on blockade at Papakura found several Puke regulars that have never tagged (on or off) at Pukekohe as it was a considerable saving with both monthly’s and the old two stage fare (now one zone).

        2. There is a significant catchment area west of both Pukekohe and Papakura. We, for example, live 6 km closer to Pukekohe rail station than to Papakura rail station but, were we to take a train, would drive the extra distance for better frequency and no transfer. Certainly when one of our student daughters takes a train from the city we always pick them up at Papakura rather than Pukekohe.

          East of Pukekohe I am guessing that it is even more compelling to drive to Papakura on the motorway. If Pukekohe were a continuation of the service to Papakura with the same frequency I think you would see an increase in the Pukekohe numbers and a corresponding decrease in the Papakura numbers.

          1. Yeah, but beyond Drury will always cost more, being another zone, as well as being unlikely to justify as high frequency as Papakura.

            Drury probably calls for a PnR to serve more rural users, once Papakura is through routed again.

          2. It’s sad to see the “build it after they come and get used to their cars” approach just will not die.

          3. “Drury will always cost more, being another zone”

            Not being a train user that point had escaped me. Drury is likely to be a good location for park and ride with the railway being right at the junction of SH1 and SH22.

          4. Sorry Patrick I didn’t even see your comment I was replying to MFD as they appeared to be saying Drury was a different zone.

          5. Apologies for the hasty cut and paste quote…but it’s a somewhat irrelevant where the boundary is. There is no station at Drury and the current zone boundary passes through Drury (part of it is in the Franklin zone). By the time a station is built or as a result thereof a decision may be made to change the boundary.

    1. I know a couple people from Pukekohe, they drive to Papakura for a multitude of reasons.

      1. Not enough parking
      2. Don’t feel comfortable parking there car there
      But the biggest reason is: 3. The first and last trains do not have a connecting DMU shuttle so they can’t get into work on time or leave later in the evening when on evening shift.

      The P&R upgrade at Pukekohe will be great, but hopefully the timetable improves too, having the DMU shuttles connect with the first and last EMU’s at Papakura is a must.

      Speaking about this, I know people who drive from Ranui/Sturges area to Sunnyvale P&R early in the morning, as the first train starts at Henderson rather than Swanson. The second train wont connect them with there workplace in Panmure in time.

      But similar stories all around, why can’t rail run 5am-midnight every day, much like some buses and the NEX. I was extremely disappointed that the most recent timetable changes had not included this, much like the timetable change before that…

      1. Peter if you want to catch the 0506 from Papakura or arrive back in Papakura (to continue to Pukekohe) after 2201 it makes sense to drive and park at Papakura but if you are happy to catch the second train from Papakura at 0528 and be back before the 2201 to Puke there is no reason (other than the extra zone) to catch the train from Papakura over catching it from Pukekohe.
        I can’t see there being anything earlier in the short term or any later than 2301 (currently Saturday only 2201 other days) as there would be very limited demand.

        1. Limited demand? How do you judge that without even having the service? I have been on Pukekohe DMU’s shuttles in interpeak by completely by myself at times, I bet a later evening service would have more demand than that.

          There are tons of people who work until 10-11 at night and can’t even get PT home unless they are lucky enough to live along one of the few bus routes that cater for it.

          The core of the PT network – in this case rail, needs to cater to at least basic hours 5am-12am or it becomes useless to many users.

          1. If less than ten on every 2201 and one on the 2301 over the last week is not limited demand what is? As a matter of interest the last train out of Britomart (other than Friday/Saturday) is 2228 so why would there be later departures going anywhere else?

          2. Fair point Nick but without increasing patronage there is no indication of increased demand so there will be no new services.

          3. The last train of the day never has anyone on it because it is the last train. Nobody relies on the last one and it’s simply a fall back so people can comfortably rely on taking (and potentially missing) earlier trains. If you make a new last train later in the evening that will be empty but the earlier ones will begin to fill up.

            Demand is a function of service delivery, not the other way around.

      2. If you catch a train at Pukekohe you must change at Papakura where the only trains you can catch are to Britomart via Newmarket. If you wish to go to Manukau or Sylvia Park you must change for a second time at Puhinu – a nowhere destinaion for Pukekohe residents. I wonder how difficult it would be to construct the south-bound turn-out from Manukau onto the NIMT so that DMUs could run a Manukau to Pukekohe shuttle? Such a use of the DMUs and the Manukau station would allow Papakura, Manurewa and Homai passengers to have a direct connection to Manukau and would mean that Pukekohe passengers could get to Sylvia Park with only one change. Manukau and Sylvia Park are both popular shopping and entertainment destinations for Pukekohe residents.
        Any money to be potentially spent on battery power units to Pukekohe would be far better spent on finishing that Manukau turn-out and soldering on with the old DMUs. Finishing and using that turn-out would have a dramatic effect on the Pukekohe usage figures.

        1. I’ve heard that suggestion before but is the demand there to warrant it? AT has gone with the transfers model (that works well in the rest of the world) and would be unlikely to go back to the limited frequency to many places model.

          1. I look at the drop in patronage at Manurewa and my immediate thought is that is coincided with halving the services because the Eastern line started stopping at Manukau instead.

          2. Out of curiosity, just pre electric & Onehunga, what was the basic train frequency & running pattern in Auckland? South & East from Papakura to Britomart (& some to Pukekohe) I guess? Western as now except not all the way to Waitakere?

  3. Effects of new Lynn trenching, manukau opening, panmure interchange opening, and Pukekohe being relegated to shuttle services is really showing. Bring on the BEMUs

    1. You talk of Pukekohe being relegated to a shuttle service like it is the worst thing that has happened. Pukekohe when it was a direct service got cancelled whenever there was a problem to keep Britomart running on time, it happens now to Onehunga, now when something happens is 1. cancel Onehunga, then 2. cut services in half. Pukekohe carries on running as per normal but was once the first cut, trains were unloaded at Papakura, passengers herded to buses and train returned to Britomart (often empty) to keep the network running.

      1. There are several silver linings to the shuttle service.
        1. You have time to order your coffee and pick it up in a nice unhurried way from the new coffee bar at the station, I think you can order ahead and pick up on the way through.
        2. if you travel south there are seldom any hold ups.
        3. Traveling south there are usually less than ten on the train, room to spread out.

  4. I guess for me the thing that standards out is the decline in relative performance of Manurewa (4th to 11th ish), Homai and Mt Albert (10th to maybe 17th). I’m wondering if there is anything we about the declining relative performance. I know all this means is that they are not growing as fast as the other station (but still are growing). However, Manurewa and Mt Albert stations have big population catchments – and have the potential to be very busy stations. Manurewa has a local bus transfer and currently the walkway is being covered. It is supposed to have a fare evasion problem and sometime in the future it will become gated. Will that be enough to make Manurewa more attractive to the wider public or are there other measures (whose cost benefit ratios stack up) that are needed to improve the attractiveness of this station.

    I have not used Mt Albert station for a long time and I understand it has or will be improved. It is a station which could be better integrated with the outer Link and potential as a transfer station for Unitech students. I think it has the potential to be a star performer and I wonder what is holding it back. I know from colleagues that historically in the mornings is there is no room to get on the train but has the higher frequencies of service help with this? Is there something else with this station which turns people off and are some of those solution potentially cheap and effective to prompt the use of this station.

    1. It’s worth remembering that no matter how big the increase in passenger volumes are, there will always be half the stations going down in a relative comparison.

    2. Mt Albert..relatively long walk to the station, but that should be improved with the new passenger bridge. Also, as you say, not well integrated with buses, especially the Outer Link.

      1. Agreed. I was at Mt Albert early last week. Nice, new platform but a longish walk to the nearest bus stop 250m east on Carrington Road…with the usual 5 person bus shelter providing little actual shelter to anyone. It’s integration with other modes is frankly awful.

    3. Well let me think.
      We cut all Eastern line runs south on Manukau, when did that happen?
      Dec 2014
      That would correlate fairly well with the large drop in the position of Manurewa.

  5. As a general trend, western line stations other than new lynn has declined.
    Where as eastern line increases.

    Prepaps AT would need to increase the speed of western line before CRL.

    1. They haven’t decreased in total boardings, just haven’t increase as much as some others. There’s a difference.

  6. Otahuhu is not doing well.
    I use it a few times a week along with usually a handful of other people.
    I am wondering if the $26 million being spent on the new station ( due to open in Oct.) will bring a very big increase in patronage. It will be one of the biggest stations in Auckland.
    I think a station similar to Papatoetoe station would have been good enough.
    I would also like to see more of our stations use more wood in their structures as the whole large station area is mainly covered in concrete and asphalt

    1. Otahuhu hasn’t declined in numbers, it just hasn’t grown as quickly as others. It’s a physically bigger station because it will eventually be the terminus for a number of services after the CRL opens.

    2. It’s largely industrial, then water to the West of it, industrial north east too. Is a big walk from the Town Ctr, and pretty ugly nearby. Once the new, very nice looking interchange is built connecting everything together better, it should shine. I think with new Zone system Puhinui will suck some patronage from Papatoetoe where the fare stage used to be.

      1. The new zone system will probably suck some patronage away from Puhinui as it is now one zone to Manukau from as far as Drury or Otahuhu. The old one stage tickets from Puhinui was how fare evaders got out of Manukau without the hassles, now that it is one zone maybe they will buy a ticket from wherever they come from instead of just Puhinui.

    3. The $26m being spent on Otahuhu is mostly about building a big bus interchange alongside the station and integrating buses with trains. With the new network sending half a bazillion buses there you can be certain that it is going to rocket up the rug.

    4. There is a number of reasons Otahuhu will do well.

      1. Safer more friendly station once complete
      2. Feeder buses on new network coming from Otahuhu itself and sorounding areas such as Mangere
      3. Closure of Westfield will mean a lot of that patronage will walk/bus/cycle to Otahuhu instead to connect with the rail network

      1. Honestly I am bit worried that the Southern line wont be able to cope with all the passengers as essentially every bus on the southern new network relies on the rail network to deliver passengers to the CBD apart from a few non-frequent routes (360x, 321, 322, 309, 309x etc.)

        Also I am still confused as to what happens after 10PM weekdays, theres no trains to connect with after that point, so are you supposed to make half a dozen transfers by bus or something? I raised this concern with one of the new network team and they talked about rail replacement buses… =/…

        1. One concern is what happens if there is a problem with the rail network…. (fault or someone gets hit by a train etc)… pretty hard to organise last minute rail replacement buses and the network doesn’t really have redundancy to cope with this.
          3rd main would help. I’m all for rail but there is something to be said for not putting all your eggs in one basket with the new network. Definitely needs to keep some buses operating not just locally… how many routes I’m not sure but would give an alternative (particularly if there is an issue with the rail network).

          1. Wrong line running and rescue units are a far cheaper and easier option for train faults, someone being hit would see three mains closed instead of two so the third main while necessary is also little help there. Alternative routes are the only option for getting around fatals easily like Manukau to Panmure via Botany (even Otahuhu or Onehunga via the airport to Puhinui) provides an alternative route if something happens south of Westfield junction. I don’t see an easy fix for the western line and nothing for south of Wiri but it all comes down to cost and that is why we are where we are now.

        2. I have would put my $ on Otahuhu (if I had any cash after paying for a roof over head). This station would go off. Unfortunately a massive missed opportunity to integrate the land use planning in the area to increase walk ups has been lost. By poor planning. What a shame. I was going to put my 20c there. Sylvia park will go bonkers. Where are the bloody buildings though. No one has built anything around Pamure. Are they mad or incompetent.

  7. Correct me if I’m wrong but currently Britomart, Newmarket, Manakau and New Lynn are gated, and I’m not sure about Panmure. Are we likely to see any more stations gated in the near future by any chance? I think it would be good to have as many stations as realistically possible gated

    1. Gating generally means that there is only one entrance to a station. If Panmure were to be gated this would likely cut off the northern entrance, which would mean anyone walking from the north would need to travel around 150m further, which is not insignificant. For gating to be effective only one end of the journey needs to be gated and the majority of Panmure users are heading to Britomart anyway.

      1. In the case of Panmure, you’d gate both entrances but the northern would be HOP only, which means it wouldn’t need to be attended with a staff member. If someone wants to pay with paper ticket, then yes they’d have to go to the main entrance. I think New Lynn has something similar.

        1. That makes sense, I haven’t been out to New Lynn for a while. Do they still have someone at the ‘lesser’ end to ensure no one just jumps over the gates?

          1. Yes, there is a security man (never a woman on her own but somtimes with the man) at the lesser entrance every time I use it.

      1. ‘Cost benefit and other variables’
        It will be good to see Henderson gated sooner rather than later. Later mornings and early afternoons I often see many boarding who neither use hop or get paper tickets. Sometimes a group will disperse along platform so they can observe all 3 emu cars then signal each other if TI seen or not seen.

          1. It’s got to be the next one, surely. It needs gates that can’t be jumped over, as New Lynn is an easy escape since there are no guards stationed at the back-end of the station.

        1. Grafton and Mt Eden need gating too if they want to enforce the city zone properly. Also many evaders disembark at those stations because its easy walk-up to the city.

        2. TIs don’t wear yellow anymore so they don’t stand out but even when they are there the evaders just wait till it nearly departure time before jumping on as once the doors shut they can’t be removed until the next stop (far enough for most) or they just wait till the next train as only about one five has TIs.

      1. The central problem with Manukau station is it is too far west. What would be good is extending the Manukau line 300-350m east via a cut and cover tunnel to a new Manukau station built on car parking land on Putney Way right outside of Westfield. Not sure how much it will cost, but could make a big difference to patronage. And use up more of all the car parking space

        1. Ideally yes, however we can already see the station pulling the ‘weight’ of new development westwards. The station should have been more central (and not built as a permanent dead-end), but at least with MC being still so undeveloped that it can still shape itself to some degree around the new Transit Interchange… It’s a shame that it’s so distant from the Rainbows End and the mall, but the Events Centre, and the new Aquatic Centre would still probably be a quick bus ride away for most anyway cos of the the severing great roads. Integrated fares fares do fix that to a considerable degree, once people understand them and all get HOP cards. It is, however, very well placed for any events held in the Park….

          Not perfect, but not a disaster either.

          1. Change the main Rainbows End entrance (or add an entrance) to Barrowcliffe Place. That’ll shorten up the walk substantially.

          2. At least manukau station is only a short walk for the fare evaders into the extremely busy court and police shop nearby

  8. Concur with Matt. The big movers in the last year are where bus connection has improved, either in the delivery of services there and/or the physical interchange: New Lynn [147k], Panmure [127k], Manukau [96k]. This will continue, especially with fare integration [once people work it out]. So expect Otahuhu and Manukau to move over the next year on improved bus interchange.

    But that observation makes the performance of some stations that have had little or no changes all the more impressive; particularly, Ellerslie [85k], Avondale [67k], and Sylvia Park [60k]. Avondale is going to continue and more housing is completed in the area, Sylvia park will rise with the further development and diversification of its mall.

    Grafton at 94k is a special case; it is really as an alternative city access station as well as serving its neighbourhood and education. It will be interesting to see how the opening of Parnell affects that, and of course, in time, the two new CRL stations and the big change in service pattern there.


    1. I wonder if over time people who what to commute by train are choosing those areas (Ellerslie etc) to live, paying a premium if necessary, thus pricing those who want to drive further away from the rail line?

      1. Well Rachel it won’t happen over night but there will come a time when the premium you pay for a home to walk up at Ellerslie Middlemore Otahuhu and every station will skyrocket.

    2. One thing Ive noticed about Ellerslie, as an everyday user over the last year is that buses coming down main highway from the town centre are usually fairly empty at peak hour, but there are alot of people walking to the station on the over motorway bridge from the town centre. Perhaps there is alot of transferring from busses for since the electric introduction?

        1. Based on my observations I would hazard a guess. Its noticeably busier in the last 12 months as well. Would be interesting to get some data as I dont think theres been that many developments around the station to drive up population, and parking is basically no existent.

        2. Ellerslie is also a better option to change for Onehunga (when coming from the south) than Penrose as it is easier to walk across the platform than over the bridge and down to platform 3 at Penrose.

  9. Technically, Waitakere station remains open. The park n ride remains, the lights are on at night, the platform information posters continue to be maintained as with all other stations, and the station remains in the Western Line Timetable.

    1. I thought open should imply passenger services available and the park and ride park looks empty all of the time as does the bus shuttle. I suspect it will be 20+ years before we might see a bemu there when puke gets wired and frees up a couple of them
      Or maybe those DC hauled freights could get an attached SA or SD

        1. I suspect in 50 years time rail enthusiasts will be looking back baffled that there was a period when we didn’t run trains out to Waitakere, Helensville, Wellsford, Whangarei and the Bay of Islands.

          1. Agree, but if we ever spend money upgrading the North Auckland line to make passenger trains anywhere near competitive with road transport, I imagine it would use a different alignment into Auckland, either through the North Shore or along the NW motorway. I was more thinking specifically of running the last leg of a journey, with the longest gap between stations, to a tiny little village that as far as I am aware has little growth potential, it always seemed to me to be a really odd terminus for a suburban service.

          2. I doubt it Dave, all the good will in the world can’t overcome geometry. Thats 300 very long and windy kilometres out to the Bay of Islands, maybe five hours on a tourist train would be fun but its never going to work for true passenger travel.

            South to the Waikato and BoP yes, thats a much more direct route serving a lot more people. North I don’t think so.

  10. How about putting tassels on the right hand side of the rug too, so we don’t have to follow the thread all the way across

      1. Im on the magic rug and riding now – one graph some mich discussion in 50 years time we will take autonomous transport pods for all connections and transfers. On the way home I’m not going to drink and drive but smoke medicinal Marijuana and fly home. Later peeps

        1. One last observation Penrose is the under the radar quiet but strong preformer over time. With the big boost from Onehunga line now bedded in ….keep an eye on this one in the future

    1. the graph shows station ranking, not patronage.

      By extension, a straight line indicates the station’s rank has not changed 😉

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