Last week the government released a new report packed full of facts and figures about our transport system. I think this is a good idea and is a useful resource, although one criticism is it’s simply too hard to find on the Ministry of Transport’s website. Here’s part of their press release which includes some of the figures they’ve highlighted.
Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe has launched the first product of the Transport Outlook project, the Transport Outlook: Current State report. The Transport Outlook project aims to provide information, data, and analysis on New Zealand’s current and future transport system.
“Understanding transport demand and emerging trends in our transport system is crucial to ensure that we can provide the right information for the general public and transport planners, investors, and policy-makers,” Mr Macindoe says.
“The report combines information from all transport modes for the first time. It provides invaluable information on what is currently happening in the New Zealand transport sector and analysis of what it means.”
Information included in the report ranges from public transport patronage in the main urban centres, freight volumes through ports, passenger numbers through airports, transport deaths and injuries, composition of the vehicle fleet, through to the use of different travel modes for work, education, and personal business.
Some of the key statistics highlighted in the report include:
- More than 36,000 aircraft arrived in New Zealand in 2016, just over double the number in 1998
- Over the last ten years our exports have increased by 74% in volume
- New Zealanders spend on average just under one hour a day travelling
- Two car households are now more common than single car households
- In 2000/2001 there were 86 million public transport boardings by June 2016 this had increased to 148 million boardings
- The use of ferries to cross the Cook Strait has increased 95 per cent since 2000/2001
- About 38 million passengers used our airports in 2016
- Our vehicle fleet has grown 44% since 2000
- Train patronage in Auckland has grown by 67% in five years
- Queenstown is our fastest growing airport in percentage terms
- Only one third of young people have a driver licence, compared with nearly half in 1989
- Only 3 per cent of 5-12 years olds use cycling as a mode of transport
- Between 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 cruise ship passenger numbers increased by 26% to reach a total of 254,409
- There were 138 cruise ship voyages, spending a combined 703 days stationed at a port in 2015/2016
- The largest container vessels coming in to New Zealand ports at the end of 2016 had double the capacity of the largest vessel arriving earlier the same year.
The report itself and the overview version are full of graphs. Perhaps my biggest criticism of the report, and can be seen in the information above, is that each the statistics stand alone and are assessed differently, possibly a reflection of the data being pulled together by different parts of the organisation. In some cases, the change is shown as the actual number, in others as a percentage change and almost all of the cases, they’re assessed over different timeframes. For example, why is the change in the vehicle fleet assessed over 15 years while rail use in Auckland assessed over 5 years.
In fact, even within the same subject the figures can be represented differently. Again, take rail use in Auckland, in most of the report when talking about PT they refer to the the results for the 2015/16 financial year (12 months to 30 June 2016). In Auckland’s case that means 60.2 million bus trips, 16.8 million rail trips and 5.9 million ferry trips. However, in this one section looking at rail transport for 2016 it says 18.1 million trips – which was the figure for the 2016 calendar year. The calendar year figure also appears to be the basis for the 67% increased over five years line mentioned in the press release.
It’s not that these figures are wrong, it’s just that it makes it harder for people to compare them to get a true picture. Going back to the vehicle fleet/Auckland Rail example, if we compared them over the same timeframe the report would need to say that rail had increased by over 700%.
Of the figures they have highlighted, a few others stand out as worth of some comment.
- that only 3% of 5-12 year olds are now cycling while the report goes further to note that the number is declining. Making it safer and easier for kids to cycle to school and around their community should be one of our highest priorities
- The confirmation that like other western countries, New Zealand is seeing fewer young people getting drivers licences.
Overall a useful bunch of stats and hopefully something the government/MoT release on a fairly regular basis.
Lastly, the press release hints at some more interesting work coming later this year
“Later this year the report will be published which will project transport demand over the next 25 years. It will examine future regional travel patterns, including the impact of new and emerging technologies,” Mr Macindoe says.
I wonder if that projection is simply a rough extension of the trends seen above or if it will make bold predictions about the future.