Auckland Transport have now published the ridership figures for June. The month is one of the most important in the year as it represents the end of the financial year and so the results are what become the official results for the year.
The month was also interesting as it’s one of only a few months we’ve had over the last year or more where there have been the same number of working days in the month as the same month the year before. In fact, there were the same number of working days in June 2015 too. Here are the high-level results for the month and compared to June 2016.
- Total trips – 7.7m, up 11.1%
- Rapid Transit – 2.2m, up 20.3%
- Rail – 1.8m, up 20.6%
- Busway 441k, up 18.9%
- Other buses – 5.1m, up 8.0%
- Ferry – 434k, up 4.8%
One of the things that has been notable in recent months has been the return to growth on non-busway buses. This is important given those buses still make up the majority of PT trips. At this stage, I’m not sure how much of that is related to the new network in the areas that has been rolled out compared to strong growth on routes such as Mt Eden and Onewa Roads. Whatever the reason it’s a good result.
But the most interesting results are the annual numbers. For the year we ended up with
- Total Trips – 88.42 million, up 6.7% (was 82.9 million).
- Rapid Transit – 24.42 million, up 16.5%
- Rail – 19.60m million, up 16.7%
- Busway 4.83 million trips, up 16.5%
- Other buses – 57.85 million, up 3.2%
- Ferry – 6.15 million, up 4.6%
The rail network continues to creep closer to that 20 million target the government set for starting the CRL earlier than 2020. At current rates, we’re likely to hit it in August. We’re also likely to hit 5 million annual trips on the busway in August too.
Here’s the normal graph showing the changes over roughly the last decade, with rapid transit being the biggest growth factor.
AT had a target for the year of 88.97 million trips across all PT so they did fall a little short of that but they did exceed the rail target of 19.5 million. They now only split out the rail target from the total so the other modes don’t get (public) targets. Looking forward though, their targets for 2018 through to 2020 are very concerning. As reported in their new Statement of Intent, for the 2017/18 financial year their targets are 93.01 million total trips and 21.06 million rail trips. Those represent increases of 5% and 7% respectively and given rail has been experiencing double-digit growth for many years, for it to suddenly drop to just 7% seems fairly unrealistic. The targets for the subsequent years are equally silly in how low much of a low bar they set, so much so we could surpass the 2018/19 targets a year early.
To me, it seems there can only be three possible reasons for these targets being so low.
- AT are being completely unambitious and setting targets they feel they can easily achieve. If this is the case then it’s time to set them some new goals
- AT think that they’re close to tapping out the potential PT market, an absurd proposition given Auckland’s high growth, congestion, low modeshare, and poor PT services (particularly off peak). This is especially so compared to comparator cities.
- AT are expecting capacity constraints to kick in resulting in people simply not being able to get on services.
The 88.4 million trips did help pass another milestone though, we finally surpassed the total achieved in 1955. Had we achieved the target of 88.97 million trips, we would have passed the 1954 result too. However, it’s still some way off the highest ever year for PT use. In 1945, right at the end of WW2, our mostly tram based PT system carried 118.2 million trips. Usage held up well following the war until the trams started to be removed in the early 1950’s and it kept falling until the oil crises in the 1970’s.
Of course, back then there were far fewer people living in Auckland too. Per capita usage was over 400 trips per person, by comparison it’s now at just under 54 trips (and increasing), and that’s up from a low of just 32 from the years 1994-99.
Edit: as requested, here’s the results with the ‘per capita’ results