For the last few years now and since electrification of the network, ridership on Auckland’s rail network has surged, jumping from 10 million trips in the year to June-2013 to 19.6 million trips in June this year (and bound to hit 20 million any day now). Now, over 22% of all trips on public transport in Auckland occur on a train, a far cry from less than 5% prior to Britomart opening in 2003. Usage has grown so fast, and faster than anyone expected, that Auckland Transport are now rushing to buy more trains to cope with the demand.
The rail network, along with the Northern Busway, has helped to show that when relatively fast, frequent, reliable and high-quality services are provided, that Aucklanders will flock to use them.
But we love to know not just that the use of the network is growing but also where it’s growing. Once again, Auckland Transport have kindly provided us the numbers breaking down the rail results by station. This includes how many trips are from each station to every other station on the network. You can see last year’s post about it here. The table below includes all Tag-On’s and Tag-Off’s at each station.
Before delving into it a few caveats.
- The rail trips only count completed trips i.e. where both the origin and destination are known. This means trips where someone has forgotten to tag off, trips on some passes like the child monthly pass (a paper ticket) and special event trips aren’t included. The trips included below account for about 90% of all rail trips.
- The boarding numbers don’t include transfers i.e. where someone gets off a western line train at Newmarket and transfers to a Southern or Onehunga Line train.
- The Westfield numbers are even lower than usual as the station closed late last year.
On to the wall of numbers
Here are some observations:
- Britomart has broken through the 5 million boardings annually mark. In total, around 58% of all trips begin or end at Britomart.
- There remains some distance between Britomart and Newmarket and the rest of the team
- Downhilling from Grafton remains popular with over 100,000 trips difference between those boarding and those alighting – downhilling is where someone gets off a bus/train at the top of a hill then makes their way to a station at the bottom so they don’t have to walk back up the hill.
- Orakei has declined in usage. The numbers show that trips from there to Britomart are down significantly, likely the result of the station no longer being a 1 stage fare to the city. Positively however, while those trips have dropped, trips to other parts of the network have increased.
- Usage of Te Mahia remains significantly lower than any other station on the network, as it has been for a long time (except for the recently opened Parnell).
The graphs below look at how usage of stations have changed in usage over the last year. The colours represent different lines and where they overlap.
Britomart once again leads the way the highest individual growth, which helps to distort the graph, but other stations have improved more in percentage terms. Not everything was positive though with boardings from Orakei ridership stalling.
The next graph shows the change in each station as a percentage. Most stations tend to hover around the 10-20% mark but as you can see, Otahuhu has been the big mover in this year’s results to the point of distorting the graph with 154% growth. This follows its impressive upgrade last year and also being an interchange as part of the new network. Manukau also continues to see strong growth and I’d expect that to continue once the new bus station has been completed. At the other end of the spectrum, we continue to see very low growth out of Te Mahia and that’s already of a very small base.
Lastly, here is something we like to call the Rankings Rug. It’s called the rug as it kind of resembles some abstract weave on a rug. For each year we’ve ranked each station based on the number of boardings they had and it gives an interesting perspective on how stations have changed over time. For example, it allows us to see the impact of a new or upgraded station. 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 changes that stand out are:
- Otahuhu’s upgraded station and corresponding ridership growth has seen it shoot up the chart. The upgraded station only opened at the end of October but based on it’s usage, I’d estimate that had it been completed had a full year it would have displaced Grafton.
- Orakei has seen the largest drop, reflecting the comments above.
- Panmure has continued its rise and moved into the top four. It would like havely to continue its strong growth for a few more years before it could surpass New Lynn
- Based on usage so far, even with a full year Parnell would still be below Te Papapa
What do you make of the station usage results?
Note: In the past AT have provided us with the Busway station stats too. At the time of writing this I hadn’t received those but I’m hoping I will.