Auckland Transport have now (finally) published the ridership numbers for July, the start of a new financial year. Of course we already know that in August, rail usage hit 20 million trips but it’s good to be able to see the other results as well as some of the ancillary information around ridership.
July is always interesting as school holidays take a bite out of usage compared to the surrounding months. However, comparing usage to July last year is easier as there were the same number of working days.
Here are the high-level results for the month and compared to July 2016.
- Total trips – 7.1m, up 6.4%
- Rapid Transit – 2.1m, up 13.2%
- Rail – 1.7m, up 13.3%
- Busway 429k, up 13.0%
- Other buses – 4.6m, up 4.0%
- Ferry – 430k, up 1.0%
The graph below highlights these changes as well as the numbers at an annual level.
One of the things that you can see is that despite being a much lower percentage, the Other Bus category still grew what appears to be a fairly similar amount to rail. The graph below highlights just the change
As I pointed out from the June numbers, we were on track to to reach two milestones in August, both associated with the Rapid Transit Network. On the rail network we reachede 20 million trips annually, almost three years sooner than the Ministry of Transport thought possible. We were even closer to a milestone on the Northern Busway which based on the results above, needed just an 8% increase on last August to reach 5 million annual trips. I’d be very surprised if we haven’t already reached that. We also continue to close in on 90 million total trips annually and could potentially reach that milestone this month.
Along with the ridership numbers themselves, there are some interesting trends in some of the ancillary figures.
Farebox recovery (the percentage of operating costs covered by fares) continues to trend down. This is mainly impacted by a drop in the performance of buses which could be a combination of a few things, such as:
- The roll-out of Simplified Fares last August.
- Contractual changes, primarily related to the roll out of the new network often running more service than existed previously.
- AT and the bus companies put a lot of extra resource into addressing March Madness to ensure it went smoothly, which it did. However, adding extra peak services to cope is often one of the most expensive uses of PT funding as it requires additional buses that are only needed for one or two runs a day.
I also find it interesting that rail has plateaued despite rapidly rising ridership.
Weekday boardings are often a better metric to use when talking about PT given they’re not impacted by things such as weekends, public holidays or events. As you can see below, rail use on weekdays has continued to soar and is now at 69k per day with some months hitting an average weekday around 80k per day. It’s also pleasing to see the bus numbers starting to trend up a bit.
Use of HOP has improved and is over 90% for buses. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that during the first quarter over in Queensland, they had 86.4% of trips use their Go Card, which has been around for a lot longer.
Hopefully we don’t have to wait as long for August’s stats as we did for July’s.