Auckland had a pretty good year for public transport ridership in the last financial year (to the end of June). Overall, compared to the 2016 ridership increased by 5.5 million (7%) to 88.44 million trips, the highest point since 1955. The biggest mover, and accounting for 51% of that improvement came from huge growth on the rail network, which increased by 2.8 million (17%) to 19.6 million. The Northern Busway has also seen fantastic growth
So, what’s happening with public transport in other regions?
First up, Wellington, our current reigning champion in terms of per capita usage, and the only other city we have monthly data available for. The region did see growth this year but not a huge amount. Total ridership increased by 1.1% to 37.8 million trips. Like Auckland, the biggest increase came from the rail network which improved by 2.5% to a new high of 13.1 million trips (note: I only have data for Wellington back to 2000). Bus usage also increased but only just, up 0.4% to 24.4 million.
Outside of Auckland and Wellington, we need to rely on the NZTA for data and they’ve just updated their extremely useful online tool with the latest results. For the sake of legibility, I’m only going to show the results of regions with more than 1 million trips annually.
Here are the total number of trips. A few observations:
- Ridership in Christchurch continues to struggle and is some way from returning to it pre-quake levels.
- Usage in the Waikato has also been declining for quite some time now
- Both the Bay of Plenty and Otago, which had seen decreases in 2016, increased once again. The BOP has also showing noticeable improvement over the years and if current trends continue, could surpass the Waikato for usage within the next few years.
- I don’t have the details for the previous years but of the BOPs 3.2 million trips, around 720k are for Rotorua. Most of the rest are for Tauranga with the exception of a few intra-regional trips.
- Similarly in Otago, the Wakatipu basin makes up just under 500k trips while the rest are in Dunedin.
- Of the regions that don’t have more than 1 million trips, the closest is Hawkes Bay with just under 700k followed by Taranaki with just over 600k
Next up a look at per-captia travel. I’ve estimated the population growth for 2017 seeing as the official numbers aren’t available yet. Again, the notable observations include:
- Wellington has continued to remain flat for the last decade or so, hovering around 74 trips per person.
- Auckland with its decent growth continues to close the gap but it could still take a decade to reach where Wellington is today.
- Mirroring the results above, Canterbury and Waikato have again seen declines while Otago is also declining at a per-capita level.
- The Bay of Plenty has bounced back up from last year but has been flat for the last six years suggesting the growth above is only a result of population increase.
Overall, including Auckland and Wellington, there were 153.1 million PT trips in NZ last year, up from 146.9 million. That means Auckland now accounts for 58% of all PT trips in New Zealand while Wellington is around 25%.