Auckland Transport have published the ridership results for November and there’s a few interesting points to note.
For the first time since April 2013, for the monthly results, growth on buses was stronger than rail. For November, bus use grew by 7.6% compared to November 2016 while rail was up 4.6%. It’s positive we’re seeing some decent growth on buses again and some of that is the result of the New Network rolling out. With East Auckland having just rolled out and the Isthmus and North Shore still to come, we should continue to see some strong bus growth in the years ahead. Rail still grew stronger on a 12 month rolling basis (14% vs 6.3%) but the rate of growth is slowing.
Last month I commented on how rail growth was lower and put that mostly down to school holidays. With Novembers growth lower too then perhaps this is a trend starting to form. This isn’t unexpected and many predicted it would happen a lot sooner than it has. As I pointed out with October’s data, it does highlight the need for Auckland Transport to sort out rail service, especially the abysmal off-peak and weekend frequencies.
On a related note, over the week a traffic engineer from Seattle posted a series of tweets about how Seattle had grown since 2001 but that traffic hadn’t. His tweet included this graph about bus use in the US by city. Streetsblog also followed up with this article. As you can see, Seattle is an outlier compared to other cities in the US.
Longer term view: Seattle grew 21.3% in population since 2006, traffic volumes decreased by 3.3%, and transit ridership increased by 41.8% pic.twitter.com/53b9tWfOfa
— Dongho Chang (@dongho_chang) December 15, 2017
That got me thinking about how Auckland and Wellington would look on that graph. And so here is a version for the two cities. As you can see, Auckland’s bus usage has grown significantly over that time frame. In of March-16 when the graph above appears to stop, Auckland bus usage was at 130% of Dec-04, so similar to Seattle. As of now, buses in Auckland are at 140% and the results for trains and ferries are even more impressive. Train use over the same time is at 600% while ferry use is at 148%. For all Auckland public transport, use since Dec-04 is at 172%.
Down in Wellington, buses were at 111% in Mar-16, 113% now. Rail usage in the capital is at 130% and ferry at 147% (although coming off a very low base).
The point of all this is that it helps to highlight that Auckland is doing well compared to many cities.