I always look forward to the latest ridership numbers from Auckland Transport but March holds a special place thanks to “March Madness”, the time of the year when the usage of buses and trains peak. I had been a little worried about the results for this March due to the combination of two fewer business days, train staff taking industrial action at the beginning of the month and there being a hugely popular series of Adele concerts last year. The latter was likely made up for by the Ed Sheeran concerts, the test cricket at Eden Park and some other events. Overall the numbers show that concern was misplaced.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the full breakdown but we do have the important stuff. It shows that overall more trips were taken in March this year than any other month we’ve got data for (Monthly data back to the beginning of 2002). In total, over 9.5 million trips were made in March, up from just under 9.4 million in March last year.
For each of the modes there are some interesting results.
- Buses continue their recent good growth, in some part due to the rollout of the new network. Buses overall were up 2.1% for March however, AT say normalising for the various differences would improve the increase percentage to 7.4%. The Northern Busway was even better, up 5.7% but no normalised figure is provided for it.
- Train use was down slightly (4.9%) but certainly not as far as I thought it would be. Even with the disruption, ridership managed to surpass the 2 million trips. Normalising usage would seen the result improve over last year by 0.5%
- Ferries have finally seen some strong growth again after months of flat or negative results. It’s not clear what caused this sudden spurt but usage was up 15.8% compared to March-17
This one shows the rolling 12 month totals. Over the last year we’ve had just under 92 million boardings.
Positively, the three new network areas (South, West and East) are all continuing to show growth and if trends continue, we’re likely to see a surge in usage after July when the isthmus network has been implemented. It makes me wonder if next March we’ll surpass 10 million trips in a calendar month for the first time.
While the PT growth is positive, one thing we’re continuing to see is a reduction in farebox recovery rates and subsidy per passenger kilometre.
PT isn’t the only thing showing growth either. Almost all of the cycleways that are monitored recorded their highest month ever. For example, this is the NW cycleway at Kingsland had over 32k trips in March, the previous highest calendar month was just 28k.
On related note, NZ Bus staff are taking industrial action for the next few weeks with some routes and times affected. AT has a list of affected services.