Earlier this month Auckland hit a major milestone, passing 100 million trips within a 12 month period, bringing us back to the number of trips we had in 1950, a time when the population was just 350k people. Still, it’s an impressive milestone, especially when you consider that it just a decade ago there were fewer than 60 million trips.
Given all the improvements underway, this should only increase in the coming decade and if current trends continue, and assuming the rail network doesn’t keep breaking down, the next decade will see us pass 150 million trips. That’s impressive given where we’ve come from but how does it compare to other cities?
For some time now I’ve been collecting data on many cities around the world with a focus on those from Australia, Canada and the United States as they tend to be the cities most similar to us both culturally and developmentally. However I’ve also started collecting data on some European cities.
First, a few comments about the data.
- For Auckland I’ve used 2019 figures as a more accurate representation of where we are. I’ve also included figures for 1999 and 2009 for comparison purposes.
- The usage data comes from official sources, for example from annual reports of the operating organisation. I also have it by mode and in many cases by month too.
- For population I’ve generally used metro-area figures and not those of a local municipality.
- Where possible I’ve tried to compare boardings as that’s the most commonly reported metric. It is the European cities where I’m less confident and if the data is journeys (and I suspect some are) then some of the figures could be a bit higher.
- There is an issue with using boardings though and that is they’re highly impacted by fare structures. For example, Vancouver had around 435 million boardings but they’re one of the few cities to also report on linked journeys, which totalled 261 million. That means their average boarding per journey was about 1.66. It appears the other Canadian cities have high boardings to journeys ratios too. By comparison, Auckland has 100 million bordings but about 84 million journeys for a ratio of about 1.2 – this has been rising since the new network.
- There are some cities that I have data for but aren’t shown on the chart because they’re very big cities and/or have very high levels of PT use. Examples of each of these include Los Angeles (population) and Zurich (usage).
- If any of the data is wrong, please provide me a link to accurate numbers so I can correct it. Also, I’d love to add more cities to the graph so if you know of sources of data for other cities, please provide links so I can include them.
As you can see, Auckland has come a long way over the last decade or two and on a per capita bases we’re getting into the territory of, or have even surpassed, many of the cities we have looked to in the past for inspiration of what to do. This is particularly the case for the US cities, most of which have seen PT usage decline over the last few years while population has kept on increasing- Portland is a prime example here.
Thinking about the future and all the growth we should have over the coming decade as improvements come on stream then by 2029 we are likely to be seeing around 80 boardings per person. At that level Auckland’s numbers start to look much more respectable.
Just to further highlight how Auckland is changing, this version of the graph below shows how a few of the selected cities from above have changed since about 2010. Some, like Christchurch are understandable but others show many cities PT networks simply aren’t keeping up with population growth and/or have seen PT use decline.
It’s also worth reminding that most public transport is free this Sunday to celebrate reaching 100 million trips. Also, since it was first announced, AT have said that free travel now apply to Waiheke buses and Fullers will offer it to holders of a Waiheke monthly pass holders, 10-trip flexi pass or 40-trip ticket.
And if you’re really inclined, some are taking the opportunity to run an Auckland Transit Challenge, travelling across the region all on public transport. See tweet below for more details.