Late last week Auckland Transport released some figures for how popular public transport was on the fare free day of Sunday 23rd – but unfortunately the only definitive numbers are for ferries. Ferries that Sunday carried almost three times the normal number of passengers but some services saw considerably more, as shown below from a tweet by Councillor Chris Darby.
High levels of ferry usage were to be expected but it’s great to see people taking the opportunity to explore parts of the city they might not have otherwise done.
As for buses and trains, they say without the tag-on/off data it’s difficult to get exact numbers but said.
“The early morning trains were quiet but between 10am and 5pm there significantly higher numbers with some trains carrying more than 400 passengers. The highest loads were on Eastern Line services, particularly to and from Sylvia Park, at around lunchtime 200 people were getting on and off every train there.
“Many of our double deckers bus services were also very busy with many children getting their first ride on the top deck.”
I guess people are able to go to the shops by public transport, who knew.
Related, also last week AT finally released the high-level ridership data for May.
There are a few things worth noting from it.
- It turns out we actually reached the 100 million trips milestone at the end of May – likely only in the last day or two.
- Like last year, May had 23 working days which makes the year on year comparisons more meaningful.
- Growth was strong in May with total ridership up 9.4% compared to May last year. As a result, it was the second highest month overall we’ve seen, following March this year.
- On a 12-month rolling basis, growth across the network is at 7.7%. The last time it was higher was November 2015. However, that growth is off a much higher base and so in actual number terms it represents an increase of 7.5 million trips, the highest ever.
- Rail numbers for the month were up 11.9% and that represents both the first time it’s been in the double digits and the first time it’s been stronger than bus growth since September 2017. In fact the total number of trips on rail was higher than in March – although that’s also because March only had 21 working days.
- Bus usage has remained strong up 9.2% this May. The Northern busway continues to impress with over 807,000 trips in May. That’s not only the highest it’s been (same issue as with the rail), but also quite a bit higher than any of the individual rail lines (with data only being up to April). It also sees 12-month rolling usage of the busway reach 7 million trips.
- Ferries grew but only by 2% compared to last year.
- Another strong month in June and it’s likely we’ll crack 101 million for the financial year. To put that in perspective, ATs official target, as recorded in their 2018 Statement of Intent, was to reach 96.3 million trips by 30 June and 100.6 million for 2019/20. We’re also likely to reach about 21.6 million rail boardings.
- In the recently adopted 2019/20 SOI the council let them get away with a measly adjustment with a new target for 2019/20 of just 103.6 million. I think a more realistic target would be somewhere around 108 million.
While we’re on the topic of May and numbers, the cycle counter numbers for May were also very strong. Of the 38 automated counters for which we have data for May last year and this year, there was a 12.5% increase in people on bikes recorded. On a 12-month basis the numbers are up 9.4%. Once again, the NW Cycleway at Kingsland remains one of the standout performers and was the second busiest cycleway in the month behind Tamaki Dr.
Shifting south, after quite some time, we’ve finally got some up to date numbers for Wellington. This is something I’ve been wanting to see, following a considerable number of articles complaining about the changes made to the bus network in July last year. I’ll do each of the modes separately for this due to some changes in counting making it more difficult to compare combined numbers.
Firstly, rail. Usage on the rail network in Wellington has been seeing some good growth over the last year or so including some months with double digit growth. This has resulted in usage on a 12-monthly basis rising by over 5% and has seen Wellington pass 14 million rail trips.
The bus numbers were made a bit trickier last year when network changes were made and in which the airport bus was removed from the numbers. This meant a reduction in total bus trips counted of just over 900k. The regional council did at least include a separate set of numbers for the 2017/18 months excluding the airport service thereby allowing for some comparison. What you can see in the graph below is that boardings are up by nearly 900k on what they were when the network change took place, effectively getting the overall number back to about where it was before the airport buses were removed. However, a new monthly report they now produce shows that around 5.4% of boardings (over 1 million) are transfers and so the total number of journeys are probably about the same or perhaps slightly down.
The other thing notable about that monthly report are:
- It appears even on the rail network, punctuality is very poor at just 86.7% of services arriving within 5 minutes of schedule with only the Johnsonville line performing above this level.
- It’s noticeable how many more complaints are being made about the network, both for bus and rail. With the bus you can really spot when the new network was introduced while for rail it appears to be getting steadily worse.