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.

  1. It turns out we actually reached the 100 million trips milestone at the end of May – likely only in the last day or two.
  2. Like last year, May had 23 working days which makes the year on year comparisons more meaningful.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Ferries grew but only by 2% compared to last year.
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.

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67 comments

  1. To improve Public Transport Ridership & increase people using it, AT Hop monthly passes need to be cheaper to purchase. For example the Bus & train monthly pass for $215 is too expensive for many. Why not have the cost under $200, say $160? Easier access to get AT Hop cards would benefit also.

    1. Evidence suggests frequent users (e.g. commuters) are not particularly price sensitive. That means heavily discounted monthly passes would (1) cost loads of money to (2) generate relatively little patronage.

      Why? The usual explanation is that, compared to less regular PT users, frequent users are both wealthier (in the sense that they can afford to pay more) and more captive (in the sense that they have fewer alternatives available). That’s why frequent users are less price sensitive.

      Some people balk at the “wealthy” comment, but it seems to stack up on reflection. Compare, for example, PT commuters (who have a job) to infrequent PT users (many of whom do not). Basically, many of the people who use PT for non-commuting purposes are not wealthy …

      Frequent users also typically travel more at peak times. So discounting monthly passes will tend to exacerbate peak demands, which are expensive to service because they typically create a need for additional services, if not extra vehicles and new infrastructure.

      Note also that discounting monthly passes will create a revenue shortfall that in turn causes the following flow-on effects:
      — higher single trip fares, which discourage (elastic) infrequent users; or
      — reduced service, as a way of funding the costs of lower monthly passes.

      And before someone says “oh but we can just fund the cost of discounted monthly passes from roads”, I should point out that *if* more money is available in this way, *then* we could also use that money to do any number of other useful things, like (1) reduce single trip fares and/or (2) run more service. Basically, arguing funds exist that can be reallocated is not a free lunch that can be used to justify a spending proposal. You still have to motivate why your specific spending proposal (in this case discounted monthly passes) is a good idea compared to other potential uses (and in my opinion, it’s not).

      Does that help answer your question?

        1. If that’s the aim just lower the single trip fares. We should be trying to attract as many journeys as possible to PT, not just those that make the same commute every day.

          1. The people who make the same journey everyday are the demographic you need to cater to the most if you want political support for continued improvements to the PT system. This winz on wheels idea needs to consigned to the past.

          2. Disagree regarding winz on wheels, there is no reason people who make infrequent trips a beneficiaries. They are just as likely to be someone who works in an office in East Tamaki and usually drives but has a course in the CBD on a given day and decides to take the train.

            I think these people are more important politically as they are the infrequent users that may think PT is awful and if encouraged to use it occasionally may well see the benefit of spending more money on infrastructure.

          3. The income effect is somewhat tricky to wrap your head around.

            I think it’s perhaps simpler to think about differences in price sensitivity in terms of journeys rather than passengers.

            That is, you can have the same person with quite different price-sensitivities, depending on the journey they are undertaking. Typically, peak journeys are less elastic and off-peak journeys are more elastic even for the same person.

        2. Zippo I’ll present two answers to this, the first “macro-empirical” and the second “micro-behavioural”.

          The “macro-empirical” answer is yes, of course, lower peak fares would attract people who drive. That said, evidence suggests such a move attracts *fewer* people than a similarly sized broad discount, and much fewer than one targeted to off-peak periods. That is, evidence shows the elasticity of peak demand is less than average.

          The alternative micro-behavioural answer is best understood using a simple thought-experiment: Do you think someone who is on the margin between switching from driving to PT is likely to go out and drop a cool ~$100-200 on a monthly PT pass? Maybe, but I suspect not. Instead, I suspect the first thing such a person will do is to give public transport a try for a week, most likely using HOP or cash.

          In such a situation, the single trip fare is what the marginal PT user (who switches from driving) will be paying. Thus, by keeping single trip prices low you are more likely to attract such marginal users. This is particularly important in a system like Auckland, which is growing from a low base.

          Less important somewhere like Vienna, where they already have high PT share overall. That’s why heavily discounted passes are more common in the more patronized systems overseas: Because they’re large and less interested in the marginal car/PT *user* and more interested in marginal trips by existing PT users.

          The latter is a nice example of correlation != causation. Basically, you don’t offer large discounts in order to become a large system, you offer the former once you’ve become the latter. And that, IMO, is best achieved by keeping single trip fares low, especially for journeys undertaken at off-peak, non-city centre locations.

        3. But the main issue with peak travel is supply not demand.

          Perhaps there should be a cap on off peak travel but peak travel is not included in that cap. Or if you make two peak trips in a day, all your off peak trips that day are free.

          Getting people to switch from car to PT in peak times is unrelated to price I suggest. It is more linked to travel time and convenience. So better to spend the money on better and more services.

          However off peak definitely is a price issue as the free Sunday showed. Off peak, Auckland’s motorway works very well as it is massively over engineered – so you need to convince people to leave their car at home.

      1. The counter argument however is that people who have monthly passes (or daily/weekly caps at lower prices) are more likely to then use PT off peak as well for that trip to the shops/to sports/cafe/bar etc etc. you would find if these were in place you would get a whole lot more people going for them. Most successful PT cities have daily/weekly/monthly caps in place that are cheaper than ours (and if they aren’t cheaper it’s because their service is typically far more extensive, frequent, and better than ours).

        1. Exactly right, cheap passes encourage workers and their families to use PT on their days off unlike charging for single trips. These people currently drive.

        2. Yes, I think I agree. A monthly pass would encourage people to start using the pass for all their trips, and would therefore have quite a strong effect on encouraging people to not get a car when they become drivers, or to sell the car when the time seems right, such as when they change house / job / sportsclub etc. And car ownership is a major determinant of vkt.

          It doesn’t need to take a huge part of the funds, just be one more piece of toolkit.

          1. 50% fare reduction for off-peak and weekends can and should be implemented asap.
            Monthly passes don’t help the occasional users, but as you say, are an important part of the kit.

          2. Heidi
            the aspect that people often ignore with a cheap yearly pass is that it incentivises even infrequent travel. That is part of the reason that Vienna with a population of 1.8 million has 800,000 annual card holders and 960 million annual trips. That is a hell of a lot of revenue guaranteed every year.
            Say you decide to buy an annual pass that costs you the equivalent of $15 per week because you live in Albany and you go to the city once a week for a part time job. You only have to use that pass one more time every week for it to pay for itself: to a bar, a movie, sports practice, whatever. By comparison buying a single cheap off peak fare incentivises nothing further. I note that Milan that has a huge commitment to increasing PT with some very ambitious targets have recently moved to substantially increase their single trip fare. Carbon emissions are going to be achieved by people using PT often and frequently and yearly passes, or monthly ones seem to encourage this.

        3. I think that is the strongest argument for monthly passes. I’d prefer caps set at the level where if you do more travel than the typical 10 commuting trips a week then other travel is free.

          1. James
            your idea looks like the Sydney PT pricing model that is estimated to move to a 27% farebox recovery this year. I struggle that this government is going to embrace such a radical change.

        4. I think monthly passes are a relic of a time before integrated ticketing. Its as crazy as a power company giving free off peak power to high on peak users.
          If we want more people to use PT off peak, make it cheap for everyone, not just commuters.

          1. Yet highly successful PT systems around the world use weekly/monthly and even yearly passes. Cheap off peak fares are a nice to have but commuters must take priority as that’s where the traffic/greenhouse gas emissions reductions start. Most commuters are still driving.

        5. Problem for your counter-argument is that there’s empirical evidence showing peak periods are less elastic (see Balcombe et al as a start). Until I see empirical evidence to the contrary I’m going to stick with the “peak is less elastic” position.

        6. In terms of the systems to look to, I’d forget Vienna for reasons noted above. Instead I’d look to systems like Brisbane, where go card users pay:
          — 100% fare for their first 8 journeys per week; and
          — 50% for all journeys thereafter.

          Nice thing about this is the applies automatically and on top of other discounts. So if you travel off-peak (evenings / weekends), then your discount is (1-0.5)*(1-0.80) = 40% of the standard fare.

          And if you have a concession card, which qualifies for a general 50% discount all the time, then you’re looking at (1-0.5)*(1-0.50)*(1-0.80) = 20% of the standard fare for off-peak journeys.

          I’d suggest a weekly discount like this is much more effective (trips per $) than a generous monthly cap.

          1. Or closer to home Christchurch – where once a user has clocked up 10 trips in a week, all further trips are free.

          2. The problem with that model is that it encourages people to take a bunch of short trips to get their count high.

            I seem to remember reading about people in one Australian city who would have a series of one-stop rides during their monday lunchbreak and then pay nothing for the rest of the week.

          3. Christchurch only has one fare zone so that wouldn’t happen there.

            In Auckland you could change it to include a zone system. You would get charged for every trip and then refunded at the end of the day/week.

          4. Christchurch has a two-step system:
            (1) after 2 paid trips in a day, the rest are free for that day
            (2) after 10 paid trips in a week, the rest are free for that week
            So you couldn’t try to do a Melbourne rort because you can only pay for two trips a day max.
            (P.S: not that it’s relevant to this discussion, but Greater Chch has two fare zones, three if you count the ferry, plus another two zones for longer-distance trial services to Leeston and Darfield)

      2. I wonder, though, if there are people (students, low-income workers) who might become frequent users if monthly passes were cheaper, but who are price-sensitive enough to choose other means of transport for some or all of their journeys. Is there similar evidence for cities with cheap monthly (or yearly) passes?

        1. Are you thinking of cycling / catching a lift / trying to do a few trips by jogging each week even if it’s a mammoth effort? And are you thinking that while the monthly pass would be attractive to them, they’d prefer the generally lower prices instead so that they could mix and match to get the lowest overall cost?

          1. Just read this and realised it sounded like I was challenging something when I was actually trying to encourage you to say more… I just wanted clarification! 🙂

    2. I think the core problem is the way we have the monthly passes set up is incompatible with the zone system.

      A bus and train monthly for all zones costs $215.

      But on PAYGo with Hop for a commuter traveling every day (43 trips a month) you get the following:
      1 zone: $84
      2 zones: $148
      3 zones: $211
      4 zones: $271
      5 zones: $327

      So this means that a monthly is a big waste of money for a commuter who usually travels 1 or 2 zones, a reasonable options for a 3 zone commuter (if they are guaranteed to travel every weekday), and a big windfall saving for someone who travels 4 or 5 zones.

      The real question is why are we giving a Pukekohe or Waiuku peak-time CBD office commuter a super discount of $113 a month (when they have the longest, worst timed, most expensive to serve trips)… yet transit dependent people who live and work in closer proximity and might travel by PT at all times of day and across the weekend… they have no monthly pass option at all.

      1. Most zoned cities have zone options on their monthly pass eg 1-2 zones, 1-5 zones etc. If you go outside your pass zone then you pay the additional fare difference that day.

      1. It may be simple but is it fair? Does your supermarket have a monthly cap on your food bill or your petrol station have a monthly cap on your fuel bill? What is wrong with paying for the amount you use?

        1. It’s not about being fair, it’s about providing an attractive alternative to driving. A better comparison would be gym fees, pay a set amount per week or per month and use the service as often as you like. There’s a reason it’s called the peak, that’s when most people need to travel.

      2. What would the monthly cap be Christopher? $215 so it’s irrelevant for most users but a great windfall discount for a few?

        1. Nick is right here: pricing is difficult in zone-based systems.

          Some cities like Brisbane workaround this with a weekly based journey cap (discount). So everyone pays full-price for first eight journeys per week and 50% thereafter. Nice thing about this is percentage discount is same across zones.

  2. ATs lowered measly (and weasle-y) SOI targets of around 3% growth (3 million more trips per annum). Are ridiculously low.

    That growth will be mostly made up from the increased Rail journeys given the additional EMUs arriving soon. Which will allow for 6 car EMUs for all services at peak.

    At 10% growth of a 20 million rail numbers, thats 2 million of the required SOI annual growth target right there]. So 3 million increase in SOIs is a pretty low target.

    The only good thing I can see with Wellington bus network changes and resulting problems (and also the Fullers Ferry Fiasco), is the problems there have shown up what a farce the implementation of PTOM actually is. So its being re-looked at.
    But for the meantime that die is cast and the bus services are in a race to the bottom still. The only real “winner” will be the increased car traffic from everyone ditching buses and PT in favour of driving for all or part of the journey – because at least they know they’ll have more certainty than relying on PT alone.

    I have no idea why the Wellington Airport buses are excluded from the actual numbers or the real time timetable boards at the stops (and presumably on line too). As an occasional Wellington Airport bus user I don’t care. It just makes a total mockery of proclaiming you have an integrated system.

    However a small upside, since they stopped accepting Snapper on the airport buses you can now pay using EFTPOS which is a big step up from previously. Where it used to be The Snapper or The cash. So some progress.

    1. I understand Wellington’s new bus network does have some decent elements to it (more evening and weekend services, for example).

      1. Yes it does. Our local bus went from a few peak services (starting at 7.15am) and hourly for the rest of rest day with a last bus at 7pm; to a 630am start, more peak services, half hourly all day and with busses through until after 11pm. They also added weekend services with half hourly on a Saturday from 7am and busses though until midnight and hourly on Sundays. I find the difference between the Saturday and Sunday timetable annoying as for many people these days are similar in terms of the types of activities you want to do, so to have only half the service on the Sunday is fairly rubbish. It’s a risk taking small children out on the bus if you know you might have to wait a long time to make the return journey. But overall this particular route in Wellington is much better and more usable for non-commuting trips and our family has personally started using it a lot more.

        1. The off peak Snapper fares are good too, pity you need to buy a ten trip to access them on the train however. It distorts the market when a bus is significantly cheaper than a parallel train that doesn’t take snapper.

          1. Agree. I occasionally go to J’ville & have basically given up on the train. Bus is either cheaper (off-peak Snapper vs cash) or effectively free when I have a 30 day pass. Don’t do the trip often enough to be bothered with a rail 10-trip.

            For some strange reason, J’ville Line patronage is declining …

            Pity they couldn’t just give the TMs a hand held Snapper reader as an interim measure (even if only on J’ville Line).

        2. Enjoying having service in the evening & weekends my “top of the hill route”. Previously last service was ~7pm weekdays & no weekend service at all. Good for heavy shopping & when its raining (when the haul up the hill from the other route is less appealing). Its changed my shopping behaviour as its easier to do fewer but larger supermarket trips (often on the way back from something else). Also been buying more at the weekend fruit & veg market & taking it back on the bus.

          Free transfers & the new network have also improved my weekday commute too. Takes less time on average compared to the previous direct but infrequent service and improved frequency means I don’t have to aim for a particular service.

    2. PTOM: poor driver pay & conditions (“race for the bottom”) is not a function of the new network as new bus contracts would’ve been under PTOM even if there were no networks changes. E.g. Hutt, Wairarapa, Kapiti, & Porirua routes where there were little or no changes to route structure etc but the operators changed (except Wairarapa routes & Otaki 290).

      Airport Flyer: NZ Bus is being flogged off by Infratil & they didn’t want to spend the money on new Snapper fare computers, readers, etc. Real time system takes route info etc from the Snapper fare computer …
      Patronage is commercially sensitive (if it was counted then it would be obvious how poorly used it is as GW publish patronage data at the route level).

    3. “That growth will be mostly made up from the increased Rail journeys given the additional EMUs arriving soon. Which will allow for 6 car EMUs for all services at peak.”

      But apparently not until December

  3. “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.”

    More, Matt.

    Council needs to get a grip on the climate emergency and what this means. With transport emissions needing to drop by 43% by 2030, and then keep on dropping, and Auckland needing to take a big share of that drop, we essentially have to get our vkt down to under half what it is now, in just ten years. Transferring that vkt into public transport trips – which is a very rough calculation – means we need to be at 600 million trips by 2030. Interestingly, this would put us at a per capita ridership rate similar to the 1950’s, so I imagine it’s in the right ballpark.

    To get to 600 million trips by 2030 requires a 20% increase in ridership each year. That’s doable, it just takes focus in every area, including stopping the road capacity expansion, rolling out the bus and cycle lanes, creating the low-traffic neighbourhoods.

    Council, will you put that into your next Letter of Expectation, and flag now that it’s going to be expected, monitored and there will be penalties to AT for not achieving it?

    And Council, you’re currently not helping. Each time you add carparking to your facilities you are inducing traffic. This is basic stuff, requiring basic leadership. Climate Emergency? Take it seriously, please.

    1. Heidi is onto something important: The climate emergency has enormous implications for the transport sector that I’m not convinced are widely appreciated at the moment.

      As Heidi notes, within the next decade, we need to reduce transport emissions by approximately 40% in total. And as Auckland is still growing, that means per capita emissions need to drop by even more.

      The only way I can see us achieving a drop in emissions of that magnitude is by a combination of (1) regulations that require improved vehicle efficiency and (2) prices that are designed to reduce VKT.

      And if we are looking to adopt (2) before 2030, then we better be ready with some non-car alternatives, such as rapid transit.

      Basically, when you work back from the climate emergency and the associated 2030 reduction target, then you arrive at a point for PT in Auckland that is very different from what is currently being planned.

      1. And don’t forget that for the country to meet its targets, Stu, the cities, and especially Auckland, are going to have to drop their emissions much more than in regional New Zealand, where the challenges are harder.

        1. Instead of incentivizing private cars to go electric we should switch all our buses to electric and also all taxis and ubers etc then start on company vehicles. Also there could be a tax incentive say something like 10 percent for plug in hybrids and 20 percent on full battery electrics
          So All taxis and company cars to be plug in or full electric by 2023. Maybe small business like one arm paperhangers could be exempt but they would still be eligible for rebates. And by 2025 no more petrol or diesel cars in the CDB. That sort of thing. Companies and council have the means to pay while incentives for for private individuals favors the rich. And after a couple of years use the electric vehicles will be spun off to the general public leading to a quicker overall uptake of our fleet.

          1. Royce, you are probably aware of the Productivity Commissions feebate system which I have described in an article as a rort. In France it has only achieved a 3% decrease per annum in the emissions from new vehicles. Of course all remaining vehicles in the fleet remain unaffected.

            I come from the same position as Heidi that PT journeys need to increase by a huge order.
            So my option is to have a PT feebate, to increase the gst tax on all fossil fueled vehicles by 5% over each of the next three years and use this money to pay for the implementation of a cheap annual PT pass.
            I believe that we can build ridership very quickly in this fashion.

            That leaves the situation of increasing opex to cater for huge ridership growth. The money is there in present transport budgets – $28 billion in 10 years. The mindset just has to change and it is a very simple logical progression: we are going to have 43% less vehicles on our roads; so therefore we are most likely to need less roads; therefore we should plan to build less (no?) roads; with less traffic on roads we can spend less maintaining them; and because we are spending less on road opex and capex then we have more to spend on PT opex and capex.

            I am not sure about your theory of spinning used evs to the less well off. I note that a used Kona is almost as expensive as a new one. For the foreseeable future evs are an option for only the wealthy.

          2. John I agree with you and Heidi we need an urgent switch to public transport its got so much going for it imagine how cheap it would be without having to cater for all those cars we would have heaps of space to run buses and cycles and scooters all over the place and as Nick.R has suggested the subsidies needed for a six fold increase in Public transport would be small or maybe even Public Transport would run at a profit. And think of all the carbon which won’t get emitted. But there is a “but” and I don’t think you will get away with it. Which was why I was trying to come up with a compromise which doesn’t involve taxing and restricting car access. I was suggesting a trade off between offering a feebate scheme for business and transport operators in return for their purchasing electric and plug in hybrid vehicles. I was not suggesting an across the board feebate scheme as that will only advantage the wealthy at the expense of the poor. But carry on with your taxing and parking restriction if you feel there is no other alternative. I will continue trying to come up with alternative suggestions on how emissions can be cut.

        2. It’s not just transport of course.

          It may well be very cost effective for the Government to wholly subsidise solar panel installations on houses where the household income is less than $75,000

          1. Very good idea it advantages the poor. Another idea would be too have solar panels on all of our schools rooves.

    2. And yet our vehicle emissions have climbed 20% since 2007, 800 extra vehicles on the road in Auckland per week and for reasons best known to the Transport Minister (or probably not knowing him), a funding source to greatly help alternatives to cars aka the regional fuel tax was given to AT with what appears to be no direction in how it’s to be spent, the result of which is a messy scatter gun approach.

      And despite declaring a climate emergency, the same old budget model alternatives to cars model rules supreme!

    3. Yes, it’s doable, but only with massive capital investment, way beyond what’s currently foreshadowed, and also require ongoing huge increases in ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies. Six times the patronage – we could expect close to six times the annual subsidy. And as for the capital required – I think we’d need to find a new pension fund to invest in Auckland every year, cos Auckland’s debt levels are not going to mean that the Council can fund the expansion itself, for sure.

      Even then it ain’t gonna happen without a majority of the Councillors being prepared to back massive rates rises. Sadly, in an election year I just can’t see that happening.

      I’d suggest that the present growth rate (around 7%, which means doubling in around ten years to 200m pax/year by 2029) is probably at the limit of practical sustainable growth. Especially if fares are held or lowered, as the subsidy required will be seriously impacted by that as well. I wish it were not so, but the political realities are not going to allow for a multiple-times increase in AT’s budget, given they already spend half of the current rates-take.

      1. At some point it’s going to be easier to make it clear even on the balance sheets that it must be done. The costs of not cutting the carbon emissions, and of not establishing a low carbon lifestyle will be higher.

        1. Yes, but I fear that by the time that happens it may be too late to prevent runaway climate change and we’ll be f****d. Sorry to be such a pessimist but the challenge we face is way beyond anything we’ve faced before, and with Trump calling the shots there’s no one providing the kind of global leadership required.

          Of course we shouldn’t let this stop us from making the necessary transformation ourselves, but on fossil fuel powered vehicles there’s no influential person providing serious leadership here either.

          Ironically at a time when we need more cash for public transport the sources of funding are diminishing and will (should) continue to do so as fossil fuel use declines. We need some leadership on how new taxes can be raised to replace fuel tax. I can just see politicians lining up to front that. Sadly, a large portion of the public will also baulk at supporting the changes required, being more focused on self-interest than planetary survival. We have huge challenges ahead – the real hope I think lies with movements like Extinction Rebellion.

          1. David
            I am much more optimistic than you because much of the ridership increase can be achieved using buses initially much like Singapore. Those appear on Ritchies balance sheet.

            I am no expert on networks, but I suspect by 2030 we need at least 3 tram lines operational and that should be well within the ambit of present budgets as long as they are re-directed.

            The World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva said 2019 was now firmly on course to be among the world’s hottest ever years and that 2015-2019 would then become the hottest five-year period on record.Sadly it seems that only issues such as major climate events are putting pressure on world leaders. The last heatwave in France killed 14,000 people. A repeat of this would cause real pressure for world leaders.

            I wonder how a conversation between the French Prime Minister and our would play out?
            France – you need to do more for climate change
            NZ – this is our generations nuclear free moment
            France – ok, so you want someone to invite you to speak at the Oxford Union debate?

          2. What we need to stress is that the future will be rosiest the more we do right now. The different scenarios that can play out from here are radically different, and the ones that are the best for the climate and future generations are also the ones that are best for our lifestyles right now.

            We’d be much better off today if our campaigning had been heard 20 and 30 years ago. But we’d still be better off next year if it’s heard today.

      2. Six times the patronage would not require anything like six times the subsidy. What costs is service delivery, not usage. Usage is revenue, not cost. Or in other words you don’t have to subsidise huge patronage increases, you have to subsidise huge service increases if they come with a lack of patronage.

        If you take a main bus route like the No 18 for example, it will have little or no subsidy, it could actually turn an operating profit. With a sixfold increase in patronage you’d have many more like that. We have enough capacity on our system for six times the usage easily, for every one service that is full at peak times there are another nine across the day that are far from it. Plenty of opportunity to put bums on seats.

        The real question is what it would take to get the demand shift for a sixfold increase, the answer is probably pricing or other controls on driving or parking.

  4. Matt,
    Does your Wellington comparison take into account the ~2.5% of boardings that were bus-bus transfers under the old network?

    Also, the adjusted figures exclude the other commercial express routes that are not part of the integrated network (80 Wainuiomata , 90 Stokes Valley , 92 & 93 Upper Hutt).

  5. All this talk about Monthly or Weekly passes is well and good for you local Aucklanders, but what AT really needs to offer is a simple pass for tourists – think something like London Underground’s One Day Travelcard, which used to sell by the millions. Walk up to a machine, press the one day card button, and away you go. Simple and easy to get on board with public transport.

    Yes, of course tourists could get a Hop card and use that, but if you take the point of view of an out-of-towner or a tourist going to Auckland, you’re totally out of luck. Hop cards are not sold anywhere in the Domestic terminal, and are available at only one outlet in the international terminal, although I’ve never been able to find it. It’s ludicrous – they should be able to be dispensed by every ticket machine you come up to – like the Munkey / Mikey in Melbourne.

    But Hop requires you to buy the card, and then pay for money to be loaded onto it – and then as a tourist you are never sure how much to put on it. Is $10 going to be enough for a day? Or $20? If you’re unsure what PT is going to cost you, the tourist will tend to stay with cash to make it easier to understand. But Cash is going out of fashion and is already totally out of fashion on buses and trains – there needs to be a better way.

    If Auckland wants to be a desirable, destination, world city, they need to get with the program for all their potential tourists.

    1. If the ticketing system accepts standard contactless Visa/Mastercard cards, as happens in London and Vancouver (at least) and is being introduced in New York, there are no worries about getting a card or how much to put on it.

      Add a daily cap, and practically everyone, whether tourist or local, already has a daily pass in their wallet/purse – simple!

  6. If we review patronage on a yearly basis, why do we not review services yearly? The 295 bus I take has always been 15 minutes peak time frequency, it should be 5 minutes – have you seen how full the buses are! AT is incompetent.

  7. Anyone note that Upper Queen St cycle counter was up 52%, the highest of the lot in that graph apart from Lagoon Dr at 126%. I’m guessing this is a result of the AMETI works plus encouragement to use alternative commute modes or perhaps the count is wrong, but it’s off a very low base. These, or some of these counters also record scooters don’t they, which would also help explain Upper Queen St.

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