For Auckland Transport, July marks the start of a new financial year with new targets to achieve. For public transport they’re off to a good start thanks continued strong growth we seen. The month also marks a year since the new network rolled out in Central Auckland (July 8).
Overall boardings for July increased by 8.6% compared to July last year however, despite having one extra business/school day compared to July-18 it also had fewer special events and as such, when AT normalise for that numbers actually increased by 8.7%. The busway continues to be the strongest source of growth but that remains in part due to them changing how they count busway results. As we’ve said before, it means it now carries more people than any of our rail lines and is a powerful advertisement for the power of good bus infrastructure and high frequencies. In saying that, other buses are seeing good growth too and that comes through particularly with the frequent buses.
A new financial year also tends to bring with it tweaks to how AT report on numbers and this year is no different. Interestingly, AT are now splitting out exempt and special events numbers from the regular PT numbers (exempt ferries were previously reported). This change is really useful as it helps show the underlying PT growth better and for this month at least, sees the numbers improve. I hope they keep this up.
Of course as I’ve discussed before, the targets set for AT this year are very low with AT only needing to achieve 103.6 million trips overall. At the rate usage is currently growing, we could hit that level by November.
Along with looking at the totals, I always find the business day averages interesting and that is definitely the case with buses, having increased from around 200,000 trips a day just a few years ago to 250,000 trips a day now.
One thing that should have a positive impact on the ridership figures in the future starts this Saturday with free child fares on weekends if you use HOP.
From Saturday 7 September, children aged 5 to 15, using a registered AT HOP card, will be able to travel free on Auckland Transport’s bus, train and select ferry services.
This new scheme comes as part of the $1.1 million contribution from Auckland Council towards public transport initiatives announced earlier in the year.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the free travel will encourage the next generation of public transport users.
“We’re spending more than ever before on building our public transport network across the region. Aucklanders are embracing transport choice, with more than 100 million journeys taken on public transport in the past year,” he says.
“Making public transport free for under 16s on weekends and public holidays will encourage more people to leave their cars at home and use existing capacity. Every person on public transport is one less car on the roads, helping to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion.”
Colin Homan, AT Group Manager of Integrated Networks says public transport will now be accessible for all young Aucklanders. “We’re really excited about this, families will be able to enjoy some time together and explore the region without worrying about the traffic.”
In addition to ridership, there are a few other interesting graphs from ATs reports.
AT are now reporting on the number of electric and low emission buses in the the fleet. To put these numbers into perspective, as of 2018 there were 1,350 in the Auckland fleet.
I wonder how much growth is coming from people avoiding parking costs. ATs numbers show both fewer people parking both on street and off street in the city
AT report on fuel sales quarterly and they continue to show a decline for both petrol and diesel and appears to coincide with the introduction of the regional fuel tax. This is interesting and given fuel prices remain similar to what they were before the tax, and that prices in Auckland are often still cheaper than other parts of the country suggests that perhaps it’s had a greater impact on behaviour it has on the wallet.
The numbers are also looking good for our friends at the southern end of the island some strong numbers coming through for July. Like Auckland, Wellingtons buses led the increase with a 16% increase in usage compared to July last year – which was when their new bus network was introduced. Although it is noted that this is likely overstated as not all data was captured in July-18 due to operational and system issues associated with the changes. All up it means that the way things are going, within a month or two Wellington will reach the milestone of 40 million trips within a 12-month period – maybe it happened in August.