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.

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  1. The rail network numbers are good, but my feeling is it’s reliability has been utterly lacking this winter. Constant issue have afficted the network. While it remains as unreliable as it is, people will only ever use it as a last rather than first resort.

    1. I use it every day for my commute. It’s pretty good generally, and much, much better (faster/cheaper/easier) than taking the car.

      1. Really? Track work made the Southern line a joke for weeks, and just on Friday the Western line spent the whole day being severely disrupted.

        1. Yes, it had a disastrous couple of months with constant overhead issues and track problems but it seems to have settled back to a reasonable state of reliability. They need to improve the protocols so that track and overhead work doesn’t inadvertently damage the infrastructure and cause major issues the next day or sometimes for weeks.

        2. Yes really. If the train is 2-3 minutes late who gives? It’s a hell of a lot more reliable than a journey by car ever is.

        3. And just this morning a fire on the Harbour Bridge meant thousands of people were severely disrupted. Even more than is normal for a car trip. My commute has been immeasurably improved since I started taking the train.

        4. This morning seems to have been particularly bad, it was very noticeable on the Shore even if you were not near SH1. And I think taking the bus across the bridge wouldn’t have been too flash either.

          But it is my impression that these incidents on the Harbour Bridge are way more rare than major disruptions on the rail line. The latter seem to happen every few weeks.

        5. It’s been fine for me. Text messages get sent out advising of any significant faults or delays, so it’s easy to make alternate arrangements in those cases.

          For the most part it works perfectly for me.

    2. I agree there have been a lot of issues recently but I’m not sure it means it is a last resort for most people.

      The majority of issues have resulted in a 10 min delay at most as one service is cancelled so you have to wait for the next one. A few have been worse where there are either mutliple cancellations or a 3-car train turns up instead of a six thus leaving some people behind.

  2. “ATs numbers show both fewer people parking both on street and off street in the city”
    A logical economic response to this would be, if it’s not needed, sell it. Most of the AT parking buildings have poor economic returns so AT should start by selecting the poorest for sale and redevelopment as commercial, or residential. This will serve many purposes: to potentially improve the returns on the remaining assets; to encourage greater PT use; and to allow further intensification of the city.

    Maybe this is just part of the puzzle to AT setting realistic targets for PT growth appropriate to a city that has a climate emergency?

    1. +1.

      Work with Panuku to edevelop some of those parking sites, I’d say. Try and find a balance between civic and commercial outcomes, if only in terms of urban design and architecture if not activities.

      1. Yes, and I think it’s critical to put our housing goals right at the forefront of this rethinking about land wasted on carparking. Sprawl due to carpark space pushing amenities apart is a contributing factor to the too-long commutes.

    2. John, that would meet the following objectives:

      1. Prioritise the safe and efficient movement of people, services and goods on the road network. [Remembering that parking provision impacts traffic volumes more than traffic volumes can be used to estimate demand for parking]
      2. Facilitate a transformational shift to public transport.
      4. Support the economic development of the Auckland City Centre, metropolitan and town centres.
      5. Support place-making, amenity and good urban design outcomes.
      6. Ensure a fiscally responsible approach to providing, managing and pricing parking facilities and that benefits cover costs.

      You could almost say it would be in line with AT’s Parking Strategy.

      1. Sounds like it’s time to pull down the AT’s downtown parking building. The downtown area has the best public transport access now & going into the future with the Northern Busway, Britomart train access, almost all Auckland’s ferries, most other buses, particularly Eastern ones. Western not so hot at the moment but post CRL will be once again. If they ever actually build LRT, this will be another mode to downtown.

        1. It shouldn’t happen until we have a complete network, when all Aucklanders live within walking distance to frequent public transport. This council has chosen to inflict car dependency on so much of Auckland and car-parking buildings are one of several cash generators that go with that policy.

        2. Thing is Dave they don’t generate much cash relative to their value. In fact if cash was your goal you’d sell up.

        3. Forgot also the Quay St cycleway & connected lines “fairly” soon to be done.

          @David B, I was going to mention for those that will complain if they don’t live within walking distance to frequent public transport that they have the option to drive to nearby line, park for free normally & catch it from there. An option the out of towners & those far away don’t often consider is an option. There is plenty of other parking options right in the city if you really need it.

        4. Additionally if they charged a small parking fee for the P&R’s you would be likely to find a park right on a good train or busway line & pay less than the downtown parking rate most likely.

          So much of what AT do works against their own policy objectives as others have often said.

        5. Zippo, where can any politician rationally argue that rather than the city have spare parking, it needs to have loads of spare parking?
          Of course they can and do. That’s why a new parking building is being constructed in Takapuna.

          I believe that what Auckland needs to embark on is a European style SUMP consultation (sustainable urban mobility plan). Let’s decide what we want to achieve along with all the options of how to get there. Lets include in that: less parking, congestion charges, cheaper more frequent public transport, place making, street closures, etc and see what the majority want.

          This current climate consultation seems deficient where (p54) detailed targets will be informed by the consultation feedback. Are these the same sort of targets that have proved ineffective since 2014?

        6. Stu, yes the parking buildings have a very poor rate of return. When I looked last year most of them didn’t even return the long term cost of capital.

          Sell one of them to lift the rate of return on the others.

          Yes Heidi, all those points that you mention are important.

          I will add another. In 2017 Goff signed the fossil fuel declaration on fossil fuel free streets, which will “ensure a major area of our city is zero carbon by 2030.” (Now there’s a question for an OIA -which area?”) It has to be somewhere in the city so another reason to speed the process – sell a parking building.

        7. Good call. Demolish it and build a central bus station. Would be handy and big enough for all routes; next to Britomart and the Ferry Basin. What’s not to like?

  3. Non-exempt ferry growth is excellent, with exempt services pulling down the average.

    Pax were left behind at beach haven this morning due to lack of capacity. Time for further investment in non-exempt services!

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