Auckland Transport have published their high-level public transport and cycleway ridership and bike numbers for August and they continue to be positive – the more detailed PT ones won’t be seen till the next board meeting at the end of October.
First, there are a couple of points to note about August this year and both work against the outcome.
- There were 22 working days, one less than August last year. That typically has the effect of lowering numbers by about 4%
- It was very wet with NIWA reporting 168mm of rain, 49% more than a normal August and 39% higher than the 121mm in August last year – although Metservice say there was 190mm of rain this August. Rain obviously has an impact on bike numbers but can also impact PT numbers.
Despite the factors noted above, overall public transport boardings increased by 4.1% compared to August 2018 to 9.5 million. This meant August was the 4th busiest month we’ve seen, slotting in behind March-19 (10.19m), May-19 (9.94m) and March-18 (9.56m).
Once again it is the busway leading the way although as I’ve pointed out before, this is in part due to AT changing what they count for the busway. Other buses are also continuing to see an increase with numbers up 3% while rail squeaked over the line with a 0.1% increase on last year. Ferry numbers tend to be much more volatile than others and that was shown again in August with numbers down 6.7%. This may also be related to operational issues with Fullers which saw services cancelled and delayed.
For the 12-month result, this sees total boardings reach 101.8 million, an increase of 8.5% on the year to August-18. Within that total, buses are racing along at 10.1% growth to surpass 74 million trips. Trains saw growth of 5.3% and ferries 2.4%.
While it doesn’t all fall within August, having only started on 7-September, one thing that will help increase numbers was the launch of free fares for children on weekends (if they have HOP). Yesterday the Council and AT both put out press releases celebrating the early success of the initiative. Here’s ATs one
The number of young Aucklanders using public transport at the weekend has increased by more than 120 per cent since Free Child Weekends fares for under-16s were introduced at the beginning of September.
Auckland Council proposed free weekend fares for children as part of Auckland Council’s 2019/20 Annual Budget, which came into effect on 7 September.
In the three weekends since Auckland Transport started offering free weekend fares, 22,945 children travelled, up from 10,377 in the same period last year.
In total, 65,457 trips were made over the three weekends, an increase of 37 per cent.
Mayor Phil Goff says the increase in children and adults using public transport reflects Aucklanders’ willingness to embrace car-free travel. “Free public transport for under-16s aims to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and use our public transport network, as well as to encourage the next generation of public transport users.”
Colin Homan, Group Manager for Integrated Network Enablement says that Auckland Transport is encouraged by the results and will continue to work to promote the initiative. “In the next year, we estimate that an additional 990,000 trips will be added to our yearly patronage because of Free Child Weekend fares. We’re excited for young Aucklanders to explore their city using buses, trains and ferries.”
Over the last three weekends, AT’s Transport Officers and station teams have also handed out 400 free AT HOP cards to families travelling on paper tickets, to further encourage the Free Child Weekend fares.
This is in addition to the Te Ara Haepapa schools programme, where to date, four Hui’s at schools have been held and approximately 184 of the new Maori designed AT HOP cards have been given out, with 74 (40%) being used for travel already.
- 22,945 registered child passengers (aged 5-15) who travelled, up from 10,377 in the same period last year (over a 120% increase);
- 65,457 trips have been made (47,745 in the same period last year) – an increase of 37%.
The increased trips presumably mean there were also more adults travelling and I wonder how much of the extra fares collected from them has helped to off-set the cost of the free fares for children.
With the much higher than normal rainfall, cycling numbers took a bit of a fall with AT saying their selected sites saw a decrease in numbers of 11.2%. However, within that there were a few sites that are still seeing good growth with positive numbers on Lightpath, Nelson St and the NW cycleway at Kingsland.
The numbers for Wellington are also out and showing growth. Despite the complaints about buses in the city, the number of boardings on them increased by 4.1% in August. Even accounting for transfers, the number of journeys has increased. Things weren’t quite so rosy for the rail network with boardings down very slightly (-0.8%) on last year.
The overall growth continues to push Wellington close to the milestone of 40 million trips. The graph below is from Metlink and shows the 12-month rolling totals for each mode.