It’s been a while since we last talked about what’s happening with public transport ridership and cycleway use so this post will cover the high-level results for both September and October. For PT we won’t see the more detailed breakdown of the numbers until the next AT board meeting in December.
- September had one extra working day compared to 2018.
- September was also considerably wetter than last year with 123mm of rain, 19% more than a normal September and considerably more than the 45mm the year before.
The extra working helped to push up the numbers for the month a bit with a total of just under 8.7 million boardings, an increase of 7.1%. On a 12-month rolling basis this was enough to push us over 102 million having only reached 100 million in May.
As we’ve seen for most of the year the biggest increases are coming through from the bus network but the biggest concern here is even with the extra working day, ferry usage still declined.
- October had the same number of working days compared to 2018.
- October was slightly drier than normal with 72mm of rain, 82% of normal, which was almost identical to 74mm the year before.
The last major change to the bus network rolled out to the North Shore on 30 September 2018 and so this October is the first month in the last three years where the numbers haven’t impacted by network changes and changes in counting methodology – this had resulted in some very high growth numbers, particularly with the Northern Busway where there were a number of months that saw growth of over 40%. As such the growth percentages have come down quite a bit form what they were with October seeing just a 3.9% rise in boardings compared to last October for a total of 8.94 million trips.
Like with September and even August before it, the ferries again saw a decline in usage. This is a worrying trend and I’m not sure what is causing it, for example Is it related to the downtown works making it harder to access the ferries?
Over the last six years we’ve a period of unprecedented growth thanks to changes such as Integrated ticketing and later integrated fares, rail electrification and as mentioned earlier, the new bus networks. That has seen annual ridership climb from 68.5 million trips in 2013 to 102.7 million trips as of this month. But with no major changes on immediate horizon that might help to drive up ridership, we are likely entering a period of much lower PT growth and so AT are going to need to work much harder on improving the customer experience if they want to keep increasing usage. The next major change/improvement isn’t until 2021 when the Puhinui interchange and early airport improvements as well as the Eastern Busway from Pamnure to Pakuranga are completed.
While the numbers are slowing down there is one small bit of bright news to highlight. The impressive growth that we’ve seen has been occurring faster than population growth but in some ways I had been a bit surprised that our ‘per capita’ growth had not risen faster. The ‘per capita’ metric is quite useful for gauging how much more useful PT is becoming and within Auckland but also as a comparison to other cities.
However, recently Stats NZ updated their population estimates (although still based on the data from the 2013 census) and that resulted in a significant change in Auckland’s estimated population with the total population for 2018 changing from 1.696 million to 1.618 million – a 77.5k decrease. What that means is our per capita metric was quite far off and so instead of being about 62 trips per capita, we’re actually up around 67 putting us much closer to the likes of Brisbane, Perth and Wellington. You can see the difference it makes in the graph below where you can also see we’re closing in even faster on this measure.
While Auckland’s growth is starting to slow down, Wellington has been seeing some good numbers come through. We’ve only got data till the end of September so far but that showed ridership up 8.2%. Importantly Wellington also passed a milestone in September with annual ridership passing 40 million trips for the first time.
September was relatively similar to the year before with overall just a 1% increase in usage, although with some quite different outcomes for specific sites.
Despite conditions being similar to last year, overall cycling numbers for October were down 4.1%. Even sites that have been reliably strong performers, such as the NW cycleway at Kingsland, seem to have struggled for growth in October. The most notable difference is a big reduction in the numbers recorded along Tamaki Dr. Like the ferries, I wonder if that’s being impacted by the works on Quay St?