I’ve been bit caught up in other posts so have finally managed to get around to the PT and cycling stats from December.
Every year December and January duke it out for the wooden spoon of ridership as the summer holidays see the number of boardings drop dramatically. Typically December wins this matchup, having done so for 14 of the last 17 years I’ve got data for. However, this year there’s a good chance January will come out on top, and for the second year in a row, as industrial action saw many NZ Bus services cancelled. Despite this, thanks to the improved network, overall usage this December was still an increase on December 2018, albeit only slightly.
ATs numbers show that overall there were 6.69 million boardings in December, up 0.3% on December-18. But it is the distribution of those boardings is different to normal and interesting. As you can see below, our ‘Other buses’ category, which is all bus trips not on the busway, recorded a 5% drop. It appears not all of that was lost though and that at least some people changed to use other bus services, the train or the ferry. In terms of the rail, December was the highest percentage growth in a month since August-2017.
Here’s another way of looking at the overall figures before and it also shows just how much things have changed over the last 15 years. One of the things it highlights to me is that it wasn’t that long ago that we were getting similar figures in March.
NX2 to Hibiscus Coast
A couple of weeks ago we covered in our weekly roundup an AT press release stating
“We’re adding an additional 20 NX2 peak services, these will be express services from Hibiscus Coast station to the city, they’ll start later this month. This will improve travel time for Hibiscus Coast customers by taking away the need to transfer at Albany.
AT got in touch to clarify their statement. They say these Hibiscus Coast NX2 services are just extensions of runs by existing buses so are not ‘additional’ like their press release indicated. Also as there appears to have been some confusion about whether these NX2s will stop at Albany or bypass it. The answer is they will stop at Albany and all other busway stations too.
This service extension starts from Sunday.
Electric CityLink Bus
On thing that will help with not only ridership but also emissions from later this year will see the CityLink buses converted to electric.
As part of Auckland’s Low Emission Bus Roadmap, Auckland Transport and its operator NZ Bus have agreed the CityLink bus services will only use electric buses from the end of the year.
Mayor Phil Goff says the 12 new electric buses will help reduce carbon emissions and help Auckland towards meeting meet its climate change goals.
“Electrifying Auckland’s CityLink buses will help improve air quality by reducing pollution from black carbon and nitrogen oxide emitted by the current diesel vehicles,” he says.
“Black carbon is associated with health problems and has been found in Queen Street at levels higher than in some major European and US cities, so it’s a priority for us to address this issue.
“The introduction of these new fully electric buses is also a step toward electrifying the rest of Auckland’s bus fleet, which when completed will stop around 93,000 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year.
This is a good start but we’re obviously going to need to do a lot more for the other approximately 1350 buses in the Auckland fleet.
One of the things about these new buses, and something that will definitely help with the ridership and usability goals are the features of the new buses
“The new buses will be air conditioned and feature 2 plus 1 seat configuration in the front section of the bus and wide rear doors to improve customer experience with faster boarding and alighting, allowing more passengers and faster trips on typically short journeys.”
Like the start of 2020, December was generally fairly warm and dry. That likely combined with the industrial action saw more people getting their bikes out. AT say there was a an overall 4.5% increase in usage in December compared to the year before. The NW cycleway at Kingsland has become old faithful when it comes to ongoing growth.
Wellington Public Transport
Wellington too saw growth in PT use in December with NZ with buses up 5% and trains up 3%