As we enter into March Madness, the time of the year where transport use is the highest levels of public transport usage, it’s time to look back at how PT and cycling performed in January.
January is always a tricky month for public transport usage with factors such as summer/school holidays and rail network shutdowns see fewer people catching buses and trains – although it is usually one of the busiest months of the year for ferry trips. By comparison March is usually the busiest month hence the term March Madness.
Despite all of this, AT’s latest public transport numbers show strong growth in January, even passing a few milestones during the month:
- This January saw more than 7 million trips within the month for the first time. To put what that means in perspective, that’s the kind of level of usage we were seeing during ‘March Madness’ just 6 years ago. So, we’re now doing in our quiet months what we did in our busiest month just a few years earlier.
- In as similar vein, with just under 1.5 million trips on trains in January, it tipped us past 22 million trips annually on the rail network. On the busway we also passed 8 million annual trips meaning combined, our rapid transit network is now carrying more than 30 million trips a year (about 29% of all trips, up from about 19% six years ago).
Overall there was a 4.3% growth in PT usage compared to January 2019 which is not the strongest we’ve ever had but within that we saw some good mode specific results as you can see in the graph below.
You can see the impact of that rise in the use of rapid transit in the graph below.
One question we’ll be looking to see is just how mad March will be this year. Last year saw us crack 10 million trips for the first time so me know but what do you think it will be this year. The graph below shows our monthly results with March highlighted in yellow. My guess is we could hit 10.5 million trips this March but a lot of that could be impacted if the industrial action from this morning escalates.
Despite the near perfect cycling weather in January, cycling numbers were a little disappointing with counters recording a slight decrease of 0.6% in usage compared to January 2019. The most likely explanation for this is all the disruption going on around the city at the moment. As you can see on the graph below, it’s had a big impact on Quay St while other counters like the Karangahape Rd one are also down.
As you can also see the site with the most growth is the NW Cycleway at Kingsland recording a massive 37% increase in use during the month. The month also saw the highest single day on the cycleway with just under 2,000 trips in a day. We weren’t getting those kind of numbers till late Feb/Mar last year and I wonder if we’ve cracked a 2k day yet.
The growth on the northwestern really makes it even more imperative that Auckland Transport move forward quickly with their plans to widen that section, separating bikes from pedestrians.
Wellington too is continuing to see some strong public transport growth with a 7% increase on January last year and growth for the last 12-months now up to 6.2%. Of note Wellington saw a 10% increase in rail usage in Jan. Bus usage is also continuing to climb and annually is now about 1 million trips higher than it was before Wellingtons new network kicked in – with the new numbers not including the airport bus which the old numbers have.