It’s been a while since we’ve seen how public transport and bike numbers have been tracking but yesterday Auckland Transport finally updated them. I’ve been waiting for these as we’re now over a year since the pandemic struck and lockdown resulted in dramatic changes to how we work and travel.
The lockdown at the beginning of March certainly took a toll on PT use and curtailed ‘March Madness’ right when it usually peaks in early March but after we moved back to level 1, average weekday usage rose to about 285,000 boardings per day, the third highest week since the pandemic started. Since that, peak usage has come down a bit as it always does around Easter and more recently the school holidays. Note, the big dip in 2019 was due to Easter and Anzac Day falling in the same week.
We also know that it wasn’t just COVID that had a major impact on PT use. In August last year, during the second lockdown, the rail network was severely impacted after cracks were found in the tracks and Kiwirail shut various parts of the network for a month or more at a time to repair and replace the them. So while mode use compared to the year before was fairly similar for all modes following the first lowdown, following the second they were quite different with the rail network comparably much lower compared to buses and ferries. There’s still a difference between them but as you can see below, train use is starting to recover to the same level of buses.
It’s been even longer since we last saw cycleway data, but the data to the end of March is here now.
Looking at a couple of these more closely, the NW Cycleway has been starting to get its mojo back, recording its first 2,000+ day in late March. That contributed to the AT numbers such that there were slightly more cycle trips recorded in March 2021 than in March last year. A similar trend has been seen further up the path at Te Atatu.
One result that is surprising is Quay St just west of Albert St, where daily usage has shot up. I wonder if this is now also counting devices like scooters, of it’s just a faulty reader. It could even just be picking up the construction team working in the area? It would certainly be good if that level of usage was the new normal.
While we’re on the topic of cycleways, AT have just installed Auckland’s first double stack bike rack near Aotea Square. Let’s hope there are a lot more on order, as we could definitely do with some around Britomart and the Ferry Terminal.
Have you seen our brand new handy place to park your bike by Aotea Square?
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) May 3, 2021
That map is quite telling though: with safe cycleways looping around the city, how do you safely get from them to park your bike in here?
AT’s Project Wave – the temporary cycleway linking the Nelson St cycleway with Quay St is currently being installed, and showing how fast these can be built.