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.

Public Transport

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.

Cycleways

It’s been even longer since we last saw cycleway data, but the data to the end of March is here now.

While cycling numbers being down is somewhat expected given the impact of the pandemic, many of the counters are holding up and some are growing.

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.

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.

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26 comments

  1. It’s actually laughable to consider AT’s pathetic cycleway target when you see how quickly you can put in a perfectly safe 2-way cycleway just by putting down some concrete dividers and green paint. You could do all of Auckland’s major arterial roads inside of about a month by removing the painted median and putting concrete sleepers down

    1. Yes. The frustrating thing is the planning. This was literally 6 years before it happened. I remember when LightPath was plowing along being built in 6 months by NZTA, AT said they were looking at going right to the waterfront with their bit. I remember being a bit “Oh…. you are? Well, good on you.” to the enthusiastic AT person. Sad to have had my hunch confirmed that it would hit a snag on the way…

      We really need a “minimum viable network” approach (with a sexier name), where they build a couple dozen cycleways in a few months as a city-wide *connected* trial like in Barcelona.

    2. The problem is you also need to cater for buses.
      All the problem roads are stripped of parking already.
      It is always a competition between buses and cyclists and buses always win.

      Then it gets worse when you get to an intersection.

  2. I look at all the cyclists in Paris and I think if I was there I would be on a bike rather than sitting on the metro with my mask on worrying about catching covid. I wonder what happens if the world ever gets covid under control do the people go back to public transport. Our numbers aren’t that encouraging given the absence of covid here.

  3. Yes, Auckland can do it.
    The city of Paris has built 100s of km of bikeways in a short time taking it from one of the most congested and polluted cities in the world to one of the most bike friendly

  4. Project Wave is nearly done, I work next to it. Literally 3 weeks construction and looks pretty good, no plastic bits etc.

        1. Well seeing the construction on K Rd, it looks like they were re-doing the underground services etc as well. Much bigger project.

  5. I use the Mangere bridge underpass daily and am encouraged by its use,considering you are just spat out into the traffic at either end.There are a few school kids brave enough, can’t help but wonder if a better connection to the train station would increase the numbers,you’re basically a pedestrian between bridge and station

    1. Turning ex rail lines into cycleways is sometimes a bad idea. It adds huge hurdles to using the alignment as a rail line again in the future due to the existing users having to be displaced. But this ex rail alignment (you can see on google maps satellite images) really seems too perfect. It’s a grade separated, nice gradient way straight to the station from the future Mangre foot bridge. In the future if we want that to be a rail line again we could replace that route using the road, or squeeze the cycleway in together with the new rail. Replacing with the road route, I dont think we would have too many cyclists really grumpy about that route replacement when the time comes. Especially as they were likely going to the rail station anyway and will benefit from the extension of rail services.

      1. Might as well use it and build an underpass under Neilson Street straight into the station. Looking at the levels either side of Neilson Street it seems possible. Could have platforms on both sides of the line. Of course a future Govt will want to revive the east west link best to claim the corridor for cycling walking now before it used for something else.

    2. I have mixed feelings about the replacement for the old Mangere Bridge. It is budgeted at $38M, an extraordinary amount for a 200m long footbridge/ cycle way/ fishing pier.

      On one level it’s cool to see an iconic structure being built, and I’m sure it will be great, but there’s an extreme contrast with how terrible the adjacent cycle connections are – especially in Onehunga , as mentioned, getting to the train station from the bridge is awful (and the old rail alignment is just sitting there covered in weeds).

      We should be investing in a functional safe network rather than isolated vanity projects.

      1. I agree, however the main cost to doing cycle projects is the political cost and effort required on everyone’s behalf to get it out in. we have no real shortage of money for cycling, the budget for car infra is so vast and expensive in comparison. Bike infra is a lot cheaper both, maintenance wise and construction wise, compared to providing car infrastructure.
        Yes 38 mil is a lot and I sure wouldn’t spend that much on a bridge. But a similar width bridge 1 lane each way for cars for a similar length would cost more and have a much smaller maximum throughout. And the maintenance and paving required for decades to come is much less than an equivalent car bridge.

  6. Just imagine if AT had implemented extensive Covid pop up cyclelanes, bus lanes, lower default speed limits, and open streets last year.

    The predictable rise in DSI of vulnerable road users would’ve been prevented.

    We would still have seen a drop in ridership on the rail network due to its problems, but people would’ve had the option to cycle or bus, reducing traffic and congestion.

  7. That map exactly shows the reality of having a bicycle in the CBD. You get the cycleways, and no way to get to them because who is going to ride a bicycle on Hobson Street or Cook Street?

    And even if it were possible the next problem is that you in general can’t park bikes if you live in an apartment (how ironic given that almost all open space outside is car parks). So you probably didn’t have a bicycle anyway.

    1. It’s dismal how many apartment buildings have zero or only bare-minimum bicycle parking.

      I wonder if these double-decker bike park stations will become popular as longer term bike parking, for residents who don’t have an adequate bike-park in their building

    2. It’s part of the Dutch building codes to have sheltered bike parking. I wonder if something like that should be considered in NZ soon.
      https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/parking-your-bike-at-home/

      Because of the abundance of car parks in buildings these will probably make for pretty good bicycle parks with time. Turning a few of the car parks into double stack bike racks would be a big improvement to capacity.
      Downtown in time there will need to be a large facility to store bicycles near a rail station. On the order of maybe 10,000 spaces. Maybe the downtown car park. Or more ideally the Britomart carpark as its closer to britomart.

      For the fit and able taking your bike up in the lift and having it in your apartment is pretty doable.

  8. Has anyone used the double decker bike storage yet? I’m unclear if it’s feasible to get an e-bike loaded into the top level? I certainly can’t lift mine (25kg) into the vertical racks.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABGrqmtZ3gY

      This video explains how to use them. From wellington.

      Its the same design as this in Auckland I believe.
      They are spring loaded, so when you push it down its giving it some of the energy you need to bring it back up. The hardest part will probably be bringing the front wheel up when first putting the bike in.

      Its a tried and tested design used in many large facilities in the Netherlands where they want to get as many bikes in as possible.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJTC-WzQmIw
      12,000 in the train station in one city for example.

      An interesting tangential video.

  9. Will the Quay St bike counter plinth thingy be returning with the works there finishing?
    Anyone know?

    1. No. Instead of paying for a plinth, they are spending the money on paying people to ride back and forth on the counter.

      Those counts look like an error.

  10. If not mentioned already by anyone – the other PT modes and even cycling would of been affected by the rail repair issues too. Bus only not often good enough for users that would normally take bus/train combo. Can’t take a bike on rail replacement bus.

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