The effects of the bus lockout, which took place in early October, on patronage statistics shows through clearly in ARTA’s October 2009 Monthly Business Report. Bus patronage is down a whopping 18% on the October of the year before, although rail did certainly pick up some of the slack – meaning only a 12% decline in patronage over all. In fact, rail enjoyed its second highest month on record – with 767,000 trips being made within October. Bets are now on as to when we might first crack a million rail trips within a month – with March 2010, August 2010 and March 2011 being the most likely candidates in my opinion (March and August are usually the highest patronage months).
Here are some of the details from October: Looking at the trends for the past few years, we can see the big dip that patronage took this month. Although it is interesting to note that patronage is not really too far below October 2007 levels – even though this year we had most of our buses out of action for a quarter of the month. The 12 month rolling average has also taken a slight dip – for the first time in about three years. Some interesting further information on the rail patronage:
The week-long NZ Bus industrial action from 8 to 14 October helped to boost rail patronage for October 2009 to the second highest volume on record. This was despite school holidays during the early part of the month and engineering work that closed part of the network over Labour weekend. For the month there were 767,000 passengers recorded as travelling on rail services, an increase of 14.1% on the same month last year. There was one fewer business day in the month this year compared to last year. For the year-to-date there have been 2.912 million passengers recorded on rail, an increase of 5.9% on the same period last year. The weekday passenger numbers between 8 and 14 October were, on average, 33% higher than those recorded on the other three weeks, averaging over 40,000 per day over this period compared to around 30,000 for the other business days of the month, with Wednesday 14 October the highest at 44,000 passengers. Veolia Transport was able to add temporary additional capacity by scheduling up to 18 additional services each day during this period particularly between Otahuhu or New Lynn and Britomart.
It will be interesting to see whether people who shifted from using the bus to the train during the lockout have made that shift permanently. By all accounts Veolia did extremely well during the lockout period to add some extra capacity, and also they managed to avoid any particularly nasty meltdowns during that critical week – quite an achievement for Auckland I must say! The November statistics will be interesting, in showing us whether there was any permanent loss for bus patronage, or whether people have simply gone back to using the bus just like before.
On a brighter note, there was also some quite significant progress made on various infrastructure projects throughout October: It seems like there’s a lot of preparation going on for a huge construction push during the Xmas/New Year’s holiday period. It will certainly be exciting to see the developments to the rail network in particular during that holiday period – as once the trains are up and running in the New Year the new Newmarket station will be completed and operational, and we’ll be getting closer to having Onehunga ready, New Lynn completed and seeing significant progress on the Manukau Line. In terms of infrastructure development, 2009 has been a year of progress rather than a year of anything being completed – whereas next year we will see the benefits of all this work come to fruition.