Well it was a bit like getting blood out of a stone, but finally Auckland Transport has released full patronage information up to January 2011, broken down by bus, train and ferry. Helpfully, regular commenter Luke managed to get historical patronage data dating all the way back to 2002 off Auckland Transport – which probably provides us with the fullest and most helpful data I’ve come across yet.
Before I move on to anything else, I’ll include the tables of patronage for buses, trains, ferries and total patronage for each month right back to January 2002:Looking a bit closer at the data really shows us what a spectacular year 2010 was for public transport patronage. Compared to 2009, every single month was ‘up’, with October and November being the most spectacular months – having increases of 21% and 15% respectively. The October data is a bit misleading because it was a recovery from the October 2009 bus lockout (hence the huge leap in bus patronage and the slight decline in rail patronage). Overall, total PT patronage for 2010 was up by 8% compared to all of 2009: (Note I have excluded ferry data from the above if you’re wondering why the numbers don’t add up).
Most heartening to see is how well the bus system performed last year. With around 80% of Auckland’s public transport trips on the bus it is critical that we keep focusing on improving that bus system to attract more people out of their cars and onto PT. An 8% increase in bus passengers equate to an extra 3.5 million trips – equivalent to 40% of 2010’s rail patronage. Rail patronage also continued to grow quickly, with a 14% increase in numbers compared to 2009.
To put last year’s bus patronage improvement into some perspective, the table below shows patronage growth between 2002 and 2010.
As you can see, we had a much greater increase in bus patronage last year (3.5 million more trips) than in the whole 2002-2009 period (only 350,000 more trips). Hence bus patronage over the entire 2002-2010 period increased by 9%, most of which has been in the last year!
Below I’ve included a few graphs that show, split out by month, bus and rail patronage changes over the past nine years. It becomes quite clear that bus patronage really went nowhere between 2002 and 2009 (in fact it went significantly backwards for a few years) before finally increasing substantially last year: In contrast, rail patronage has just kept growing and growing throughout the period. One thing that’s interesting to note is the growing dominance of March as the busiest month of the year, whereas August (and even May for rail) used to be busier. I guess easter has fallen in April for a few years in a row recently.
Combining all the months together shows how dominant bus use remains, although the gap between the bus total and the complete total is widening – reflecting more and more people catching the train:
Over the past three years we’ve seen public transport patronage in Auckland increase from 52.4 million trips in 2007 to 63.5 million trips in 2010. That’s a 21.1% increase over the past three years.
Imagine what might happen if we actually tried to improve the bus system?