Auckland Transport has finally got around to publishing their public transport report for March 2011, and the patronage results confirm a post of mine last week – they are spectacular. Here’s a summary: If we break down the summary to look at the numbers – there are some really healthy trends. Patronage on the Onehunga Line is really high (around 2,500 trips a day compared to the estimated 500), the Western Line had a massive 30% growth in patronage and general bus patronage was up by nearly 5%. It’s interesting to see that out of the 500,000 trip increase in patronage over March 2010, 200,000 of those (40% ) were on the rail network. Looking at the increases in patronage on the Western Line I wonder whether it might be necessary to get those 10 minute peak frequencies as soon as possible.
You can see the big spike in patronage last month in the graph below – what I look forward to is seeing whether months like May and August can also get close to 7 million overall and 1 million on the rail network. October might be a big month later this year – with the Rugby World Cup bringing a lot more people to Auckland than normal: Looking at the rail patronage statistics, I find the graph below quite helpful. One extraordinary thing that it highlights is that not only is rail patronage increasing, but that it’s also increasing at an increasing rate. We could well see 2010/2011 rail patronage being around 20% higher than the year before if the current trends continue – quite an achievement when you’re going off a higher base than ever before. Turning to the Northern Express, patronage increased by 10.7% on March 2010 – a slower rate of increase than in recent years. One suspects that this is largely due to capacity issues – both at the park and ride stations and also on the buses themselves. The recently announced service improvements will hopefully allow the NEX to break through the magic 2 million trips mark for the 12 month rolling total: Looking at general bus patronage, which is a very important component because it’s the largest, the report usefully breaks down into sectors where patronage is and is not growing: The figures are still somewhat skewed by the October 2009 bus lockout, with massive increases around October and November 2010 compared to the year before. If we compare the sectors, yet again the main growth is is the north and south – reflecting a general trend towards longer PT trips (perhaps those trips are the ones that higher petrol prices really hurt?) and a response to where service improvements have been made in the last few years.
Even ferry patronage, which for so long has barely increased at all – went up by a substantial 10.2% in March.As a final point of comparison – the graph below from NZTA shows the March 2011 state highway traffic volumes and how they compare to March 2010: It looks pretty obvious where the government should cut the $60 million in lost fuel tax revenue from – the “build more state highways” budget.