Follow us on Twitter

October PT Patronage – more records broken

Much like September, the Rugby World Cup helped to boost October public transport patronage to some pretty impressive levels, especially for the rail network which had over 1.2 million trips, a new record. The monthly PT patronage report has all the details, and here’s a summary:It’s pretty impressive to see that we’re closing in on 70 million trips as our 12 month rolling total. It wasn’t so long ago that we passed 60 million trips. The 16.7% increase in total PT patronage is also very impressive, as while the World Cup clearly boosted our numbers, we must also remember that school holidays completely fell in October this year, whereas last year they straddled September and October.

But perhaps the most exciting numbers relate to the rail network’s patronage – which hit a staggering 1.2 million, the highest monthly total ever. It was up by over 55% on the same total last year. Western Line patronage was almost double last year’s total (obviously the RWC benefits were most clearly concentrated on the Western Line). Here are some of the details:This is the first time we’ve been able to make comparisons for year on year growth in Onehunga Line trains. The much higher 63% growth (compared to 36.5% on the southern & eastern) suggests that patronage on the Onehunga Line has consistently grown since the service was launched in September last year.

The graph below shows the longer term trends: As I noted above, the most spectacular numbers were on the rail network. Even though this was boosted by people travelling to and from Rugby World Cup games, Auckland Transport’s data shows that there were over 1 million ticketed (that is, excluding people travelling to and from games) rail trips in October. October was the fourth month in 2011 to have more than a million rail trips, and the third month in a row to break through this important threshold. The challenge will be this time next year for rail patronage to not experience big losses in year on year patronage – although I’m fairly confident we’re going to start to see reaching 1 million rail trips a month being more common than not in the not too distant future.

When it comes to bus patronage, the increases were a little more circumspect at 7.4%. Much of the increase was for trips within the isthmus, although I’m not sure the extent to which this was influenced by Eden Park bound trips. Here are some further details on bus patronage changes around the different parts of Auckland:  All up we have seen the RWC give a pretty massive boost to PT patronage over the past couple of months, but even pulling that out (which is difficult to do entirely) the numbers show a continuation of recent trends of strong growth. What will be interesting to see is how things hold up in the next few months as there are many more disruptions to the rail network in particular. I’m also hoping that Auckland Transport will be well prepared for March next year – as they seem to have a habit of failing to prepare for the busiest month of the year.

15 comments to October PT Patronage – more records broken

  • Love seeing that ‘total patronage’ line separate out from the ‘bus patronage’ line. Right, a couple of years of consolidation to sort out integrated ticketing and to see it in action especially from Manukau and this is a good foundation to build a real transit network from.

  • Matt L

    A couple of things:
    -We haven’t seen Wellington’s data yet (they aren’t as frequent as AT is) but based on data to June, 1.2m rail trips in a month is not only the highest for Auckland but higher than anything seen in the capital as well.
    -We were celebrating reaching 10m trips on rail only in July and now we are almost at 11m
    -The results are going to take a hammering this summer with parts of the rail network closed for over 4 weeks.
    -Next year we will have higher frequencies out west and Manukau will open which both should spur some decent growth.
    -There is also news from AT that the new link services have been doing quite a bit better than forecast.
    -Based on the last 12 months patronage and including population growth, the number of trips per person has increased from 44 in May to 46 in October.

  • Publius

    It will be interesting to see if the RWC provides a long-lasting boost in PT patronage. With a bit of luck it might have awoken people to where their local stations are, etc.

    • Yes maybe, it is possible that these gains get close to being maintained if the launch of Manukau is done well. I’m hoping that part of the reason for delaying the opening was to allow time to do it properly, especially with regard to bus coordination. But then that requires real integrated ticketing to really work… and how’s that coming along? Anyone out there have a date?

  • Sharon Hunter Auckland Transport

    Hi Patrick, ‘real’ integrated ticketing commences from mid 2012 when we add trains, ferries and the rest of the bus operators to the mix. It is exected we will complete the absorption of all modes by the end of 2012. We signed the contract with Thales near the end of 2009- so three years to implement the system is pretty good going by interantional standards. Sharon Hunter

    • Matt

      Sharon, when will we see the abolition of the ridiculous dis-integrated fare model currently in operation?
      Integrated ticketing is worthless if you get financially penalised for breaking your journey. Serious examination of the fare prices needs to happen, too, when we consider that Auckland’s public transport is both expensive and low-quality, and when one looks at cities like Vienna where an all-modes, all-areas pass for the urban area is cheaper than even the very limited Upper Area Northern Pass, never mind something as obscenely over-priced as the Discovery Pass (which is well over three times the price).

      • Stu Donovan

        Integrated ticketing is not useless without integrated fares. The latter is like the icing on the cake. Even without the latter having one card for all buses, ferries, and trains will be very worthwhile and probably lead to additional trips. But I agree with your last statement: We have to get rid of transfer penalties, at least for HOP users. Cash users should still pay transfer penalties, IMO, because verification is that much harder.

        • Matt

          I didn’t say useless, I said worthless. People won’t travel more if they’re still paying to switch modes. They won’t stop off in Newmarket or Ponsonby on their way home from work to do a spot of shopping if they’re paying to resume the trip.
          HOP is a convenience, certainly, but let’s not pretend that it’s going to encourage any additional utilisation of the network; because it’s not really a network if you pay extra every time you break the journey, it’s just a bunch of services that occupy a common space.

        • Matt

          I also agree that we need to make the penalty for using cash a lot higher. A 10% discount for using HOP is almost insulting, and certainly does nothing to incentivise uptake.

  • Thanks Sharon, great to hear from you, but could you clarify what you mean by ‘real’ integrated ticketing? By mid 2012 will some one transferring from say a bus to a train at Manukau Station be charged for two separate trips or will they be charge for the distance they have travelled regardless of the different vehicles they ride on? In other words is the mid 2012 date going to mean anything more than the spread of modes where we can use charge cards or an actual upgrade of the whole programme of charging?

    • Stu Donovan

      Patrick – it’s important to distinguish between integrated ticketing and integrated fares. What Sharon has confirmed is the integrated ticketing will be delivered by 2012, i.e. the HOP card. This is an important first step, which then allows for subsequent changes to fares, of which removal of transfer penalties is but one.

      There’s lots of others, r.g. replacing fare boundaries/stages with a distance-based fare. But again, decisions on fares need to occur once the integrated ticketing technology has been fully implemented. Only then can the full fiscal/network implications be worked through properly (because integrated ticketing will, for the first time, give us good data on origin-destinations).

      You may think that doing them both at once would be better – but you only have to look at Sydney’s ticketing/fare quagmire to see that tackling these issues in small, manageable chunks is often better. “Less haste, more speed” :).

      • Yup, so ‘real’ means a charge card, a means of payment…. So what’s the timeline for the real ‘real’ thing, then?

        • Stu Donovan

          Very good question to which there probably is no answer; the new fare system will require a whole heap of analysis and consultation for which there is currently no definite timetable. But I suspect it will be a priority, because the types of changes you identify (removal of transfer penalties, distance-based fares etc) really helps increase utilisation across the wider PT network. So integrated fares = more productive network, as you prob already know :)!

          • Patrick R

            I’m sure there’s plenty of room for conflict between interested parties on how to divide up the money. But I do hope they are not losing sight of the bigger picture; if they get it right, ie if they build it with the customer’s needs at the centre, the size of the total revenue has got a whole lot of potential upside for all parties. They’ve got to get this well in place before those lovely new trains arrive, and they’ve got to do everything to keep the momentum of the passenger numbers up. You never know, someone in Wellington might even notice…?

          • Matt

            Getting to a gross contract model would simply things significantly. That would take the vested business interests right out of the discussion.

Leave a Reply