The agenda for next week’s meeting of the Council’s Transport Committee includes an interesting item on transport monitoring, which looks at how Auckland’s transport system is performing in comparison to a number of targets that were set in the Auckland Spatial Plan. Of particular interest out of the information, in my opinion, are the following matters:
- Confirmation of a continuation of really high public transport patronage growth in Auckland over the past few years
- A bump in the proportion of people entering the city at peak times who are doing so by public transport
- A pretty big jump in the number of people using rail to enter the city in the AM peak
- Some initial details about how absolutely fantastic the new bus network that Auckland Transport is working on may well be
All up this is a 38% increase in public transport patronage in the last six years, or a 36% increase in the last five years. These increases are certainly well ahead of population growth and highlight how misleading relying on 2006 Census data or 2006 travel preferences will be, when trying to predict what might happen in the future. The world really has changed since then for public transport in Auckland.
Another table looks at public transport versus private transport modeshare in the AM peak along various “entry points” to the city centre. The 2011 numbers here totalled up to a 54/46 mode split in favour of private vehicles, but in 2012 things had evened up quite enormously:
What’s particularly fascinating about these numbers is looking at how different streets compare with each other. While Grafton Bridge’s high PT modeshare is the result of it being bus only, Fanshawe Street, Karangahape Road and Symonds Street all carry well over half their passengers during the AM peak by bus. Put another way, the 35% of people travelling along Fanshawe Street in the AM peak use up two lanes of space while 65% of people use up just the one lane. Therefore Fanshawe Street would need to be nearly six lanes in each direction to carry the same number of people if they were all to drive.
While rail patronage to the city centre in the AM peak has clearly grown massively since Britomart was opened in 2003, in recent years I think patronage growth has been even faster for trips not to the city centre. This highlights the importance of referring to the City Rail Link project’s benefits (higher frequencies, more stations accessible without a transfer, opening up access to new parts of the city centre) which go beyond simply easing the capacity constraints at Britomart. Of course the main impact of those constraints is to limit our ability to efficiently operate additional trains on the network, which hurts everyone.
There’s plenty of other interesting information about ferry patronage and different bus flows along different city centre routes (and how that’s changed over time) but the last thing I want to highlight is something that really stuck out at me and relates to the new bus network that we keep hearing great things about:
It seems like either the Auckland Plan target was not nearly challenging enough, or it was simply never anticipated that Auckland’s bus network could be improved to such an extent through largely reallocating existing resources. In any case, I guess this is pretty good news. Maybe the target will need to be updated to something truly challenging, like having 75% of the population within walking distance of a frequent service by 2040.
We do complain a lot about PT on this blog, and rightfully so as Auckland has a very very long way to go in building a system we can be proud of (my trip to Vancouver really highlighted this fact!) However, excellent progress has been made in the last few years and looks like will also be happening in the next while. It’s important to celebrate success.