In just over two weeks, on Tuesday 5th March, we will have the next census and the forms for it started to be delivered yesterday. It’s the first one since March 2006 as the planned 2011 census was cancelled due to the Christchurch Earthquakes. The data that comes from the census is important and is used by many agencies as well as private organisations to assist with in their planning. That isn’t always a good thing though as the Ministry of Transport for example, often still references the data obtained for the last census to justify their the governments stance on issues, despite some of the massive changes that have occurred with PT in the last few years. When it comes to mode share, cars will still continue to dominate the figures but the big question is how much it will change by. One area I am particularly keen to see is how much mode share and the the number of cars owned has changed in areas that have access to good quality PT.
With that in mind I thought I would look at how some of the transport stats we monitor have changed since the time of the last census.
First PT usage overall. March is traditionally the busiest month for PT and hopefully this year is no exception. Perhaps a bit more concerning is that throughout 2012 we saw very sluggish growth, or in some cases reduced PT usage. Still, since the last census a lot has happened with our PT system. Since then we have completed the double tracking of the western line, which was only really just under way during the last census, built the northern busway as well as having seen a number of other improvements to various bus services.
Next we have vehicle use. Unfortunately there are only a few points where we get consistent information which makes things a bit harder. The main source is traffic volumes over the harbour bridge and 2006 was when they peaked. At the time the bridge averaged almost 169,000 vehicles per day however as of the end of 2012, that was sitting at just over 157,000.
Related to vehicle usage is the price of petrol, something that has gone up substantially in recent years with it now not uncommon to see prices above $2 per litre. Over the just the last week, prices seem to have shot up quite a bit and are now sitting just below their all time highs at $2.20 per litre. I filled up just last week out west for $1.99 although the west and south do tend to have lower fuel prices. It will be interesting to see if that that has an impact on PT use. Back in 2006 petrol was around $1.46 which inflation adjusted works out at around $1.72
Are you a numbers person? if so what numbers from the census are you most looking forward to finding out?