Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays. This year was no different although there ended up being the same number of working days as April 2014. Overall patronage for the month edged up 3.7% compared to April 2014 however there is quite some variation between the modes.
The real focal point – as it has been for many months now – has been the stellar growth in rail patronage. In April it hasn’t disappointed, up almost 16% compared to April 2014 and up 22% annually and even more for both measures if normalised to take account of the differences e.g. events. To put things in perspective, 12 months ago the annual patronage on the rail network was just under 11.1 million trips, now it’s over 13.5 million. That means it remains well on track to exceed the government’s patronage targets for the CRL some time during 2017/18. It’s also worth noting that AT have now upped their projection for this financial year (end of June) to suggest that we’ll reach 13.8 million trips
In some ways I think AT are lucky that achieved the results they did given that operational performance was so bad achieving just 68.4% of services arriving within 5 minutes of schedule.
With buses the Northern Express continues to perform well and was up over 8.5% for the month and 17% for the year once again showing it’s the Rapid Transport Network is where the most growth is happening. Other buses were actually down slightly although a reason for this isn’t given.
Ferries have had surprisingly strong growth of late and were up almost 15% for the month. AT suggest that a large part of the growth has some from the new Explore ferries.
Lastly a quick update to my post last week about train costs. In it I included a chart showing that subsidies per passenger km were starting to decline on the rail network which is a good thing. The stats for this month show once again subsidies are reducing which will be the result of more and more electric trains coming in to service. In a few months I’d expect that line to be even lower too.
This is a Guest post by Wellington Architect Guy Marriage
Wellingtonians get a hard press in the Auckland papers sometimes, but last Thursday we thoroughly deserved it. We are normally a fairly resilient lot, and put up with more than our fair share of howling wind and torrential rain at times, but regularly battle through with trains and buses all performing admirably. Even our regular rush hour traffic jams only just live up to their name, and are normally well over within the hour. We know about Auckland’s horrific traffic, and sympathies, we really do. But last Thursday, we suffered a total melt-down, and for a supposedly heavily resilient city, that was a pretty big fall from grace. So what happened?
As you may have heard, broadcast all over the evening news, we had a bit of excess rain. About 8 times more rain in an hour than we get in a month, or some such unbelievably wet statistic like that. And then the big wet went on and on, and eventually we had some slips, where our glorious hills decided they didn’t want to be vertical any more, and so they poured out over the flat bits along the edge of the water. Unfortunately for Wellington, all of our escape routes out of the city run along the same flat stretch of road to the Hutt, and so a small slip on the Hutt Road blocked off a route north along State Highway 2, diverting all the SH2 traffic to SH1. Doubly unfortunate really, because on the other side of the hills, SH1 was also blocked off, and that meant they had to send all the traffic back to SH2, over SH58. There is only one other road, the Paekakariki Hill Road, which is narrow and windy, and is frequently blocked by slips anyway, so inevitably that blocked up too. No way in, no way out. The capital was blocked off from the rest of New Zealand. Did you miss us?
The road was therefore bumper to bumper traffic jam from Wellington all the way to Porirua, and also at a standstill over the hills back to the Hutt Valley on the other side. If you’re not from Wellington, then none of that will make sense, and the nearest I can give you as an example is if the Harbour Bridge was closed, and the NorthWestern motorway was closed as well, and all the traffic between Manukau and Auckland was diverted via Puhoi, and then all the cars stopped moving. Yes, exactly, a stuff-up in traffic terms of monumental proportions, one considerably worse than the average Friday night jam in Auckland, and we will inevitably face calls for yet more roads to be built, just in case this happens again.
But wait, there’s more. Surely none of those road closures matter, as Wellington is the most public-transport oriented city in the nation, is it not? Well, yes, but on Thursday even that let us down as well. Every single train to every single destination was cut, and the central Wellington Railway Station was closed down. That’s a station that normally is about 3 times busier than Britomart, and we have shiny new trains too for the most part. But that accursed rain had deluged rocks and washed out gravel over every set of tracks. Replacement buses normally suffice when there is a traffic setback, but with all the roads and all the rail out, there was no way that the few remaining charter buses could keep up with the demand. The city actually took the unheard of step of telling all commuters from out of town to stay in town, spend the night with friends, to rent a room or borrow a couch, and give up entirely on moving anywhere. I’m not sure if that has happened to any city in living memory before, outside of a war zone. Even when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, or when Super-Storm Sandy hit New York, they were still able to move people in and out of the city. But not Wellington, not last week. The only methods of transport still working were the planes (if you wanted to fly to Auckland and drive back down to Upper Hutt) and the ferries, which gave you a choice of sailing through the storm to Picton, or in a much smaller ferry, riding the waves up to Petone beach. Except of course that Petone beach has a damaged pier, and one of the small East-West Ferry boats was out of action, so that left just one small catamaran sailing back and forth to Petone all evening. I was fully expecting my floor to be full of refugees from the storm, but it was, miraculously, fugee-free.
Not that it really made the slightest bit of difference to Wellingtonians however. Within the city itself, there was a fair bit of wetness, more than usual, but nothing was broken. Everything still worked, everyone got home. Buses still ran, taxis still taxied, and cyclist continued to ride on their non-existent cycle network. We haven’t got a cycle network yet, because some pathetic councillors went feral, and have slowed everything down for reasons known only to themselves. We are, it seems, the only city in New Zealand with a pro-Green, fervently cycling Mayor, and yet we have not a single functioning separated cycle lane anywhere of any use on any major traffic route, which seems just a little bit odd. While the usual dips and hollows were fuller of water than usual, it seemed to me that the city performed admirably well, and lived up to its resilient reputation. You could have even thrown in a moderate earthquake or two, and the city would have shrugged them off as well, due to the steady stream of strengthening projects that have been going on. We’re a city that is like a brand new iPhone 6, already with a sturdy waterproof, shockproof rubber case on, and you could drop us from the upstairs balcony and we wouldn’t break, at least not completely. But we might bend a little if you sat on us.
But what this points to is that while Wellington City might be tough enough in parts, its the Regional Council and NZTA that were shown up as monumentally unprepared for disaster. I think we have just seen the biggest case for abolition of the Regional Council, right there. What if it had been a real, serious disaster, not just a few hours of torrential rain? The Civil Defence motto down here is “Get Through.” Clearly, that is not something that we yet can do.
NZTA have started work on the billion dollar highway known as Transmission Gully, an ironic name as they could only start work there when they had removed all the transmission lines, in case they fell over while they were digging out the gully road. One day, after an inevitable cost inflation to (probably) nearly two billion dollars, there will be a new road north, two lanes each way, all the way, and a new Petone to Granada link road – and you know what? If both of those roads had been built already, those other traffic snafu may well have happened just the same. The Petone to Grenada route will have to involve the moving / removal of some eight million cubic metres of rock, which won’t be an easy task. The Transmission Gully route still relies on sending all the traffic along the waterfront and up the Ngauranga Gorge, both of which were heavily affected by last week’s rain, with several small slips/rockfalls and a lane taken out of action in the Gorge. Transmission Gully is also sitting firmly on an earthquake fault line and highly susceptible to slips as well, so there is a lot of work to be done securing hillsides before that route will ever be “safe”. We need NZTA to try a whole lot harder to battle-harden the existing network and we need Kiwirail and GWRC to make sure that public transport is a whole lot more resilient down here.
This week Auckland Transport announced they were looking to update the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) with a number of developments and one of those was to include the outcomes of the Ferry Development Plan. AT have now published the development plan which provides some more information into to their thinking around ferries.
First up, how ferries perform today. The map below shows where current ferry services run to.
In the year to the end of March 5.4 million trips were taken on ferries which is up 5% on the year before and close to a peak reached in mid-2012. That patronage makes up around 7% of all public transport trips.
Around 77% of all ferry patronage comes from just two routes – Devonport and Waiheke -however AT also say that in the morning peak around 49% of trips are coming from other services. That indicates that the Devonport and Waiheke services do well off peak – probably due to tourism. The number of passengers arriving in the city in the current morning peak are shown below.
The Development Plan is focused on how AT will develop ferries over the next 10 years and covers both infrastructure and services. The modelling for it also considers the impacts over a 30 year period.
The overall takeaway outcome is that there are not any viable opportunities for new ferry routes and that the focus should be on improving the routes we already have. That means increasing capacity and services so that they can handle the predicted demand and provide regular all day service – just like what is being done with the bus and rail networks (note: regular service is different from frequent service so might only be hourly off peak). The additional daily services AT expects to add to each route are shown below and there is a more detailed version on page 21 of the development plan.
It is expected that between now and 2026 ferry patronage will increase from 5.4 million to around 7.5 million. Much of the growth is expected from just a few of the routes and the growth in AM peak trips is shown below and is based on integrated fares and no surcharge (more on that soon)
To accommodate that growth more vessels and improvements to existing ferry terminals will be needed – such as the recently announced new terminal at Half Moon Bay. In addition to the terminals, AT want to expand the Park n Ride at a few stations. The capital costs for all of this development is around $34.2 million and almost half of it is for the redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal. The Benefit Cost Ratio of the terminal improvements are shown below and as you can see the result for Half Moon Bay is crazy high.
You’ll notice the table has ‘with surcharge’ and ‘no surcharge’ and as mentioned earlier the modelling is based on no surcharge. AT say they want ferries to have integrated fares but that it isn’t possible just yet.
Potential patronage has been modelled assuming integrated fares with and without a ferry surcharge. A surcharge is necessary initially to maintain the affordability of ferry services and to avoid demand for unavailable capacity. In time, as patronage and capacity increase and costs are reduced, the surcharge will be reduced and eliminated.
Included in the development plan is analysis of the current park n ride users which I found quite interesting. As you can see most people make fairly short trips to the ferry but there are some quite long ones, especially to Half Moon Bay. Some seem quite odd such as driving from Albany next to the busway station to Devonport or Bayswater to catch a ferry or from Remuera to Half Moon Bay (perhaps they were going to Waiheke though).
Lastly AT did look at the options for expanding ferry services including to Browns Bay, Takapuna and Te Atatu. If they were implemented the map below which also includes the SHA areas is how the ferry network would look however the all have BCR’s of less than 1 and as there’s little time savings compared to road-based modes it’s not expected they would attract enough patronage.
Overall I’d say that the outcome is right, focus on get the existing services working well
On Monday Auckland Transport launched consultation for an amended Regional Public Transport Plan and that included a large section on integrated fares – or Simplified Fares as AT call them. Since writing the post AT have released a lot more information about their Simplified fares proposal so I thought I was worth while addressing the topic in more detail.
A key point on simplified fares is that you are charged based on your journey, not what services you use – with the exception of ferries. They define a journey as
- up to 3 trips on buses or trains,
- up to two transfers, as long as you tag on within 30 minutes of tagging off your previous service,
- complete your travel within 2 hours.
And example they give is someone who might travel from Albany to Newmarket taking a bus and a train. Currently it would be treated as two trips and be charged two sets of fares – albeit with a 50c transfer discount. Under Simplified Fares it would be a single journey and only charged a single fare.
Following the introduction of Simplified Fares it will be interesting to see is how they report on patronage and if they change to reporting journeys or if they just keep reporting boardings – preferably they’ll report both.
The zones AT are proposed are as I showed the other day.
As mentioned at the time I think a little more work is needed on the zone boundaries, perhaps having all of them them overlap by 1-1.5km on all boundary lines to help address the issue of short journeys across a boundary being penalised heavily. As an example (below) the 195 and 209 services currently travel down Godley Rd in Green bay and then on and through Blockhouse Bay. If someone was to get on the bus on Godley Rd and travel to Blockhouse Bay they would have to pay a two zone fare.
Another alternative would be for AT to introduce a short journey fare which is how the issue is dealt with in some other cities – such as Perth.
There’s one other feature on the map that’s bound to cause some concern and complaint and that is the boundary of the city zone compared to the current stage one zone. This appears to affect just south of Mt Eden and Orakei train station and is indicated on the map below with a black dotted circle. It means trips from those locations to the city will now pay a two zone fare whereas they current pay just a single stage fare. Depending on the fare levels AT set that could see costs for those users almost double.
One aspect of the information that has surprised me is that AT have given an indication as to the prices they’ll charge for the zones. The indicative fare table is below.
It seems most passengers will be better off with the changes – or at least pay roughly the same as they do now which is a good result from AT. They describe the main impact of the changes as:
- Commuters to and from the city to pay similar fares
- Longer distance trips to be cheaper
- Trips across zones to be substantially cheaper
- A small increase for short trips
For me a trip to town using HOP would drop from 5-stages for $6 to 3-zones for $5. Many other journeys I randomly checked – other than those mentioned above – seem to be in similar situation of becoming cheaper than they are today providing the person is using HOP. Those savings also get much larger compared to today if your trip involves a transfer. AT have a couple of example journeys here including the Albany to Newmarket one mentioned earlier.
It’s a different story if cash is being used and so as I’ve mentioned before, it will be critical that AT look for more ways to get HOP into peoples hands. One suggestion I’ve made in the past would be having bus drivers keep a stash of cards pre-loaded with regular the regular note denominations. If a note is presented they quickly hand over the pre-loaded card and tell the person to tag on and their change will be on the card.
AT have given some more detail about their plans for other fare products such as daily/monthly passes. There will be a single daily and monthly pass priced at $18 and $200 respectively. By comparison currently those passes have a zone based element to them which means there are some lower priced monthly pass options if you aren’t travelling as far. It would be a shame to see those lower priced monthly passes disappear so perhaps AT should look at something like a two-zone pass which as the name suggests is restricted to travelling through two zones.
The issues with ferry fares sitting outside of the rest of the fare system are not new however as happens now AT say ferry travel will be included in the future daily pass. That’s good but it seems that at the at the very least AT should also include ferry travel in the monthly passes. AT have also said they want to introduce ferry monthly passes and family passes.
Overall I think the changes are positive and for most will be cheaper and easier than what exists today. That should be useful for further growing patronage. It’s just a shame they we won’t see them implemented till mid-2016.
In 2013 Auckland Transport adopted the current Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) – a document required by legislation and which sets out how the regions public transport system will be developed and operated. The 2013 RPTP was significant as among other things it officially added the New Network to Auckland’s plans. There were however a number of issues left unresolved and in the last 18 months there have been other developments in AT’s thinking on PT in Auckland. As such AT are now consulting on a variation to the RPTP to include all of this. The consultation will cover and be limited to only four specific areas:
- The proposed introduction of simplified zone fares
- Proposals for a new light rail transit (LRT) network on some major arterial routes
- Service and infrastructure changes arising from the Ferry Development Plan which was approved by the AT Board in December 2014
- Revised service descriptions arising from community consultation on the new bus network
Submissions on the RPTP variation open from today to 05 June and AT hope to have the variation adopted in July. Below is a bit more detail about each of four areas mentioned above.
Simplified zone fares
This is another name for integrated fares and AT are setting out how they think the system should run. This includes both the fare zones themselves and future fare products.
For HOP card users, fares will be based on the number of zones travelled in as part of a journey. A journey may involve travel on up to three different services, provided the transfer between services is made within the prescribed transfer time limit.
The zonal fare structure will apply across all bus, train and future light rail services. For ferries, the existing point-to-point fares will be retained, subject to further investigation of how they should be incorporated into the integrated zonal structure in future. The different approach to ferry fares reflects the fact that some ferry services are deemed exempt services, and not subject to the policies in this Plan. It also reflects the higher operating costs and premium quality of ferry travel.
The fact that ferry services will sit outside the rest of the fare structure seems to once again highlight the stupidity of the government’s decision to bow to the lobbying of fullers and allow some of the ferry routes (Devonport, Stanley Bay, Waiheke) to sit outside of the rest of the PT system. The zone boundaries are based on approximately 10km intervals from the city centre. We saw a low res version of the proposed zones around a month ago.
I still think there needs to be some larger zone overlaps, particularly between the Isthmus to Manukau North/Waitakere zones and Waitakere to Upper North Shore. As an example it seems like the Upper North Shore zone should extend to cover Hobsonville Point.
Looking to the future AT say they hope to replace the monthly passes with weekly caps that will automatically limit the amount that customers will be charged for travel in any calendar week. They also say that in future that using stored value on a HOP card will be a minimum of 33% off the cash fare to encourage HOP use. As a comparison currently all fares 3 stages and over are just 20-26% of cash fares. AT also mention wanting to look at ways of using fares to grow patronage – especially in the off peak where there growth doesn’t affect operational costs. This includes wanting to:
- Investigate and implement off-peak fare discount options to spread peak demand and encourage off-peak trips
- Introduce 24/72 hour pass options to encourage off-peak travel by residents and visitors
- Provide fare incentives for weekend family travel
All of these things are aspects we and many readers have suggested for a long time so it’s great to see AT pursuing them. One thing that is important to note is that it’s not likely all new fare products will be introduced at once and instead AT are likely to stage implementation over a period of time.
PT services can’t be implemented if they aren’t in the RPTP and so AT are adding in the references to light rail now so that it’s possible for them to proceed with the project in the future should they wish to. We’ve already covered off AT’s light rail proposals quite a bit already and the proposed variation focuses most attention on the changes that would be needed to implement light rail on Queen St and Dominion Rd. There isn’t a huge amount of new information in the document with one notable exception – mention of light rail to the airport.
Subject to the outcome of these investigations, approval to proceed and funding, AT proposes a staged implementation of light rail, with completion of the initial stages (Queen Street and Dominion Road, with a possible link to Wynyard Quarter) within the 10-year planning horizon of this Plan. A possible extension of this route to the airport is also under investigation, along with metro rail options
The potential extension to the airport is also shown in the map below. I still believe that duplicating and extending the Onehunga line would be a better option due to a speed advantage compared with going via Dominion Rd- although it would possibly be a more expensive option.
Ferry development plan
Ferries are often touted as an area Auckland should focus on more and frequent suggestions included adding ferries to places like Browns Bay, Takapuna and Te Atatu. The RPTP suggested a review of the role of ferries and so last year AT created a Ferry Development Plan that was approved by the board in December. The outcomes from the development plan are included in the proposed variation. While I haven’t seen the full plan it appears from the variation information that AT’s have taken a sensible approach.
The Ferry Development Plan focuses on improving existing services and infrastructure and on greater integration of the current ferry network with local bus routes and supporting feeder services. It calls for service level improvements on existing ferry services to reach the minimum levels specified in the RPTP, with further increases to be implemented in response to demand. It also identifies a number of ferry infrastructure improvements and renewals that are needed to address capacity and customer amenity and safety issues at key ferry wharves.
The Plan also evaluated proposals for extensions to the existing ferry network, including new services to Browns Bay, Takapuna and Te Atatu. It concluded that due to the high infrastructure costs involved with new services, the priority for additional resources should be on improving the frequency and capacity of existing ferry routes, rather than network expansion.
The reality is the immediately viable ferry routes have already been developed and with the bus infrastructure that exists (or will shortly) it will be very hard for ferries to compete on speed, frequency, coverage and operating costs with some of the other locations mentioned. Getting service on existing routes up to regular all day every day frequencies will help make them a much more viable form of PT and useful not just for commuting.
New Network service descriptions
As mentioned at the start the RPTP sets out how the PT system will run and that includes exact and minimum frequencies. Since the RPTP was adopted AT have consulted on the new network for Hibiscus Coast, Pukekohe, South Auckland, West Auckland. The variation will update the RPTP with the changes that have already been consulted on.
There are also some changes to the network categories and maps with the new ones shown below.
As our network exists now, as you can see not much of the network meets the frequent definition being just a few bus services and the Southern line north of Penrose although arguably it should also be considered frequent between Westfield and Puhinui. You will also notice many of the ferry routes don’t exist on the map as they don’t have all day frequency.
By 2018 with the new network implemented and all electric trains rolled out this is what we should have.
And by 2025 with the CRL and even more bus improvements this is where the city will be.
Some good news for residents of Eastern Auckland with news that AT now has plans for a new ferry terminal for Half Moon Bay, something I know the local board and local councillors have been pushing for some time now.
A new Half Moon Bay ferry wharf will provide passengers more shelter and improved access to buses.
Plans for the new facility, which Howick Local Board and Auckland Transport are working together on, are being shared with the public. It will be similar in design to the Hobsonville Point Wharf.
Ferry services are expected to begin from the upgraded facility in late 2016. About 1500 passengers a day use the current facility.
The $4.3 million project includes a proposed covered pontoon and wharf at the end of Ara-Tai, south of the existing passenger ferry pontoon. Also proposed, subject to funding, is improved and safer access to buses, with sheltered stops in the same location.
Howick Local Board Chair David Collings says the board is happy to see progress after ferry users have waited a long time for improvements in unsatisfactory conditions.
“This will deliver a facility that’s going to protect them from the weather but will also be of a very high quality.
“A quality Half Moon Bay ferry facility is one of the board’s top priorities. We’ve been very prudent with our allocation of Auckland Transport’s Capital Fund for local boards and saved it so we can now direct up to $2.5 million to help make the project happen.
“As they say, ‘we’ve been saving for a rainy day’, so we can now make sure Half Moon Bay ferry passengers can be sheltered on rainy days.”
Auckland Transport Project Director Nick Seymour says the new wharf will have much better shelter for passengers with the walkway and pontoon boarding area both covered.
“It will also be more accessible for people who are mobility impaired and provide improved safety for people getting on and off ferries.
“The new facility will be purpose-built for passengers, providing a transport hub with bus and ferry services located together.
“People can find out more about the proposed design and give feedback at two public information days or by going to Auckland Transport’s website. There will also be information at the existing ferry wharf,” Mr Seymour says.
There are two open days both being held at the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, Ara-Tai, Half Moon Bay. The times are
Tuesday, 5 May 2015 – 4 pm to 7 pm
Saturday, 9 May 2015 – 10 am to 1 pm
AT say the new gangway and pontoon have already started being built off site and that construction at Half Moon Bay is expected to start early next year. They also say the features and benefits include:
- New ferry pontoon will be designed to provide better levels of passenger service and comfort.
- Better protection against the elements, with the canopy providing shelter from the prevailing wind and rain.
- Improved safety getting on and off ferries.
- More accessible for people who are mobility impaired.
- The wharf structure will incorporate elements reflecting the history of the area, including items which make reference to local Mana Whenua values.
- Separation of passenger ferry movements from leisure boat movements, improving sea traffic flows.
Below are a few images of what’s proposed.
View of proposed facility looking towards Musick Point
View of proposed new Half Moon Bay facility looking up the Tamaki River
The last five years have seen Auckland change dramatically for the better. If you were in the city then you wouldn’t have found any of the shared spaces, much of the area surrounding Britomart was still run down and unused and Wynyard Quarter as a people place didn’t exist. While we’ve already seen a lot of change the next 10 years promises even more and much of it – such as the CRL – will fundamentally alter Auckland for the better.
In fact there is so much going on in Auckland’s City Centre right now that it’s starting to resemble a sand pit. There are a huge number of publicly and privately funded improvements happening. Importantly they are leveraging off each other to make Auckland a more liveable and attractive place. That’s good for Auckland’s economy which in turn is good for the entire nation. It also bears reminding that the changes and growth that’s occurred in recent years hasn’t spelt doom on the regions roads as all the growth in travel to the centre has happened not on in cars but via PT and active modes.
To highlight all of the known changes that are planned or desired for the next decade the council have created a map showing all the ones they know about (there are bound to be more appear over that time – especially private developments). Note: not all of these projects have funding confirmed yet so not all might happen. Click to enlarge the images or go here for the PDF version (2.6MB).
There are of course a few things missing from this map. A few I noticed quickly are AT’s Light Rail plans, Cycle lanes on Pitt St as part of the Nelson St Cycleway and cyclelanes on Karangahape Rd as part of the city centre priority routes.
The major criticism I can see in all of this is that the map is focused on the city centre. That’s understandable seeing as it’s come from the city centre integration group however perhaps the council should create an interactive version for the entire region. It could show what’s going on and how projects like the CRL benefit the entire region.
I’m looking forward to the changes that planned. It should make the city centre a much more vibrant and interesting and liveable place.
We were expecting public transport in March to be mad and throughout the month we certainly saw it living up to that expectation with daily reports of full services. Some people watched up to 12 full buses go past their stop before one with enough space arrived for them to squeeze on. On the parts of the rail network not yet served by electric trains services were also overflowing – and that was when they weren’t being cancelled or severely delayed.
Auckland Transport have today released the patronage results showing just how busy the month was and the results are astonishing. Across all modes there were an extra 1.1 million trip taken compared to March last year which at 15% is a huge increase. The annual result increased by 10% in comparison to the year to March 14. The results were helped by there being one extra business day plus events such as the Cricket World Cup, Volvo Ocean race and the Auckland Arts Festival.
Once again the star performer was the rail network which increased by a massive 33%. At 1.56 million trips in the month we finally surpassed the one month record of October 2011 which was from during the Rugby World Cup (although we got very close in February). Patronage for the last year is now at 13.4 million (up 21%) and at this rate we could see it top 14 million by the end of the financial year in June.
Of course with rail patronage growth accelerating it continues to reinforce our view that we’ll likely hit the CRL patronage targets well in advance of the 2020 date set by the government. At this stage it’s still looking like it could be in 2017 that we cross the 20 million mark. I wonder what the Ministry of Transport will say about it in their next report due August which will use those June numbers.
The other modes aren’t standing still either, bus patronage is also growing strongly. Patronage on the Northern Express is up over 14% and on other buses it is up over 11% compared to March last year. The 12 month figures are up 16.8% and 8.4% respectively. On ferries there was strong growth however the 12 month figure is still below its peak of mid-2012.
Lastly Auckland has now passed the milestone of 50 trips per capita per year (this accounts for population growth each month). That’s a good improvement from where we were a decade ago but well short of other cities. As a comparison Wellington has around 74 trips per capita while Perth has 80-90 per capita and Sydney about 130 per capita. Where do you think we’ll be in 10 years’ time? If the current growth can be continued – and with all the improvements planned then it should be possible – then around 80 trips per capita is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Here’s AT’s press release.
There’s been another big jump in the numbers using public transport in Auckland.
Annual patronage now exceeds 78 million boardings, an increase of 10%. In March there were 8.4 million boardings, a jump of more than 1 million on March 2014.
Auckland Transport chairman, Dr Lester Levy says it’s been a big year with increased services across rail and bus and the gradual replacement of the diesel trains with new electric models.
The big performer was rail which reached 13.4 million passenger trips for the year, an annual increase of 21%. March saw a monthly record high of 1.56 million train trips, an increase of 29% on March last year.
The growth is put down to the enhanced travel experience and additional capacity provided by the new electric trains and greater service frequency introduced over recent years.
Dr Levy says, “We’re moving to speed up the roll-out of the electric trains because we know Aucklanders want the extra capacity and the improved service that they provide.”
Auckland Transport is aiming to have a full electric network by the end of July except for the link between Papakura and Pukekohe which will continue to use diesel trains. These will be refurbished over time to provide an enhanced experience. The electric trains will provide improved travel experience and more capacity on the Southern and Western Lines.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the figures are good news for the City Rail Link.
“At this rate, Auckland will meet the Government’s threshold for financial support for the CRL three years early in 2017, three years earlier than predicted. Growth has been accelerating since late 2013.”
March was also a record breaking month on the Northern Express with patronage up almost 17% on the same month last year, the 12 month total reached 2.8 million.
It was also a record for other bus services as patronage rose 8% to 56.6 million. Ferry numbers for the year totalled 5.4 million trips, up 5% on an annual basis.
General Manager AT Metro, Mark Lambert, says growth on bus services is attributed to increased services and frequency, improving travel times from new bus priority lanes and a significant improvement in service punctuality being achieved by bus operators through new timetables. Further service level increases and punctuality improvements are planned for later this year along with the introduction of double decker buses on a number of routes. New network designs will also be introduced from later this year.
Meanwhile, Auckland Transport apologises for recent disruptions on the rail network including track and signal failures (operated by KiwiRail), mechanical breakdowns with the old diesel trains and staffing issues.
Mr Lambert says, “The new timetable from December 2014 introduced a 20% plus increase in services across the constrained Auckland rail network making it difficult to recover when there is an issue. We are working with the rail operator Transdev to speed-up the recovery time when unfortunately inevitable failures occur.”
This is just a quick reminder that there’s heaps of transport works on this Easter Weekend that could impact your travel
- On Good Friday and Easter Monday, buses will run to public holiday (Sunday) timetables.
- There will be no Good Friday NiteRider services. (NiteRider will run as normal on Saturday night/Sunday morning).
- Airbus Express and the Airporter 380 service will operate to a public holiday (Saturday/Sunday) timetable Good Friday and Easter Monday.
- All services will be replaced by rail bus replacement services (including on Good Friday) to allow for important improvements and maintanence work on the rail network.
- View the rail bus replacement timetables for the Easter weekend below:
- On Good Friday and Easter Monday ferries will be running to public holiday (Sunday) timetables.
- There will be no services for West Harbour, Pine Harbour, Gulf Harbour, Hobsonville and Beach Haven.
Easter 2015 coincides with the start of the school holidays and the NZ Transport Agency is warning motorists to plan ahead with traffic expected to be heavy on Auckland and Northland’s highways and roads.
“We expect the highways and roads throughout the region will be much busier than usual as people take one of the last opportunities to enjoy a long break away before winter,” says the Transport Agency’s Auckland and Northland Highway Manager Brett Gliddon.
“Everyone needs to think about their Easter journey and take extra care on our roads. If everyone takes time to plan their journey, it will help ease any stress and reduce the need to hurry, making for a safer and more enjoyable journey for everyone.”
In the Auckland region there were 32 injury crashes last Easter, resulting in two deaths, six serious injuries and 28 minor injuries. This was the highest Easter crash rate in the region in the last three years.
“We urge everyone to make their journey part of their long weekend away, taking time to stop for coffee or visit attractions if traffic is heavy to avoid frustrations and most importantly, to be patient and courteous.”
Traffic is expected to be heavy from 3.30pm on Thursday 2 April and particularly on the Northern Gateway Toll Road (SH1), north of Auckland. Last year, there were 18,500 toll road trips on the Thursday immediately before the start of Easter – 4000 more than normal on a Thursday.
“We expect numbers to be similar this Easter and to remain high throughout the holiday period.”
Mr Gliddon says drivers heading north are encouraged to pre-pay their Northern Gateway toll online – www.tollroad.govt.nz – before they leave on their journey. “Not only will there be no need to stop to pay the toll, there will be no bills when you get back home either.
“To help plan your journey, the Transport Agency has produced a congestion map for both the North and South Islands. If heading north from Auckland on Thursday, SH1 at Wellsford will be busy from 3.30pm to 8.30pm and again from 8am to 4pm on Friday. If heading south, SH2 at Waihi will be busy from 2.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursday and 11am to 2pm on Good Friday.
“Traffic heading back into Auckland will be heaviest on SH1 at Wellsford on Easter Sunday from 3.30pm to 5pm and noon to 2pm on Easter Monday, while from the south on SH2 at Waihi, the heaviest traffic flows will be on Monday from 10am to 3pm.”
For more details on traffic flows on SH1 and SH2 for the Easter period and the days and times when motorists may like to consider alternative travel, visit http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/current-conditions/index.html
In Auckland, the quieter Easter period will be used to complete major works, on the SH1 Ellerslie widening project and Northwestern Motorway. This work will involve on-ramp and overbridge closures.
- The Ellerslie-Panmure Highway citybound on-ramp will be closed, along with the left-lane citybound between the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway to Main Highway overbridge, from 8pm to 6am each night, from Thursday 2 to Tuesday 6 April.
- The St Lukes Road overbridge will be closed to all vehicles from 8pm Thursday 2 April to 5am Tuesday 7 April. Contractors will work around the clock to safely build up the existing road levels and construct the approaches to the new, higher overbridge. Pedestrian access across the bridge, as well as the cycleway, motorway, local roads and public transport links in the area, along with local attractions such as Auckland Zoo and MOTAT will remain open throughout the weekend.
- At the Te Atatu interchange both of the citybound onramps will be closed from 10pm Thursday 2 April to 5am Tuesday 7 April. In addition, the citybound motorway at Te Atatu will be reduced to one lane during the day (5am to 10pm) and closed each night (10pm to 5am). These closures are necessary to lower the Te Atatu citybound motorway on-ramp and raise a portion of the motorway, near the bridge. Pedestrian access across the bridge, the cycleway and westbound motorway will be unaffected.
Mr Gliddon says while road works sites throughout Northland will shut down at noon on Thursday to reduce delays and make it safer for everyone, motorists will still need to be aware of major construction projects underway on the north side of the Brynderwyns and at Akerama, 30km north of Whangarei.
“There will also be temporary speed limits in place and some unsealed sections of highway on SH1, 3km north of Kawakawa and on SH10 north of Zidich Road will need motorists to take extra care.”
Check the Transport Agency’s website: www.nzta.govt.nz for the latest highway information or sign up to www.onthemove.govt.nz for up-to-date information on what is happening on the route you plan to travel; freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS for national and regional travel updates.
“Don’t forget, you can also follow us on twitter and facebook to get the latest updates,” he says.
We’d already heard about the spectacular rail patronage results of passing 13 million trips, an increase of 1 million in just 5 months. Now we’ve got the full patronage information for February and it’s looking good.
One of the aspects I noticed in the table above is the Western line appears to have dropped however AT say that is just because of the timing of events last year and so if removing special event tickets from the numbers of each year shows patronage growth for the month of 9.8%.
One impressive aspect about the rail growth is that the total patronage in February was higher than any single month last year despite being only 28 days and including a public holiday. Only one month – October 2011 which was the peak thank to the RWC – has higher and the difference is only around 2,000 trips.
The total patronage growth is shown below.
Other than the rail results it’s also pleasing to see buses growing so strongly. The Northern Express (NEX) is obviously still up strongly but other buses which carry the bulk of patronage are increasing too. For the 12 months to the end of Feb patronage was 7.6% (around 4 million trips) compared to the same time last year.
With results so strong I’m really looking forward to seeing just how big the numbers are for March. Given what I’ve been seeing and hearing about how full trains, buses and ferries are the results could be absolutely massive. Of course we’ve also been hearing a lot about buses and trains being so full that it’s putting people off using them, especially on the rail network where issues and delays have become an almost daily occurrence.
On issues, this is showing through in the train punctuality stats which have shown a decline in recent months and it can also in part be attributed to services being too full increasing dwell times. I suspect the 78% the western line managed to achieve could go much lower in March.
We also have Wellington’s patronage results for Feb which have remained flat. The monthly figures for buses and trains were down 0.2% and up 0.1% respectively. Due to growth over the last year they were both up on the 12 month figure though.