RLTP: Investment in the Rail Network

The announcement that AT is looking at Light Rail has understandably received a lot of attention – and will continue to for some time – however there is a lot of other fascinating information in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) that is worth covering. Like more discussion of Light Rail, I’m going to try and get this information out over a few posts starting with this one.

One area in the document that quickly caught my attention is on what works are planned/needed for the existing rail network to get it working properly prior to the CRL. Improvements are needed to increase the capacity, performance and resilience of the network. Perhaps most concerning is they say that there’s still a significant amount of track and underlying formation that has yet to be renewed by KiwiRail.

The performance of passenger rail services has improved over the past decade at the same time as service levels have increased significantly. Service punctuality (trains arriving within 5 minutes of schedule) has improved from just over 70% in 2005 to around 88% in the year to June 2014. Delays to trains caused by network infrastructure problems have dropped from an average of 1.4 minutes per train in 2005 to just over 0.4 minutes in 2014. However, further improvement in infrastructure performance will be needed if desired levels of reliability and performance are to be achieved by the opening of the CRL.

One factor in improving punctuality and reliability will be ensuring that rail infrastructure is in a fit for purpose condition. While there has been significant improvement in the condition of the Auckland network over the past decade through KiwiRail’s DART and AEP projects, including total replacement of the signalling system, there is still a significant extent of track and underlying formation which has not been renewed.

To get the network up to speed there are four programmes of work planned.

Network Performance Programme – to address existing network performance issues, including catch up renewals to address existing formation, drainage and track issues and replace sleepers.

Network Resilience Programme – to improve current network resilience to provide additional operational flexibility, ability to recover from delays and incidents, make maximum use of the existing network capacity and capability, and improve management of network maintenance and development.

Network Capacity Programme – to enable the operation of regular 10 minute peak EMU services and existing peak freight services following the completion of electrification, and to provide the base for the pattern and frequency of passenger services planned for introduction following the completion of the CRL.

Level Crossing Programme – to remove level crossings on the Auckland electrified rail network to reduce safety risk for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and rail users through closure or grade separation, including safety improvements at existing vehicle and pedestrian crossings.

This has set a few alarm bells off for me:

If there’s still a lot of backlogged maintenance yet to happen that means KiwiRail is likely to need a lot more network closures to get this work done. That could mean that we’re likely to continue to see parts of the rail network shut down during some long weekends and probably the Christmas/New Year period for this maintenance to occur. While AT and KiwiRail might try and minimise the impact but doing the work when the network is quietest, such shut downs will increasingly affect more and more people as patronage continues to grow.

The second concern is the suggestion that work is needed to enable 10 minute frequencies. These frequencies have already been delivered to the Southern and Eastern lines however we’ve been waiting for them for around 5 years after they were promised to happen when the New Lynn station was complete. Now admittedly this could just be me reading into the text wrong however later in the document AT say one of the benefits of the investment is to “Increase capacity to enable the operation of regular 10 minute peak passenger rail services and to cater for expected growth in both passenger and freight services“. In the meantime then until I see a Western Line timetable with 10 minute frequencies on it I will remain sceptical.  What is clear is that we need to get on with building the third main between Otahuhu and Papakura.

The third key concern is that to pay for what’s planned it relies on KiwlRail getting additional funding from the government. If that funding doesn’t happen then it could put the brakes on how well and how quickly the rail network develops and improves.

RLTP - Kiwirail funding

There does seem to be a few issues with this table due to there being nothing in the 2015/16 year and with the negative 2018/19 to 2024/24 column. This table from near the end of the document seems to be more accurate (click to enlarge)

RLTP - Rail Funding

In addition to the KiwiRail costs there are also Auckland Transport’s projects. The basic transport programme that has been proposed doesn’t include much in this regard with the only really notable point being the need to spend $8.1 million on refurbishing some of the old Diesel trains to service Pukekohe. I suspect that’s probably more than the trains are work these days.

RLTP - AT Rail CAPEX basic

This just really highlights that despite all the improvements in recent times that there’s still a lot of work to do even just to get our rail network up to a decent level of quality. Will the government provide the funding that KiwiRail need to get this work done?

Commuter costs

A report from the Australasian Railway Association highlights one of the reasons why investing in public transport can be so useful – it allows people to save money and in some situations a considerable amount. The report titled The Costs of Commuting: An Analysis of Potential Commuter Savings compares estimates of the cost of commuting by car with the costs for using PT to get to work. It also compares the costs based on just leaving their car at home with not having a car at all. The key findings for NZ are:

  • The average New Zealander commuter pays $11,852.98 per annum in car ownership and running costs
  • For those that decide to not own a car and commute with public transport instead, New Zealand commuters on average can potentially save $9,065.78 each year.
  • On average, if a New Zealand car owner decides to leave their vehicle at home and use public transport to commute to work, they can potentially save $2,119.03 a year

However in the case of Auckland and Wellington those costs could be even higher as the analysis uses what they call a “conservative estimate” of $1,000 per year for parking costs. That works out at about $4 per day which in some parts of Auckland like the city centre, is way less than you can find a carpark for. Further they also haven’t taken into account other vehicle costs such as insurance, or non monetary costs such as the costs to the environment or from congestion. Similarly on the PT side the analysis hasn’t considered potential upsides to PT use such as being able to use phones/tablets, read a book, have a sleep, socialise or even be productive and work.

The estimated savings for the various cities in the study are below.

PT vs Car costs

The savings are further broken down depending on the size of the vehicle being driven.

PT vs Car costs Graph

PT vs Car costs Graph 2

One big issue I do have is that it appears the authors of the report have only chosen to compare the costs for a two locations at the extremities of the rail network which in the case of Waitakere is one of the least used stations in Auckland.

Despite its limitations I do  think the point that PT can save individuals (or households) a considerable amount of money is an important one and it highlights why we need to build projects that make the PT system more useful. By doing so it means more people are able to use the network and in turn benefit from the savings provided. It also means that households may be able to drop from three cars to two or from two cars to one saving them even more money and space.

On this day… Thinking differently about ‘rail to the airport’

Today’s “on this day” post comes from 2011:

In many of the debates about whether building a railway line to Auckland Airport should be a priority or not, most of the focus has been on making it easier for travellers to get between the city and the airport. This is somewhat understandable, as for regular travellers it seems bizarre for the trip between the city and the airport to take longer than the flight between Auckland and Wellington. Furthermore, having a congestion free option, which generally only rail can provide (I’m yet to see how a busway could be provided between the Airport and the central city) provides a level of reliability to travel times that I’m sure would be much appreciated.

But rail to Auckland Airport would be pretty expensive – north of a billion dollars according to a study undertaken in 2008 (although this does seem to have ‘gold-plated’ the cost quite a bit compared to other similar projects). Furthermore, only a proportion of travellers (generally business travellers and tourists) would be making trips between the CBD and the Airport that would be best served by this rail line. It seems doubtful whether that would generate enough demand, in and of itself, to justify such a big expenditure.

However, thinking about ‘rail to the airport’ as merely providing a connection for travellers hugely under-estimates its potential in my opinion. In fact, while “rail to the airport” has been a useful term in gaining public support of this project, I think referring to the line as the “Southwest Line” would actually be more useful in recognising its wider benefits.

One of the main reasons for constructing this line is emphasised by a report that Auckland Airport had undertaken recently: pointing out the growing importance of the Airport to Auckland’s and New Zealand’s economy. Not only is this importance evident in the wider benefits of the Airport, but also in the area around the Airport’s growing significance as an employment hub. Put simply, a lot of people work either at the airport or around the airport and over the next 10-20 that number of employees is likely to increase very significantly.

The study, by consultancy Market Economics, also highlights the increasing importance as an economic growth node of the airport focused and supporting businesses located at or near Auckland Airport – within the Auckland Airport Business District (comprising land owned by Auckland Airport) or on neighbouring land. This growth node has been called the Airport Corridor.

The Airport Corridor already generates or facilitates around $3 billion of GDP annually and its contribution is expected to grow to $5-6 billion by 2031. This growth is expected to increase employment in the Airport Corridor from a current estimate of 21,000 workers to as many as 38,000 by 2031.

The study notes the correlation between jobs created in the Airport Corridor and growth in Auckland Airport’s traffic volumes – as the more vibrant the Airport becomes, the more companies want to locate close to it. Currently, there are about 1,800 jobs within the Airport Corridor for every million passengers passing through the Airport.

The Market Economics study concludes, “Auckland Airport facilitates substantial levels of business activity by enabling and supporting tourism and trade in Auckland and throughout New Zealand. As Auckland Airport (and the air transport sector generally) grows more rapidly than the economy as a whole, its role as a facilitator and generator of business activity is expected to steadily increase into the longer term. Within the Auckland spatial economy, the Airport Corridor will be a major focus of business activity, and a catalyst for economic growth across the region. Its significance as a driver of economic growth should not be under-estimated.”

There are around 80,000 people employed in Auckland’s CBD at the moment, so creating an employment node at the Airport of nearly 40,000 by 2031 gives a good indication of how significant that would be. The table below shows the increase:
The Airport picks up on the need to plan carefully for how this would work, and what infrastructure would be needed to support such an employment node:

Auckland Airport’s chief executive Simon Moutter said, “This study reinforces the important role that Auckland Airport plays in helping grow New Zealand tourism and trade by improving the air services connections between New Zealand and the world…

…“On a regional basis, it is important that Auckland Airport is seen not just as part of Auckland’s transport infrastructure, but a key driver of the supercity’s future economic prosperity and visitor economy.

“By commissioning this study, we hope to improve understanding about the strong growth potential of both Auckland Airport and the Airport Corridor. It is important that this growth is factored into planning decisions in areas such as land development, transport infrastructure and public transport services.”

A lot of the land surrounding the Airport is currently used for carparking. But with the area becoming such an important employment node in the future I do wonder whether wasting such valuable land on parking (surface level parking at least) will be feasible and desirable: both from the Airport’s perspective and from the perspective of Auckland as a whole. But if the attractiveness of the area as an employment node is going to continue it will need to be easy for people to get to work there – which is where the Airport Railway Line comes in.

As far as I can see, there will be three main users of the Airport Railway Line:

  1. Travellers themselves
  2. People working around the Airport and nearby employment centres (this is likely to be the biggest share of potential users)
  3. People living in Mangere and its surrounding suburbs, who work in Newmarket, the CBD,  Manukau or other parts of the rail network

It’s pretty unlikely that spending close to a billion dollars on constructing the Airport Line would make sense if it were only to fulfil one, or even two, of these three functions. But the fact that it can provide all three – coupled with the predicted speedy growth of the area as an employment hub – means that I think it would be viable. Certainly in my opinion the CBD Rail Tunnel is more necessary, but in 10 years time if we haven’t built the Airport Line I think we’re really going to leave Auckland in a bit of a messy situation of having another car-dependent Albany or East Tamaki: just bigger, uglier and more congested.

The full study into the contribution of Auckland Airport to Auckland and New Zealand’s economy is here.


There has been little information on progress for rail to the airport in recent times, although the currently underway Kirkbride Road interchange project is being future-proofed for either light-rail or heavy-rail – as Auckland Transport seem to have a slightly strange obsession with light-rail at the moment. It seems that there’s still not a particularly strong push for this project, which is perhaps OK given the focus on CRL at the moment. However, as the post above highlights, Airport Rail is really as much about serving the surrounding areas and the Airport’s growing employment numbers as is it about travellers. It will be important in 2015 to see some progress, at least with route protection.

Also while on the topic of airport travellers, it’s interesting to see the numbers are continuing to rise strongly and in November reached 14.8 million for the previous 12 months.

Airport Passenger Numebrs - Nov 14

Uncommonly Good: Melbourne Apartments show the way forward

‘The Commons’ is a new small apartment block next to a train line in Brunswick, inner Melbourne by Breathe Architecture. It is noteworthy for  the cost of the apartments [pretty affordable for the area], its strong sustainability credentials and design features [especially the shared areas], its financial success as a development, but most of all because it is a concrete example of a great way forward for urban redevelopment. It ticks every box for accessibility, humanity, and public good. Here is how it was covered in last Thursday’s The Age. Be sure to watch the video.

The Commons sarah-hurst

It is such a success that another block is underway nearby but this time not funded by a traditional developer but sort of crowd sourced, mainly by the architectural community, and it will be marketed in a fresh way too.

The total absence of any onsite car parking and mechanical aircon along with clever use of communal services that enable the generous size of the living areas and the high build quality for the price point. This shows how the removal of anti-urban planning regulations that most western cities have inherited from last century can stimulate innovation by architects and developers.

It also shows that to really offer choice and increased affordability into urban housing markets cities need to make two coordinated moves: remove the straitjacket of Minimum Parking Regulations and other dispersal enforcing regs and upgrade its Transit and Active systems to as high quality, frequency, and permanency as possible. Together these moves enable the market to provide real TODs, Transport Oriented Developments, of all sorts of scales for all sorts of markets, on currently undervalued brownfields sites.

Once these conditions exist then change can occur on scales more attractive to a variety of players driving experimentation and innovation. After all, whatever government, Council, and the market is doing now in Auckland for dwelling supply isn’t working as well as we need. Significant improvement is coming to our transport systems, now lets get the dwelling regulatory environment fixed too. Then good things will follow. As one fix is nowhere as powerful without the other.

Below, the parking [from here:http://www.redshiftaa.com.au/portfolio/apartment-design-as-it-should-be/]:


Electric trains now from Papakura

Some good news yesterday with the first electric trains carrying paying passengers now operating from Papakura. Like what happened with the Eastern Line, we’re seeing services start off offpeak only and then over time as any issues (which hopefully there shouldn’t be) get addressed – and

It’s great to see them being rolled out and I suspect we’ll see them go fully electric down south in the next day or so.

While it’s great that these are being rolled out, I can’t wait for them to be on all services

Will we see new train operators in Auckland and Wellington?

As many readers will know from the monthly board meeting updates we see, Auckland Transport are in the process of putting out a new tender to run all rail services in Auckland from Mid 2016 onwards. Wellington has also going through this same process and ATs reports say they’ve been working with the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) on some aspects. The outcome of the tender process will be fascinating as in Wellington Kiwirail (and predecessors) have always run the regions trains. In Auckland they were contracted out over a decade ago – a time when very few people caught trains – to Connex which became Veolia and now Transdev. A few years ago the contract was extended to mid-2016 so AT weren’t changing operators in the middle of the roll out of electric trains. Since that time Transdev’s performance has improved significantly which is good – although it’s still not perfect.

One of the aspects that spurred the contracting situation a decade ago was that the existing operator didn’t want to run the services anymore. The growth in train use that Auckland has seen and will continue to see over the coming years has made operating the trains a much more attractive proposition. As such a number of companies are likely to be very interested in winning the tender and the Wellington tender gives us an idea of who some of the main contenders will be. Just before Christmas the GWRC announced the short list of companies who will be sent tender documents for the running and maintaining of trains.

Greater Wellington Regional Council has finalised a short-list for the tendering of its new rail contract.

Greg Campbell, the Regional Council’s Chief Executive, says that after careful evaluation of Expressions of Interest the following companies have been short-listed. They are:

  • Transdev Australasia Pty Ltd in a joint venture with South Korean-based company Hyundai Rotem. Transdev operates Auckland’s train service, Sydney’s light rail, ferries in Sydney and Brisbane, and bus services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin. Hyundai Rotem is the manufacturer of Wellington’s electric Matangi trains and has extensive experience maintaining rolling stock around the world.
  • Keolis Downer in a joint venture with KiwiRail. Keolis Downer operates the Gold Coast light rail network in Queensland, Australia and Keolis operates Melbourne’s Yarra tram services. KiwiRail currently operates Wellington’s train services and maintains the region’s train fleet.
  • Serco – an international service company that currently operates a range of rail services in the UK, the Middle East and Australia.

Greg Campbell says tender documents will be issued to the short-listed companies early next year. “We plan to select a preferred tenderer around the middle of next year and have a contract signed by the end of 2015. The new rail contract will take effect from 1 July 2016.”

The Regional Council is developing and procuring new performance-based, partnering contracts for all public transport services in Wellington. “The new contracts will have a much greater emphasis on providing high quality, affordable services that encourage more people to take the train, bus or harbour ferry.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that two of the bidders are joint ventures, one of which includes Kiwirail which means that regardless of who wins the current situation in Wellington will definitely change. My understanding is in the Keolis/Kiwirail bid Keolis will actually run the trains on a day to day basis with Kiwirail doing the maintenance – that in itself is a big change for Kiwirail. I assume it will be the same thing on the Transdev/Hyundai Rotem bid, Transdev running the trains with Hyundai Rotem maintaining the trains.

Presumably all of these bidders are also hoping to pick up the Auckland contract too as there would be some improved economies of scale from doing so. The big difference in Auckland is the train manufacturer CAF already has a 10 year contract to maintain the trains.

Perhaps a disappointment from the list above is that all operators seem to be only about operating the service. It’s a shame there doesn’t appear to be an operator like MTR from Hong Kong who might also be interested in not just running the services but investing in developments around rail stations in a bid to improve patronage. I imagine others will also raise the question of why the operations aren’t being brought in-house by both AT and GWRC – even if operated by an independent entity – rather than the profits going overseas.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens in both cities but there’s certainly a possibility that both cities will see some major changes in the running of trains going forward and that has the potential to be quite disruptive for some time. There’s definitely some interesting times ahead.

How far we’re travelling on PT

Last week I wrote about how I’d found some interesting data from the NZTA on how our Public Transport system is performing. In the post I looked specifically at the fare revenues that were collected and in this post I’ll look at Passenger Kilometres Travelled.

Passenger Kilometres Travelled (PKT) is the total distance that people travel on PT services and is useful as it helps to show how the PT system is being used. While we know patronage in Auckland has increased remarkably over the last decade it might be that people are travelling the same distances as they were, alternatively they could be making longer or shorter trips. As an example more people taking longer trips might mean that PT is becoming a more attractive as a way of avoiding congestion. PKT is also useful as it more accurately allows us to compare with Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT) as in the past some people have criticised us for comparing VKT and the total number of PT trips.

One aspect I’m not sure about is how PKT has been calculated in the past, I can only assume it’s an extrapolation of some combination of ticket sales, passenger counts and other measures. The total VKT graph looks similar to overall patronage results so I’ve skipped that and instead will focus on the average distance people are travelling. This is shown below:



There are a number of fascinating insights we can take from this as all modes are showing some change. The first thing you will notice is that VKT is quite different for each mode, on average train users travel the longest distance while bus users generally have the shortest trips. The overall distance travelled is a reflection of the changes in each mode:

  • Bus – For a decade the average trip length of bus users remained almost unchanged at less than 6.5-7km per trip. Since 2011 thought it’s rocketed up to be just over 9km per trip in 2014. To put that in perspective 9km in a straight line from the city centre covers almost all of the old Auckland City Council area. I suspect the reason for the increase is twofold, longer trips due to increased patronage on services like the Northern Express and probably better data from Hop (and formerly Snapper on NZ Bus).
  • Train – Train journeys are bucking the trend and seem to be getting shorter over time as more people use them for a wider variety of trips. While most people travel on train to the city, the station stats we saw at the end of last year highlighted there are also a lot of shorter local trips, especially on the western line.
  • Ferry – The ferry result is the one that surprises me a bit. Around 80% of all ferry patronage comes from either Devonport or Waiheke Island. The increase since 2011 might be a reflection of more trips from Waiheke plus ferries from Half Moon Bay, Gulf Harbour and Pine Harbour.



Patronage in Wellington has seen much less change over the last 15 years thanks to its more mature system and that is reflected in the PKT stats. Like Auckland trains generally have much longer trips over buses or ferries. Again this isn’t surprising considering how far out of Wellington the rail network extends.

The next graphs show how buses and trains compare between Auckland and Wellington. For buses Auckland and Wellington are remarkably similar until recently while the rail networks is considerably different thanks to the longer network e.g. the Wairapapa trains.

Auckland vs Wellington PKT by Mode

Lastly I mentioned that this allows us to more accurately compare measures against changes in VKT. The next graph looks at the PKT compared to VKT for Auckland. Due to the disparity in the number of trips I’ve indexed the results to show where the change is occurring. This is just based on the total VKT however it looks pretty similar if compared on a per capita basis with the primary difference being that the blue line is flatter.

Auckland PKT vs VKT

Clearly one mode of transport is growing much faster than the other


AT have got in touch to say that since the full roll out of HOP in March it’s allowed them to get a more accurate picture of bus PKT and that the average distance travelled on buses is 7.6km

On this day… electrification contract signed

Transportblog is now nearly six years old and there are now over 4,000 published posts by many people. One of the downsides is that often it seems like some great posts get lost over time in the archives that are still relevant to us today and useful to shed some light on again. In order to do so, we’re establishing a semi-regular feature that will go back into the archives and dig up a post that occurred “On this day…” in a previous year. We’ll then add some comment to the bottom of the post that provides a bit of hindsight to the previous post and what relevance there might be. It should be an interesting feature.

This “on this day” post comes from 2010:

Within a rather interesting NZ Herald article on what rail works have been progressed during the holiday period, there’s also mention of a rather important upcoming milestone in the rail electrification project – the signing of the contract for the main electrification works. Here’s the relevant parts:

Transport Minister Steven Joyce will announce a key contract for the region’s $1 billion electrification project on Thursday, as well as formally opening Newmarket’s $35 million replacement station, ready for trains to start using it the following Monday…

… The contract to be announced by Mr Joyce next week will be for the supply and installation of train traction wires and their masts within a $500 million Government funding envelope for electrification infrastructure, from which $90 million was committed last year for track signalling.

A further $500 million of government money has been allocated for electric trains, for which KiwiRail is finalising specifications before inviting bids from international suppliers.

The electrification project will begin in stages between now and 2013, starting on the sections of railway between Otahuhu and Britomart, and between Newmarket and Morningside.

For a long time the pessimistic part of my brain could not believe that electrification would happen until I saw the signing of the contract for the wires to go up. That happens Thursday – so there’s definitely no turning back now!


Back in 2010 this point in time seemed like a long way away but here we are. The milestone for completing the electrification works passed pretty quietly towards the end of last year and while it was late, it does not appear as though the electrification works have held back the rollout of electric trains which have been happening since April last year.

2015 will be an exciting year for Auckland’s rail system, as electric trains are introduced to the two “big lines” of the system, the Southern and the Western. I suspect we will continue to see rapid patronage growth throughout the year.


How much we pay in PT fares

Looking through the NZTA website recently I managed to find some data I’ve wanted to see for some time about our PT system. In particular information is about fare revenue, the amount of passenger kilometres travelled and the number of kilometres services travel. I’ll cover it all off over a few posts but to start with I’ll just look at fare revenue.

Fare revenue is the total amount that passengers pay to use PT services and can be affected by a number of factors such as

  • The number of trips taken – more people will generally mean more revenue
  • The distance people travel – i.e. if users start taking longer trips revenue will grow
  • The age of passengers – e.g. a higher proportion of younger people will likely mean more concession/child fares and therefore less revenue
  • The fare structure – reducing fares, like what happened last year for most users, could mean less revenue
  • The number of people paying by cash – cash fares are more expensive than passes or multi trip/HOP fares
  • The mode people used – e.g. ferries re more expensive than buses or trains

Unfortunately we don’t know what’s changed with all of those factors over the years so for this analysis I’m going to assume most (such as the age of passengers) has stayed fairly constant. Usefully the data is also broken down by mode allowing us to see the changes at that level.

In Auckland fare revenue has almost doubled over the last decade from $85 million in 2003/04 to $162 million in 2013/14 while at the same time patronage climbed from 52 million to 72 million trips. An interesting fact I noticed while looking at this data – and that highlights the factors listed above – was that despite patronage on trains and buses falling during 2012/13 fare revenue from passengers actually increased slightly. I was also surprised at just how similar both ferry and train revenues have been for most of the last decade.

Auckland Fare Revenue

That means the average fare Aucklander’s pay has also increased and risen from $1.64 per trip in 2003/04 to $2.24 per trip in 2013/14. The average ferry fare stands out as being well above the other modes reflecting the fact that ferry services cost more to use. I’m not sure why ferry revenue dropped so much in 2003-2007 period, patronage on ferries were certainly growing.

Auckland Average Fare Revenue 2

At this stage it’s looking like we’re paying quite a bit more for many of our PT services but before we declare that I’ve also made a version of the graph above where the average fare has been adjusted for inflation. Doing so shows that on average for buses and trains, fares have actually decreased while ferries remain volatile.

Auckland Average Fare Revenue Inflation adjusted 2

It will be fascinating to see the impact on these figures from the patronage surge we’re experiencing and from the reduction in fares for HOP users (the majority) in July last year. Overall it seems like Aucklander’s are on average paying the paying slightly less for their buses and trains than they did a decade ago. Can the same be said for our friends down in Wellington.

The overall Auckland and Wellington graphs have a number of similarities, especially with the total figure. What’s particularly interesting is that the increases has occurred despite limited patronage growth for most of the last decade.

Wellington Fare Revenue

What’s particularly interesting is that the increases has occurred despite limited patronage growth for most of the last decade. That means like Auckland the average fare has increased.

Wellington Average Fare Revenue 2


And here it is inflation adjusted. Unlike Auckland, adjusting for inflation doesn’t change the outcome for rail which in Wellington is still seeing fares increase on average.

Wellington Average Fare Revenue Inflation adjusted 3

So how do these average fares compare with other international cities? I took look at a number of them in Australia, Canada and the US. In most of those cities, but not all, the average fare is somewhere been $1 and $2. That puts Auckland and slightly above average of the cities I compared but not massively so and as mentioned earlier and I think the average will come down thanks to the fare reduction in July. I also hope the current surge in patronage continues and that too is bound to bring the average down.

Lastly I’m going to look at revenues per Passenger Km travelled. I’ll only compare bus and train fares for this one but include both cities. What we can see is that on average Aucklanders catching the train are paying more per km travelled than those in Wellington but Wellington bus users pay more.

Auckland vs Wellington Fare Revenue

Auckland vs Perth rail comparison updated

Yesterday in Peter’s post about building missing modes, reader Greg N made the following comment about his use of a graph we’ve been using for some time.

That Perth v Auckland graph is getting pretty “last decade” – its now 2015 – we’re halfway through the next decade, (2010-2019) and we have over 12m people on the trains and they’re now partly electrified like Perths was in 1991.

Any chance of (a) an updated graph with 2012,13 and 14 figures being added, and also (b) a fresh graph that moves Perths passenger figures by 20 years “later” to align Perths 1989 numbers with Aucklands 2011 figures (and which then includes the actual Auckland rail figures from 2012 to (Nov) 2014)? And to help make the years show up individually, not just every odd numbered year – trim the Auckland numbers before 2003 as that aligns with Perths 1981 “start figures”.

That way the same sparks effect that Perth had should (a) become obvious as happening here too – something we keep getting told by naysayers that will never happen as we’re not at all like Perth.
and (b) we can use the Perth rate of climb they experienced post 1991 as the visual predictor or where Auckland rail usage is going.
[If the figures are available, I’m able to fiddle a spreadsheet to have a crack at doing that if you like].

While Perths experience in the ’90s may [not] be 100% accurate as a exact predictor of Auckland in the ’10s,
I’m damn sure it will be way, way more accurate over the next few years – than all those traffic predictions of late have been.

And the graph he refers to is this one


I don’t have the figures for every year but did manage to find some historical patronage information and more recent data is available here so below I’ve updated the graph to highlight what’s happened since 2011.

Auckland vs Perth Patronage - 2014

Personally I don’t think we’ll quite see the same high level of growth as Perth did which was also driven by the opening of Joondalup Line but I think we will see significant growth for the next few years as we grow towards 20 million trips. Perhaps Perth’s original lines give us an indication of what we can expect to see on our existing rail network prior to the CRL and combined those lines currently carry between 24 and 25 million trips per year.