The Rail Station Ranking Rug

Last week I posted the latest data from Auckland Transport for how many people used each rail and busway station in the last financial year. I’ve been keeping track of the rail station data for quite some time, including from the annual counts prior to HOP existing. One aspect I find interesting is to see how the use of stations changes in comparison to the other stations on the network.

Using the most recent data I’ve updated a table I put together ranking each station by the number of boardings they had. It’s called the rug as it kind of resembles an abstract pattern on a rug. For the purposes of this it only goes back to 2011 as prior to that the changes in rankings are much more common and it makes the chart harder to read.

The station order on the left of the chart represents where stations were at the first point and stations can be traced through to now to see how they’ve changed.

A few notable features that stand out to me.

  • The top four stations have held their position for about the last two years, although looking at the actual numbers this is likely to change in the next six months due to …
  • Panmure has rising strongly since the vastly upgraded station was opened at the beginning of 2015. As the new bus network comes on stream I expect this to move up to become the fourth busiest station.
  • Manukau has been the strongest mover and benefited greatly from the improvements in frequency that came with electrification. Again the new bus network and bus station which will be next to the train station is likely to push the station much higher in the rankings
  • Another big mover, also on the Eastern Line, has been Sylvia Park
  • Like the top stations, the bottom stations have also remained the same for some time. As we know Waitakere – which was open for 19 days in this data – has now closed and so will drop off the list next time it is updated. Westfield is scheduled to close when the New Network goes live in October but Te Mahia had a reprieve from AT

Station Rail Stations Ranked Jun 2016

Is there anything that stands out to you?

2016 Rail and Busway Station Boardings

The biggest driver of public transport ridership over the last year has been on the Rapid Transit Network (RTN), which consists of the busway and the rail network. Over the 2015-16 financial year both grew an astonishing 20.6% after each also grew by over 20% in the 2014-15 year. Trips on the RTN now make up over 25% of PT trips in Auckland, up from 10% a decade ago and that’s while usage of non RTN services has increased by 35% over that same time frame. The RTN has helped in showing that when relatively fast, frequent, reliable and high quality services are provided, that Aucklanders will flock to use them.

Auckland Transport have now kindly provided the the numbers breaking down both the busway and train results by station including where each

Before delving into it a few caveats.

  • The rail trips only count completed trips i.e. where both the origin and destination are known. This means trips where someone has forgotten to tag off, trips on some passes like the child monthly pass (a paper ticket) and special event trips aren’t included. The trips included below account for about 92% of all rail trips.
  • Where a train to train transfer takes place, such as at Newmarket, the transfer is included as a new boarding
  • The busway figures are slightly different and are based on trips that board or alight at a busway station. Outside of the busway, such as in the city, AT don’t show the exact stops where people board or alight but just group them into the general council area such as Waitemata and Gulf. As an example a trip from town to Albany busway station will show as boarding in the Waitemata and Gulf area and alighting at Albany station.
    • These aren’t busway stats, they’re results for the busway stations themselves. The results don’t show trips where people board and alight a bus outside of the busway where the bus travels on the busway for part of its journey e.g. someone who boards the 130 in Hobsonville and alights at Takapuna despite the bus travelling down the busway.
  • The busway results also include where a paper ticket is bought at a busway station but where the destination is unknown. Surprisingly that only accounts for about 7% of trips from busway stations.

As a result of the caveats above, I don’t think the rail and busway stations can be directly compared but seeing how they’ve changed over the year is valid.

This graph shows the change in boardings for each RTN station over the last year. The colours are based on the ones AT use with the grey, purple and orange depicting stations shared by multiple lines. I’ve also included the Waitemata area in the busway results as most of that will represent people catching a bus from town to a busway station.

  • As expected, Britomart easily dominates the results with 4.7 million people boarding a train from the station in the last year, up from 3.9 million the year before. In total 59% of all rail trips begin or end at this one station.
  • Some good growth too for Newmarket and for buses from the city too
  • Two stations actually saw usage drop, Pukekohe – which will almost certainly be attributed to the shift to shuttle services – and Sunnynook, for which I have no idea why usage has dropped.
  • Hibiscus Coast busway station only opened in about October last year so I haven’t included it here but impressively it now already it has about the same number of passenger trips as the Sunnynook station.

Station Boardings Growth 2016-2

The graph below looks at the how the usage of stations has changed as a percentage. Some observations:

  • Swanson has had great growth from its low base which I would assume is due to the opening of the new park & ride as well as the closing of Waitakere which will have seen a lot of users now drive to Swanson.
  • Manukau had the strongest growth and I expect that will only continue once the new bus network and particularly the new bus station open.
  • Puhinui is also improving well and even if you take the transfers out, it would still be up 28%

Station Boardings Percent Growth 2016-2

 

Below is a bit of a wall of number which are the basis for the graphs above for anyone interested. On separate tabs is also a matrix showing how many people travelled between each station should anyone want to make a visualisation of it. Or friend Aaron Schiff has in the past.

What do you think of the station usage results?

Update: Thanks to some comments I found I made a mistake with the Sunnynook and Smales Farm results for 2014-15. I’ve corrected that in the graphs and data set.

Busway Station Data for 2015

Last week Patrick posted the latest set of results of rail station data. We’ve long wanted to also see station growth from the Northern Busway and many readers expressed the same thing too. AT have now provided us with some data on this and it’s fascinating, especially when compared alongside the rail station results.

Many people only associate the busway with the Northern Express however it is actually used by quite a number of services for part of their route, for example the popular 881 which travels from Torbay Bay and the city, joining the busway at Albany. If you are catching a bus to/from a busway station, then integrated ticketing makes it easier than ever to catch whatever bus turns up next but also means that when considering busway station usage you have to take into account more than just the Northern Express service.

Northern Express IMG_4447

The data Auckland Transport have provided is for the 2015 calendar year and shows the number of people boarding or alighting at any of the busway stations along with where they came from or went to. For trips where the origin or destination was outside of one of the busway stations they have broken the results down by broad geographic area. For example, someone catching the 881 at Torbay and getting off at Smales Farm would be counted as Boarding in the North Shore and alighting at Smales Farm. Crucially though this omits another important group of busway users, those that board and alight outside of the busway but whose trips benefit from the busway e.g. the people who board the 881 at Torbay and alight in the city.

 

Unlike the rail network we don’t have any information on how this has been changing over time but it’s good to finally have some results. Here are some thoughts I’ve had looking at the data.

  • Usage of the busway stations is very strong and stronger the further you get from the city. I wonder how much this is a reflection of the very high peak frequencies provided and how much of it is due to the busway being very competitive in terms of travel times, often twice as fast as driving.
  • Usage of Albany are huge and even larger than Newmarket making it the second busiest Rapid Transit station in Auckland which is impressive considering the busway itself stops at Constellation Dr. To me the numbers once again highlight just how important it is that the Northern Busway is extended at least as far as Albany.
  • Constellation Station is also very strong and it is the fourth busiest Rapid Transit station, significantly ahead of New Lynn.
  • Smales Farm ranks at 10th overall, another impressive result and one that I suspect will grow strongly as the area is further developed.
  • Sunnynook gets very impressive results for what is by in large a walk up station. It ranks 16th overall and is only slightly below Henderson.
  • Even Akoranga which is largely an isolated island (with the exception of the nearby AUT Campus) does better than most of our rail stations.

Busway Station Patronage 2015

I think it also highlights that we probably need to rethink how we count trips in Auckland. While many of the rail stations such as New Lynn and Panmure have strong patronage we only count rail trips from the station. Perhaps we should also be counting those arriving or departing by bus to give a more complete picture of how these stations are performing. For the busway it would also be interesting to know just how many people travelled over it i.e. the ones who caught the 881 from Torbay to the City.

Lastly it’s interesting to think of the impact that park & ride has on patronage. Many people suggest that it is key to getting a lot more people to use public transport. On the busway only Albany (1,100 spaces) and Constellation (450 spaces) have park & ride. They do get some use on weekends but primarily it is on weekdays that they fill up. Even every space was being used every day for a trip (including weekends and public holidays) it would account for less than half of the boardings at each station (402k at Albany or 43% and 164k at Constellation or 22%)

Overall some very solid numbers from the Northern Busway Stations and ones we can now start tracking to see the change over time, like we’ve done with the rail station figures.

2015 Station Boarding Results

Auckland Transport announced yesterday that annual rail patronage has now passed 14 million trips after reaching 13.9 million by the end of June. While it’s great to see the growth that’s occurring overall, it’s also interesting to know where it’s coming from – and by that I mean which stations are people coming from and going to. Recently Auckland Transport kindly provided me with the the station boarding stats for most recent financial year – 1 July 2014 through to 30 June 2015. This follows on from them providing the same data for the previous year meaning we can now start to compare the changes.

Before delving into the results it’s important to note that they don’t cover every single trip. Not included are trips from the likes of special events, missed tag on/offs and a small number of pass options e.g. the child monthly train pass which still uses a paper ticket. That means for the last year the data covers 12.4 million trips out of the 13.9 million in total that were taken (89%).

As expected Britomart dominates the results with trips to or from the station accounting for 60.2% of all rail trips. What’s more the percentage of trips to or from Britomart is increasing as it accounted for 57% of trips in 2013/14. By comparison the next busiest station is Newmarket with just 12.6% of trips. Note: as there are a large number of trips just between these two stations, the total trips involving both of them is 68.2%.

The map below shows comparatively how many boardings occurred at each station across the network. The orange is where the Southern and Eastern lines combine and the purple where the Southern and Onehunga lines combine.

Station Boardings 2015

Things get more interesting when you compare how stations have changed from one year to the next. As the 2013/14 data only covered 83% of trips I’ve adjusted it to make a more fare comparison. Some of the interesting things to note from it are:

  • Manukau has had massive growth of well over 120% more boardings compared to last year – this is likely due to the opening of the MIT building above the station and the increase in services thanks to the introduction of electric trains.
  • Panmure has also had a big year growing 71% over the last year and like Manukau it’s likely related to the station upgrade and better, more frequent services.
  • The average growth across the network was 22%, Other than the two above, the stations that grew faster than the average were (in descending order):
    • Newmarket
    • Britomart
    • Newmarket
    • Papatoetoe
    • Puhinui
    • Sylvia Park
    • Onehunga
    • Penrose
  • Conversely at some station boardings actually fell. These were:
    • Waitakere – which is now closed
    • Te Mahia
    • Fruitvale, and
    • Swanson
  • The Eastern line Stations of Glen Innes, Panmure and Sylvia Park are now all in top 10 stations
  • New Lynn has remained the third busiest station despite having much less frequency than all the other stations in the top 10, imagine how busy it would be with 10 minute frequencies like those Eastern Line stations.
  • It appears the idea of downhilling is still growing. This is where people from on the Western Line get off at Grafton and bus/walk/cycle from there to Uni or other places in the city then carry on down hill to Britomart to catch the train home.

The table below shows the boarding and alighting data for each station. You should be able to filter the columns to get different views of the data.

Like last year the data also breaks information down further allowing us to see just how many trips went from each station to each other station on the network. I’ll look more closely at that in a separate post and reader Aaron Schiff who made this fantastic visualisation of the data is already working on updating it with the latest results.

From what is above, what do you make of the results?

Lastly I hope that one day we can get the Northern Busway stations included in here as well.