Passenger Rail

Auckland public transport usage at highest levels in 60 years

CAF AM class train Auckland. Photo: Creative Commons / Dc4444

Ninety million trips have been made on Auckland’s trains, buses, and ferries over the past year, the most for the city since 1956.

That year was the last during which Auckland’s tram service was running. The same period also saw the trolleybus service enjoy a wave of popularity, while ferry numbers were still high because the harbour bridge had not yet been built.

While public transport figures are only just beginning to reach these levels again, Auckland was a much smaller city 60 years ago, with a population of approximately 400,000.

Auckland Transport graph
(Click to enlarge)

The mid-1950s was the dawn of the automobile age, and over the following decades, cars would come to dominate as the preferred mode of transport for Aucklanders.

“The Northwestern and Southern Motorways had just partially opened, so people were buying cars and public transport usage was dropping by around 8 million trips a year,” Auckland Transport’s chief transport services officer Mark Lambert said.

The low point in the mid-1990s, when usage dipped to around 28 million trips per year. However, since 2002, the number of those using trains, buses and ferries has risen by 3 million trips each year, while this year’s 90 million figure is a 6 million increase on 2016 – a growth of 6.7 per cent.

Train patronage alone has risen in this  same period from 3 million to 20 million trips a year.

Chris Darby, who is chair of the Auckland Council Planning Committee, said the figures indicated an exciting future for public transport in the city.

“We’re in the midst of a public transport revolution, with record levels of patronage across public transport. Aucklanders have a growing appetite for bus, ferry and rail travel, and making this reliable and easy to use is a key priority,” Darby said.

Passenger satisfaction has also risen in recent years, with the 2017 figures showing 90.5 per cent satisfaction for bus users, 93.7 per cent for train users, and 91 per cent for those catching the ferry.

“I use the ferry daily and I’m really happy to see the satisfaction levels on the rise,” Darby said.

“We’ve come a long way, but we can still do better. There’s even more services to be rolled out next year. Hopefully this will see our patronage pass 100 million, and our customer satisfaction reach 100 per cent.”