A complete re-working of Auckland’s public transport network has delivered more services and strong growth in passenger numbers.
Auckland Transport’s New Network saw an 11 per cent increase in trips in February. There were close to 98 million trips for the year, the highest number of passenger trips since the 1950s.
Mayor Phil Goff welcomes the surge in public transport services and patronage.
“The number of people now using public transport has reached record levels, not seen since the days when trams ruled Auckland’s streets. While the distance travelled by Auckland buses has increased 32 per cent each year, running costs have been held to just seven per cent.
"Aucklanders are getting both better services and value for money. And every person using public transport is one less car congesting our roads.”
Mr Goff says more people are using public transport because it is a reliable and efficient way to get around Auckland. “Our services have become more regular and built up around taking people where they want to go.”
The mayor says the process of change region by region was sensible and worked well. “This avoided the issues which occurred in other places such as Wellington. Despite the complexities involved, the implementation of the changes has gone smoothly.”
Colin Homan, Group Manager Integrated Networks Enablement says in 2012 Auckland Transport decided something had to be done to drive an increase in the numbers using public transport.
“We had about 70 million trips a year but the rate of growth was barely matching the population rise. We had to do something radical so we threw out the route map and started again.”
Mr Homan says simplicity is the key. “On 30 main bus and rail routes we introduced a minimum 15 minute frequency, 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.”
The new services have arrived at the same time as electric trains, newer buses, double-decker buses, new stations and integrated ticketing which means passengers now pay for their entire journey rather than each part of it.
Rapid and frequent services
Stacey Van Der Putten, Group Manager Metro Services says Auckland now has a public transport system which is working for more people.
“There has been an increase of 163 per cent in the number of people that live within 500 metres of a rapid or frequent service. Patronage is up in all parts of the city. When this has been done overseas there has often been a downwards turn in patronage but that didn’t happen here.”
She says there are still some issues to work through including the national shortage of bus drivers.
“We’re nearly there, the last region to be changed is Waiheke in October. We are also working to complete additional infrastructure and we want to improve capacity on some services and provide even more frequent routes.”
Auckland Transport is also investigating first-and-final leg solutions to access the New Network without needing to use the private car. AT is currently developing an On-Demand Rideshare roadmap to expand AT Local services to complement or replace Local scheduled feeder bus services. Other options to get people to public transport are bike, e-bike, e-scooter, and ride-share - services that are likely to be delivered by the private sector.