Has Bus Disruption Affected Patronage? Plus Wed’s disruption


busOn the eve of another disrupted Auckland bus service day (details at end of post), it’s worth noting that there are enough anecdotes around to suggest some people have quit public transport after the recent crippling bus dispute disruption.

It’s also disappointing some people who then switched to using trains because they enjoyed the concept, say it’s too much effort (those who drive  to a station and then catch a train) and have gone back to buses or cars. If you keep an eye on public transport strikes around the world, you’ll notice they are often followed with reports of a subsequent falloff in patronage as people worry public transport is no longer reliable. It’s going to be months before we really know what effect it had here.

The public transport patronage data for September has just come out – and we are now moving into the uneven time of year when some students have finished, others are studying at home or popping in to their educational place occasionally for exams. Then we hit Christmas and the inevitable New Year NZ closedown. So it will be at least February when we get some idea of any effect  – or hopefully find that after a great summer break, people who left public transport return to it.

Over the next few months, there are other potential patronage disruptions.

Buses will now be used most weekends and during the Christmas month instead of some or all Auckland train services.

The effect of weekend buses replacing trains is shown in those latest September figures. There were weekend track closures on the western line in September that did not occur in the same month last year and as a result, there was a 24% decline in passenger journeys made on weekend services in September compared to the same month last year.

However this was offset by a pleasing 3.1% increase in weekday patronage.

Thankfully, rail will get a boost from Jan 16 when the new Newmarket station opens but that may have a slight downside. There have been passengers who use the western line who say the present temporary western stop near the Newmarket pool suits them as it’s close to work  or their destination but say the new station is too far away so they will drive. (There has been lobbying for the temporary Western stop location to be retained for some services.  Memo authorities: it’s not too late to make this happen).

Back to the buses: Let’s hope the disruption will be over after tomorrow when the combined bus unions meet to hopefully agree to what has been decided by their delegates.

Tomorrow the union members will meet between 10.30am and 1.30pm.
As a result there will be disruption to the off-peak services of Metrolink, North Star, Waka Pacific, Go West, Link and City Circuit buses.  Full services will run up until  9.30 am and will resume from 2pm . All services will be unavailable between the hours of 10am and 1.30pm. There will be no disruption to school bus services. But check Maxx’s website for a few other changes.




  1. Chris R says:

    I looked at the rail line in the MBR (no pun intended) and noticed that patronage is actually falling on a month by month basis.

    That led me to pull up some figures:

    Jun 09 651,000
    Jul 09 724,000
    Aug 09 719,000
    Sep 09 702,000

    So since July monthly patronage has fallen by 22,000.

  2. jarbury says:

    Chris, as I explained on my blog that is simply due to typical fluctuations in passenger counts on a month by month basis. If you looked at the three months of last year I think you’d find the same pattern.

    I was chatting to Brian Rudman on the bus home today and he said that he has switched to walking into town most days, since the bus strike. I wonder how many others have given up on the buses?

  3. Stuart Donovan says:

    Chris - as noted by Mr Arbury, that is not a robust analytical comparison because there are many month-to-month fluctuations.

    These fluctuations are not just weather related - they also reflect changes in the timing of public/school/uni holidays.

    That’s why ARTA’s report compares patronage on a 12-month basis - to net out some of these seasonal fluctuations.

    And when you compare patronage on a 12-month basis (i.e. Sep 09 versus Sep 08) you see that it has increased (9% from memory).


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