Bus Dispute Turned Commuters Off


As I feared here at the time - because overseas examples showed it always happened, the long Auckland bus industrial dispute last year, has had a lasting effect on public transport numbers.

As I keep saying, commuters will support public transport only as long as it continues to be reliable.

Thanks to that dispute,  many bus commuters gave up - or moved to rail.

The figures are finally out and bus patronage to the 6  months to December 31 was up a mere 0.4%, which blows out ARC’s hoped for and targetted  4% annual growth target - and affects income.

In fact the number masks the fact that only the Northern Express services (up 19.5% in the 6 months)  saved the day as there was a 1.7 per cent decline on bus services if you don’t count the North Shore services.

The worrying sign was that for two months after the industrial dispute, most bus patronage continued to drop, showing the lasting effect this has - although there is a increase in January.

The good news, in the six months: Ferry figures up 6% and rail up - 9.5% for Eastern and Southern and up 6.2% for Western.

Let’s hope that continues in these months of Western Line delays.




  1. James Pole says:

    As a poor bus passenger, I’m not really too surprised at that. Rail (even with the recent disruptions) is still more reliable so passengers are either moving to rail or turning off public transport alltogether.

  2. Greg Bodnar says:

    There is currently a similar trend in Wellington, owing to continued service disruptions on a regular basis. As a region, we’re hoping that the new rolling stock will see an increase in patronage.

  3. Jeremy Harris says:

    The good news is an increase is an increase, hopefully we can return to regular growth patterns next year (if petrol goes over $2 a litre that should help)…

  4. The only thing that’s going to increase patronage will be an increase in buses (ie more routes on shorter timeframes). Having to wait 1/2 hour as a rule makes most trips on public transit ineffective.

    You either just walk or drive when you can expect 30 minutes to be added to your journey plus the uncertainty that your bus will arrive at all! (This has happened to me the most on the weekends).

  5. Jeremy Harris says:

    You don’t need to increase the number of buses but you do need to strategically consolidate the routes and increase frequencies…

  6. max says:

    Jeremy, higher frequencies DOES imply more buses. You cannot consolidate routes* and not have some effects elsewhere.

    *Of course there may be benefits in some locations and routes to consolidation - but it’s not a magic bullet.

    More services ARE a magic bullet (though a costly one, at least at the front line of delivering the service). As many as needed to make timetables unnecessary (i.e. 10 min frequencies or better).

  7. Jeremy Harris says:

    If you have a set number of buses then less routes with higher frequencies will always attract more patronage than more routes with lower frequencies… The knowledge that you can turn up to a route without a timetable is a massive draw usually 10 minute frequencies is the minimum for this type of midset… This is the opposite of what we have in Auckland…

  8. Nick R says:

    I agree with Jezza, there are plenty of opportunities for reorganisation in favour of high frequencies using the same number of vehicles.

    Take my folks place by Mairangi Bay shops, on paper the frequencies are great. Six buses an hour in each direction (one every ten minutes), plus plenty of expresses during the peak.

    But you don’t actually get the convenience of ten-minute ‘turn up and go frequenicies’ because the buses are divided among three somewhat different slow suburban routes that wind their way across the Shore, you are actually left with one bus every half hour.

    A reorganisation of the bus system on the Shore could easily allow a ten minute headway at Mairangi Bay without a single extra bus.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>