Public transport boasts 60-year high in Auckland

Newmarket train station
Newmarket train station. Photo credit: Newhub.

Last time public transport was this popular in Auckland, trams still roamed city streets.

There were barely any motorways and no Harbour Bridge - that was 61 years ago, when very few of us had cars.

Auckland Transport (AT) has just announced more than 90 million public transport trips were made over the past year, six million (6.7 percent) more than the previous year.

"Auckland in 1956 was a totally different city," reflects AT chief transport services officer Mark Lambert.

"It was the last year the trams were running, trolley buses were very popular and ferry numbers were high, because the Harbour Bridge was still three years away.

"This was the beginning of the era of the car in Auckland. The northwestern and southern motorways had just partially opened, so people were buying cars and public transport was dropping by around 8 million trips a year."

Previously, trams were the main means of getting around the city, driving public transport to an all-time high approaching 120 million during petrol rationing during WWII.

As other forms of transport developed, public transport plummeted to its lowest point of 28 million in the mid-1990s, but has more recently been bolstered by improved rail services that reached a record 20 million train trips over the past 12 months.

Train passengers report 93.7 percent customer satisfaction, compared with 91 percent on ferries and 90.5 percent on buses. 

Auckland Council planning committee chair Chris Darby is excited about the future of Auckland transport.

"We're in the midst of a public transport revolution, with record levels of patronage," he says. "Aucklanders have a growing appetite for bus, ferry and rail travel, making this reliable and easy to use is a key priority.

"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 percent."