Public transport hits highest usage in five years Public transport hits highest usage in five years

Date: 23 February 2024

Nearly two million trips were taken on Auckland’s buses, trains and ferries last week – the most since before Covid-19, and this is only expected to get busier heading into March. 

Auckland Transport (AT) recorded 1.9 million boardings across the city’s public transport network from Monday 12 February to Sunday 18 February, the highest since 2019 when patronage was at its peak. This week that number is tracking to be even higher – Wednesday 21 February was the busiest day on Auckland’s public transport network in almost five years with 345,000 boardings.

AT Group Manager Growth and Optimisation, Richard Harrison says it is pleasing to see public transport usage bouncing back after the pandemic. 

“We’re at about 90% of where we were in 2019, and since then there’s been a big uplift in flexible working and people working from home which has obviously had an impact. This time last year we were around 75%, so this is a massive improvement.” 

The spike in patronage had been expected and Mr Harrison says it is normal for this time of year. 

“As Aucklanders return from their summer break, often having used up their annual leave, we see more people back at work and therefore more people out on the roads as well as catching public transport. This further picks up towards March as schools and universities start up again. 

“Last week indicates that we’re in for a particularly busy March. We’re already busier than our peak last year, and this week university students have started returning.” 

AT is doing what it can to prepare for the increase in public transport demand this March, Mr Harrison says. 

“Where available, we’ve deployed bigger buses to increase capacity where there is high demand. Our buses are fully staffed and we’re running extra services on routes we know will be the busiest, so even if a bus is full, it will only be a short wait for the next one. 

“To help make sure we are getting the most out of our buses, we’re encouraging passengers to move down the bus and use every seat when it is busy.”  

Passengers can see how busy their bus or train is on the AT Mobile App or Passenger Information Displays at train stations and some bus stops. 

“We’re monitoring the performance of the public transport system daily and looking at how we can better use the resources we have available to optimise the network’s performance,” Mr Harrison says. 

“We’re committed to keeping Auckland moving, but it is already getting busier out on the roads and on public transport. Driving and catching public transport could take a bit longer than normal, particularly in the morning and in the mid-to-late afternoon. We encourage commuters to make use of the AT Mobile App to plan their journey, track it in real-time and check capacity.”