Auckland's rail patronage is 10 times higher than in the early 1990s, having swollen to 13 million passenger trips in the past year.
That compares with just 1.123 million trips taken in 1993, before Britomart Station opened 10 years later, meaning train passengers no longer had to traipse a kilometre from the old Strand rail terminus to Queen St.
Auckland Transport says an average of 51,000 passenger trips were taken each week-day last month - about 10,000 more than at this time last year.
That included 12,500 trips during the 7am to 9am morning peak, prompting it to lay on longer six-car trains on some Eastern Line services this week.
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Mayor Len Brown says the latest milestone comes just five months after rolling annual patronage hit 12 million trips, putting Auckland well in line to meet a Government target of 20 million for an early construction start on rail tunnels from the western end of Britomart to Eden Terrace.
But Mr Brown says the ever-growing throng of passengers threatens to max-out Britomart as a dead-end station by the middle of this year, when it will have reached capacity for the number of trains able to use it.
"This simple fact is no more trains will be able to fit in," he said today.
What he omitted from his warning was mention of a 40 per cent greater carrying capacity of the new electric trains, compared with the diesel clunkers they are replacing, and their potential to double up to six-car units at peak times.
Even so, his staff say that will still not buy enough time to delay the $2.5 billion City Rail Link beyond next year, against the Government's refusal to contribute to the project until 2020 unless targets it has set for patronage and employment growth can be met before then.