Aucklanders are making the shift from driving to work to taking public transport.
An Auckland Council analysis of the latest Census shows the car is still king with about 430,000 Aucklanders travelling to work by motor vehicle on Census day, compared to 43,392 who used a bus or train.
But during the seven years between census counts, the number of Aucklanders driving to work has fallen 2 per cent to 84 per cent and public transport has increased 2 per cent to 10 per cent. Even more heartening are figures showing the growth in public transport (11,043) has been bigger than the growth in people driving to work (10,200) between the 2006 and 2013 census counts.
The figures are contained in a report on transport trends going to Auckland Council's infrastructure committee tomorrow.
Principal transport planner Joshua Arbury, who wrote the report, says the "substantial growth" in public transport between 2006 and 2013 is a clear sign that recent improved public transport choices and improved travel planning has had a major impact.
But comparing Auckland with Australia's five largest cities, Auckland has the highest percentage of trips to work by private vehicle and is equal lowest with Adelaide on 10 per cent using public transport. Auckland, however, can boast the highest number of people walking to work at 5.1 per cent and is in the middle for people cycling to work.
The 2013 Census figures highlighted that different parts of Auckland show different transport patterns. Not surprisingly, rail is highest in areas close to the rail network. Bus use is highest on the North Shore that is served by the Northern busway and in the central isthmus which has the most bus lanes.
Private vehicle use is highest in rural areas and southeast Auckland, an area poorly served by public transport - although the report said this is being remedied by the Ameti project.
Mr Arbury said Ministry of Transport figures showing the kilometres travelled per person in Auckland per year fell from 8547km to 8147km between 2006 and 2013 followed an international trend over the past decade.
Research showed this was due to short-term effects, such as the global financial crisis, and longer-term changes, such as cultural shifts, growing urbanisation and higher oil prices.
The transport trends are being used to feed into Auckland Transport's regional land transport plan and funding in the council's 10-year budget review next year.
Infrastructure committee chairman Mike Lee said public transport figures had risen in the past year, but "it's been a mediocre performance over the past two years and we need to do a whole lot better".
Mr Lee said a couple of sharp fare increases in the past two years had led to chronic fare evasion. This resulted in falling revenue and under-counting the number of people using rail.
Last month, the council reduced patronage targets for rail for the next three years. Instead of aiming for 17.75 million rail trips by 2017, it is aiming for 15 million because of lower-than-expected patronage and revenue. The report said Auckland had experienced significant growth in public transport over the past decade from 52 million boardings to 70 million in 2013. Most of this has taken place since 2007.
Getting out of the personal car bubble
I spent my first 29 years in Auckland believing a car was essential, but over the last year have become a public transport convert.
Fiona Ralph says she enjoys the social interaction of using public transport. Photo / Dean Purcell
I still choose to drive on weekends so I'm more mobile but I now bus to work every day. I enjoy the extra time outdoors, the way it removes me from my personal car bubble and encourages interaction with other passengers, and the spare time it affords, which I usually use to read, catch up on emails, pluck my eyebrows (yes, actually) or meditate (again, actually).
I used to drive to work even though I lived only a 10-minute walk away. But after a year overseas navigating public transport systems in foreign languages and walking and biking everywhere, I realised I could save money (and the environment), plus enjoy more exercise and social interaction, by forgoing a car.
Having moved house a few times this year I've tried ferrying, training and bussing from different areas including Pt Chevalier, Stonefields, Takapuna and Waiheke, with varying degrees of success.
I think a better cycling and rail network, and more park and ride spaces are necessary in the future, but otherwise I'm happy with the buses - which only occasionally don't turn up and usually have good, friendly drivers. I also think the AT smartphone app and real time boards have helped make public transport a more viable option.
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