Greetings of the season from Stewart Island. The other day, I wrote a piece about patronage in Auckland, Greater Wellington, and Greater Christchurch. This was based on Auckland data up until October 2018, and Wellington and Canterbury data up until June. Here’s an update.
Auckland Transport issued the November update on their website in mid-December. Their patronage is steadily increasing; things are pointing in the right direction. Thumbs up!
Greater Wellington used to publish their data on a monthly basis. For some reason, this stopped at the end of their last financial year. I’m not sure why they did that but my cynical mind concluded that their July 2018 network changes would have resulted in a dip in patronage. As the changes have proven to be hugely controversial maybe they didn’t want to add to the bad press? On 19 December I asked them for newer data and got them a couple of days later. Good customer service! Long story short – my suspicion was unfounded; their patronage is steady, and I shall eat my hat. What they did change this financial year is that they exclude commercial services from their data pool, i.e. their Airport Flyer and some Hutt Valley services as listed on their website. They have kindly given me last year’s data excluding their commercial services hence I can work out what difference this makes; it turns out that just under 2.5% of their patronage is contributed via commercial services. For the 2017/18 financial years, you see parallel patronage lines in my graph below; one with and the other without the commercial services. Let’s hope that they go back to their monthly reporting schedule. Let’s also hope that their patronage remains at least steady.
And how is Canterbury patronage doing? Well, we were wondering and there was this Twitter interaction the other day.
But rather than wondering, why not simply request the latest patronage data from Environment Canterbury (ECan)? I did so on 11 December by writing to their chair Steve Lowndes. On 18 December, I was told that my request had been passed on to “the relevant persons for an appropriate response”. As of today (22 December), we don’t know what patronage is doing and we are left wondering what an “appropriate response” looks like. Will it be the patronage numbers? Or will it be a list of reasons why the public can’t have the data?
My next communication to ECan will either be a kind thank you, or a request under the Official Information Act 1982. If the latter, these requests will henceforth be made once a month. Plain and simple, this type of data should be in the public domain and if they are unwilling to publish that then I will do it for them.
13 thoughts on “Patronage update”
It will be very interesting to see Ecan’s reply 🙂 These figures should be made available on Ecan’s website for everyone to see. I am looking forward to October 2019 when I believe local regional council is returned to a fully elected council.
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Yes, 12 October 2019. Mark it in your diaries. I will certainly share my thoughts on any incumbents and research the newcomers. I understand that at least one of the commissioners will stand for election (the one with the biggest name recognition; unfortunately also the most damaging one in my view).
Yes and the odds are still stacked in favour of rural areas. Under Ecan’s new representation bill Christchurch will have 8 elected members while rural constituencies will be granted 6 members. I assume that addressing public transport issues will probably not be top priority for some rural members.
Your request should already come under the 20 day OIA period as all requests such as that should immediately be treated as LGOIMAs.
Definitely agree this info should be published regularly. I say keep going until you get some basic, transparent, regular data!
Yes, this is correct. The next correspondence could be a reminder that the LGOIMA act applies to any request, along with a reminder of the date the request was made. (The act is clear that a request does not need to mention the act, and that even a verbal request needs to be treated as a LGOIMA request.)
I find it is a good pattern to follow. The authorities don’t like the reporting that accompanies the formal LGOIMA process, so it’s good to make the request without mentioning it first – it gives them a chance to provide the information without that hassle and in the way they prefer.
Then if they’ve been slow or reticent, a reminder that the request was indeed a LGOIMA request means they have to work a bit faster to get the information to you.
They don’t even need to work faster or anything like that. They hold the data in a very simple spreadsheet and each month, they add the previous month’s patronage number to it. I’ve seen the spreadsheet.
Hmmm… Then the mddle of Jan should be a reasonable time to expect it by, even with the season… The office of the ombudsman is concerned about the time taken to complete LGOIMA requests… If it draws out longer, I could send you their comments on the topic.
The patronage data used to be published, but it was hidden away at the back of the minutes of their monthly committee meetings rather than as a stand alone document. I’m not sure if they still do they but might be worth searching through those?
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Hi Chris, yes, they report patronage to the Greater Christchurch Public Transport Joint Committee. That’s where I quoted the spin from in the previous article that “patronage has increased” when in fact patronage per capita (the meaningful metric) has fallen. Their dashboard reporting is all pretty flash and my reporting is all very simple. I reckon you get more out of my simple analysis: things are pointing in the wrong direction.
Click to access Greater-Christchurch-Public-Transport-Joint-Committee-Agenda-Papers-15-August-2018.pdf
Off-topic, sorry. Merry Christmas, and I’m having a happy one in Christchurch!
Coming home from my friend’s Christmas lunch today on a Blue bus, the (otherwise very lovely) bus driver decided to shout at a lime scooter rider waiting at the lights ahead of us. We were waiting to turn right from Colombo St into Tuam St and the bus driver believed the scooter rider shouldn’t be on the road.
Is there any history to this? As I understand it, it is not only legal to ride a scooter on the road, it should be welcome in an area of the city with a 30 km/hr speed limit.
Is there some Christchurch-specific regulation I should know or is this something that needs to be taken up with the bus company?
Her shouting managed to scare the rider off the road. She said she’d been advised that scooters had no right to be on the road. Thanks.
Sorry for slow response, Heidi. The holidays have intervened…
No, there’s no by-law or anything in place. The bus driver is plain wrong.