Free Travel Success Proves Rail


ARC chair Mike Lee says he hopes anyone taking the train for the first time during the period of free travel doing the weekend “got the opportunity to experience the way of the future! “

Mike Lee was the one who promoted the idea of free travel while work was being done on the Newmarket Viaduct - an idea some of us also advocated to give Aucklanders a taste of the trains.

The most pleasing comment I overheard was on Sunday on a busy Southern line train was someone saying “I didn’t realise public transport was so efficient!”

A manual count was made during the free travel period -and as I reported earlier, there were 30,000 trips made, 6 times the usual Sunday number.

Lee, who is standing in the council Waitemata Gulf ward ,  says: “We estimate that Aucklanders choosing to take the train alone reduced the number of cars on the road by some 25,000 - and that’s before we consider all the responsible citizens who chose to leave their cars at home during that time. It says a lot about the progress we have made in recent years that ARTA was able to readily and successfully deploy this mass transit option as one means of helping avoid what could have been a transport crisis. ”

Traffic counts taken around Auckland over the course of the Southern Motorway closure indicated that regular traffic volumes were down by as much as 80%.

The unusual sight of an empty motorway on Sunday morning

NZTA has thanked Aucklanders for their patience and said the availability of a free transport alternative “certainly played a key role in managing travel demand across the region.”

It will now be interesting to see how many train converts were created.

Newmarket at Sunday lunchtime

ARTA continued to honour the free travel during the weekend even though the motorrway work was finished early and the motorway lanes opened just after midday Sunday.

BTW, Mike Lee has an interesting post about trams on his site




  1. Matt L says:

    There was also a good letter to the editor in the Herald today, basically the couple who used the train for the first time to get to Middlemore, they were impressed with the fact the trains were on time, clean and efficient etc. They also said they would catch the train again if given the opportunity (they lived on the shore)

  2. karl says:

    And that’s on our old rattly trains. Not to belabour the obvious, but I think the sparks effect will be huge. With all the press coverage that will happen, and with people seeing the new electrified trains go past, many WILL try them out, and quite a few will “stay aboard”.

    Predictions on when we reach 100 million passengers on PT a year?

  3. Joshua says:

    Even though our train’s maybe old, give credit to our train operators, as the interior of Auckland trains are not only comfortable for Public transport but is also pleasent. Hopefully our new trains keep up this standard we have got used to. Traveling in trains in melbourne or new york and tokyo, I think our interior is generally superior. This may actually have surprised alot of people.


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