Greater Wellington forecasts patronage highs for March
Patronage on Public Transport is set to reach new highs across the region as Wellingtonians brace themselves for what is colloquially known as March Madness.
According to Greater Wellington Regional Council Transport Chair Roger Blakeley, March is traditionally the busiest month for public transport for number of combining factors across the region.
“All of our schools are back, tertiary and university students and staff have returned, and sadly the summer holidays are over for most people too. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on the region’s roads and public transport,” says Cr Blakeley.
To help ease the burden on bus passengers in the lead up to March Greater Wellington introduced a new timetable in January as well as details of a new early bird fare trial.
“The idea of the trial is to encourage people that have flexibility to travel earlier so they can get a seat on the bus instead of being packed to the rafters or missing out on their first choice bus which can happen for some customers in the peak hours,” says Cr Blakeley.
In the past year there has been a significant patronage increase in rail, with Metlink reaching a new annual patronage high of 14.3 million passengers, an increase of 800,000 passengers on the previous year. Peak patronage rates were even higher, with the two busiest lines Hutt Valley and Kapiti rising by 9 per cent. Growth has continued this year with a further 5.5% increase in peak passengers so far this year.
Over the last year Greater Wellington introduced a series of maintenance yard improvements to keep as many trains out on the tracks as possible.
“We’re doing all we can to keep as many units in service but we know from patronage and population projections that we’re not going to be able to keep up with demand in the next few years. That’s why we’re asking government to invest in new longer distance trains for the region.”
In December Greater Wellington sent a business case to key Ministers and all Members of Parliament and Mayors in the Lower North Island detailing the need for more investment in trains, showing that population growth in the Wellington region had accelerated much faster than forecast over the last five years – an increase of 35,000 people against an initial forecast of 24,000 – and likely to increase further.
Greater Wellington also promotes active modes of travel during throughout the year with its Movin’March programme, in partnership with local councils and the region’s primary schools, celebrating the benefits of walking, scooting and biking to school.
“Walking, cycling and scooting to school have many benefits for our tamariki. As well as being a great opportunity for regular exercise in the outdoors, they improve independence, physical and mental health, decision making, risk assessment and road safety skills,” says Cr Blakeley.
Customers travelling on the Metlink network in March are encouraged to check the Metlink website and app before they travel to keep up to date with service changes and the impact of major roadworks throughout the region.