A day of free travel on trains, buses and ferries for Tāmaki Makaurau

By Kawe Roes

Auckland has reached 100 million public transport trips in the past year, making this the biggest year for buses, trains and ferry travel in the city since 1951.

On Sunday 23 June "...the public can travel free on buses, trains and most ferry services.  It’s a gesture by AT to say thank you to Aucklanders and to encourage new commuters to try out public transport,” says Auckland mayor Phil Goff.

The mayor says that Aucklanders' uptake of public transport is happening faster than estimated, with the 100 million target being achieved months ahead of time.

PHOTO: Auckland ferries making their daily trip across the Waitematā Habour.

“We haven’t seen this much use of public transport since 1951 when trams were in their prime," says Goff.

“There’s much more we need to do, and those changes are coming.  We are extending the Northern Busway, construction of the Eastern Busway has started and the Puhinui Bus-Rail Interchange and rapid transit to the Airport and precinct gets underway in October.”

PHOTO: 2013 saw Auckland finally getting electric trains after many years of using diesel trains.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford says that more people using public transport frees up the roads for those who have to drive.

“Our government is investing nearly $2.2 billion on public transport in Auckland over this three-year period and the growing trip numbers are evidence that if you invest in more and better public transport, people will use it.”

The last time public transport numbers were this high, trams were still running, trolley buses were very popular, ferry numbers were high and the Harbour Bridge was still eight years away.

PHOTO: A double-decker bus built for Auckland in England by Alexander Dennis. 

It was the beginning of the era of the car in Auckland.  The Northwestern and Southern Motorways had just partially opened, people were buying cars and public transport usage was dropping by around eight million trips a year.

The numbers using public transport in Auckland bottomed out at 28 million and stayed low until 2002.

Britomart Train Station opened in July 2003, a turning point for the renewed usage of public transport in Tāmaki Makaurau.