The telephone survey of 750 residents in the Wellington region, carried out for Metlink during April / May, found that 78 percent of respondents had used public transport recently compared to 70 percent in the same time last year.
“The increase is statistically significant,” says Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee, which oversees public transport. “Patronage numbers can fluctuate quite a bit from month to month so it’s difficult to attribute changes to specific factors but we are certainly aware that the extension of commuter services to Waikanae last February has boosted public transport patronage levels in Kapiti.”
The survey also recorded higher levels of satisfaction with the quality of bus and train vehicles than the previous year.
“This could be the result of the huge investment that’s been put into public transport over the last few years, such as fleets of new Wairarapa trains, new buses and new Matangi trains. These new vehicles are now being enjoyed by more and more public transport users.
“Survey respondents were also more satisfied with the visibility of stations which seems to show that all the work done to improve many stations over the last few years is paying off.
“However, less than half (49%) of people surveyed said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the train service overall. This comes as no surprise to us – there have been huge issues with trains over the last 12 months but things have begun improving even since this survey was taken. For instance we now have more Matangi cars in passenger service and reliability is definitely improving. So things are getting better and we should see significantly higher satisfaction scores next year.”
Substantially more survey respondents were happier with bus services than last year. Sixty-seven percent of recent (i.e. those who have taken a bus in the last three months) bus users were satisfied or very satisfied – up from 51% in 2009 and 58% in 2010.
“As well as the introduction of more modern buses, including a new fleet of trolley buses over the last few years real time information has now been rolled out on Go Wellington buses,” says Cr Glensor. Real time information tells you, through the Metlink website, your smart phone and on-street displays when your bus will arrive. “As more on-street displays are installed, we’d expect people’s satisfaction to increase even more.”
The survey also found that unhappiness about fare costs was high compared to other aspects of the public transport service. “Some of the reasons for this seem quite obvious, particularly with the train services over the last 12 months but there’s also been a significant decrease in satisfaction about fares among bus users. It’s a fact of life that no-one likes paying any more for anything but running public transport, let alone making improvements, is a costly business, particularly for a relatively small population.”
Eighty percent of harbour ferry users were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.