What Auckland drivers think of public transport

A new RIMU report from the Economic and Social Research and Evaluation team, confirms that for many Aucklanders, public transport, cycling and walking are perceived to be less convenient, more stressful, and less safe from crime and harassment, when compared to driving.   

The report presents results of a survey (2799 participants) conducted in mid-2022 that asked Aucklanders about a recent driving trip they had undertaken. The survey also asked about their perceptions of undertaking that trip by public transport, cycling and walking. The project was undertaken by RIMU researchers and Auckland Council’s Transport Strategy team, in collaboration with Dynata, an independent research service provider.

A majority of participants (81%) reported that doing the trip they had described by public transport would be ‘much less convenient’ than driving and 11 per cent stated it would be ‘slightly less convenient’. There were three reasons for this:   

·        the lack of ease (53% disliked transferring between services, 35% reported it is hard to carry items)

·        the amount of time (42% disliked infrequent services, 42% reported it takes too long)

·        the lack of reliable services at the right time (40% reported no services at the time of day they travel, 35% claimed it is too unreliable).

Compared with driving, 74 per cent of participants reported public transport would be more stressful and 58 per cent of participants reported feeling less safe from crime and harassment if taking public transport. – Participant comments:

I might get there OK, but would feel very unsafe coming home by that method later at night – West Auckland, trip taken at 5pm Tuesday

So stressful to keep changing the buses and trains – South Auckland, trip taken at 5am Monday

Participants were asked how long they thought the trip would take by public transport. The average expected duration of the trip was an hour and 10 minutes. The average trip length calculated by Google Maps was an hour and one minute. These figures are close to double the average perceived duration of the trip by driving (28 minutes). – Participant comment:

It would have taken 3.5 times longer to go by public transport which is terrible – South Auckland, trip taken 9am Thursday

Almost half (42%) of participants stated it would not have been possible for them to do the equivalent driving trip by bike. Their concerns were mostly around safety – 43 per cent were concerned with busy roads, 42 per cent felt the route is unsafe, and 36 per cent reported that there were no cycleways. Limits on personal capability to cycle is an issue for close to a quarter of participants (27% report route is too hilly, 25% lack required fitness, and 20% lack confidence/experience cycling). – Participant comment: 

No way am I going to get on a bike and share the road with drivers here – Central Auckland, trip taken 1pm Monday

This research came from the development of council’s Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway (TERP) adopted by Auckland Council in August 2022, which aims to give effect to Te Tāruke-āTāwhiri Auckland’s Climate Plan, which, in turn, commits Auckland to halving emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. These results indicate a real need to make public transport competitive with driving, and to make it safe and attractive to walk and cycle, if Auckland’s TERP goals are to be met and if public transport, cycling and walking are to take a greater share of transport in Auckland.

Perceptions of public transport, cycling and walking among Auckland drivers

For more information about the report and survey, please contact Kathryn Ovenden, Principal Social Scientist, kathryn.ovenden@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

See also:

Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway, TERP

Te Tāruke-āTāwhiri Auckland’s Climate Plan

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Ben Yang

Ben Yang