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August 2, 2023

How Auckland Transport Increased Patronage by Removing Routes

See the results one year after the launch of AT Local, Auckland's on-demand bus service.

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In 2022, after a robust evaluation of several areas measured against multiple metrics and benefits,  Auckland Transport decided to trial a new innovation in public transport in Takaanini-Papkura.  They took the bold step of removing their fixed route bus service and introduced a new on-demand service, AT Local, operated by Ritchies. The result was a 38% expansion of the service area and more than double the passenger uptake. So how did they do it? In this article we detail how Auckland Transport were able to achieve such fantastic results using interactive maps to show the service routes and patronage before and after the change.


As the red fixed route for the 371 bus service shows, able-bodied passengers were only willing to walk so far to a stop, limiting the area serviced by the fixed bus route to 16,877 people and the total volume of monthly users was only 1,720. 


Through replacing the route with a new on-demand zone, shown in green, passengers inside the zone were not restricted by a timetable or location. Instead passengers can order the bus via an app, walk to a meeting point close by, to be picked up and driven to their desired destination. This new zone has expanded the area serviced by 38% to 23,280 people with passenger take up of the service more than doubling.

Continuous Improvement

The success doesn’t stop there, with maximum capacity of the service reached in August 2022, the Liftango new mobilities team used simulations to mimic changes before rolling them out to assess their impact with a view to continuously improving the service provided to users. The team were able to identify some configurations that would enhance the maximum capacity of the service by a further 37%.

Secret to Success

The popularity of the AT Local on-demand service can be attributed to its ability to provide passengers with the freedom to go wherever they want, when they want. Unlike traditional bus services with fixed routes and timetable, At Local allows users to request rides from their desired locations, eliminating the need to adhere to predefined stops and schedules. This flexibility offers users the convenience of personalised transportation, enabling them to reach destinations that may have been underserved previously. The service's emphasis on user choice and convenience has made it the preferred option for individuals seeking the freedom to travel on their own terms.  

Quite clearly the convenience of on-demand public transport reduces barriers to usage.

About the Author

James Willcox

James Willcox


Meet Liftango's Senior Australian Data Scientist, Physics major, bike riding, Jiu-Jitsu rolling, coffee scholar—James! Passionate about the environment, transport, his dog Basil, and of course, data!