April 8, 2014

Busable Auckland

Bus commuter services can be very useful in reducing traffic and parking congestion in the city center, but reducing the average number of cars per household requires buses that are available all the time. I used the Auckland Transport bus schedule data and the new StatsNZ meshblock data and boundary files

Here’s a map of Auckland showing how many hours per day (on average) there are at least six bus trips per hour stopping within 500m of each meshblock (actually, within 500m of the ‘label point’ for the meshblock).

On a single road, six trips per hour is one trip in each direction every twenty minutes. The dark purple area has this level of service at least 16 hours a day on average. (Click for the honking great PDF version.)


For twelve trips per hour (eg, one every twenty minutes on two different routes) the area shrinks a lot


The reason for using meshblocks in the map is that we can merge the bus files with the census files. For example, for Auckland as a whole, 50% of the population is in the grey busless emptiness, 17% in the 8-16 hour tolerable zone, and 12% in the pretty reasonable 16+ hour zone.   People of Maori descent are more likely to be unbused (60%) and less likely to be well bused (8%), as are people over 65 (60% in the lowest category, 9% in the highest).

Recent (<10 years) migrants like transit: 18% of us are in the good bus category and only 40% in the busless category.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    Margaret Arnold

    Can you do it for Wellington? I would love to see the results.

    9 months ago Reply

  • avatar
    Julie Middleton

    Thanks for Tommy Honey for giving this post and its Wellington counterpart a good plug when he was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan today for Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon. He points out that it’s well worth looking at when you are working out where you want to live. Have a listen here:

    8 months ago Reply

  • avatar
    Chris Werry (@chriswerry)

    Can you explain how you got the data onto a map?

    4 months ago Reply

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      I got the meshblock shapefiles from Statistics New Zealand, converted the bus stop locations to NZTM using the R maptools package to do the computations, and then drew each meshblock in the appropriate colour.

      4 months ago Reply

      • avatar
        Thomas Lumley

        That is, there is no separate map, just meshblocks in various colours.

        4 months ago Reply

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