Auckland Transport have announced that they will be doing a major upgrade to the park and ride at the Albany busway station starting in February and going through to July and this upgrade is pretty significant as it involves doubling the number of carparks at the station to 1100. At first this seems great, adding more car parks will allow more people to use the station however this doesn’t come cheap as the work is expected to cost $5.5m for those 550 carparks which is about $10,000 per carpark (more on that soon).
Here’s AT’s press release and an image of what the carpark will look like.
Auckland Transport is set to begin a major extension of the Albany Park and Ride facility that will see the number of current parking spaces doubled.
The $5.5 million project, which is due to begin in early February, involves a large extension to create an additional 550 parking spaces, bringing the total capacity to 1100. (Click to enlarge map, JPG 3MB)
The facility is part of the Northern Busway initiative which was New Zealand’s first purpose-built road dedicated to bus passenger transport. It forms a key part of Auckland’s Rapid Transport Network whilst improving journey speeds and reliability.
The busway provides an attractive alternative to private vehicle use and promotes the use of multiple modes of transport.
The Albany Busway station car park first opened in November 2005 with 370 car parking spaces. An additional 181 were added in May 2007 to meet demand.
Auckland Transport says the 2012 extension provides further evidence that the Northern Busway has significantly changed the way in which people in the area travel.
A sculpture designed by renowned Titirangi artist, Caroline Robinson will also be built on site. The seven metre high limestone tower represents the artist’s impression of the car park’s location near Lucas Creek.
Work is expected to be completed by the end of July 2012.
Now back to those costs, as I said it works out at $10,000 per carpark which is a hell of a lot of money to spend just so an extra 550 can park their car for the day. Even if every single space was used each day for 20 years it still works out at a cost of around $1.36 per day however that doesn’t take into account a lot of factors, looking more closely at how frequently it would be utilised, adding in opex costs and applying a discount rate gives us a massive cost of about $1.94 per trip, you can see the workings here: Albany Station P&R costs.
So what other options do we have, one thing we could do with that money is to buy a number of buses and run them as feeder services to and from the station, $5.5m is enough money for about 4 buses and 4 full time drivers each being paid about $50k per year for 20 years. This is of course a very basic calculation and doesn’t take into account a lot of other costs but lets look at how many people that could deliver to the station. Say the buses only ran at peak times, only did 5 runs per peak period with each bus run carrying an average of 30 passengers per run, that gives us 600 trips per peak which is already more than is provided for by the parking however that amount of money would allow the buses to run for much of the day which means that potentially far more people would be able to use the station than could have otherwise and those services have the potential to provide more local trips as well.
One thing that isn’t often thought about is the cost of the land, for that the councils GIS viewer is a very handy tool as it can give us the rateable land, the highlighted land in the image below is the corner of this new section of Park & Ride yet the land alone is valued at over $2.7m (you can see the existing entrance in the top left hand corner). It isn’t clear if the land costs are included in the development cost or not but either way it is still a very expensive way to provide some car parks for what will become a very limited number of people.
One other thing to consider is that Auckland transport is currently in the process of creating a new station at Silverdale with its own associated Park & Ride, that development has the potential to take a decent number of the cars that currently use Albany out of the car park freeing it up for others who live in the area.
In saying all of this, for Auckland Transport, I do think it is a bit of a case of damned if you and damned if you don’t, people will always complain that there isn’t enough parking, or at least not enough free parking yet at the same time others like me get annoyed about how much is spent just to store some cars for the day when that money could be used to give access to potentially a lot more people and not just those that can or want to drive to the station.
With this now going ahead anyway, one final thing I think should be considered is the idea of making part of the car park user pays. What AT could do is section off the closest 300-400 car parks to the station and charge a fee to access them, that would mean that the best spots, closest to the station would be available should people wish to pay and for those that don’t they can still use the free section and walk a bit further if they can find a space. The cost of the paid section could be adjusted over time to ensure that on average there was always a set amount of parks free for those that absolutely need them during the day. This would at least help to recover some of the costs and if done at the same time the new section opened would allow AT to say that even with the new pay scheme there were still more free spaces available than there were before.