A few days ago we reported that Auckland Transport was about to spend $5.5m to add another 550 car parks to the Albany busway station. Today the NZ Herald is reporting that AT could have an additional 104 car parks open this year at a proposed new Silverdale busway station with a second stage increasing the number of car parks to 500.

Auckland Transport says northern bus users could have 104 free parking spaces at Silverdale this year.

This is in addition to the 550 extra spaces opening at the Albany “park and ride” in July.

Agency spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said public comment would be sought on whether the Northern Express service should be extended to Silverdale to coincide with the opening of the “park and ride” and better local Hibiscus Coast services.

Charging for parking was not being considered.

Resource consents for the first stage of the Silverdale station have been approved by independent commissioners.

I find it odd that they would consider building a park & ride without a firm commitment to extend the Northern Express to service, not that I could see to many people opposing extending it. I also raised the issue around the need for better feeder buses and that is something that some politicians like George Wood have also questioned as adding more parking is not something that can be done forever. In this regard it is also odd that they seem to be completely ruling out charging for these parks yet people who did use feeder buses would be charged (either separately or as part of the northern pass). AT do suggest that better feeder buses will be looked at later in the year however given what they have said about other projects and how long it has taken them to actually come to fruition I wouldn’t expect anything for another 2-5 years.

On Monday, the agency said it was spending $5.5 million on doubling the free parking area at its Albany bus station, raising questions about the adequacy of “feeder” bus services from northern suburbs.

Ms Hunter said that demand for more feeder services was part of the agency’s talks with Auckland Council on its annual funding plan.

Ideally, increased feeder services would start late this year or the first half of next year

Going back to the Silverdale station, here is an idea of what the station layout would be, the motorway is just to the left of the image. I’m not sure if this is the final design or not but if it is, my main concern is that by having the station to the west you separate it from any future development which would most likely be to the east.

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  1. It would be completely unnecessary to extent all the Northern Express services to Silverdale as the demand between Silverdale and Albany simply doesn’t justify it. I wonder whether a new route could be needed here – potentially utilising some resources allocated to existing 895 (and other) services to Silverdale and some Northern Express resource.

    You could run it every 10 minutes at peak (so around every third NEX bus) and every 15 minutes off-peak (around every second NEX bus) up to Silverdale.

    1. I agree, I don’t think every NEX bus would be extended to Silverdale but every second or third could be providing it gave a decent frequency like 10-15 minutes.

  2. Bad investment for the same readon most private transport is. Lack of capacity. One lane of motorway is about 2000 vehicles per hour. One cbd office building could hold 2000 people. How many lanes do you need to fill all the buildings? Park and ride spaces for 100 cars. Might fill 1.5 buses on the busway or 1 rail carriage. How many buses will pass this stop? How many rail carriages will enter Britomart in 1 hour? capacity mismatch on a grand scale. If the land that accommodates 100 cars was sold, and they bought a bus and ran it 10 minutes away from the station on a continuous loop, it might bring 3 times as many pax in, all day, rather than 100 single use parking spots.

  3. I don’t think that having the station on the Western side is too much of a concern. It’s not that far to walk across the carpark, which by the look of it has a dedicated walkway. Having it to the East (or any other side) would likely increase the complexity of the intersections, and slow the service down. If it were on the Eastern side, the public access road would be on the other side, and would mean buses would have to pass through its intersection (which looks like it will be signalised). If it were on the Northern side the entry point for the bus-only area would be complex, as it would need to be distanced from the intersection, and still able to be accessed by buses from both directions on the main road. And on the Southern side, it would be far from the road, reducing the visibility from the road (and therefore potential to attract customers, increasing the distance to it for pedestrians, and increasing the distance to the road for buses.
    I think the West is actually the best side of the site for the station 🙂

  4. I think you are mistaken about the station’s location. The aerial shot shows that the bus station is on the south eastern side of the motorway interchange next to Small Rd (on the way to Snow Planet). The land on the western side of the motorway is steeply inclined on both sides of SH 17 so would be more difficult to develop. The location shown is really the only flat land next the interchange.

    The location looks like the best option to me for feeder bus/pedestrian access.

  5. I wonder whether their interest in building all these park and roads is simply a reflection of NZTA’s funding bias ie roading is more easily funded.

    The big roundabout on the bottom right suggest they expect development to occur in the area.

    1. From an Australian (Melbourne) perspective, the Park & Ride projects I’ve been involved with have been attractive to policy makers and Treasury because, like roads, by and large the expenditure is mostly Capital (land acquisition, construction, etc) and very little Operational funding. It’s very much a ‘fire and forget’ option, with occasional major upgrading (repaving, lighting, line marking) every 10-15 years. Compare this to feeder buses, which have moderate Capex and heavy Opex spending and require much more intensive management.

      And in terms of pay parking – it’s not impossible, as it’s been done elsewhere (Perth and Vancouver come to mind), but you’ve got to offer the customer some value for the price of parking – Security (fencing, security guard/attendant), amenity (undercover, shaded) or convenience (location). However, it does appear to be an article of faith in most Anglophone jurisdictions I know of (barring Perth and Vancouver) that Park and Ride must always be free, because it’s the only way to entice people to use the public transport service. A hungover mindset from the 1960s and 1970s when patronage went through the floor in most jurisdictions and a mindset that remains deep in the institutional memory of transport agencies and political systems.


      1. The time to introduce a charge is when there has been an obvious outlay, like when a new PnR is built or an existing one is extended. Most will accept a reasonable charge as fair in this context as most accept that where there is a service or amenity it needs to be paid for. So long, of course, as the cost is competitive. That AT are not charging even a nominal fee at these facilities does reflect, in my view, the mindset Harold outlines above; AT needs to get more confident about its service, and, more ambitious with the service it aims to provide. Getting a return on revenue from amenities like these is a way to both reinvest in service and to make its competing services (feeder buses) more attractive.

  6. I think this is one of those cases where “the customer determines the market”. I really do wonder how much use a feeder bus would get – and it would cost money to run – when people find driving to a station, bus or rail, that much more convenient. It costs more but the standard of service provided is a lot higher.

    Put another way, going for the apparently “cheaper” solution could well be a false economy. If the carpark was in the middle of a built-up area, the feeder buses principle could work; but given that this carpark is not exactly in that situation, I think it is the case that we have to give the customer what they want, and not what we think they should want.

  7. I also think they have the orientation wrong. Having a station where a bus has to do a U-shaped loop from and then back to the main route is indirect and feels clumsy – which doesn’t help give it a perception of being ‘rapid’. The station should be parallel, not perpendicular, to the road so that Hibiscus Coast and Orewa services can go straight through without changing direction three times.

  8. I should make it clear, I don’t object to park & rides and actually support the one in Silverdale as it coincide with new/improved services to another part of Auckland. Also my understanding is that a lot of the people who use Albany come from up Orewa/Whangaparaoa so I would prefer to see it built before the Albany extension then wait to see the impact that it makes before embarking on the extension.

    As for feeder buses, they will always be considered a second class option by the public when AT also treats them that way. Personally I would never use one if I had to pay separately for it yet at the same time could get a free car park at the station and I doubt I’m the only one.

    1. You’re right Matt. Until ticket integration happens there will continue to be resistance to transfers across the city. As an aside I support pnr because of the lack of integrated ticketing and the fact that, while expensive and a poor use of land, it is far cheaper than an additional harbour crossing.

      1. I’m not sure that ticketing integration is the major issue, in this case, when people would still prefer to drive to a P&R than take one bus, and then keep travelling on the same bus. A monthly pass provides the ‘integration’ for the core of the user base, anyway.

        1. So many Shore residents I have spoken to even within its valid area have never heard of the Northern Pass.

        2. (continued) When they board, many bus drivers just charge users (who don’t explicitly ask for a Northern Pass) a standard stage fare.

        3. That pretty sneaky but doesn’t really surprise me, bus drivers are probably told to overcharge as much as possible to make more money for the bus company.

  9. Regarding feeder buses on the North Shore the 85x, 86x 87x and 881 buses are all popular. These start in surburbia and take about 20 minutes to get to a Northern bus way stop (Contellation or Albany) and then follow the northern busway accorss the harbour bridge before going to ther destinations. The run into the city in the morning and back to the shore in the evening. This provides the benefits of fedder buses AND a fast service by using the northern busway. Perhaps increasing the number and/or range of these may produce more benfit than adding feeding buses.

  10. any Northern Expresses than run onto Silverdale should do a loop around Albany so these services also cater for those who work at Albany, or wish to shop at the mall. I would imagine Albany is the major shoping centre for residents of Orewa and Whangaparoa, so a better bus service would be great. Would be good for most NEXs to run via Albany anyway, especially offpeak ones. The current 900m walk from the bus station to the mall is too far, considering it is across a windswept area.

    1. That would defeat the purpose of the NEX if suddenly it become a local bus doing detours around side-streets. It’s popular becuase it’s a high-speed backbone, side-routes are better left to feeder buses. The long journey from Silverdale will become even longer and probably lose much of its appeal.

      1. the buses from Silverdale currently travel through to Dairy Flat, and detour to Takapuna on the way to the CBD so they already wander alot. The should run express to Albany, the busway to CBD. Anyone going anywhere else should do a free transfer. Also my proposal would make buses to a quick loop through Don Mckinnon Dr before going to the bus station and heading south down the busway.

  11. Another important question with this investment; is it in the right place? Here is a report of big box retail expansion in Silverdale,http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10780671. Wouldn’t it be cleverer to place the bustation where the people are likely to be, help make this auto-dependant carpark frenzy into more chance of becoming an actual town centre? Amalgamate the parking as much as possible, offer the developers planning wins in exchange for adding a station to their vast carpark?

    Ok the motorway bus stations have worked, but they are only where they because they are unplanned for afterthoughts. They still are a suboptimal model, forcing everyone who gets on or off there to make two trips, ideally they would be closer to a population base or a destination [ideally both]. Albany is hilariously cut off from everything and anywhere. Are we repeating the same mistake? Will the buses at least connect to this new sprawl-mall?

    We’re getting this northern spread, can we not at least plan it this time?

  12. I’m really looking forward to having a bus station in Silverdale. I need to drive into Orewa to drop my child off at school, before heading to work in the city. It can be difficult finding parking in Albany when you leave after the main rush hour. And the less bus changes the better as my other child comes to the city with me, in a buggy. I’m sure there are many working parents experiencing a similar dilemma as me.

  13. Did you know that the peeps at Silverdale Park N Ride which is exploding on to the grass have now been warned that they will be ticketed if parking on the grass after March 16 … so where do they go now?

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