With patronage stalling on our rail network recently, it is important that Auckland Transport do everything they can to get patronage growing once again. We are due to hear some of the potential solutions at the next AT board meeting and the list could include options like higher off-peak and weekend services, changes to fares or discounts, addressing fare evasion and improved marketing. One solution that I do hope is discussed is that of improving access to stations for those living nearby. In posts over the next week or so I am going to try and identify a few locations where the creation of walkways would dramatically improve the potential catchment of a station. The other great benefit of making these types of improvements is that it helps to connect communities, reducing the need for vehicle trips. To do this I am going to be working out how far someone can get within what is considered a typical walking catchment of 800m.
The first station I’m going to look at is out west in Ranui. The yellow circle shows the total area within 800m of the station while the blue lines are where you can walk to within 800m. Oh and before anyone comments on it, the reason a couple of the lines extend out past the 800m circle, is that I took the walking distance to be from the end of the station but the circle is based on the centre of the station.
As you can see, there are quite a few houses in the north east of the area that are actually fairly close to the station, but that don’t have easy walking access to it. So lets look at that area a little closer. I’m not sure why the two sides of Marinich Dr were never connected up, and it doesn’t even seem to be designated. I’m going to guess that the plan was to do this when the grassy section on the southern side was subdivided (the grassy areas on the northern side are a school and park). Until such time as that happens, AT should investigate building a pedestrian and cycling walkway between the two road ends. A quick count suggests that such a connection would increase the number of dwellings within an 800m walk by about 80. Further to this, many dwellings that were previously within the 800m catchment would become a lot closer.
Carrying on from that connection I looked further to the North East to see if we could fill in some more of the gaps. Perhaps a bit more expensive than the previous connection, if AT were to buy some of the land from the edges of a few the sections at the end of Cameron Pl and Alton Pl, a walkway could be created which would mean another 30 dwellings would have easy walking access to the station.
I also looked in the north west direction to see if I could find some improvements there. The church on Swanson Rd has a carpark behind it, the back corner of which is very close to the end of Edwin Freeman Pl. Being a church it is not likely to be used as much during the day, so perhaps AT could come to some arrangement with them to create a walkway through to the road. Doing so would add roughly another 20 dwellings to the list.
So all up that is potentially an extra 130 dwellings that could be given much easier access to the station. Based on the population in the area, that would mean as many as 450 extra people who could more easily use the train. Even if you could get 10% of them to do so, that would mean tens of thousands of additional rail trips per year. Here is a map with the 800m catchment if AT were to implement the suggestions above. The red is the first suggestion of the Marinich connection while the other two are in green.
Lastly there are also clearly a couple of sizeable areas of land south of the station that are starting to be developed. AT need to ensure that these are developed in a way that makes it as easy as possible for people to walk to the station.