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.

Ranui 1

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.

Marinich Dr

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.

Cameron Pl to Alton Pl

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.

Edwin Freeman Pl

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.

Ranui 2

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.

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  1. If we could only send posts like this travelling back in time, to give to the subdivision / transport planners who designed these areas and say “Hey, have a look at this”.

    And your example isn’t even one of the extreme cases either – I mean most of the 800m circle is actually roughly within practical catchment.

    I’d think it would be all but impossible to create the 2nd walkway though, and hard to create the 3rd. Taking property off private residential houses would be extremely costly, or would require the public works act, which I am not even sure would be a done deal for such a ped link (its not a motorway after all, so why expropriate private land…) – as for the church – you’d still need to find a very civic-minded congregation, and also would need to convince the locals who own the driveway easement on the north side.

    At least the key change you propose actually seems easy enough to do, based on the map only…

  2. In relation to improving station access, how many train stations are cycle friendly in Auckland by the way? More than one bike stand and lockable storage outside stations such as they have in places like Perth need not cost a huge amount and would create more options.

  3. The positive thing about the Ranui station catchment is that it doesn’t seem to have a major arterial bisecting its catchment. By contrast, Avondale station is effectively marooned from half its catchment by the Blockhouse Bay/New North Roads intersection, so much so that AT haven’t even bothered to put up a sign at the intersection indicating that the station is a mere 100m distant. Potential passengers walking from north of Blockhouse Bay Road are required to wait for two traffic light phases in order to cross legally this adds anything up to four minutes to the journey time. The problem could be solved relatively painlessly by re-introducing a Barnes dance phase but AT seem disinclined to address the issue.

  4. The two parts of Marinich Dr are part of the Western Bypass (from Glen Eden to Massey), as are the two parts of Waitemata Dr. The 2006 plan had $1m budgeted for 2009-12, another $1m for a roundabout at Swanson Rd 2010-13, and a final $1.5m for the bridge to Glen Rd 2013-16.

    Chris, Ranui is effectively trisected – south of the railway line is Ranui Heights, north of Swanson Rd is “New” Ranui (non-PC “Samui” or Nappy Valley), and inbetween is Old Ranui.

  5. Another option for Edwin Freeman Pl, is to use the grass reserve between #16 and #18 (possibly a “paper road”?) and connect to Earthsong’s driveway? Or extend the existing walkway between Luanda Dr and Edwin Freeman Pl, along the stream to Swanson Rd.

    An alternative for Afton Pl, could be to connect Muriel Pl (effectively the north end) across the stream to Ali Pl, giving slightly less direct access via Metcalfe Rd.

    1. The use of the walkway through Ranui Park, puts the chunk of Luanda Rd up to the walkway through to Edwin Freeman Pl within 800m, it also adds those on Swanson Rd out to your Yellow 800m radius

  6. unfortunately new developments are still happening causing troubles. For example Vino Cina Heights doesnt look like it will be connected through to Clearview Heights. Doing so would reduce the walking distance from 1300m to 900m.
    Also that Babich land to the south is some of the last in the MUL. I see some of it being developed now however on their website they say “Babich Wines is committed to Henderson and will continue to foster this iconic vineyard” so looks like they want to develop it as a tourist attraction. With a direct link to Metcalfe Road would only be 1km from the station so could be great having a short 10min stroll from the station for some wine tasting, and catch the train there and back so no drink and drive issues.

  7. The Marinich Drive link was the subject of a protracted dispute between the council and the developer, that ended up at the supreme court.

    See http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/waitakere-city-council-v-estate-homes-limited/at_download/fileMediaNotes

    Great article, interesting to me as I lived in the centre of your yellow circle from 2001 to 2011. A couple of things worth mentioning.

    Firstly, people on the north side of Marinich Drive, along the street sections you have in red, walk through the school or step across the creek (it’s only 2 feet wide). I agree a small bridge should be built, but it won’t increase rail patronage much, but rather will change how those people cross the creek.

    Secondly, Ranui Domain is a public park and is well used by rail passengers. If you include it in your map, you get the blue lines a bit further along Swanson Road, and also get all of the camping ground in.

  8. Just wondering why only 800m? I walk 3km to the train at Onehunga weather permiting and to be blunt Im not that fit so, surely 1.5km is not to that hard for most people.

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