Along with the important issue of local point to point access of new cycling and walking infrastructure, as discussed in this cross-post with Bike Auckland [remember to submit by Thursday, especially if you are local] there is also the issue of increasing access to important Transit stops, especially RTN Stations, to improve their value. Below is a screen grab from MR Cagney’s excellent ‘Catchies’ work on Auckland’s existing RTN Station catchments. The shaded circles describe a 1km ‘as the crow flies’ diameter from each station, the coloured blobs show the actual 1km reach once street and walkway patterns are added. These then are a sort of visual description the difference between catchment theory and practice on the Auckland RTN.

Both Meadowbank and Orakei Stations exhibit some of the most limited catchments on the whole network [comparable to ferry wharves, which are by nature only half a circle] both are particularly severed from their potential local catchments by natural and artificial phenomena. In Orakei’s case development immediately around the station, much better and more frequent bus services, and increasing local road suitability for cycling and walking, are the answer to increasing its reach. For Meadowbank however, only one of those options is available; it will never have a major bus service because it is in a secluded valley away from the road network, and nor is the surrounding land able to be developed. The only way to improve its performance is to improve its walking and cycling connections, and here with the GI to Tamaki cycleway there is surely the opportunity to do just that.

Catchies Pourewa Valley
Orakei, Meadowbank, and Glen Innes Stations on the Eastern Line

Especially to reach across the valley to Selwyn College in particular.

The Pourewa Valley section of the GI-Tamaki Shared Path. The Selwyn College playing fields are visible above the Path as it kinks away from the rail line.

The new shared path does offer potential connections up the valley and even though they will be beyond the classic Station 800-1000m catchment range, I have little doubt they would be used as the experience of starting and ending the work or school day with a walk or ride through the verdant Pourewa Valley is pretty attractive. Additionally the bus or driving alternative can be subject to congestion especially through the natural pinch points of our folded topography. The utility of network will of course increase dramatically once the CRL is open too; what a great way for people in this neighbourhood to get to Eden Park for example.

The Eastern Line is a tremendously fast and competitive option as shown by the modal comparison chart for Panmure below, but the reach of its stations certainly need work. Panmure itself has now got great bus connection and Glen Innes is currently in a walking and cycling improvement work programme.

Pete Clarke Panmure

Sylvia Park pretty much only serves the mall and desperately needs new connections to the east:

Sylvia Park catchies

With work all these stations could add even greater value to the network, now that the train service, at least at the peaks, is frequent and high quality. The Eastern Line has been a star improver since electrification, but it still has capacity for more of its stations to push up the leader board. This can only be achieved with detailed work to remove the very real barriers to entry all along the network. Even a secluded and arguably poorly placed station like Meadowbank can be improved when an opportunity like this Shared Path comes along.

Station Rankings Change to Dec 15

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  1. “Panmure itself has now got great bus connection”

    Really? As someone that comes from the east I’d have to say I see no evidence of this.

    No bus services stop or start there, there is no bus lanes on any of the services that go to Panmure.

    1. Well the bus connection at the station itself is now great, that services don’t end their runs there is irrelevant, buses do connect there, I agree fully the absence of bus lanes leading to this facility however, is very poor.

      And is being held up because AT won’t repurpose existing loadspace but insists on making more first.

  2. There once was a station called Purewa between Meadowbank and GI stations, i.e., in the gap between their respective (theoretical, at present) catchment circles.

    I’m not sure exactly where this station was, but presumably it was between Selwyn College/ASB stadium and the Gowing Drive area of Meadowbank/St Johns.

    If good walking and cycling connections were built across the valley between these places, maybe a new “Pouwera” station would work well there.

      1. Interesting – The NZ Herald for 1925 says this about the then planned Purewa station on the “Westfield Deviation” line.

        (see the original here.

        “The second stop on the line will be known as Purewa station, four miles [by rail] from Auckland. It will be situated on an open site facing the north, a little below the Purewa Cemetery. The site is excellent for its purpose, and the station will serve the residents of Meadowbank, which holds scope for extensive settlement. Purewa station will not be of any service to Orakei residents, because it is to be on the west side of Purewa Gully. From Purewa station site to St. Heliers Bay Road, less than half a mile the north of St. John’s College, the configuration of the land prevents the building of a station on the harbour side of the St. Heliers Bay Road.
        The tunnel will be 140 feet under the road, while its northern portal is well down the Purewa Gully.
        These facts disperse suggestions that the station for St. Heliers district should be on the north side of the main road.”

        Something I think the Orakei Local Board still can’t come to terms with…

        But it would seem it was intended as a proper station for living people.
        You’ll find no mention of the current Meadowbank station, that station was added after the State Houses were built in the late 1940s and Purewa had closed by then anyway.

        Leaving Purewa a ghost station in all senses of the word.

  3. As someone who now uses the train to get to work (and for the next few years) into the CBD, Meadowbank station is my closest station. on a regular day this station ends up with parking all around the side streets due to the nature of the catchment. If I were able to take a less intensive pathway connection from Gowing Drive into the new cycleway this would greatly reduce the desire for me to drive the short trip to the station each day.

    using this route as part of my running track to the Orakei basin, its not the most friendly walk due to the way in which the development of the roadways has gone about and ends up being a great fitness track but not something I would see as an option to walk. especially when a bus stop is only a minute from my house yet takes triple the time to get into the CBD. and here in lies the same issue for a lot of the Meadowbank catchment.

    there is a desire to use the fast and direct PT on offer, yet in order to do this, you end up driving from your home to the station. If the cycleway offers the ability to connect in from the Meadowbank catchment, there would very likely be an increase in mode consideration based on where people are trying to get to. The biggest issue – as stated in an earlier piece, is obtaining the land to create access from the roads like Gowing Drive and St Johns Road.

  4. Using 3 k for cycling catchment to each train station the picture is better, though of course the infrastructure is far from complete. The GI-Tamaki Path *with those critical local links in place* will substantially extend Meadowbank Station’s easterly reach (and, as you say, attractively so.. traffic free through the Pourewa Valley); AMETI will help Panmure further; but Orakei, GI and Sylvia Park need more, safe cycle lanes, especially Sylvia Park to the east. There is space on the roads, industrial though they may be. Westerly, there is actually the SEART segregated lane to Penrose, quite a good option for anyone training in to SP and working over that way, though as with most cycling infrastructure in this part of the isthmus, it doesn’t actually get you anywhere, but dumps you onto the narrow glass and gravel strewn footpath at the GSR intersection. For that matter, it doesn’t properly connect with SP in the first place.

    If cycling to eastern line train stations makes sense to extend their reach, then what’s needed as well as better cycling links, is better cycle storage once you get there. Panmure and Meadowbank both suffer from bike theft. A quick and easy solution could be to provide basic racks on the platforms in line of sight of the CCTV.

  5. Its interesting how small the “blot” is for Meadowbank catchment, given that the streets here have reasonably good linkages through walkways linking the streets, and so the walking/cycling permeability is pretty good.

    It really shows how wrong it was to place Meadowbank station location where it actually is. Too much overlap with Orakei, and too little additional benefit of catchment over Orakei alone.

    Orakei is a basket case too, especially now the Orakei Point Development is canned and its only big attractions are just the free 200 car park park n ride and the fact that its a single zone fare from Orakei to Britomart.
    And once the zonal fares come in mid to later this year, that single zone fare advantage will disappear. Leaving just the free park n ride as its biggest attraction.

    Yet having two closely spaced stations like this costs every one using the eastern line EMUs – around 2 minutes+ of “dwell time” by having the trains come to a stop at both Meadowbank and Orakei station when one stop is really sufficient.

    Collectively thats a lot of “passenger minutes” [a 6 car EMU full, means around some 1400 passenger minutes of time lost each trip] – just by having trains stopping at Meadowbank station.

    Per hour, at 6 EMUs an hour, lets say 700 already on the EMU, (boarding on or before GI in AM peak, or alighting on or after GI in PM peak, times 6 trains per hour in the peak direction means 8400 minutes lost per peak hour.
    Thats 16,800 minutes per peak (280 hours) lost by having peak trains stop there.

    NZTA would move heaven and earth and build new motorways to save car drivers and their occasional passengers 8000 minutes collectively at peak if this were a roading problem.

    If we value the time savings of not stopping at $20 per hour, then over a year the savings to everyone on a train of not stopping at Meadowbank is around $24m a year, just by counting over the two daily peaks.

    It might be cheaper to build a gold plated covered moving walkway between Meadowbank and Orakei stations and have trains stopping only at either Meadowbank or Orakei than persist with both Orakei and Meadowbank stations under that scenario.

    And even with the cycleway in place, unless a [large span] bridge of some sort was added over the Purewa inlet near or opposite the station linking to the catchment near Eastridge shopping centre, the current catchment can’t really be increased enough to offset the opportunity cost to everyone else of trains stopping there.

    Would the PAUP or its variants make a lot of difference here? Not immediately, as its all mainly single house zone currently. If it was all upzoned to THAB – maybe. Just maybe, the economics might change.
    But that change is 10 years away. Many people who live near Meadowbank station like it just the way it is, so intensification to that level won’t happen overnight, but yes, it will happen, eventually.

    Meanwhile all Eastern line train users suffer the time lost every trip, stopping at Meadowbank station for the several hundred passengers who use it daily.

    If you added cycling to the mix and put 3km circles and 3km cycling paths to the stations in the graphic, would the potential catchments increase a lot?

    For Meadowbank without those local links both north and south off the Tamaki Drive to GI cycleway, the answer is not very much.

    With the local inks to/from the cycleway in place, then without a doubt yes, the entire area from Kohimarama Road south to St Johns park would fall in the catchment zone then.

    So really either those local links have to be put in place or Meadowbank gets massively upzoned in the UP, or “the station gets it”.

    I know which order I’d prefer the local links, then the upzoning, closing it last. But AT what about it? Maybe its time to spend money on fixing the missing links?

    1. Greg, are the “minutes lost” not a mirage. Those same minutes would be spent whether these two stations were optimally located or, as they are.

      Though the point is valid: the value of those lost minutes is huge. How are AT doing on dwell times anyway? (A subject for another post perhaps?)

      Meanwhile, as you say, GI-Tamaki *with local links* could make a big difference. See Bike Auckland’s magic map 😉

      With this and another one further west, you add 1000++ houses within the 2-3 k cycle catchment.

      1. Correct, but you can’t really move Meadowbank Station anywhere else, the local geography basically prohibits you doing so, and putting it anywhere between its present location and the tunnel.

        [The only do-able location I think is possibly to move it to the eastern side of the tunnel, accessed from St Johns road – but then its too close to GI].

        Which means, the only other option is you close one of them, and then those time savings become real.

        The proposed link via John Rhymer place (which is what the BA post talks of), does indeed add a lot of houses to the north, to the catchment, but they are generally up a steepish gradient relative to the station/cycleway.
        So how attractive that will be to use in practise will depend on how well the gradients on the linkages are handled.

        But: Adding a second [south facing] local link access near the western end of Gowing drive or via the cul-de-sac next to the eastern end of the cemetery [Tipene Place] would extend the walk/cycle catchment again.

        And what those two linkages together would do is encourage a lot of criss-cross traffic by folks who will hardly ever use the Meadowbank Station or the St Johns Road ends of the cycleway.
        Instead they will merely go north/south [across the gully] via these links.

        Thats why the bare minimum is actually two linkages [a north facing one and a south facing one], that link into the cycleway near to each other, so that they form a loose north/south axis.
        That is really whats needed to unlock this.

        While private property is there preventing that solution, if this was a roading problem, NZTA would haul out the old Public Works act and consult, then buy the needed properties, do the necessaries, job done.

        Thats probably whats required here too to get those linkages, NZTA can do this now for cycleways.

        While some residents there probably don’t want a cycle/walkway link, a lot of the rest would welcome it I’m sure.
        Especially when they realise it adds some $$ to their house value in the process.

    2. TL; DER (didn’t enjoy reading). Way to sweat the small stuff. Our rail network is too weak to be dropping stations unless they’re way down in the single figures for daily patronage.

  6. “For Meadowbank however, only one of those options is available” this is totally wrong. There is already large number of “hide and ride” cars filling the neighbouring streets. Meadowbank is an ideal station for Park and Ride, for those who live in St Johns and the Meadowbank end of Remuera. Those driving from these areas could drive through the back streets and not interfere with existing overcrowded roads.

    1. Which houses would you demolish for a carpark? I estimate land costs at around $85,000 per carpark at $1,500,000 for a 600m2 site and construction will be $10-15,000. That’s $20m for a tiny 200 car park.

      Using standard discounting methods, this is equivalent to spending $1,315,000 a year for 40 years which would allow us to fund 44,000 free return taxi fares of around 3 km every year. Plus you don’t have to demolish houses in a housing crisis or seal 7000m2 on the edge of an ecologically sensitive estuary.

      1. Toronto builds its Park and Ride stations over the train station. As the station is well below the road this would give room for 2 levels of parking at least before views are obstructed

    2. I am sure (and know) that both the local board and the local residents, and their residents association disagree with your belief that Park n Ride in any form is appropriate at Meadowbank.

      The roads are not well connected for driving, it basically a peninsula, so there are only really two roads in and out of the adjacent area and you are forced to use St Johns Road or Meadowbank Roads to access the area.
      They are both generally congested at the point you leave them to go to the station, so unless you live inside the St Johns Road boundary you are adding to traffic by driving there.

      I have parked and ridden very occasionally from Meadowbank myself, and most of the time you’ll end up parking a good long distance from the station and walking some distance – unless you’re very early or very lucky.

      1. “you are forced to use St Johns Road or Meadowbank Roads ” is not true. Parsons Roads connects the Gowing Drive subdivision and Corinth Street the Waiatarua Rd area, including most of those who drop their kids off at Meadowbank School.

  7. Can we build a new station just to the east of Orakei on reclaimed land and close down the existing Orakei and Medowbank stations?

  8. At Sylvia Park the South-Eastern Hwy has a footpath and is only 5 m from the platform stairs. Why weren’t they connected?

  9. How about we pick up the Meadowbank station and move it 500m East towards GI on the Eastern boundary of the cemetery with a bridge across to Thatcher St and Selwyn College. Many more opportunities for the hide and riders with a larger catchment of suburban streets nearby.

    1. Yeah clearly it would be better up the hill, but that no easy business, especially as it would be even more betterer if it connected easily with buses on St john’s Rd [I think it is?] But that’s a seriously non-trivial operation; pretty much an underground station, and all that that involves….

      For the foreseeable it’s a question of making the best out of what we’ve got, and that means walking and cycling reach for Meadowbank, but that isn’t to undervalue how powerful that can be. All of the RTN needs work, just take a look at the ‘Catchies’ metric. Could easily double the walk-up and quadruple or more the bike-up everywhere I’m sure.

      1. Patrick, that’s a seriously cool idea. An underground station on the west side of St John’s Rd. Neatly deals with numerous issues simultaneously. The Eastern Suburbs NIMBYs would probably cope with something going three storeys below ground far more easily than three storeys above. The engineers would love it; practice their below ground planning for the third harbour crossing. And it gets those pesky transit users out of sight of real commuters in SOVs. Sensibly also links easily with buses and could support a park & ride above. Genius!

        1. Its about 40 metres from St Johns road down to the level of the tracks through the tunnel where you’d catch a train, [those tracks are about 20 metres above sea level there].

          We got Newton Station kicked into touch over it being down a similarly “deep hole”, so a fully underground St Johns Rd station has appeal, but probably not going to happen anytime soon.

          Costs of building it to modern NZ safety standards would make it a massive exercise.
          But maybe Panuku Development Auckland should buy the land there from NZTA/KR and set about doing “Orakei Point done right” there – and use that income to get “St Johns” station built as well?

          After all Robbies Rapid Rail plan did have a station there.

  10. I hope somebody like uber can come up with an affordable smartphone on-demand shuttle solution to take me from my door to the nearest train station.

          1. Yep, Just need enough people that want to go the same way at the same time and there is an Uber Pool available to take you.

            Might be quicker to use the bus, until driverless Ubers that is…

          2. This whole comment thread is like
            the old dude who doesn’t know that we have video calling yet and is *amazed*.

  11. I am a longtime fan of this blog and Panmure resident; I take the train from Panmure to city everyday. The Panmure train station gets a lot of use (as we see in ridership data and graph above: Panmure ranks 5th). But as the “1km walk” catchment map shows, it currently still misses a lot of residents on the east side of the station (I myself live 2km from the station). A consequence of this is that the Panmure park-n-ride fills up rather early (7:30am), despite its recent expansion. (In fact, from my observation, I’d say the expansion attracted even more people to drive, so it filled up even earlier than before.) This station still has a lot of potential to be realized. My dream would be that they expedite AMETI stage 2a (currently scheduled 2021) in replacing the infamous 3-lane roundabout. This roundabout separates the train station from the residential-heavy eastern side. It is very unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists, and the dominant reason why I personally do not bicycle to the train station; although the Panmure local roads are actually quite friendly to cyclists. If the roundabout was gone, the bicycle-train option will be open to a lot of people, and I see this as the only sustainable way to expand ridership at Panmure. Currently the immediate areas surrounding the Panmure train station are not residential (car dealers and panelbeaters) and a bit of a pedestrian ghost town; why can’t we make it an attractive destination to arrive on foot / bicycle?!

  12. IMO the council needs to put a major budget towards pedestrian improvements around train stations.

    It’s a rather cheap way to dramatically increase station accessibility, improving ridership.

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