This is a guest post from reader Bryce P.
The area below is the proposed development area of Dairy Flat under the Unitary Plan. But, how are we proposing to service this fairly large area with transit (Public Transport)?
People will remember that NZTA and Auckland Transport commissioned a report called Transport for Future Urban Growth. The finalised report for the northern area proposes that the Northern Busway extension to Orewa should follow the SH1 corridor and includes new stations and park and rides.
As you can also see, much of Auckland Transport / NZTA approach seems to be along the line of ‘build more roads’.
Now this all appears to be perfectly logical, right? But, is it?
A key component of the success of transit is ridership. And what is the cheapest source of ridership? Yip, walking and cycling catchment. This minimises the number of bus feeder services required. It also greatly reduces dependence on developing expensive, and ridership limiting, park and ride facilities for cars at stations.
With this in mind, how could (or should) we do this differently? Why not secure a transit corridor right through where the development is happening?
The image below has a theoretical transit line through the Dairy Flat Future Urban area with 2 x stations and shows 2.5km radius – a catchment within easy walking or cycling distance to the stations.
Not only does this route make it easier to catch transit, for most people it removes the need to use a feeder service and thus an extra transfer. It also serves to reduce volumes of local vehicular traffic.
Has anyone else done this? Sure. Pretty much everywhere in Netherlands for a start.
For today’s example, let me introduce you to the Dutch city of Almere. Almere is a city with roughly 200k residents and is sited approximately 26km from the centre of Amsterdam. It was planned in the second half of the 20th century as a brand new city to accommodate the Amsterdam region’s growing population.
While the first homes were finished in the mid 70’s, the rail line wasn’t extended to Almere until 1987. But, as per many of these developments, the transit corridor was pre-planned. The rail line, shown here in blue, goes through the centre of the main part of the city. It is completely grade separated and has lots if bridges / underpasses to minimise severance between the 2 sides of the city. Worry not drivers as there is also a motorway (red) and a ring road (purple). There is also has a network of local busways and cycleways but that will have to be the subject of another post.
From the network shown above, it is pretty obvious that the Dutch intended that transit would play the feature role in getting to and from Almere and also from one end to another.
How does Almere compare to the Dairy Flat future urban area? Below is the same 2.5km radius that I used for the Dairy Flat station example, but centred around one of Almere’s train stations. Notice any similarities?
In 2014, Auckland Council also created it’s Low Carbon Plan that sets out a plan on how Auckland will reduce it’s GHG emissions by 40% by 2040. Note the size of the pie that Land Transport (cars, trucks etc) occupies.
Then, in 2015 Auckland Council signed onto the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a global network of cities tackling climate change, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP21).
If Auckland Council are really serious about reducing GHG emissions, reducing car dependence seems to be an obvious place to start. And, if we’re building greenfield housing, surely building a transport network that makes walking and cycling to transit is just the right thing to do.
In summary, why would we build a new greenfield town and yet not provide for a quality transit network from the start? Ditch the park and rides Auckland Transport. Embrace walking and cycling.