Park & Ride is always a hot topic of debate, being seen by some as the key to get more people on public transport. We believe the issue is much more complex, in large part because they take up a lot of land, cost a lot to build and don’t provide all that many extra trips.
Despite this, Auckland Transport have long had a desire to significantly increase the number of park & ride spaces in Auckland with their Parking Strategy calling for 10,000 more spaces over the coming 30 years. For comparison, Auckland currently has about 5,500 P&R spaces with most at Albany (1,100) followed by Constellation (370). AT’s Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) does set aside money for P&R but it’s won’t provide enough to meet ATs goals.
So it was interesting last week to read they’re looking at some new ways of funding P&R.
Auckland Transport is considering a $1 billion plan for thousands of apartments to be built above park and ride sites and bus stations.
The agency said the government’s Kiwibuild programme could be a catalyst, providing homes for key workers and helping to fund thousands of new park and ride spaces.
Consultants PWC have already given a tentative thumbs up to the concept of building three levels of apartments and a multi-storey car park at Papakura railway station.
Documents sought from Auckland Transport by Stuff show the agency is working with fellow council arm, Panuku Development, to assess the market potential of the land.
Early ideas include creating a new entity with commercial goals to deliver the developments, manage parking revenue and eventually pump funds back for infrastructure.
The work has the dual purpose of generating revenue for only partially-funded plans to add 6000 park and ride spaces, while also putting more Aucklanders close to public transport.
AT should probably be applauded for thinking outside the box but that doesn’t make it a good idea. It would make those who are prepared to live at a higher density close to a train or bus station, an outcome the city wants more of, subsidise those who aren’t. For example, the article mentions that one of the most dramatic proposals is for the Constellation Busway Station that would see 15-storey buildings containing 359 apartments built, along with an extra 629 carparks (bringing it to 999 spaces). But that would mean each apartment owner will need to pay at least $87k, probably more, on top of the cost of the apartment itself just to pay for a carpark for someone else to use during the day.
As well as the financial cost, those living in those apartment would need to put up with all of the noise, emissions and local congestion caused by people accessing the carpark.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve mixed housing and podium carparking next to a station though. The most prominent example already in Auckland is in New Lynn where apartments and townhouses have been built on top of a 4 storey carpark – some of the spaces are reserved for residents and some for the neighbouring medical centre.
Instead of elaborate schemes to pay for parking, why not instead just use the land for even more apartments (or other uses). This is even part of their parking strategy, with one of the principles for P&R being:
Enable a transition of land use that supports transit oriented development in the right locations
Before any of this happens though, the first step needs to be that AT start charging for P&R. Doing so would give a better feel for just how much demand there is for more capacity and can also help financially contribute towards the construction of that capacity.