As we invest in our public transport network, it’s critical that we not only invest in transformative projects like the City Rail Link, but that we also get as much use as we can out of the network we already have – which will also maximise the outcomes of those large projects. As such, we’ve long highlighted the need to improve our rapid transit stations, and how we access them.
Auckland Transport have slowly come to this realisation too and have recently released what they call the Auckland Rapid Transit Station Study which looks at how our current (and some future) rapid transit stations and ferry terminals perform. Here’s how their website describes it.
The Auckland Rapid Transit Study sets out a framework of best practice to better understand and improve the performance of rapid transit stations. The study covers a variety of the aspects of what makes great transit stations – transport access, land use, and customer experience.
About the Rapid Transit Study
Auckland’s Rapid Transit Network (RTN) generates a disproportionately high amount of patronage and the network is set to grow hugely over the next decade, with investment in the Eastern Busway, CRL and southern rail stations, to name just three, adding more than 20 new RTN stations to the network. Auckland transport have investigated station access and experience across the RTN network – including an analysis of existing facilities, customer experience and the ease of transport access and the land use around each station. The goal of this work has been to provide guidance for improving station experience and access, with the long-term aim of improving station access across the network, growing patronage, providing better end-to-end customer journeys and to create thriving communities around rapid transit stations.
This work has aimed to identify:
- Deficiencies across the network for access by mode, station experience and land use integration, and priority locations for investment.
- The key function for each station – and the ‘ideal’ vision for customer experience, access and integration.
- How access to transit can be improved for all users, and the high-level steps we need to take to enable well-functioning urban environments around rapid transit stations.
- The planning and infrastructure needed to support our growth, climate, transport and urban development aspirations.
- A tool for various public and private stakeholders that can break down the silos required for achieving common goals and making decisions together.
It’s described a bit more in the report itself.
For Auckland to thrive in the future, we must reframe our approach to growth, investment and integrated delivery. Recent policy has begun to use the term ‘well-functioning urban environments’.
This term calls for growth that is for the benefit of all people in an equitable and climate-friendly manner. The most obvious place to achieve this kind of growth is around transit stations. This is particularly important near public transport nodes, since it offers opportunities to address these various transport, housing and climate issues simultaneously. The goal is to have a compact city that is easy to move around by walking and cycling, with strong access to public transport.
The challenge is ‘well-functioning urban environments’ do not just happen organically. They requires cross-sector collaboration to break down complex silos. This study is a direct response to this requirement. A tool has been developed that captures the key actors and factors involved in creating well-functioning urban environments around stations. It captures and measures levels of transport access, land use development and customer experience around stations. The tool then establishes how far the area around the station must further develop to be highly liveable and accessible.
To achieve multiple policy goals, the transport planning horizon should extend beyond the rapid transit station itself. These stations are the key anchors for enabling thriving neighbourhoods. The existing and future rapid transit network is a city shaping instrument to make Auckland a better place for everyone.
In total the study covers 81 current and future stations, 45 train, 24 bus and 12 ferry. It’s notable that light rail isn’t included on here when other unfunded future lines/stations are. I also find it somewhat odd that ferries get included in a rapid transit study given there are no plans to make them frequent enough to qualify.
One thing that is interesting about this network is the authors say that if station catchments were developed to the maximum of the new zoning rules, they could accommodate 1 million more people. That’s more than all of Auckland’s expected growth for the next 30 years.
For every station, the study has assigned it a typology to compare their performance to. This is that we’re comparing outcomes more fairly as we shouldn’t for example, expect a suburban train to look like or perform like Britomart. This shows the assigned typology for each station and the expected scores for eight different metrics they’re compared to.
One thing that stands out is that at all stations, high levels of access by walking and cycling should be expected.
So how do our current and future stations compare. A high level summary of that is below. Access to stations by bike certainly stands out as by far the biggest single deficiency while it also highlights that we have an over-abundance of car access. It notes
Cycling access represents perhaps the most significant opportunity to improve access to Auckland’s rapid transit stations. It also has significant potential to increase patronage, reach more people and help achieve various policy goals.
It’s also interesting to see those deficiencies mapped out over a deprivation index map which shows many of the stations with the biggest deficiencies are also in some of poorer areas – places where getting substantially more people to use public transport could have a material impact on those residents cost of living.
The study has deficiency maps for each of the eight metrics but they are also highlighted as a butterfly model. A quick description of how to read this is below
And these are the results for each station.
There’s more information in the report highlighting how they came up with the scores and it’s not just based on thoughts but includes a range of qualitative metrics based on GIS analysis.
The key benefit of this works is that it provides a baseline for how each station is performing and where things most need to be improved.The hope is that this will then feed into projects to address these deficiencies. However, fixing some of them, especially walking and cycling, is likely to require some significant changes within AT, such as being more willing to change street layouts and traffic flow priority.
Lastly, while there hasn’t been any announcement about it, they are doing a quick survey on if you agree with their findings. This is open till Monday 16 October.