As Auckland looks to bring forward investment in its rail and busway network, the AA is calling for a massive increase in the supply of park and ride facilities, with 10,000 new spaces needed over the next 10 years.
This follows a survey of 1,000 AA Members who commute to the CBD and who live close to stations on the rail network or the Northern Busway.
AA spokesman Barney Irvine says the survey underlined just how popular park and ride is with Auckland AA Members.
“Our Auckland Members see park and ride as a practical, convenient service, and an example of an effective public transport (PT) system in action. The problem is, many of them are blocked from using it, because all the spaces at the key sites are taken up before 7am.”
Consequently, around 85% of Auckland AA Members believe that the city needs to invest more in park and ride facilities.
Mr Irvine says the feedback reflects the fact that Auckland is seriously under-supplied when it comes to park and ride.
“If you look at cities around the world with successful PT networks, park and ride plays a critical role. To start to match the supply of park and ride in cities like Perth and Portland (relative to PT trips), Auckland would need to nearly double the number of spaces; to match Wellington, the increase would be closer to treble.”
Auckland Transport (AT) is talking about building 10,000 new spaces in the next 30 years, but that’s way too slow, says Mr Irvine.
“To catch up with current demand and keep pace with a growing network, Auckland needs 10,000 new spaces over 10 years, with the first 5,000 by 2022. Planning needs to start now, as we crack on with the Northwestern Busway, AMETI, and expansion of the rail network.”
He says that most of the new spaces would go into the periphery of the city, where land is available, and there’s less scope for feeder bus services to get people between the home and station.
Mr Irvine says the investment could add 5,000 or more new users to the network.
“Around 85,000 people use the train or Northern Busway each day, so an increase of five or six thousand is significant – those are people that would otherwise be driving.”
Mr Irvine says that the main argument against investment in park and ride is the price tag, with
each bay costing between $15,000 and $25,000. However, this could be overcome by charging users to park in the new spaces.
“Our survey results suggest that most people would be willing to accept a charge of $2 to $3 per day to use new park and ride spaces – that would cover most of the construction and operating cost.”
All the same, Mr Irvine says that AT would have to tread carefully. Charging should only be on new parks, not the ones already built or those in the pipeline. Reserved monthly parking and easy payment options need to be looked at too.
Mr Irvine stresses that investing in park and ride is about complementing, not replacing, feeder bus services.
“It’ll take time to develop a decent feeder bus network and, even when it is developed, there’ll always be a significant chunk of commuters who have no choice but to drive between home and station. That’s why park and ride has such an important role to play.”