Fast- tracking apartment development sites – where’s the supporting transport investment?

May 14, 2014
Fast- tracking apartment development sites – where’s the supporting transport investment?

BarbC

Transit oriented development - an old idea with a new lease of life
Transit oriented development – an old idea with a new lease of life

Last Thursday’s NZ Herald reports  on the new fast tracked housing areas within and on the periphery of the city.

Cycle Action supports  intensification on large sites in urban Auckland to provide more affordable housing within easier reach of community and employment centres. Our proviso is that it must be accompanied by improved public transport and cycling opportunities.

We’re seeing evidence of land clearance in the new fast tracked areas on the periphery of Auckland already. Not too much evidence yet of major transport investment being fast tracked.

Let’s be real about this – we need to do catch-up before we load more pressure onto our transport system. A classic area is out West, where train services are slow and restricted in coverage. Bus services are heroic but overfull,  slow and desperately needing express lanes. The North-Western cycleway is well on track for upgrading, but the distances to the edge of the city are big. This means that cycling from the periphery will benefit from improved PT links, better bike parking/ cycling routes to PT interchanges and facilities like bike racks on buses.

Curitiba, Brazil - TOD works just as well with rubber wheels
Curitiba, Brazil – TOD works just as well with rubber wheels

One of our regular contacts from Massey contacted us today with this message. He describes a sadly dysfunctional transport system that is not coping. We need Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to show serious muscle to fix this, and  follow up by delivering affordable and easy transport choice for the new development areas.

I am a driver and a cyclist, but when I am not cycling, I use public transport as a preference to driving a car to work on the weekdays. Today I had to rethink that.

My preferred Auckland commute bus is the 070 express run by Ritches. I could tell it was going to be a long commute this morning when the previous 130 bus arrived 10 minutes late – I was not too far off. The 070 arrived over 10 minutes late as well, and the bus was full. I’m not talking about a few people standing – I’m talking about no standing room left, a mere 5.7km from  the start of the bus run! The bus driver was sincerely apologetic, but couldn’t take more passengers.

The 070 bus runs from Westgate Shopping Center via Massey to Lincoln Rd in about a 7km trip, then it runs from Lincoln Rd along the motorway for about 7km to Pt Chev. Packed with standing- room only passengers, running along a 100km/hr stretch of road with frequent accidents, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Faced by the risk of the next 070 bus being just as full, and the possible situation that I may be one of those standing passengers, I opted for the following 130 bus to Henderson train station, then a train to Britomart.

I started at my original bus stop at 7:20am ready for the 070 scheduled for 7:22am, arrived at Britomart at 9:00am and then my work 10 minutes later, 1 hour later than the 070 bus that stops right beside my office is scheduled to arrive.

I understand that it’s not always possible to predict a surge in passenger numbers, but if a bus is travelling along the motorway, it should not take standing passengers. I would also think that if this has happened once, it will happen again, so the route needs a higher frequency of trips or a larger capacity bus on the route to ease the risk. As the route has a few very tight turns, my preference would be a higher frequency of trips.

It is frustrating as  cyclists to see all the new construction on more motorway lanes and arterial roads for cars. Investment in other forms of transport is sporadic, and not given the priority needed to make other modes a realistic option for the common commuter. 

And we wonder why we have a motoring congestion problem that’s out of control !

Mayor Len  – we look to you to ensure that new peripheral development sites are coupled with new PT and cycling investment. Auckland relies on you for this leadership.

 

 

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