My brother in Wellington wrote to me recently about a weekend train trip to the country with family members, some of whom brought bikes so they could take the scenic route home. The outing wasn’t just fun, but affordable. My brother has a SuperGold Card, and everyone else enjoyed cheap fares designed to encourage more people to use public transport instead of cars for weekend fun.
I’m seeing more and more of this multi-modal multi-generational weekend travel around Auckland. Family groups bringing bikes on the ferry to explore Devonport; or taking the train to Onehunga to ride to Ambury Park; or arriving at Britomart ready to ride the waterfront and the Pink Path (or both!). Everyone looks to be having fun, and it’s great to see Aucklanders catching on to exploring their cities by public transport, rather than by car.
I’m thrilled to say it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more of it, thanks to this new campaign from Auckland Transport, offering 99 cent weekend fares for kids from 5 to 15 traveling on a (specially registered) HOP card. Bingo, AT – you’ve got it!
AT Metro, Group Manager Customer and Market, Kevin Leith says Auckland Transport wants young people getting out and about on the weekend and using public transport with their parents. “Kids love to take a ride on a train or a double-decker bus; it’s great fun.”
It’s a little curious the subsidy doesn’t also apply to ferries, given for the parts of the city that lack trains, but have access to ferries (the whole of the North Shore and big parts of East Auckland). As ferry services extend their hours and frequency, surely it’s time for AT to introduce even more Aucklanders to the ease of travel that comes with public transport – especially when you can ‘bike and ride’?
And this brings me to the glorious ‘missing link’ of SkyPath coming our way soon – its power to boost public transport use even further, and the importance of safe access for all ages.
Bike Auckland has always said that SkyPath will lead to more people using the Northcote Ferry.
Sure, many recreational visitors will make a return journey on foot or on bike. But we also imagine heaps of people will ride or walk across, then take the opportunity to relax around Northcote Point – bring a picnic, have a coffee or a smoothie at the Sausalito cafe by the Bridgeway theatre (maybe catch a matinee!), enjoy a beer in the sunny beer garden at the Northcote Tavern – and then tootle down to the Northcote Ferry to sail back to Britomart. Imagine the fascination of the kids looking up at the underside of the magic bridge they’ve just ridden across!
This is exactly how AT’s cute new promotion is envisaging we’ll be using our city. So we have to ask again, why skimp on the plans for Northcote’s Queen Street, which will be the gateway to both SkyPath and the ferry?
This weekend is the last chance to speak up for a better, safer, more walkable and bike-friendly entrance to the North Shore. Will you join the chorus?
If AT wants to encourage people to walk, ride, bus, train, ferry, and generally free up the streets – and indeed, if they want to help discourage people from driving to SkyPath – it’s time to build streets that tell that story. Like the friendly cartoon train the child sees in AT’s new video, a welcoming street actively invites people to walk and bike on it.
If you see yourself visiting SkyPath by ferry and bike (or by foot and public transport) – whether you live out West, East or South – we’re looking to you to join the campaign to create a safe walk and cycle route from the Tavern, the Cafe and SkyPath to the Northcote Ferry Wharf.
The plans for these streets have been watered down. But the important thing here is that requirements have radically changed. With SkyPath, we’re going to see an order of magnitude more people on bikes a day using Northcote’s Queen St; and even without SkyPath, the e-bike revolution is making the bike-and-ferry combo even more accessible to more people.
As any good project manager should do, AT should review the changed requirements and modify the design to meet the need. In this case, Queen St Northcote is going to rank as one of Auckland’s busiest bike routes, so it needs to be designed to the highest standards possible. Build it once, build it right.
Please help us make the case. Add your thoughts below, before Sunday evening November 13th! We’ll make sure your feedback gets through to Auckland Transport.