The City Rail Link (CRL) is a vital project for the city however as we know the government commissioned review has rejected the business case for it. While many of us know that the review has many flaws, some of the recommendations made about how to improve the BC for it are sensible, in particular the need to get more people using the existing rail network. Some of the more commonly suggested ways to increase patronage are things like better feeder buses, more park and rides and also having higher residential density around stations. Of course there are downsides to each of these, feeder buses can be costly to run, park and rides take up a lot of space or are expensive if built as a parking building and we still get a lot of people that complain about the idea of having higher densities, especially the fear of increased traffic in the area.
One thing that isn’t often discussed is about making it easier to walk (and cycle) to train stations. Thinking about this I thought it might interesting to see just how accessible the area around my local station is. Most people are only likely to walk for a maximum of 10 minutes to catch a train and this probably equates to about 1km so how far does this get us? For this I decided to use my local station, Sturges Rd, as it is not next to a town centre it has very few places that would naturally attract patronage so it is key that it is as easy as possible for people to get to.
The red line is the rail line, the red shaded area represents the area 1km from the station (yes there is a big bite out of the bottom but that is because that area is so close to Henderson station) and the blue lines represent how far someone could get by walking for 1km in any direction away from the station, this includes all roads and any pedestrian only areas like alleyways etc. Most of the area around the station is pretty flat so walking/cycling to or from it is not hard.
Of course we are never going to get every single house in the red area to be within a 1km walk of the station however due to the poor road layout there have been some serious gaps allowed to develop. Probably the worst of these is just to the northeast of the station with the houses around Te Kanawa Cres. Some of these houses are as close as 400m to the station yet someone would have to walk for over 1km just to reach it.
Cycling of course has the ability to extend the reach of the station and these residents could ride a bike but it is hardly the friendly place to cycle in Auckland. It would require riding along a busy four lane arterial or on skinny footpaths as the streetview image below shows and when they get to the station there isn’t really anywhere safe to leave bikes for the day (yes there are a couple of bike loops installed but they are all very exposed and it is no surprise that no one uses them).
One thing is the station does already have a park n ride and a decent one at that at about 170 spaces, perhaps two or three of them could be converted into a covered and secure bike storage area?
Issues of accessibility like this are all over the city and it’s hard to say what the best solutions are as they will be different in each case. In some cases the removal of a couple of houses could be all that’s needed to give a lot of people much better access to local stations while in others it might just be something more simple making the existing access safer and more pedestrian friendly.