Out of all the metropolitan centres proposed in the Auckland spatial plan (Albany, Takapuna, Westgate, Henderson, New Lynn, Newmarket, Sylvia Park, Botany, Manukau and Papakura), Newmarket and Takapuna really stand out as ones with huge potential for redevelopment to happen sooner rather than later. This is because, at least at first glance, they’re market attractive places for intensification. Newmarket’s almost a second city centre and has seen enormous apartment construction over the past decade – and has a lot of potential for further development to occur, while Takapuna has fantastic views, is pretty close to central Auckland and sits in the midst of the North Shore – which, by in large, is a place where people want to live and work. In the long-run, Takapuna could become something like Auckland’s version of North Sydney – a mini city centre all of its own.
However, Takapuna has a pretty major flaw: it’s not on the rapid transit network. The Northern Busway (shown in blue below), while relatively nearby, does not actually serve Takapuna at all:
While it’s only 1.3 km from Takapuna to Akoranga Station – as the crow flies – land use patterns, the street network and the harbour make the actual walking distance close to twice this: and clearly outside what we can realistically expect people to do. Bizarrely, most of the prime land right next to Akoranga Station is empty fields and a golf driving range – perhaps one of Auckland’s poorest examples of land-use and transport integration.
Most of the “future rail network” maps that we’ve come up with on this blog over the past week have proposed a kind of spur from Akoranga to service Takapuna. This is clearly shown in the network Matt came up with: As we’re learning with the Manukau Station, spurs have some frustrating geometric consequences. Because Manukau City is not “on the way” for south-to-north trips, even if we were to build a southern link (enabling trains from the south to head onto the Manukau branch) we would find ourselves with some annoying operating patterns. Do we run trips into the spur and out again, inconveniencing everyone who wants to travel ‘through’? Do we terminate trains from the south at Manukau, thereby creating a situation where we’re going to magically need more platforms to run decent frequencies? Do we just run a shuttle train back and forth linking Manukau with the main line? All are sub-optimal solutions. All result from it being on a spur.
Theoretically we could put Takapuna “on the way”, if some future underground railway line following something like the alignment shown in green below: I’m just guessing that constructing this green line would be really expensive and/or incredibly technically challenging. Plus, we still don’t get around the issue of making the passengers take a pretty significant detour if they’re actually not travelling to or from Takapuna.
An alternative links into ideas that have also previously been proposed on this blog about keeping the Northern Busway beyond Akoranga Station and just building rail between Takapuna and the city. You end up with something like this (with purple being your railway line):
If our Takapuna to city line is built as a Vancouver-style Light Metro, trains might be heading each way along it every couple of minutes – which combined with high frequencies along the Northern Busway mean that transfers are unlikely to be problematic. This arrangement provides really well for trips between Takapuna and the city and pretty well for both trips between the northern North Shore and the city (faster rail travel times would make up for any transfer time loss) as well as trips between the northern North Shore and Takapuna.