Take Waiheke for example. There is no public transport option on the island, only privately run ferry and bus services. This suits transport planners up to a point because they don’t have to invest in infrastructure replacement, except for keeping the roads maintained. However they do have to have a strategy for growth which is just as relentless on Waiheke as it is throughout the Auckland region.
The choke point for Waiheke is the Matiatia transport hub. Congestion there is already dangerous as demand for space exceeds supply, made worse with the start of two new ferry services. This will mean more tour companies and taxis competing to supply transport for visitors and day trippers. However, as in Auckland, the only option being considered by transport planners to ease congestion is to force people out of their cars and onto public transport, except that there is no public transport on Waiheke.
How will Auckland Transport provide a public transport option for Waiheke that will work? Their only thought is ‘park and ride’, but Council doesn’t own any land to provide for parking in the villages. Buying land for ‘park and ride’ would be a very expensive option indeed and near impossible to achieve. Providing a fleet of buses that is frequent enough to entice passengers is also exceedingly expensive.
The reality is that the cheapest option, and only viable solution, is simply to increase the parking capacity at Matiatia. All the plans are there. The land is there. The only thing stopping the obvious solution is the will and the budget.
Auckland Transport is in the grip of transport planners that hate cars so there is no will for increased car parking. The budget for public transport is being sucked into providing for the mayor’s train set with little left over for bus services. Auckland Transport’s final solution for Matiatia is to do nothing.
As a strategy for growth it is a solution that won’t work for Waiheke just as the mayor’s train set won’t work for Auckland.