Closing Te Mahia Station

The Station can be closed

 

There seems to be a bit of fuss in the Manurewa Local Board area around Auckland Transport conducting consultation in preparation for the closing of the little used Te Mahia Station (2 mins south of the larger Manurewa Station).

Apparently according to the Manurewa Local Board, closing Te Mahia Station will cause “issues” and further dis-connectivity for people around the station needing public transport to get to their destinations. As such they are calling on Auckland Transport to upgrade the station with even the mayor getting involved.

Unless the industrial section that flanks Te Mahia is converted over to retail and residential costing even more money, all “upgrading” the station will do is effectively put lipstick on a pig (and an unsafe one at that).

Looking at the patronage numbers by station we can see Te Mahia is going virtually no where.

2003-2012-station-boardings-800px

 

Click for enlargement. Credit: Auckland Transport Blog

 

And now to this graphic I drew up of Te Mahia Station and bus stop options

Te Mahia replacements annotated

 

Click for full resolution

The graphic shows the 800 metre catchment area around both Te Mahia and Manurewa Stations. 800 metres is or was the touted maximum distance someone would walk to a transit stop although AT has it down to 500 metres. Of course you can not access Te Mahia if you live on the eastern side of the Southern Motorway. You would need to catch the feeder bus that operates around that particular area and feeds into the Manurewa Station and Interchange.

I have also put via yellow dots current or future bus stops (under the proposed Auckland Transport Southern Network Proposal which is out for consultation) that would be near the Te Mahia Station. I also added the two bus routes that would service the area and effectively feed in an out of Manurewa Station.

Under the proposed Southern Network Te Mahia would close. However there is 10-20 minute frequency buses running alongside or near what would be ex-Te Mahia that would feed in and out of Manurewa Station for those continuing their journey north. For those going south I would just catch the 33A/B bus and head straight down to Papakura via the Great South Road. And with integrated ticketing via AT-HOP rolling out, all you would need is just a single ticket to complete your multi-mode travel. Pretty easy stuff and done in international cities across the world.

 

This was my comment on Facebook after the mayor decided to weigh in:

Close the station and focus efforts on Manurewa, Takanini and Glenora Road Stations indeed where there will be large patron numbers.

 

With Te Mahia Station right on the Great South Road there will be 10-15min frequency buses that would shuttle passengers up and down in the exact same manner and destination the train from Te Mahia would (usually Manurewa and north). 

Nothing will be lost by closing Te Mahia when the high frequency feeder buses come into operation soon

 

There were two further points made after that comment that I will further reinforce with my above comment:

Te Mahia is used…its far mre convienient to have it open thn fr pple to walk or catch a bus or taxi just to gt on the train at at southmall…if you want pple to use public transport you have to consider convienience

This will be the most frequent comment made and easily rebuffed back. Auckland is an international city and will continue to do so. All international cities when it comes to transport will have a multi-modal aspect to it. That means in this case catching the feeder bus then onto the train to head north and vice versa. Overseas people are used to it as are some of the regulars out there (Papakura to New Lynn on the train anyone with a change at Newmarket or Britomart?)

As I mentioned earlier the bus stops are right beside Te Mahia and integrated ticketing is nearly fully rolled out so your ticket can be used on any mass transit mode for the length and time of your fare. So in short – get use to it!

 I use this station as do my children. Im immobile (have been for 5yrs) as the cost of vehicle maintenance & petrol exceed my budget. Therefore i personally am very dependent on public transport.

As mentioned before, the feeder buses would deal with that. Most of the bus fleet now have super low floors and ramps for our immobile passengers just like the trains. Situation can be easily dealt with.

 

And finally my final comment how a heavy rail system works efficiently and effectively:

Yes yes yes – otherwise you are wasting our limited money on a duplicate services the buses can easily provide. Trains are for medium and long distance travel with limited stops quite far apart. Buses are for stop start short distance and feeding into the longer serving rail network.

That particular aspect is also answered at ATB’s “Who should pay for grade separation?” when the Glenora Road Station issue came up again recently.

Quoting ATB from that article:

Stopping at stations takes time so adding them invariably comes down to a trade-off between time and patronage. Put too many stations in and while you have a bigger catchment, it might make the trip so slow that no one wants to use the service.

 

Trains are rapid medium and long destination stations that operate effectively with ,limited stations spaced out while the feeder buses serving the short local areas would feed into them as an efficient measure.

 

Final Remarks?

Manurewa Local Board is fighting the wrong issue on the wrong front. Te Mahia is a low patronage unsafe station with no viable future on the rapid rail network system. That station would be a hindrance and slow down the efficiency of the rail system as a whole.

The station has poor access and will always do so unless some intensive urban renewal is done in that area – something that costs more money than the area has.

Efforts would be better placed in helping AT making sure the 33A/B frequent bus that would trundle along the Great South Road and the 364 connector running along the western catchment fringe of the old station. Those buses would feed in and out to Manurewa Station where people can continue their journey north. Those bus stops are easier to access anyhow that Te Mahia ever would be.

The new development at the Manukau Golf Course would be served by the 33A/B buses with a stop right outside the front entrance. Those more inclined would drive to the Manurewa Station Park and Ride to save on a fare stage to boot (5 stages instead of 6) lessening the attraction of Te Mahia.

The heavy rail system is designed for rapid running with limited stations. Not short stop-start running like a bus as that would cause rail to lose the benefits of rapid transit over medium and long distances it was designed to do.

And the safety of Te Mahia is abysmal and again always will be given its location and inaccessibility. I have seen too many assaults at that station on passengers and rail staff. Both in my time at Transdev (formerly Veolia) and as a passenger.

Allow AT to close the station and focus efforts on Manurewa, Takanini (although that should be moved) and Glenora Road Stations, as well as the feeder buses.

Our scarce transport resources are best suited else where, when readily accessible alternatives will be in position for Te Mahia.