The idea when commenting in the NZ Herald is to make sure a Blogger who pays attention to a particular interest (in this case transport) is NOT paying attention or has NOT written on that particular issue recently. However three Auckland Councillors decided to take a trip down to the Manukau Station and have a look at morning passenger numbers. That is fine and somewhat expectant of Councillors – although having a comment in the Herald might raise an eyebrow as it did with me. This would be in particular as I had commented on Manukau just recently in two different VOAKL posts. So lets take a look at the moment shall we?
From The Herald
Manukau commuters appeared to suffer a severe outbreak of Mondayitis yesterday – shunning their new $81 million railway line en masse.
Three Auckland Council members who turned up at Manukau’s trenched railway station at 6am to check reports of poor patronage say they counted just 30 people catching trains over the next two hours.
Transport committee member George Wood, who was helped by southern councillors Dick Quax and Calum Penrose with the informal census, said that was the total of passengers on six “peak” services trains that left for Britomart.
Three trains an hour have been running from Manukau at peak periods since the station opened about six weeks ago, and one an hour at other times.
Passengers counted by the councillors varied from just two each for trains that left at 6.10am and at 6.38am, to a peak of nine at 6.55am.
But patronage declined after that until 8.18am, when 14 caught a train.
The councillors say about 20 passengers arrived at Manukau over the two hours of their survey, although they were concentrating mainly on departing commuters
Yes well I might have mentioned something about the numbers. However I think people are looking at Manukau Station somewhat wrong in its usage profile. Manukau Station actually runs in reverse in the standard peak periods to most other stations. This means Manukau is a destination station like Britomart in the morning and a primary origin station again like Britomart in the evening. People would actually come to Manukau in the morning to work and leave again in the evening to return home. Of course you get the inter-peak period where you would get your shoppers and visitors just like Britomart. So with Manukau City Centre by definition the second core of Auckland (CBD is the first), treating the Manukau Station like Britomart in the fact its a core station which attracts people in the morning and boots them all out in the evening would assist in understanding the true dynamics of Manukau (and what it will become when the development is finished around it).
“People may say its early days, but for the investment Auckland has made in this double-track line into Manukau, and the huge amount that’s gone into this station, I would have hoped for better buy-in from the community,” said Mr Wood, who is from North Shore.
I’ll get to that further down when I call out Councillor Quax.
Told of an Auckland Transport report that said 53,142 passengers used the Manukau line in its first fortnight, he said train staff had told him most people boarded at stations such as Papatoetoe and Glen Innes, which are on the southern and eastern lines.
Well that would be true and I did mention it over at Auckland Transport Blog 😛 .
He blamed a decision by the former Manukau City Council for the new line to stop short of the area’s main shopping centre, the lack of a connection to southern population centres, and a lack of promotion. “It’s out of the way – to get there at 6am in the darkness, people have to walk through pretty desolate areas,” he said.
Now this is where the opening of this post comes into play – and a sharp email back to the Herald reporter (will be done after this post is up). I had written specifically about this in two separate posts: Manukau does have its short comings (MANUKAU STATION); and MISSING SOUTH-TO-PAPAKURA RAIL LINK and called out Councillor Quax on the issues raised. So again I call out Councillor Quax as he specifically voted against bringing the station down to the entrance of Westfield Manukau Mall. You can see my reasons and commentary in the linked posts. So taking a legitimate look at the station then raising it in the Herald – hmm I think that is called having a moment folks, especially when Manukau is my backyard and main place of social meetings and doing the shopping.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who headed the former Manukau council in approving the rail project with KiwiRail, expected the new line would “over time become a huge asset for public transport in the south”.
“At the moment, the new station is in the middle of a building site, but once the MIT campus is completed and more bus services terminate at the station, it’s worth will absolutely be proved,” he said.
He remained committed to adding a southern connection to the line, and as Manukau was the closest station to his home, “I intend to make it part of my regular rail commute”
Already commented on it with the “MISSING SOUTH-TO-PAPAKURA RAIL LINK” post – however now the Mayor is having a moment with this particular comment:
But a spokesman for Mr Brown was unable to say later whether the mayor had caught a train from the station since driving one through a ribbon there at an opening ceremony last month.
Umm – yeah nice vote of confidence from our resident Prude there. Heck Cllr George Wood has been out there now I think three times (both business and personal) since the station opened and he as it is stated is from the North Shore. Dedication with public transport there.
So as I have noted before here at VOAKL, Manukau Station does have its shortcomings. However the station does have potential once the urban development is complete and will easily become the third busiest station after Aotea (a City Rail Link Station) and probably Papakura (Britomart will drop off with the CRL in place) – with Manukau the second Core of Auckland and also having MASSIVE potential.
Just a word of advice to Councillors – please be careful. VOAKL does notice and will shoot commentary straight back – regardless of being friend or foe.
VOAKL does not like calling out people or institutions having moments – but will do so when needed. VOAKL: expressing one’s view.
Got some interesting news about the City Rail Link – will post up on that next.