Go where the people go (it’s money)

Public transport hubs in Wellington generally aren’t great, but this might be about to change.

Greater Wellington (and, appended, Wellington City Council) are seeking our feedback: on new bus hubs in Johnsonville and Kilbirnie, and upgrades to facilities in five other “bus hubs” (Newtown, Courtenay Place, Miramar, Brooklyn and Karori Tunnel).  We hear there are plans to make Wellington station’s bus area more navigable too (hooray!)

Feedback is being called for til 14 July.  

No-one’s expecting Auckland-style comprehensive developments (see below), especially as these “hubs” include a lot of smaller stops with less space (Karori Tunnel!).  

New Lynn “transit oriented” development concept (Image – Auckland Transport)

 

But the development community is cottoning on to the value of people on foot, funnelled reliably through places every day.  It seems surprising there isn’t more of this, as the known value of “footfall” (aka walking wallets) is one of the key selling points for commercial real estate for retail. Perhaps we’re just waking up to the notion that it’s not wallets in vehicles that get spending, it’s wallets on foot.    (Interestingly, Citylab reckon the effectiveness and value of “transit oriented development” doesn’t necessarily require transit – just density, good walkability and amenity. How astonishing!)

The other really obvious bonus of doing good dense development around public transport hubs is it makes them more appealing – they feel safer for travellers, and they enable other activities besides just movement.  

There are challenges with developing in public transport hubs as they’re places by definition surrounded by major vehicles coming and going.  Railway stations are increasingly surrounded by oceanic park-and-ride carparks.  However, a spot of placemaking (providing other reasons to be there) goes a long way.  

(Wellington station itself is an interesting one, being a large building with generous spaces but boasting only a New World, drycleaners, long-standing shoe/bag repair shop, small takeaway cafe, and of course the station pub Trax.  It’s a heritage building though, and currently full of Kiwirail, Callaghan Innovation and Victoria University.)

Some observations about smaller stations recently visited:

  • Porirua’s train station has been immeasurably boosted by the addition of on-platform bike parking, supermarket trolley parking and a little cafe.    
  • Waikanae’s station has few add-ons but the cheery stationmistress is the hub of a regular community of locals.
  • Melling station has a cute cafe on the platform itself (though its hours are limited).
  • Waterloo, despite being a major interchange, is … exposed and grim  An opportunity? 

Waterloo station, looking North. (Photo – Matthew25187 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, )

 

How appealing are the public transport hubs in your neighbourhood?  

What development opportunities could there be?

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