Just unbussable? Bus networks and Porirua
Train patronage is rising, but Porirua is driving more and more. What’s with the bus, then?
Porirua drives a lot, and it’s driving more.
Commuting is a very narrow measure of people’s travel habits, with huge differences even between men and women, but it’s one measure and it’s quite telling.
Between the last two censuses (well, the ones that worked), the proportion of people who drive to work fell, on average, region-wide. But in Porirua it grew 1.9%. It even fell in Lower Hutt (-1.9%), but it grew in Porirua.
Is driving extra nice in Porirua?
The peak-hour traffic in Porirua is known to be terrible.
At peak, key roads like Kenepuru Drive, Postgate Drive, State Highway 58 (Pauatahanui Inlet) are nose-to-tail, and the approach to the Paremata roundabout is a long skinny parking lots for kilometres (and necessitating a set of new lights on the roundabout so the evening non-commuter traffic didn’t massively stack up too.) There’s school gate congestion at every school. The residents’ associations (especially the decile 10 ones) are constantly calling for Porirua city council to “fix the congestion”.
There’s a pretty good train service running here, the Kāpiti line, and yes there are buses. So with this public transport and the horrible congestion, what’s going on?
Is it just unbussable?
Porirua’s urban form is 99.9% single-family homes. Is it that there just aren’t enough beating hearts per hectare to make a bus service viable?
The generally accepted international standard is that the ideal population density to support public transport needs to be at least 14 people per hectare. How does Porirua’s population density stack up?
A combination of obliging Greater Wellington staff with the excellent mapper / drone photographer / Talk Wellington Twitter friend Leigh Hunt got the population data within 400m (a 6-7 minute walk generally considered to be about doable*) of bus stops, and made this:
(For those interested, the data provenance is here)
Interestingly there are some areas of the Porirua that do have the level of density to run a decent bus service.
Why, then, with all the traffic, don’t Porirua people take the bus very much? We shall investigate this mystery further in the next exciting instalment.
If you have clues, we are taking anonymous tipoffs to our hotline –
AKA the comments box below!
Banner image credit: Flickr user Philip Capper
Check out Leigh’s drone videos of eastern Porirua here
*The 400m is as the crow flies, not a true walking catchment. But it gives you an idea.