A tweet a couple of days in the past from Auckland Transport highlighted for me a serious problem with a lot of our public transport infrastructure, its lack of redundancy.
The elevate is presently nonetheless out of service at Henderson Station & we have been suggested that the fault is probably not resolved till Monday 12/09/2022.
Sadly because of this mobility customers are unable to entry the platform till the elevate has been fastened. https://t.co/QZQ4txdwB2
— Auckland Transport Journey Alerts (@AT_TravelAlerts) September 6, 2022
To be clear, individuals who have mobility points, corresponding to these with a incapacity or maybe a mother or father with a pram, all of a sudden can not use a key practice station on our fast transit community – a station that is a vital hyperlink to the city centre and for connections to native buses.
To additional put that in perspective, round 24% of all New Zealanders have some type of a incapacity and I’d count on Auckland to have its justifiable share of these. Clearly not all individuals with a incapacity may have mobility points that require them to make use of a elevate. However for people who do, public transport could also be their solely choice for unbiased journey, so not having the ability to entry the station might have vital penalties, particularly if they’re unaware of the problem till they arrive on the station and discover the elevate damaged.
Gear like lifts and escalators do sometimes break down however the problem with Henderson, like with so lots of our stations, is that Auckland Transport and its predecessors constructed them to the naked minimal specs they may get away with. This usually occurred in a bid to attempt to get the prices down throughout worth engineering processes due to the very tight budgets for public transport. So in making an attempt to engineer out the prices they engineered out a lot of the worth.
For people who don’t know Henderson, that is what it appears to be like like from the sky. The present station was inbuilt 2007 as a part of the works to double monitor the Western Line. The platform is accessed through an overbridge with most individuals utilizing the escalators to entry the platform on the southern facet of the concourse. The northern facet contains a single elevate and a few concrete stairs. There isn’t a different entry to the platform.
That isn’t all that’s flawed right here. For instance, you possibly can see the shelter is just round 30m lengthy and has an identical sized hole between the shelter and the bottom of the escalators. An absence of shelter at stations has lengthy been a bugbear of mine and I’ve additionally written earlier than about how we have to enhance the format together with different options of stations, corresponding to the placement and variety of HOP machines and tag posts. We additionally need to see extra effort put into enhancing native connections to stations.
For Henderson the perfect long-term answer is a second station entry on the southern finish which might each increase the catchment and entry to the close by space barely however importantly additionally present some extra redundancy. There was speak of doing this as a part of a improve to the station with extra platforms to help the Metropolis Rail Hyperlink, however it’s been a very long time since we heard something about that.
One other drawback at Henderson is that the scale of the elevate doesn’t match an grownup with a few kids and their bikes. Surprising stresses like that, through which a terrific thought for an outing all of a sudden turns into a puzzle of conserving everybody protected, that pushes individuals to taking the automotive as an alternative.
Henderson isn’t the one station that has had elevate points both. Swanson has too, the place Auckland Transport have been doing upkeep on the lifts since early Might and are lastly resulting from end this week. That work has meant they’ve been out of service between 7am and 5pm. If in case you have a mobility problem and journey between these occasions you both want to seek out one other approach to journey or hope the following practice terminates on the facet of the tracks you’re on. I’ve even argued that the extra platforms ought to be at Swanson.
Swanson’s lifts even have the quirk that they’re completely different sizes, so in case your bike is a bit longer than normal, you would possibly discover it suits going up and over the tracks, however then not match happening… which doesn’t actually work.
Whereas lots of our stations had been designed and constructed earlier than Auckland Transport got here into existence, they’ve had almost 12 years to do one thing about it, and haven’t.
Future stations, like these within the Gentle Rail mission, have to be designed with accessibility and resilience at their coronary heart. Will these underground stations have a number of entrances and a number of lifts, or like Henderson, Swanson and others will they they be pared again to only a single elevate in a bid to economize? It’s additionally price noting that accessing underground (or overhead) stations takes time and the time from the road to the platform isn’t included within the total journey time assessments.
There’s a approach to design mild rail stations for fast and dependable entry although. Floor-level stations are rather more accessible to extra types of individuals, of all skills. As Girls in Urbanism have identified, as a result of street-level stops don’t require stairs or elevators to get to a station, they supply straightforward journeys for anybody with pushchairs or wheelchairs or accompanying kids and even simply buying. You’ll be able to see and be seen, which provides to the consolation and enchantment of metropolis journey.
On the finish of the day, stations which are designed nicely for these with mobility points may also be nice for everybody. We’d like Auckland Transport to be working to enhance our current stations in order that when points like at Henderson this week occur, they don’t all of a sudden minimize the entry to those who want it.