The recent news coverage of the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) agency’s recently released Prosperity Index has generated significant discussion. The index measures prosperity across Auckland at the local board level and identifies how prosperity, as measured across a range of indicators, varies across Auckland.
While the full report can be found here, I started wondering how these findings may correlate to transport access. With the support of my spatial colleagues, we mapped the average number of bus routes that the residents of the same boards had access to. While a simplistic approach, the results outlined below do show strong similarities where the more prosperous areas of Albert-Eden and Devonport-Takapuna have moderate – high access to public transport, the less prosperous areas of Māngere – Ōtāhuhu or Ōtara – Papatoetoe have relatively low-poor access to public transport services.
The implications of this can be significant: reduced transport access can affect people’s ability to engage with employment, education or recreational opportunities; or alternatively result in them expending a much greater proportion of their limited financial resources on operating their vehicles, or just not travel. For example, in the 2013 census, more than twice as many residents in Devonport-Takapuna (7%) took public transport to work compared to Māngere – Ōtāhuhu (3.3%).
The impacts can also extend beyond the individual to the community perspective. As people are implicitly or explicitly excluded from engaging in their cities, their travel horizons (how far they are willing to travel for education, employment or social engagement) reduce. As these low travel horizons become entrenched in families and communities, this then can become a major barrier for residents from these areas to fully participate in the social and economic opportunities that are provided by our largest city.
The draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport identifies increasing peoples’ access to economic and social opportunities as a strategic priority. The question is, how should this be realized? Alternatively how do we mitigate the potential impacts of the regional fuel tax on low income households? How do we ensure that all residents, not just in Auckland but across the country, are not constrained by limited travel horizons?
Blog written by Matthew Noon, Associate Transportation Planner, Abley