More than 400 car-dependent Birkenhead residents ditched their vehicles to try alternative commute methods last year thanks to Auckland Council’s Commute programme, with wide-ranging benefits.
Many Birkenhead residents rely heavily on car travel even though the suburb is only 8 kilometres from the city centre. The Commute programme, which sets up ‘personalised journey planning’ for local residents, is part of the Council’s bid to get more commuters using better forms of transport to get to work or study, while reducing tedious morning traffic. It has already had a number of successful trials including New Lynn, Devonport, Beach Haven and Manukau.
Participants were offered a variety of support methods, from journey plans to guidance, and nearly 40 per cent have committed to replacing their cars and have been rewarded with cycling equipment, a two week public transport pass or a pedometer.
The programme, which lasted four months, saw participants’ vehicle traffic reduced by nearly half and more people taking to the pavement, with 282 extra kilometres walked each week by participants. Aside from the obvious exercise and health benefits, those who were involved said they enjoyed having time to catch up on work emails instead of driving, taking the bus and swooping past lines of traffic, and taking up cycling. Sixty per cent of participants have said that their involvement with the programme has prompted a re-think about how they get around the city.
The Commute programme is also available to larger Auckland-based businesses free of charge. Auckland Transport can help by introducing cycling to your staff, including bike repair workshops and trial bike hire schemes, helping you develop walk to work initiatives in the work place, two weeks of free public transport for staff, or help your business develop better travel plans. For more information, and for great resources for out-of-Auckland businesses, head to the Commute page (https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/commute/).