Auckland's park and rides are at breaking point with many filling up well before rush hour. Commuters say more parking spaces are needed to get more people on to public transport. The Herald visits major park and rides in the city's four corners to assess the situation.
Auckland Transport (AT) is planning to add 1900 parking spaces across its park and ride stations, but the Automobile Association says it is still a "long way short" of what's needed.
When the Herald visited the Albany Station last Wednesday morning, the carpark started filling up from 6.45am and was close to capacity within an hour.
Auckland park and ride facilities currently have about 5500 car spaces, 85 per cent of which are occupied by 7.30am and nearly 100 per cent by 8.30am, according to AT.
Albany Station is the city's biggest with 1100 spaces.
Commuters there say even the additional paid parking, provided by Wilson Parking at $3 for 12 hours, fills up most days.
AT plans to add about 135 parks at the site by end of the year, but has yet to decide whether they will be paid or free.
Commuter Nikki Te Huia, 29, a sales executive, said she has to leave two hours early because of the lack of parking in Albany.
Her work day starts at 9am, but she has to be at the bus station about 7am to ensure she gets a park.
"The express bus service is fantastic, but honestly the lack of parking sucks," Te Huia said.
"The time I save from sitting in motorway traffic is transferred into me finding somewhere to sit around for two hours until work starts."
Mother of two Tracey Church, 44, a recruitment consultant at IAG, said she had to find parking 15 minutes away from the station if she had to drop her children at school.
Gayleen Richardson, 60, felt the flower beds were a waste of space, and could be paved over to create additional car parks, while IT consultant Peter Savage, 51, believes the parking situation will only get worse when more housing developments in the Albany area are occupied.
"What we need really is good forward planning," Savage said.
AT figures show the Northern Express transports about 3138 passengers on 58 bus services across the Harbour Bridge during morning peak hours.
That is just slightly less than the 3235 people who take private vehicles.
AA spokesman Barney Irvine said the level of park and ride supply in Auckland was "a joke" compared to Wellington, and cities in Australia and America.
"We're missing out on the opportunity to generate piles of new public transport users," Irvine said.
"AT has to start taking it more seriously ... we need to see a commitment made to delivering far more parking spaces - that means multi-storey buildings."
The growth seen in Auckland had made it all the more important for the development to start now, he said.
"The bus feeder services that AT prefers to focus on to get people to the station aren't popular," Irvine said.
"If cost is the barrier, then AT should look at charging a daily rate on at least some of the new parks."
He said AA members surveyed had made it clear that they would be prepared to pay to secure a park.
A survey of 1000 members who commute to the CBD and live close to rail stations and the Northern Busway found overwhelming support for more investment in park and ride.
An AT spokesman acknowledged the overall demand for park and ride exceeded supply.
"But there are some facilities that could be replaced or complemented by improvements to feeder bus services or improved walking and cycling infrastructure," he said.
New and improved park and ride facilities were also being considered for Hibiscus Coast, Westgate and Drury or Paerata.
A new bus network was being launched on the North Shore on September 30 to provide better local connections to Northern Busway stations including Albany, he said.