Auckland's park and rides are at breaking point, with many filling up well before the height of the morning rush hour. Commuters say more parking spaces are needed to get more people on to public transport. The Herald visited major park and rides in the city's four corners last week to assess the situation.

Swanson is so far in Auckland's west it almost sits on the surf coast.

But far from being a sleepy getaway for retirees and surfers, the suburb's train station bustles each morning with streams of bleary-eyed commuters.

During the morning peak hours, 7828 passengers pile aboard city-bound trains on Auckland Transport's western line, while 1546 passengers journey towards the suburbs.

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Keith Filo was one Swanson early birds when the Herald visited the station last Thursday and is thankful for free car parking as part of AT's network of Park & Rides.

Commuter Keith Filo is a big fan of the convenience and affordability provided by Park & Rides. Photo / Michael Craig
Commuter Keith Filo is a big fan of the convenience and affordability provided by Park & Rides. Photo / Michael Craig

"They are really convenient ... it is cheaper if you get a HOP card, you are not sitting in the car, [and] you are not getting exhausted from driving, which can really stress out your day," he said.

Fellow commuter Natalie Guthrie was equally enthused calling the parking "absolutely excellent".

But while the parking is praised, there is not always enough.

Across 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.

Swanson's Park & Ride filled a tad slower than the city average on the day the Herald visited.

It has 136 parks in addition to the 30-40 odd in the old train station park, with the older park filling early by about 6.45am.

The new Park & Ride still had almost half its spaces free by 7.40am before filling up just after 8.30am.

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Filo never has a problem getting a park because he always arrives before 7.30 in the morning.

But when he returns to the station after work, he can see the carpark is always filled to the brim with the cars of commuters who caught trains later than him.

It is worse at nearby Ranui Train Station where there are only 21 free parks.

"They don't have any car parks, you see a whole lot of people parking just on the side of the road, fighting for parks - so they need [a Park & Ride] as well," Filo said.

Graham Dykes sometimes arrives at Swanson Train Station later than Filo, and said he doesn't even bother looking for a space at the Park & Ride past 9am, because its always full.

The commuters at that time "start getting creative [by] parking on the verge and the side streets", he said.

Commuter Graham Dykes would like to see more Park & Rides built but says it needs to be balanced against the cost. Photo / Michael Craig
Commuter Graham Dykes would like to see more Park & Rides built but says it needs to be balanced against the cost. Photo / Michael Craig

And it's only going to get worse, he said.

"We are going to be pretty constrained, there is a lot of houses coming up in this area and the carpark is starting to run out of space."

AT is planning to add 1900 parking spaces across its Park & Ride stations, with the Westgate-Kumeu area among locations in the west being considered for a new car park.

However, the Automobile Association said it is still a "long way short" of what's needed.

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," he said.

Commuter Guthrie agreed, saying she would like to see more Park & Rides because she has lots of friends who are forced to drive between multiple trains stations looking for a spare car park or who are instead forced onto buses.

Natalie Guthrie said lots of her friends use Park & Rides, but they often have trouble find spare parking spots. Photo / Michael Craig
Natalie Guthrie said lots of her friends use Park & Rides, but they often have trouble find spare parking spots. Photo / Michael Craig

Filo believed every train station should have "decent size carpark".

Dykes, however, was more circumspect.

"I would love them to extend [Swanson's Park & Ride}," he said.

"But I know this last one cost a couple of million dollars, so it is pretty hard to justify – I don't know the answer."