The PTV web site reckons there are 298 car spaces in the car park at Clayton railway station.
Until recently the spaces were distributed around the station, some on the western side of Clayton Road, most on the eastern side, both sides of the railway line.
But with the new elevated “skyrail” line under construction on the north side, a number of spaces have been closed. To compensate for that, more spaces have been opened up on the southeast side of the station.
Here’s how it looks from the train when departing Clayton outbound:
Yes, the car spaces go all the way to Centre Road, some 750 metres from the station entrance.
This was filmed on a public holiday. Any locals care to comment how many of these spaces are filled on an average weekday? Are people really prepared to walk up to 750 metres from their car to catch a train? (I’m lucky enough that I only walk slightly further than this from home to the station.)
At least at Clayton the car park only extends a fraction of the length to the next station. At Bentleigh, the car park now goes halfway to the next stop at McKinnon. It fills the entire space between Bentleigh station and the substation midway between the two stops.
In fact with the McKinnon platform extending south under the road, it doesn’t seem like too far from the end of the Bentleigh car park.
On weekdays, it appears the entire car park is used.
Unused most of the time
Station car parks, by their very nature, are near railway stations, which is also some of the most valuable, useful land in any suburb.
It’s also empty more than it’s full. From what I’ve seen, a typical suburban station car park might be only 20% full on weekends, and even emptier in the evenings. It’s probably only full between, at most, 7am and 6pm on weekdays — 11 hours per day, 77 hours out of 168 per week: 46% of the time. And in most cases the total is lower. Many car parks don’t fill up until later each morning.
Station car parks are also notoriously expensive to build, often costing $15,000 to $20,000 per space to construct. It’s an extraordinarily expensive way to get people onto trains, and it’s not scalable. Land is scarce. (And multi-storey carparks can easily multiply the cost per space by three.)
All this means these twentyish people catching a bus home from Bentleigh station have saved taxpayers almost half a million dollars in car spaces, as well as probably saving themselves thousands of dollars per year by avoiding running another car.
It’s not surprising that for those squeezed out of existing car parks think more and bigger car parks are the answer.
But ultimately the cost isn’t affordable, and it’s illogical to build a public transport system that requires people to drive to the stations.
More needs to be done to bring people to the station without their cars. Better walking and cycling facilities, better connecting buses and trams.
And you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you.