South Auckland bus services slated

By Andre Hueber

Sixteen bus services pass through Mangere Bridge every day yet none travels directly to the area's biggest employer, Auckland Airport.

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board is drawing Auckland Transport's attention to the anomaly, along with other bus-related issues.

The board's transport spokesperson, Lydia Sosene, explains that the two airports in the area employ about 12,000 people yet only 30 per cent of those workers live locally. She'd like to see numbers increase but says convoluted bus routes are hampering progress.

"There's opportunities to up-skill and get jobs at the airport with programmes like Youth Connections, but public transport is the missing piece of the puzzle."

The journey from Mangere Bridge to the airport, just 8km away, involves taking at least two different buses. It's just as difficult to make the trip from Otahuhu.

"It's ludicrous you can catch a single service to the airport from Botany but not from here. There is no direct connection from Otahuhu to the airport for residents, travellers,or people doing business."

She says the area's residents were especially reliant on public transport given their lower socio-economic makeup.

"We are a community with big challenges. Public transport has not served us well, yet it plays a key role."

Ms Sosene describes how several hundred new homes have been built in Mangere's Robertson Rd, yet only one of the street's nine bus stops has a shelter.

"When you see who's trying to use the buses it's students and Super Gold Card users. They're sitting in the rain and complaining to us every week. Some have to walk 2km to a bus stop.

"We need more than a pole and a yellow dotted line. We need proper shelters with seats."

Another local board member, Carrol Elliott, says she drives to the CBD along Mount Eden Rd and admires "lovely" bus shelters lining the road.

"I'm so envious. Please could we have one or two for Robertson Rd?"

Ms Elliott lives off Coronation Rd in Mangere Bridge and says she sees plenty of buses "flying" past but none goes where she wants to go.

"One of the things promoted as a reason to get people out of cars and onto buses is convenience. Bus routes have been added as our area developed. They added a turn here and there - now the routes look like a bowl of multicoloured spaghetti."

Local Board chair Peter Skelton concurs. "I have to catch three buses to get from Favona Rd to Penrose. It's the mayor's focus to get people connected together but at the moment it's all over the place."

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan agrees bus services to Mangere and Otahuhu are not well connected but says it isn't feasible to provide direct links to the airport from every suburb. The agency is reviewing Auckland's bus routes with the intention of delivering a simplified and better integrated network with fewer routes running more frequently and for longer periods.

"Mangere is not alone in Auckland in this respect."

Mr Hannan says that as part of the review, the infrastructure that supports the network will be looked at.

"That will include a full review of bus stop locations and shelters, with a programme put in place based upon prioritised needs across the whole Auckland network, given available funding."

He says Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board took part in a workshop on Auckland Transport's proposals this month.

Other boards will follow before the opinions of South Auckland people are sought later this year.

What improvements would you like to see made to your local bus route?  Send your ideas to:

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- The Aucklander

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