The proposed location for a new bus interchange at Bayfair handling 300,000 passengers a year has drawn strong criticism from a Tauranga transport advocacy group.
Greater Tauranga opposes the site for the interchange on Farm St behind the Bayfair Shopping Centre, saying it is a narrow residential street unsuited to handle 20 local buses an hour plus regional and intercity buses.
''This location does not lend itself to quick and efficient bus movements to enable reliable services,'' the group said in a letter asking the Government to urgently review the $120 million Baypark to Bayfair (B2B) roading project.
The group, which included Heidi Hughes of Bike Mount, said the bus route north from the interchange would follow Links Ave to Golf Rd.
''These are residential streets that are completely gridlocked during peak times because of school and commuter traffic," Hughes said.
Issues with the interchange were among the reasons the group had sought the review.
It said B2B had no bus lanes, meaning there was no way for rapid public transport to access the bus lanes on Hewletts Rd.
''Given there are 15,000 new homes planned at Te Tumu, we think this is a major oversight.''
The group quoted the regional council's Public Transport Blueprint which has called for express buses to Bayfair from Te Puke and Papamoa.
''This would be an ideal time to create a future-proofed interchange alongside B2B at Bayfair so that express buses can easily stop at Bayfair/Owens Place and then continue along a bus lane to Hewletts Rd.''
The group understood the reason the regional council did not favour an interchange beside B2B was it would be too difficult for people to cross the new highway.
It said the NZ Transport Agency was removing the pedestrian underpass linking Bayfair to Owens Place, meaning that pedestrians and cyclists would need to cross nine lanes through multiple sets of lights to reach Bayfair, it said.
Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes said Farm St remained the most appropriate site for a permanent interchange.
He said Farm St was also likely to become the site for a temporary bus interchange when the current interchange outside the main Bayfair entrance closed in May.
Parkes said the temporary set-up would give the council and its other transport partners time to work through designs for the permanent interchange. The council would be contacting Farm St residents and businesses once designs for the temporary interchange were finished.
The interchange was due to be discussed at today's meeting of the regional council's public transport committee.
A report explained how planning for the permanent interchange had experienced significant delays due to a request from Bayfair management that it be shifted 40m north on Farm St. The shift had been driven by the results of a safety audit and Bayfair's development plans.
''The newly proposed site is agreeable to all parties but has required a significant amount of rework and this will mean construction delays,'' council transport policy manager Garry Maloney said.
The sections fronting the proposed new site were owned by AMP Capital which was also responsible for Bayfair, he said.
Maloney told the Bay of Plenty Times work was in progress to find a site for the
Agency senior project planner Greig Stephen said they were investigating if a third crossing option for pedestrians and cyclists was needed near Concord Ave.
He said they were working with councils to encourage commuters to walk, bike, bus or car pool. Options to improve capacity on Hewletts Rd included plans to incorporate high occupancy vehicle lanes and intersection improvements.
City council transport committee chairman Rick Curach said there would still be heavy congestion along Maunganui Rd in the morning once B2B was finished because of the Hewletts Rd bottleneck.
He would be ''thrilled'' if the agency included a city-bound bus and high occupancy vehicle lane in B2B.