Editorial: Bus stop driving away revenue

By Dylan Thorne


First impressions count and it's likely visitors who venture to Tauranga Art Gallery come away with a less than favourable view of our city.

The gallery has complained to the council about a bus stop outside its entrance that is drawing undesirables to the area.

Since the bus stop was set up two years ago the gallery has seen an increase in graffiti, litter, grime and buses parking over the gallery's driveway.

Clearly the decision to place a bus stop outside the gallery was was an undesirable spin-off of the controversy around shifting the city's transportation centre into Willow St.

The spike in vandalism in the area was a likely result of the move. What is more concerning is that the bus stop has become a gathering point for youths who the gallery says have been frightening visitors and staff.

Gallery director Penelope Jackson says tourists have had to be escorted out of the gallery's staff entrance because they were fearful about people hanging around the bus stop.

Police had been called on numerous occasions, with fighting on one instance spilling into the gallery.

Police had declined to include the gallery on their regular beat because of a lack of resources.

There should be a better site for this bus stop - one which will keep the riffraff away from visitors who have come to see what the Western Bay has to offer, but it looks like the council is bound by the big picture. This includes the limitations of where the bus stop can possibly go given the concerns of nearby shopkeepers.

These visitors spend money in the region, helping both the accommodation and tourism sectors and whether they return or not will depend on their experience of the city.

Art lovers who visit the gallery expecting a quiet afternoon browsing through the works on display only to be accosted by loitering youths will no doubt leave with a tarnished view of the Western Bay.

It's shameful that visitors are being terrorised to the point that staff have had to escort them out of the rear staff entrance.

In response, the council has given staff a free hand to trial some "interventions" to control the behaviour of young people who frighten gallery staff and visitors.

What a shame the council seems unable to move the bus stop away from the area.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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