Northcote Pt residents are furious that a bus platform proposal has been revived, reports Edward Rooney
Residents fought tooth and nail to stop a bus station being built at the northern foot of the Harbour Bridge.
Many feel that the bridge destroyed half of the Northcote Pt heritage and this community has given enough to the transport cause. Fiery meetings and angry representations to city hall took months to persuade the powers-that-be to abandon the plan.
Many residents believe former mayor George Wood blew his re-election chances in the Harbour ward because he persisted with his desire to plant a bus station on the peninsula.
Imagine the amazement when these residents were told that the proposal is back on the drawing board.
Mayor Andrew Williams kicked the issue back into play by revealing to a stunned gathering of the Northcote Residents Association that he is taking up a request from the roading authorities for a bus platform at Northcote Pt. He told the locals that he's in favour of it.
Northcote Pt resident Andrew Poole says it's been about five years since the community soundly defeated a "kiss and ride" facility near the Motorway Police Station.
"The meeting at which the local residents voted against the proposal is still the most electrifying public meeting I have ever been to," he says.
Mr Poole says there is plenty of public transport with frequent buses along Onewa Rd, occasional buses along Queen St and also up Stafford St as well as the ferry service.
"There is no basis whatsoever in my mind for a reopening of the discussion."
Mr Williams told The Aucklander that the bus station has already been discussed in recent weeks at high levels of both council and Transit.
"Transit executives came about a month ago to brief me on the Onewa Interchange and the connection to Onewa Rd. Also attending were North Shore City Council transport executives.
This briefing included the dedicated Northern Busway section that skirts around the interchange to link to the Harbour Bridge."
Mr Williams says there has been a lot of talk over the past year about the possibility of cycle lanes on the Harbour Bridge, by narrowing the "clip-on lanes" or by adding extra overhangs on the clip-ons.
"Both will be somewhat difficult to achieve as well as very costly," he says.
"At this meeting, I mentioned that I had had discussions with the Transit chairman and chief executive in Wellington in March. It was raised by both parties the possibility of having some form of bike racks on a select number of buses in order to get cyclists across the bridge.
"At the subsequent meeting with Transit at my office I suggested the possibility of a bus platform out on the 'toll booth' area which would allow, in particular, cyclists to ride to Northcote, go through the underpass tunnel, and get on some of the selected buses with their bikes."
Mr Williams says Transit is going to have a look at this possibility. "In particular, as one way of addressing the requests from cyclists to be able to cross the bridge . . . get off at the first stop at, say, Fanshawe St . . . and continue cycling through Auckland City.
"This is only at initial discussion level at present. The council and Transit would have full dialogue with the Northcote community."
Mr Williams says he is aware that Northcote Pt residents would have some worries about the proposal, but he believes there are ways through.
"Obviously, there would be concerns about potential parking in residential streets if other bus patrons were to use this bus platform as well.
"This might require appropriate parking measures being taken in neighbouring streets to avoid local streets being filled with all-day parkers.
"But, on the other hand, it may be a welcome alternative for some who may wish to walk to a bus platform and then be five minutes into Auckland CBD rather than sit in long queues trying to get out of Northcote Pt onto Onewa Rd."
Mr Williams says it is important to evaluate all options to maximise access to public transport. But Mr Poole says: "None of the reasons the mayor advances are new and all were considered and rejected. "We all thought we'd moved on."