A large public meeting in Mt Eden last night called on Auckland Transport to stop its plans for bus stop extensions in the village and come up with a better plan.
More than 150 business owners and residents packed the Mt Eden Village Centre to protest at what one long-term resident David Jones called an "arrogant proposal" to change the heritage nature of the inner-city suburb.
The questions in a consultation document, he said, were "loaded, misleading and deceptive...a paint by numbers exercise by the bureaucrats in Auckland Transport".
The meeting was called by the Mt Eden Village Business Association in response to a proposal by AT to extend the two bus stops in the village to allow for more buses at the cost of six parking spaces.
"Auckland Transport needs to slow down, listen more and go back to the drawing board," association chairman Steve Roper said in a letter to AT chairman Lester Levy last month.
The association believes the plan is a grave threat to the viability and character of the village and wants to relocate the bus stops on the edge of the shopping centre near the intersection of Valley Rd.
A unanimous show of hands supported a motion opposing AT implementing the plan "pending a full and genuine development of a holistic public transport plan for Mt Eden, including parking and bus stops".
The motion also supported the initiative of the business association to move the bus stop and found it "unacceptable that Auckland Transport has chosen not to attend and, in doing so, has failed in its duty to the community".
AT was invited to attend the meeting, but chief executive Shane Ellison responded by saying it would be inappropriate while it processed and considered the views of more than 700 submissions on the plan.
In a statement, AT chief stakeholder relationships officer Wally Thomas said early indications from the submissions indicated a majority in support.
He said the proposal involved a minor change with the possible removal of six car parks for the bus stops, which had been there since the early 1950s.
"Extending these bus stops would allow for two buses to stop at a time, whereas currently only one can stop and this can cause buses to bunch up and block the traffic. This also creates safety issues for pedestrians crossing the road," Thomas said.
He said AT was looking to increase the amount of short-term parking in the area, including more 60-minute parking to allow more people to stay long enough to do their shopping in the village.
As well as the bus stop proposals, many residents complained about the loss of parking in the village and people using Mt Eden as a car park to get into the city and university by bus.
"Parking is so important to business and the more parking in the village the better," said Chris Chrystall.
Local Epsom MP David Seymour said local businesses knew what was best for the village and if that was bus stops in the centre of the village they would be saying that.
"What is in the best interests of this village and the broader public transport network is the solution they have put up here tonight," Seymour said.
Albert-Eden ward councillor Chris Fletcher said AT was being disrespectful of the business association, Mt Eden was becoming a gigantic park and ride and what was needed was a master plan for the whole of Mt Eden, including Dominion Rd where the local business association is fighting AT over a new plan to extend bus lanes.