Mt Eden residents have packed a local hall this evening to protest plans to extend bus stops in the village, which businesses fear will turn a pleasant environment into a polluted bus terminal.
More than 100 people turned up for the meeting including local Epsom MP David Seymour, National MP Paul Goldsmith and Albert-Eden Councillor Chris Fletcher.
Auckland Transport wants to extend the two bus stops in the village to allow for more buses. At peak hours buses run every three minutes along Mt Eden Rd, making it one of the busiest bus routes in the city.
Each day around 500 buses use the stops and around 1800 people get on and off the bus in Mt Eden village.
Auckland Transport needs to slow down, listen more and go back to the drawing board.
AT also plans to extend bus lanes, clearway operating hours and parking restrictions on Mt Eden Rd, but the proposal to extend the bus stops has met fierce opposition from the Mt Eden Village Business Association.
The association believes doubling the length of bus stops is a grave threat to the viability and character of the village and believes the solution is to relocate the bus stops on the edge of the shopping centre near the intersection of Valley Rd.
"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.
Consultation on the plans closed last Friday with more than 700 submissions received.
The association invited Auckland Transport to attend the meeting. In a response AT chief executive Shane Ellison said it would be inappropriate to attend at this stage while AT processed and considered the views of all submitters in a "fair and equitable manner".
In the response to Roper last week, Ellison gave an assurance "that no final decisions have been made concerning this project at this point".
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, which had been there since the early 1950s, for the bus stops.
"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.
Thomas said AT had looked at moving the bus stop to the other side of Valley Rd but found it was less safe for pedestrians crossing the road, presented safety issues after dark, difficulties for mobility users on a steep gradient and issues with bus shelters and cover.
In a submission on the proposed bus stop and car parking changes, prepared by Haines Planning, the association said it had been corresponding with AT since early 2017 to find a holistic solution for public transport through Mount Eden Village.
The submission said it welcomed public transport, but extending the existing bus stops in the village will be extremely detrimental to the village's heritage and amenity values and urged AT to develop an alternative location.
It said the AT proposal will have a number of detrimental effects on the village, including reducing the historic, business and visual amenity, make it a less desirable place to shop, pollute an already compromised narrow main street, provide no space for cyclists and block views to Maungawhau (Mt Eden) volcanic cone.
"The Business Association considers that a 'whole' transport solution that embraces pedestrians, cyclists, cars, trucks and buses within the narrow confines of the road space within the village will achieve this," the submission said.
The association agrees with proposals to increase the operating hours of the bus lane and clearways, the extension of the bus lanes south of the village, and the majority of the parking restrictions.