Hamilton's new transport hub beside The Base will be up and running from Tuesday offering a range of options for people to get around the city and further afield.
It is still a month or so until the new commuter rail service Te Huia kicks off from the just-completed Rotokauri Transport Hub in Tasman Rd but everything else is ready to go on February 2.
Hamilton City Council marked the completion of the hub with a blessing on Friday and unveiling of a new link road named Kiriwai Dr.
From day one, there will be 180 bus movements a day, plus access for pedestrians, a public carpark, a covered bicycle park, mobility spaces, drop-off and pick-up zones and a taxi stand. The transport hub will be monitored by CCTV 24/7.
Bus movements are expected to grow to 400 a day when the commuter train to Auckland starts towards the end of March or early April.
The new hub is linked to The Base shopping centre by a pedestrian bridge over the rail tracks. The bridge will be open from Tuesday, offering lifts and stairs.
Also from Tuesday, the Orbiter buses will use the new Rotokauri Transport Hub. Other city bus services will still operate from The Base, just over the pedestrian bridge.
There are toilet facilities at the transport hub, including Hamilton's second "Changing Places" toilet which has a special hoist to assist wheelchair users.
The city council paid for the special toilet to be included after advocacy from the public - including by Tim Young, who was a candidate in the 2019 council elections.
The $29 million project to develop the hub includes $18.5m from central government through Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency subsidies. It was built by Downer construction and a number of other contractors and suppliers.
City council general manager Chris Allen says the hub is very much a transport hub even without the trains.
"It is a vibrant asset for the city even without rail, rail is the icing on the cake.
"It is a link to the central city and a hub for travel to other areas, a stand-alone operation for buses, pedestrians, cyclists and taxis and later maybe other operators," he said.
People will be encouraged to make use of the new centre in whatever ways work best for them.
"There may be people who want to park here and take the bus to the CBD or to the hospital; or bike here and secure their bike and get a bus to elsewhere in the city," he said.
Iwi representatives and members of mana whenua group Te Ha o te Whenua o Kirikiriroa were joined by dignitaries, council staff and key partners from the rail governance working group to formally bless the new hub on Friday.
Waikato Regional Council operates the region's BUSIT network and Te Huia passenger rail service.
Waikato regional councillor and chairwoman of the Regional Connections Committee Angela Strange, said: "The Rotokauri transport hub is an exciting development for the integration of public transport. I'm encouraged by the partnership between local and central government to progress mode shift in our city and region."
HCC worked closely with mana whenua to name Kiriwai Dr - the new link road from Arthur Porter Dr to the hub - as well as to design the hub and the pedestrian bridge.
Designs in the panels of the bridge include representation of tuna (eels) and fishing nets.
Kiriwai Dr is named for a tupuna (ancestor) who resided in the area.
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate unveiled the street name before the blessing and thanked local iwi for their contribution to the project.
She said unveiling the street sign was a nice moment. "I understand she was a strong woman, and steered the team for Kīngitanga (the Māori King movement founded in 1858)."
In welcoming the dignitaries and kaumātua, Southgate said it was a fantastic occasion, that after so much time and planning the multi-stakeholders project had come to fruition.
"It is a great step in connecting the community where we all live, and connecting us with Auckland and the people along the way," the mayor said.
"The blessing today is to allow the bus services to begin operating safely."
In thanking Downer construction and all its workers and contractors, Chris Allen noted that Downer had built the hub through the challenges of Covid-19 and lockdown and last week had marked 100,000 hours free of any workplace injuries.