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East Auckland 'worst served in public transport'

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014
Bus

CHANGE COMING: A complete review of Howick & Eastern Buses’ timetables is underway.

David Warburton
Simon Smith
FRONTING UP: Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton says the eastern suburbs have the worst public transport options in the city.

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Long-suffering public transport passengers from South-East Auckland are among the most poorly served in the city.

That is the admission from Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton who addressed a 150 strong crowd at a public meeting earlier this week.

"Our view is that the south-eastern area is the worst served in public transport," he says.

Warburton says the Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative bus lane from Panmure to Botany needs to be built quickly and a Half Moon Bay ferry terminal upgrade "is a major investment that we are very heavily committed to".

But promises of progress didn't stop people expressing their frustration during the meeting organised by Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Student Erin Rambaud says she travels for up to an hour and 45 minutes to get home from Auckland University on a bus.

"It is horrendous," the Farm Cove resident says.

Improvements planned for the future are "too little too late".

Howick & Eastern Buses driver Sam Rainbow says he and others have a lot of trouble getting through traffic, including pulling out of bus stops on Pakuranga Rd.

Timetables need to be restructured so that buses don't run late - and to reduce driver stress, he says.

"It seems as though it's been done by a computer and nobody from Auckland Transport ever came out on the bus and had a look at it, not at peak time," he says.

"We are the poor suckers that face the passengers."

Auckland Transport's Jenni Wild says the organisation is in "pre-discussions" with Howick & Eastern on a complete timetable review, that will acknowledge an increase in congestion.

Tertiary student and Howick resident Tammy Dempster says the only park and ride she can use is at the Panmure train station.

"Sylvia Park is actually a closer train station to where I live, but you are not allowed to park there because it's private parking."

Warburton says Auckland Transport is working with property owners near transport hubs to increase the number of park and rides.

"For example, there may be a church car park that gets used heavily in the evenings or on weekends but isn't used a lot Monday to Friday."

Warburton says technology will be critical in getting more people moving faster across the city.

The western motorway, for example, is "chocka" heading to the city in the morning, but is empty on the other side.

"Why build another two lanes when you could move the centre strip?

"Physically that is hard to do," he says. "We now have capabilities to do that electronically."

Warburton says the AT HOP public transport card can also be extended to parking and other facilities.

Ross says the Government is working on transport solutions for the area, accelerating funding for AMETI.

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- Eastern Courier

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