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New bus routes get a cautious 'thumbs-up'

SCOTT MORGAN
Last updated 10:06 23/12/2013

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Changes to South Auckland's bus network have met with cautious approval from one public transport campaigner.

Auckland Transport's New Network will mean more frequent services by mid-2015 but some existing routes will close.

Manurewa resident Ezekiel Robson, who campaigned on public transport issues during the local body election, says Auckland Transport has listened to some concerns.

"I can see they've genuinely attempted to listen to what people have been feeding back in."

Twenty of the 28 proposed routes have been changed after public consultation.

Mr Robson is pleased an express bus will run from Papakura to Otahuhu more frequently than was proposed but is disappointed it will not connect to Pukekohe.

Difficulties getting buses into Middlemore Hospital are also a concern, he says.

Connecting buses through the western side of the hospital is a problem because of the number of parked cars.

The report says Auckland Transport will work with Counties Manukau Health on getting access to the site.

A decision on whether to keep the Te Mahia train station open will also affect how the new bus network operates, he says.

Mr Robson, who has a vision impairment, still has concerns about bus accessibility for disabled and elderly people, particularly if the Te Mahia station is closed.

Increasing the park-and-ride options for train users is also important, with the population expected to grow after new housing developments are built, he says.

"People out there are going to want to use those services when electric trains come along."

Mayor Len Brown says the new bus routes, electric trains and city rail link will transform the way South Auckland residents use public transport. But he accepts some won't happy.

"When you go through change it's never going to be perfect. You're never going to get everyone supporting it. There's always going to be someone who's negatively impacted."

Mr Brown expects a decision on the Te Mahia station to be made "early to mid" next year.

If commuters want the station to stay open, he says they should "vote with their feet" and continue to use it.

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- Manukau Courier

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