Mayor's bus push meets roadblock
Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor's attempt to shake city councillors' resolve to keep regional buses out of The Square and the streets around it has failed.
The city council this week confirmed its determination to keep buses out of The Square by 11 votes to five.
It has instructed staff to find an interim parking place for InterCity buses elsewhere in the central business district, within the ring road network.
The race is on to find a solution, since InterCity's parent group Tranzit announced it wanted to move out of its Pitt St facility, possibly by Christmas.
It is entitled to give Horizons Regional Council 35 days' notice of its intention to use any other gazetted bus stop of its choice around the city.
That notice has not yet been submitted.
Tranzit managing director Paul Snelgrove said the company wanted a level playing field with competitors that put down and pick up passengers in the middle of The Square, without the costs of maintaining a building.
While city council staff are working to come up with an alternative to Pitt St, councillors have taken seriously the message from a majority of people who made submissions on a proposed combined bus terminal, that they do not want buses in The Square.
Mr Naylor asked councillors to consider overturning the planning and policy committee recommendation to exclude The Square from the list of possible options.
He had some support, from Crs Susan Baty, Nikki Guy, Jim Jefferies, and qualified support from Chris Teo-Sherrell.
Cr Baty said it was "short-sighted" to discount short term, inexpensive options while the search for a long term, combined bus terminal continued. "It's only interim.
"I noticed a lot of the people opposed to using The Square are business people, and I'm sure they would rather their rates stayed the same, than we come up with an interim solution that's going to cost a whole lot of money."
But the majority were against the idea.
Cr Vaughan Dennison said buses in The Square detracted from everything the city had invested to create a city centre to be proud of.
Cr Ross Linklater said allowing buses in The Square would be a "slap in the face" to everyone who made submissions, and Cr Lew Findlay said the public had made it clear it did not want the city's "gem" to be turned into a bus stop.
Cr Teo-Sherrell said the centre of The Square should be off limits, but he could not see a problem with using the streets around the edges, at least temporarily.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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