Square bus plan revived

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 28/03/2014
Bus terminal
PNCC

FUTURE OUTLOOK: An artist's impression of what InterCity buses in The Square would look like.

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InterCity buses could be stopping in the middle of Palmerston North's Square from May.

The prospect caused public outrage when it was raised nearly two years ago, prompting the city council to resolve that a regional bus terminal site should be found outside The Square.

Attempts to establish another site have foundered, and InterCity has told Horizons Regional Council it wants its buses out of the Pitt St facility and into The Square after the school holidays.

City council infrastructure and projects engineer Robin Malley will ask Monday's council meeting to agree to putting in shelters, signs and furniture to support buses stopping in the central car park.

Horizons passenger transport committee chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said Tranzit, operators of InterCity buses, had been patient for many years waiting for an alternative to Pitt St.

"It has taken so long, and now they are forcing the issue."

Horizons has until Wednesday to agree to Tranzit's request.

The legal grounds for refusing are limited.

"We will make that decision depending on what the city council agrees on Monday," said Cr Keedwell.

The Square proposal has been worked up since a deal to lease the car park next to the Highflyers building was terminated in March because of lack of progress on the building's development.

The central Square has been recommended ahead of a second option, which was to create bus parks on the street on the library corner of The Square.

The central car park was preferred because it is closer to the i-site, toilets and cafes.

Mr Malley said the need to come up with a solution quickly had limited the council's choices to properties it controlled and where the space was already available.

His report accentuates the positives.

He said The Square would provide "an excellent arrival experience", bringing more people into The Square, showcasing the best of what Palmerston North had to offer, and benefiting retailers.

Together with passengers already arriving, leaving or passing through on Naked Bus services, the new bus hub would bring about 300,000 people into The Square each year.

About half of them would be expected to visit cafes and shops.

The proposal would remove 51 car parks that were empty two-thirds of the time.

Mr Malley estimated there would be no buses at all for seven hours a day between 7am and 9pm, with a 40-minute peak when there were three, four or five coaches parked there.

Other arrangements would have to be made when The Square was used for large public events.

Earlier submitters who opposed proposals to park buses in or on The Square maintain their resistance.

Former retailer Ralph Bare said the council had shown a lack of leadership that had resulted in Tranzit making a decision for it.

Resident Glenice Saunders said it was a pity councillors had failed to make up their minds and keep the buses out.

"It makes The Square pretty unfriendly for pedestrians."

The Coffee Club operator Olivia Crabbe said the extra passengers in the vicinity could possibly be good for business.

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- Manawatu Standard

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