This is a guest post from reader Bryce Pearce which purely coincidently was scheduled just after AT announce that the New Network will roll out to the Hibiscus Coast in October and that more double deckers will start running on the Northern Busway from January
You may, or may not have heard that under Auckland Transport’s ‘New Network’ the NEX bus service on the Northern busway is to be extended to the Silverdale Park’n’Ride, where it will link with local bus services. Hibiscus Coast New Network Confirmed
While this alone is very good news for the Hibiscus Coast, the question that needs to be asked is – why is the final stop so far away from any walk up catchment?
That’s a good question and, luckily, there is a very simple solution – extend the Northern Express (NEX) bus service to the ‘new’ Silverdale Town Centre.
Doing so would enable a very reliable journey from Silverdale to anywhere else (incl areas on the rail network via a transfer at Britomart) on a frequent basis. It also brings the NEX within walking distance of quite a bit of the Millwater area (forecast to have 10,000 residents) and also ties in well with development within Orewa itself.
Another benefit of this location is that, rather than the shared path alongside Hibiscus Coast Hwy to the Park’n’Ride, it offers a very easy, quite flat, 2.5km ride from the Orewa Town Centre utilising the Te Ara Tahuna Cycleway
How great would this link be to access the stunning, and very popular, Orewa beach on sunny days and pretty much all summer (there is a great selection of food and beverage in Orewa these days).
There is an existing on-street stop in front of the Silverdale Town Centre that would be appropriate to use as an interchange stop. This has the potential to be expanded and some quality shelters added. This would allow for an easy transfer from/to the N91 / N95 services that would use the same stop (rather than going all the way to the park’n’ride) with the added advantage that it would be much nicer for people to await or alight from services at a shopping centre rather than a station on its own, next to a busy road.
Another advantage of the Silverdale Town Centre location is a central location to add an Auckland Transport Service Centre to assist students and other concession holders with their validation and ticketing requirements. This is very needed in this area right now.
Extending the NEX service through the Silverdale Town Centre would allow other routes to terminate there and save a 4km detour to the Park and Ride. This would allow a more operationally efficient service for all services and potentially allow more frequency and alternative running routes.
Post implementation of the Silverdale Town Centre extension, there is some good justification for the extension of the NEX service right into the Orewa town centre itself.
The 895X could easily be terminated at the Silverdale Town Centre interchange, with passengers changing to the NEX, and allowing for more frequent services between Waiwera, Orewa and the CBD. This could be very beneficial in allowing access to the Waiwera Hot Pools off peak and in weekends.
Here is the map I have drawn out for the following services (using the same colour scheme as the AT map): NEX / N95 / N91 (which would be the same as the N92).
The remaining question is: Why are Auckland Transport opposed to extending the NEX to Silverdale Town Centre?
This explanation from AT explains their reasons.
There were a number of suggestions for changes to the termination point of the NEX, including Silverdale Centre, Orewa, and Millwater. But to take the NEX through congested local roads would affect its reliability and therefore the quality of the service, and so the NEX will terminate at HC Station in the recommended network.
The budget for the expanded park and ride (and shelters?) is $5.9M. This will add just under 400 car parks but will do nothing to remove vehicles from Hibiscus Coast Highway (it may even add vehicles). Why not instead spend a large chunk of that on bus priority measures along Hibiscus Coast Highway? Measures that would make a far larger difference to a much larger number of bus users.