This is a guest post from Paul Callister. You can read another post of his on this topic here.

If you need to travel long distance to or from some of New Zealand’s most deprived rural areas what choices do you have? If you can afford the petrol, driving is one option. But there are people who are too young or old to drive, others who are physically disabled (such as through poor eyesight) or people who simply don’t own a car. You cannot fly as many poor areas are in the countryside and don’t have nearby airports. If there is an airport, you may not be able to afford the airfare. While some areas still have train tracks there are now only expensive tourist trains travelling on limited routes. So long distance bus is the only remaining travel option.

But even if you need to travel between some cities and cannot or do not wish to drive then a bus may be the only real option. Unless you go by tourist train, which operate every second day, long distance buses are the only way for the non-driving public to travel between, say, Auckland and Hamilton or Wellington and Palmerston North. Try to get from Taupo to Hamilton for a medical appointment: you cannot fly; there is no train, so bus is the only possibility.

While some people have no alternative other than to use buses for long distance travel others sometimes make that choice. Tourists often use them to see the countryside. Others, meanwhile, may want or need to travel long distance but are concerned about climate change thus wishing to minimise their carbon footprint. Bus travel has a far lower carbon footprint than flying or driving a car.

Yet, the infrastructure supporting bus travel makes it a poor cousin of other types of long distance travel. The downtown bus depots in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, exemplify this.

New Zealand’s two main bus companies, InterCity and ManaBus, operate out of Auckland. InterCity’s facilities are provided by Sky City Casino.  In 1996 Sky City was required to build the current bus station on the Hobson Street side of its complex as a condition of the resource consent to construct the hotel and casino. This bus station is handy to down town backpackers and youth hostels but quite a distance to Britomart, Auckland’s public transport hub: the point of arrival and departure point for most local trains and some local buses.

According to a recent report by Radio New Zealand, Sky City now favours removing the bus station. Sky City’s reluctance to support the Intercity facilities is evident. The couple of times I have used these toilets they were cold, dismal and dirty. When I mentioned this to InterCity staff they said they receive frequent complaints about them. The Auckland depot is probably InterCity’s busiest and for many overseas travellers arriving in Auckland it will be their first example of a New Zealand bus depot.

Sky City’s intercity bus terminal

The ManaBus ‘terminal’ is currently located in downtown Auckland. It is basically a bus stop located in Quay Street, opposite the Ferry Building. It is described as being 50m west of Britomart bus and train station. According to Google Maps, the InterCity and ManaBus depots are about 1km apart.  This is not great for elderly or disabled people wishing to transfer easily between these long-distance bus companies.

Still, according to Radio New Zealand, this situation may well worsen. Soon there may be no downtown Intercity bus depot in Auckland. Similarly, it seems ManaBus have been told to leave their downtown parking site by 2018. Planners are clearly not taking climate change seriously. There is barely a major city in the world without a central downtown coach depot.

On the southbound route out of Auckland the next main stop is at Manukau. Both ManaBus and InterCity use the same bus stop opposite the Manukau Mall. There, passengers, including young children, wait for both the day and night buses, often in the cold, at the roadside shelter. While this shelter has a roof, its sides are open and exposed to wind. Why is this not an enclosed shelter, air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter?

I have written elsewhere about the second-rate – or non-existent – toilet facilities at many bus stops made worse by many long-distance buses not having on-board toilets. As noted on an overseas website ‘In an absolute sense, the toilet on board a long-haul bus will be among the worst toilets you are likely to encounter. …But the best toilet in the world is the one that’s available when you really need it, when not having one would be a disaster. When you have to stay on the bus for another hour or two, a bus toilet can be the best toilet ever.’

No one would tolerate not having an onboard toilet when travelling by air. Even flights of less than an hour between Auckland and Wellington have on-board toilets. Older Aucklanders, many of whom are well heeled, travel free on their SuperGold Card to Waiheke Island on ferries with on-board toilets.  Politicians and planners passing through the Koru Club are unlikely to understand any of the shoddy facilities faced by bus travellers.

Disabled bus travellers too face challenges getting on and off long distance buses. For instance, there are usually steep steps to climb. Often fellow travellers have to help physically challenged or elderly passengers get on and off the bus. Moreover the Intercity website states ‘as our drivers travel alone, we do have some limitations regarding the level of assistance we are able to provide, and therefore passengers must be able to board and disembark the bus without assistance from the driver.’ And currently most buses are not designed to carry people in wheelchairs.

Long distance bus travel is likely to become increasingly important to rural communities (including relatively poor communities such as Tokoroa) as New Zealand’s small towns shrink. Not only are many small towns declining in population, but the average age of people in these areas is increasing. Local medical services and, in many areas, banks are increasingly being replaced by services offered only in large centres. At some point many older people may lose their driver’s licence or just feel challenged driving into large cities for events such as specialist medical appointments. They may not have relatives living nearby who can provide transport. One sad feature of getting old is that the ability to travel long distances without regular toilet stops tends to lessen, as does the ability to sprint to a distant toilet. An obvious example is at Taupo – one of our central tourist towns and long distance coach transit point – where the toilet is quite some distance from the bus stop. Many bus schedules allow little time for toilet visits. Inequality in New Zealand takes many forms, one being inequitable access to good quality transport. Instead, regional ‘development’ often focuses on improving road or air links.

As an obvious contribution to tackling climate change, more people should be encouraged to use buses for both long and short distance travel. Far more attention needs to be paid to making this a pleasant experience. One improvement would be for all long-distance buses to have well designed on-board toilets.  Another is for weatherproof roadside shelters. At some point in the near future these buses may be electric – or perhaps hydrogen powered – rather than diesel.

To achieve such facilities, local authorities and central government need to partner with bus companies. An important first start would be to construct an attractive downtown terminal in Auckland as well as improving facilities at the Manukau stop. A downtown terminal would enable local and overseas travellers to transfer easily between long distance bus companies, as well as between local buses and trains. If cleverly done, it would also be an important New Zealand landmark that would bring us into line with other major international cities.

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  1. Regarding your comment that long-distance bus is the only alternative to driving between Wellington and Palmerston North, there is a train. One train. One endangered train. You probably already know but forgot to mention it 🙂

    1. It’s a fine journey on that train – especially if you have visitors from abroad: scenery, fantastic quality facilities onboard.
      But for me, it was quite depressing to be trundling slowly through the Waikato, and all those donw-at-heal towns relatively close to Auckland that would be so easily commutable. And then the places like Taumaranui and Te Kuiti which you just whizz through (aren’t these the so-called ‘heartlands’ so beloved of the govt.?) – it would be a game-changer for them if you could easily get up to Hamilton or Auckland and back in a day.
      And there’s just one train, literally one train, every second day between Auckland and Wellington – what a joke.

      1. I was meaning the Capital Connection. Mon-Fri, PN-WGN in the mornings, WGN-PN in the evenings. But yes, there is that other train three times a week. So I guess that’s a bonus!

  2. To get to more isolated areas. I have never understood why RD posties didn’t have vans with four seats in like the Swiss post bus system. Link it to mana and intercity networks. Ticketing by nz post.
    In the seventies there used to be a service bus to St Arnaud from Nelson via Top house. Delivering trampers TVs and goats. A rural network run by NZ Post, the infrastructure must be 75% there already.

    1. Fear not, it’s happening again. The advent of and the popularity of the Te Araroa trail has resulted in some Rural Delivery contractors in the Canterbury high country offering seats in their RD vans.

      1. is this an official thing by NZ Post? Or just a few local arrangements? seems a pretty decent idea assuming you don’t mind a slower journey

        1. I think they are independent contractors who do RD, so they choose to do it themselves. It’s not done through NZ Post as far as I’m aware.

          In the case of the sparsely populated Canterbury high country it is the only option if you don’t have a car. Before Te Araroa there would have been few tourists looking at tramping in this area.

  3. Don’t know if you know, but Manukau is getting a new bus-station opposite the Train Station… although not opening till next year.

  4. It’s ridiculous that Mana are being told to leave. Their station is in the perfect spot. Close to buses, trains, and ferries in an area that will have massive footpath capacity once the spare general traffic lanes are removed from Quay Street. I frequently catch long distance buses to and from Auckland and terminating them at Manukau would seriously limit their usefulness, especially as I occasionally arrive too late to catch a train into the city centre.

    Beyond that, the city centre is the most pleasant place to wait for an intercity service as there are so many dining or entertainment options for those of us who have an hour to kill before departure or after arrival!

    1. I’m also a user of Mana and yes there wide kurb side bus stops both in Hamilton & Auckland are easier to use than the Intercity parking place in the terminal.
      And terminating city to city buses at Manukau is a bad idea

  5. I think you’re being too generous in your title of ‘first world travel’ Very limited choice, government. Thanks for the post Paul.

  6. Agree that there needs to be a decent central city bus station. I also think that Sky City should pay a decent chunk of it in return for no longer having to have it on their property with the associated resource consent issues. I think something like $5m ought to do it. They’ll probably end up using it as a porte cochere to complement their existing one out front (maybe make the Hobson Street one the private vehicle entrance while the existing one is only for taxis and deliveries).
    In terms of location for a new bus terminal that is a tough one. Queens Wharf or the wharf area near there is probably the only area that has enough space unless they tied it in with a new high rise (and built a bus terminal at ground level (maybe replacing 148 Quay St which appears to be an older 1970’s 13 storeys building with a 30 storey tower?). This is right next to Britomart.

    1. Yes on Quay St would be good in for access in and out via Motorway. Will be interesting how the Manukau one works out with transfer to train pretty much necessary, good thing is will avoid road congestion especially at peaks/hold ups.

  7. First class hyperbole
    Third class accuracy

    Seriously – you make some valid points Paul but 3rd world?
    I’ve not seen much evidence of having to share your bus with livestock or shit through a hole in the floor….
    In fact whilst obviously improvements can always be made, tourists I speak to talk about the ease of getting around NZ – something also reflected in the many online guides

    1. Kevin, when I took the bus from the Sky City terminal in December, the women’s toilets were shut. To use the men’s toilets we had to pass a workman fixing a basin or something, hope that our shoes’ soles were deep enough to keep the layer of urine and other fluids off the leather, choose the cubicle that didn’t have faeces on the floor before the toilet, just the one with foul toilet paper everywhere. The smell was horrendous. I was apologising to the tourists and very, very embarrassed. And the waiting room had nowhere to get a drink of water.

      Third world? You betcha.

      1. That is exactly my type of experience with these toilets. They are dirty, covered in graffiti, often no toilet paper and scary. Very different from the Sky City facilities just next door. I have been in better toilets in places like Nepal.

      2. And its not just the Auckland depot. Tourist town Taupo’s usual bus stop area already has poor toilet facilities for travellers. But due to summer festivities the buses could not use this usual stopover this last summer holiday period.

        As a replacement bus stop, Taupo District Council chose a field some distance from the centre of town. It had no covered seating and no trees to shelter under in the sun. There was also no shelter should it have rained. Nor were there any cafes nearby. As toilet facilities there were just two Portaloos. While I was there four buses pulled in rendering these facilities completely inadequate.

        The Portaloos also presented great difficulties for use by those with any difficulties in walking (including a woman on my bus with a leg in a caste). They were some distance off the footpath and users needed to traverse an area of rough ground. Using a walking frame to get across to them would have been challenging. Getting in and out of them would have also been difficult. They were certainly not toilets designed for the disabled. My bus driver, who was very apologetic about the situation, told me that one of the Portaloos had a hole in its roof causing it to leak in the rain.

        So this is the thinking even in towns that are supposed to be tourist friendly.

  8. Entirely agree with the article. I live in a regional city, and whilst I can (and often do) drive / fly long distances in NZ, I will sometimes use the Intercity bus, usually because the flights are fully booked / too expensive, or just non-existent without first flying to AKL /WLG. The quality of the buses is deserving of an article in itself, and as noted by the author, lack of toilet and wheelchair facilities is a glaring scandal (note, in the UK for example, most long-dist. coaches have either a low-floor area next to the driver with a wheelchair space, or a lift into the side of the bus further back).

    As to the facilities. Skycity terminal is a filthy, poorly lit, cold, damp hovel. Even as a 30-something year old, white male, I find it edgy to say the least. Wellington, at least has the facilities and crowds of people in the railway station adjacent. Hamilton’s bus station is actually alright, facilities-wise, even if it is a little out from the CBD. As for just about everywhere else – what facilities, and what connectivity with local transport options?

    Auckland Transport desperately need to invest in a downtown bus terminal (perhaps use some of the wharf space opposite Britomart and along from the Ferry building?). It needs to safe and welcoming. Perhaps it might even solve some of the problem with NEX and buses from the eastern suburbs loitering around the Britomart / Quay Street areas between runs?

    1. Hamilton Transport Centre is in the city centre. Its is only a 5 minutes walk to the city mall. What makes Hamilton Transport Centre unique, its integrates taxi, suburban, regional, inter-regional and long distance bus services into one facility. The Christchurch Bus Exchange is based on a similar concept and so will be new Manukau Bsu Station.

      1. And the currently-disused but still-extant, underground Hamilton Central rail station connects via a flight of stairs to the Transport Centre. How great it would be to get that going again with hourly trains to Auckland, also trains to Cambridge, Rotorua, Bay-of-Plenty etc.

        And to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay via the new East-Cape railway proposed to be built by the Chinese!

  9. Yes noticed the timetable for son needing to get up north that the small breaks a pretty quick, esp if gotta queue up?. Been a few cases of tourists/children left behind lately in loos hasn’t there?

  10. I’m a planner and certainly not using the Koru Lounge … But anyways.

    Without decent bus infrastructure (terminal and bus lanes) – running a downtown bus doesn’t really make sense to me.
    The Manukau terminus should work fine, provided that train frequency and running hours are extended.

      1. I have before yes – not in the last 2 years though. Notice that I did say ‘provided that train frequency and running hours are extended’.

        I think Manukau could and would work fine as a terminus (once the new bus station is complete).

        1. I would completely disagree, transport between cities should go the centre of each city as, by definition, that is the easiest place from which to get to all other places within the city.

      1. Of course Manukau would never work for the buses to Northland. But then again Akoranga bus station could be a useful stop for buses heading north. It already has the facilities.

        1. It has the facilities? There is no ticketing office at Akoranga, and all of the busway stations will be over capacity within about 10 years. We don’t need intercity buses sitting there for half an hour between runs.

        2. It could have a ticket office, there is plenty of room. It has waiting room, toilets, CCTV etc. It has four platforms only two of which are used for the through buses on the busway. The other platforms are little used, each with two stops on it. Platform three has one stop not used at all and the other used by the 843, the only bus down my street and the only one which terminates there. Oh, the frequency of the 843 is thrilling at one per hour with a maximum 5 minute layover at Akoranga. Look at the new network, if we ever get it, and Akoranga is still under-utilised. May as well have the option of intercity buses heading north using the back platforms as AT aren’t.

        3. “It has four platforms only two of which are used for the through buses on the busway.”

          Those two are already nearing capacity with frequent overspill.

          “The other platforms are little used, each with two stops on it. Platform three has one stop not used at all and the other used by the 843, the only bus down my street and the only one which terminates there. Oh, the frequency of the 843 is thrilling at one per hour with a maximum 5 minute layover at Akoranga. Look at the new network, if we ever get it, and Akoranga is still under-utilised. May as well have the option of intercity buses heading north using the back platforms as AT aren’t.”

          This may well be the case, but at least the northbound intercity buses will have to use the busway to get to the station and the busway will be over capacity soon.

          This seems like a huge amount of effort to avoid losing some on street carparks in the CBD.

  11. I have recently written volumes on this subject, as I work for one of the long distance bus co’s. My usual line is “Welcome to NZ sorry about the toilets” it’s a substandard introduction to our country and Tourism NZ seems to turn a blind eye. Not so some of those in council in Hamilton who’d like to see a frequent train service between the two cities. The lack of route information at both Auckland Manukau and Hamilton is a bad joke.

    1. If I was in govt, decent public toilets all around the country would be an early investment in visitor infrastructure, with an ageing local and tourist population over coming decades and loopaper strewn from the bushes in popular spots.

    2. Even in Auckland itself toilets are hard to come by, especially at night with most of them being locked. Even service stations and fast food toilets get locked at night with exception of some here and there that have them external or have 24/7 walk in.

    3. Paul, who should we pressure each time we have a terrible experience? At Sky City, for example, is there any point in leaving the terminal and demanding to see the manager of Sky City? Or should we just complain to the bus company? Or Tourism NZ?

      1. In the case of Sky City I have complained to Intercity – and have mentioned it of course in blogs – for Taupo I wrote to the Taupo District Council and Intercity – and have written to the Transport spokespeople at the Greens and Labour. Hopefully something will come from this effort! When something goes wrong on airlines it seems to get into the national media – buses dont seem so interesting to them.

        1. Thanks Paul. I’ll start ramping it up too. I guess Simon Bridges could get the odd description of my experiences too.

          Ah the mecca of air travel, and the standards it must uphold. I do take an especial delight in pointing out to people who say they won’t take PT – that they certainly do. What else is an aeroplane but a place you have to actually sit next very close to complete strangers, share the same toilets, breathe the same air. Tantalisingly communal, really.

  12. Paul, re your comment “There is barely a major city in the world without a central downtown coach depot.” – you’re (sadly) wrong. There is a worldwide change in the market for long-distance coach travel, and NZ is caught up in it. So are a great many other countries – it dates from (and is caused by) the deregulation of bus travel. The likes of Mana Bus and Naked Bus and Kiwi Explorer are repeated worldwide, with new methods of travel offering near zero dollar seating. Trouble is, those El-Cheapo lines then do not have the money to pay for a spot at the bus terminal – and so they often avoid the terminal and just pick up passengers in nearby streets. All over America – even in Washington DC, where there is a lovely big bus terminal, right next to the train terminal, there are buses stopping “nearby” (i.e. a couple of streets away) so they can avoid paying the fare that would keep the toilets clean etc. You want cheap? You get crap. You want proper service? You gotta pay for it.

    Bus terminals are expensive pieces of one-story high real estate, and if you have a choice between building 20 stories and getting rent off that, or getting rent of a slab of barely used concrete, you can tell what is going to win that argument… The ONLY way that you will get a decent terminal is if the local authority forks out for the facility. Money-grubbers like Sky City will always fight against it – they must have been under duress to sign up to that in the first place.

    1. Don’t know how much of the history you know but google is probably your friend.

      TL,DR: the site was originally meant to be a proper bus interchange but was swapped for a location on upper Symonds St that would have nixed protected sightlines to Mt Eden. Usual result when high-powered property developer types negotiate with local government staff.

    2. Hamilton Transport Centre was paid for by the Hamilton City Council.

      Nelson Bus Terminal is owned by a long established family that has operated bus services for a long time.

      Christchurch Bus Exchange was paid for by the taxpayer as part of the rebuild Christchurch.

      Wellington’s Platform 9 used to be owned by NZ Railways and its various re-carnations.

      Councils and regional councils need to look at the re-surgence of bus/coach travel not by backpackers by the baby boomers especially international ones, who are looking for quality inter-regional and long distance bus/coach to see NZ and start building decent regional, inter-regional, long distance bus and sightseeing tours terminals like Hamilton, Nelson and Christchurch has.

  13. Improve regional and intercity PT and the provinces will be more attractive to Auckland baby boomers. May even help make more houses available in Auckland. But this would require action by central government.

    1. Better PT would have negligible impact on regional attractiveness for boomers. I doubt more than a very low % use it. The attraction of the regions is in releasing up capital value from their Akl homes.
      I’d be very interested in how many that have commented have actually used inter city PT in the last 5 years – again a low % I’d have thought.
      It seems primarily the domain of backpackers and students coming home for the hols
      I don’t think cleaner toilets or a better terminus will radically change that although I’m all in favour of both options.
      Inter city bus services were pretty popular in the 60’s and 70’s when they dropped you in the shithole that was Britomart. Yes it was central but conditions were appalling

      1. “Better PT would have negligible impact on regional attractiveness for boomers. I doubt more than a very low % use it. The attraction of the regions is in releasing up capital value from their Akl homes.”

        For boomers maybe. my partner and I currently live in Hamilton but are desperate to move home. A frequent train connection, or vastly improved bus service and facilities would tip the scales for us.

        “I’d be very interested in how many that have commented have actually used inter city PT in the last 5 years – again a low % I’d have thought.
        It seems primarily the domain of backpackers and students coming home for the hols”

        At least you make it obvious that you haven’t caught many intercity buses, this is simply wrong. Further, even if it were correct it would in no way diminish the value of the service.

        “I don’t think cleaner toilets or a better terminus will radically change that although I’m all in favour of both options.”

        You really don’t see how enabling all of the intercity buses to stop at the same location and making the stations less threatening and improving amenities could make a service significantly more attractive?

  14. I’ve commented a few times here regarding the abysmal lack of a centralised bus terminal. But I have found replies usually excuse the shit effort AT have made in regard to both termination and departure areas for buses. Kiwis accept whatever crap authorities give them, we are laid back and don’t want to cause a fuss.

    For a city so reliant on buses as the mainstay of PT the facilities are actually non existent, uncordinated and inexcusable.

    For starters now that Queens wharf is a road/carpark why not use that as an intercity bus terminal instead?

    1. Actually, you find that replies correctly point out that 400 buses an hour at a single terminal is cost prohibitive.

      1. Why bother then, the non system on the cheap will sort of do.

        It also highlights the shortcomings of bus based PT.

  15. i dont travel to regional new zealand, access is a major reason why not. Easier for us non car urbanites to jump on a plane overseas.

    1. Good point, Luke. True for many people, and all too sad. You have to be poor or committed to resist the saturation air travel advertising. All so cheap and all my friends are doing it so it must be OK.

      Part of the problem with regional holidays by PT is that when you’re there, there’s often no local PT. Like, lovely place to stay, but no footpath on the rural road; it’s all set up for cars.

  16. Without huge cost, a modest intercity facility that could actually get built could be done where the old Farmers car park, currently Wilsons parking on 21 Hobson st is. Once we remove cars from Queen st and generally reduce from the CBD this is perhaps possible?

  17. Can we start by stating that the idea of location the main Auckland busstation in Manukau as ludicrous.
    Its at the bottom of the Auckland Y if we look geographically. Its far away from all major attractions, minus Rainbows end, and its well to damn far from the Cbd. Add to the fact that buses going North would need a different terminal compared to buses going south and well it becomes a really poor solution that no one is happy with.
    Add on that the area has a perception that not all Aucklanders are to fond of (women and Asians don’t love South Auckland trains stations in the evenings as it is).
    Manukau is not going to work, so lets forget all about it.

    Where is it possible to build an intercity terminal? (We will probably never get the money for it, but IF some wise politician had money and decided that infrastructure was something to spend on).
    While Skycity probably would pay a small amount to get rid of their busstation and be released fro that obligation, I doubt it would help fund anything more than a preliminary study, and rightfully so, this isn’t Skycitys problem. This is a problem that should be addressed by Auckland Inc or for that sake NZ Inc.

    id prefer a terminal within 200metres of Britomart, so does everyone, but can we really see that extremely valuable real estate being used for an intercity terminal? if so where? Lets build soemthing that useable in 10-20-30-40 years. Not a busstop, a terminal where guests can sit inside, buy a coffee and visit a decent toilet.
    We cant even get our own buses to stop close to Britomart, instead seeing plans to run the main CBD stops along the neighbouring roads, forcing people to stay outside in busstops that are well, not fit for purpose when the rain comes sideways, which it does way to often in Auckland. I fear Britomart and the area close to it is a deadend. Auckland does not for some strange reason appreciate the money that coaches bring to the city.

    So what are our options? One chance would be the industrial “landbanked” plots sitting just outside downtown. While this isn’t ideal, far from it, I feel that areas such as Beach Road, The strand and potentially parts of Quay street offers the only chance we have to get a terminal. Its “on” the motorway leading South, North and Northwest, its reasonably close to the city and well not many neighbours there to complain. The pollution from buses would be less severe as well since they wouldn’t have to start by navigating through “5 red lights and 6 pedestrian crossings (without zebras its Auckland)”, like they would if placed at Wyndham street.
    I know its not right next to our public transport, but it feels like its those compromises we will have to make should we want an intercity terminal worthy of the name. Question is if the investment in such a case is worth it?

    1. Hi Exile,
      How about if Sylvia Park was given the go ahead as an alternative Intercity stop to CBD?

      Say for example if instead of the expensive East-West connection it was replaced with light rail from Onehunga heading along Neilson St/Waipuna Rd, linking up with AMETI.
      This LR could even link up with the proposed LR from Dominion Rd to Airport.

    2. Sky City should be forced to cough up decent $$$ since they got such an amazing deal back then and they do actually want that part of the land back. It hangs over them as a permanent consent issue so they should be paying if they want rid of it.
      As mentioned earlier I would think a figure around $5m would be justified to do this.
      I think any bus terminal would need to be within 500m of Britomart or 200m of Aotea Station and must have good access to the motorway so that it isn’t stuck in traffic (if there is a bus lane then that would also be fine). It also needs to take into account that Quay St will probably be pedestrianised from Britomart Place down to Hobson Street (although a shared space or access lane for buses might be allowed).
      I also suggested that a new bus terminal would probably have to be incorporated into a new high rise development (have the bus terminal at the ground floor then you can build a 20 or so storey tower above it). This would reduce the cost of land purchase since it would be shared with the building above so only a 1/20th or so share of the cost. Something like 148 Quay St or 130+132+136 Quay St would be ideal as they have excellent access to Britomart, the CBD, Ferries and easy access to the motorway.

      1. Dude – “a new bus terminal would probably have to be incorporated into a new high rise development (have the bus terminal at the ground floor then you can build a 20 or so storey tower above it).” Sadly, that’s never gonna work. Things called columns, from the building above, would not allow large buses to circulate around down below. The two are mutually incompatible in terms of spacing (Architecture 101). Also, if you are going to spend $100-200 million on a tower block, why would you want to have poor people in buses arriving on your door step? (Property Development 101). Absolutely, 100% never gonna happen.

    3. Access by buses would be fine to the Farmers parking building (Nelson St down & up for south & west and Fanshawe for the north). I think the Manukau one is good but also need the central one. I know there has been talk of the old Strand Station been used as an intercity train terminal, but I wonder if this as a pure bus one would be great. What’s underneath the leaky apartments anyway? Would be a grand site to arrive at (lower the road under the entrance canopy). Fairly good access, just needs a shuttle bus of some sort to Britomart, but is only 700m along now the nice Beach Rd path. Sort out the rear part for bus layup.

    4. >> Add to the fact that buses going North would need a different terminal compared to buses going south

      That’s a really good point. What if you want to get from Hamilton to Whangarei? Are you supposed to hop on a train, then on the busway, then on your Whangarei bus? Totally legible and awesome for tourists!

    5. when i visited china, the bus station was in a central location, and at least twice the size of britomart

  18. It isn’t just bus stations. I catch the train at the Sunnyvale park and ride. This is a pretty busy station in the morning, but it has the facilities of a rural bus stop in Whanganui. One small shelter, nothing so much as even a vending machine for a coffee and of course zero toilets. It is ridiculous. And I bet if some enterprising individual with a mobile coffee stand did set up their shingle in the carpark, they’d be shoo’d away by some officious type or another.

  19. In terms of a bus terminal, I think the only realistic place for a dedicated long distance bus terminal with easy access to the motorways would be where the carpark on Morton street (just off Wellesley street) currently is. Just behind the old city works depot and close to all on ramps and within walking range of the future Aotea station.

  20. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if SkyCity want out of the current Bus terminal arrangement as they have said they do.

    Then its 100% encumbent on them to find or build an acceptable [to Auckland Council] alternative.

    They willingly accepted this “burden” to provide the [cut down] bus station we have there now in order to ensure they could get their casino built some 28 years ago.

    So why should we as rate and tax payers let them out of their side of the bargain, if they now find it too distasteful to have it remain.

    As for why only Intercity [brand] buses are mainly using it and Manabus don’t.
    Thats something for Manabus to come clean over.
    That bus station is a long distance bus station for all bus operators to use.

    That Manabus choose not to use it, is probably something more related to their not wanting to pay for the upkeep of the facilities, which shows how much they care about their customers over profits.

    1. “That Manabus choose not to use it, is probably something more related to their not wanting to pay for the upkeep of the facilities, which shows how much they care about their customers over profits.”

      To be honest, having used both, the Quay Street location is far better overall and the Mana buses are so much cleaner. I have no idea how intercity get away with charging more.

      1. Manabus bought out Naked Bus. Manabus is works on on the Ryanair principle of cheap seats but providing a quaility services similar to their European services.

        Intercity is in the process on either refurbishing and buying new buses for their inter-regional and long distance services. Last month InterCity has introduced new Scania double decker coaches between Auckland and Wellington that has increased GOLD seats on the top deck, as part of the expanding GOLD seat travel in the North and South Islands.

        1. If Manabus work on the Ryanair principle then intercity must work on the aeroflot model of ‘you have no choice but to buy our service’. Honestly, I don’t understand where this impression of Manabus comes from.

        2. Its obivious that you haven’t booked a Manabus service. Manabus does offer cheap fares especially between Auckland and Wellington and on limited number inter-regional services.

          Manabus has like with Jetstar, the best inter-regional routes and leaving the to InterCity.

          InterCity is the largest bus/coach operator in NZ service more destinations than Manabus/Naked Bus does. InterCity also loses money on some regional service but maintains them for social reasons as outlined in Paul’s article.

          By the way, all of Manabus/Naked Bus South Island routes are contracted to InterCity.

  21. Probably off-topic, but the last time I caught an intercity bus (to Thames), the driver cut loose with a demented pseudoscientific racist rant about the “white pre-Maori indigenous people” of the Hauraki plains. This is how Fake News ™ spreads among the general public.

  22. It is weird that the hospitality industry is not proactive in this matter. A welcoming, convenient transport center is in their interest. It used to be their prime function. Look at the location of the old hotels and guest houses around NZ for example.

    Sky City’s hostility to a captive market on its doorstep is a strange example of their hospitality. As with ATEED they expect ratepayers to fund their industry support.

  23. What are these deprived and poor areas? You forgot to mention them. Other than Ruatahuna, where the horses outnumber the cars for transport, most folk in NZ drive, and they don’t see it as an issue as much as some would like to claim otherwise.

    I agree NZ needs better rail services, especially when we are lucky enough to have a nationwide rail network. But it will never happen for as long as the network is run as a state monopoly that bars fair and equal access to the network by other operators.

    1. There is an index of deprivation calculated using census data. A visual of this can be found on the NZ Herald website As a few examples of the most deprived areas in in North Island: Patea, Levin, Dannevirke, Huntly, Wairoa, Ngaruawahia, Tokoroa, and Te Kuiti. Most adults do drive, but many people do not or do not have access to a car. Think of young people (including those who transfer between separated parents), elderly, disabled, many sole parents who cant afford a car, a family member where the car is needed to get to work daily, new immigrants etc. And many people who have reacted to this post assume its mainly backpackers/tourists who use the services. Not my experience based mainly on InterCity. Low income Maori and Pacific seem over-represented, as do new migrants. There seem to be many older people travelling on InterCity.

      1. I agree with you Paul’s comment. InterCity being the largest inter-regional and long distance bus/coach operators still provides regular daily services to locations in Paul’s comments despite that some services lose money.

        Since Manabus purchased Naked Bus, Manabus has cancelled or not renewed old Naked Bus ‘franchised’ agreements with 2nd and 3rd local regional bus operators to reduce regional services.

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