This is a guest post by regular reader, Minnie.

Route 66, as well as having a very cool name, is one of the signature bus routes of the New Network. It stretches from Coyle Park in Pt Chevalier to Sylvia Park, and nominally runs every 15 minutes*. The 66 is designed to draw more people towards public transport for everyday trips. Importantly, it’s the only public transport to Pt Chevalier beach on weekends or interpeak weekdays. That matters, because one of its many functions is to enable people from all over the city to come to the beach, transferring to the 66 from the rail network, the Outer Link, the Great North Rd buses from the Northwest and West, the 650 bus from Glen Innes, and many other frequent routes.

But something odd is happening at the Pt Chev end of the route. Signs went up recently at the two stops closest to the beach, announcing that from 9 November 2019 until 19 April 2020, those stops would be closed 24/7 on weekends.

Instead, the route now stops 400m short of Coyle Park, at the bus shelter on the corner of Oliver St outside the Pirates Rugby Club (417 Pt Chevalier Rd). The buses now take an extra turn around the nearby back streets in order to restart the route. Anecdotally, in at least one case drivers have treated Te Ra Road as the end of the line.

That might not seem like a big deal to some of us. But it’s an extra distance of 400m (officially) and 1 km (unofficially) to walk in the height of summer, for beach-goers and locals alike. To add injury to insult, it’s along a stretch of road that has few street trees for shade, let alone a cooling berm. This is a loss of LoS (level of service) for everyone outside the car.

Why do public transport users now have to go the extra distance? Reportedly, it’s because of bad parking.

Specifically, cars double-parked in the turning circle at Coyle Park (a remnant of the tram days) are apparently making it so the buses can’t safely negotiate their turnaround at the start and end of the route. Worse, parking wardens attempting to enforce better parking have reportedly faced abuse.

An aerial photograph of the old tram turning circle, which should be ample for buses to turn too. Most of the problem parking is happening in the painted triangle at bottom right of the circle, and on the lower edge of the central tree island..

So Auckland Transport’s answer, instead of backing its own parking rules that are designed for both safety and fair access, is to move the buses, the bus stops and the bus passengers out of the picture at weekends, for five months of the year.

For want of some more paint and fierce signs about ticketing, parking for three extra cars is all it takes to achieve a five-month rearrangement of the entire weekend bus service. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the business case for THAT!?

Is this how it’s supposed to work? And will it stop with the first concession? As bad parking all over the city shows too well, give drivers an inch and they’ll think they’re rulers. Or maybe it’s just that parking will fill any space? Since AT made this decision, the problem parking has worsened. Writing in early December, drivers are now attempting to fit six cars into the painted triangle, and many more are getting used to using the bus stop too. Where do we think that might end, given the abuse the parking wardens have already faced…?

Drivers getting used to using the bus stop for parking, and managing to sort-of squeeze 6 cars into the painted triangle.

Obviously the health and safety of the parking wardens is a major concern. But what about the safety, health and convenience of public transport users, not to mention those biking, scooting or walking to the park and the beach, including those trying to walk safely back to their well or badly-parked cars?

Equally obviously, in a climate emergency we should be making it easier for people to get to the beach without using a car. But AT’s response here is essentially saying: hey, sorry guys, you’ve done the climate-responsible, space-efficient thing and bussed to the beach – so now please trek an extra half a k’ (or if you’re unlucky with drivers, an extra k’), rather than inconvenience those who decided to drive.

(Local knowledge: you can use the alleyway near the new end of the line to get to a different part of the beach. This is a handy option, especially if you are fast and confident enough to cross the very wide road for the homeward journey. But if, like most of us, you’d struggle to carry all your beach gear, hold onto one child’s hand, and scoop your tired toddler out of harm’s way in a hurry, this is not a safe solution. And if Coyle Park and its playground is your destination, you will have to keep walking to the end of the road).

Above all, this is about equity of access to free and lovely places. Pt Chev is an awesome urban beach, a hidden gem within cooee of the central city. The beach and the park are popular destinations for heaps of Aucklanders, with a tradition of epic family picnics: in summer especially, but all year round, too.

People will keep coming, in droves. So isn’t the answer to make the bus route even more inviting, rather than make it harder to use the bus? Especially when people will likely have to walk to catch the bus in the first place, good public transport should pay them the courtesy of delivering them right to their destination. And while we’re at it, make it more affordable for families and on weekends, so it becomes the obvious choice.

Otherwise, what’s the end-game here?

Will AT resort to the same appeasement tactics if and when the beach-going motorists, having parked all over the turning circle, start double-parking on the road, parking on the footpath, or even parking in the park itself?

Will this same approach be rolled out at other beaches all over the city? Will it stop at just five months of the year, or will it be the new norm to elbow public transport users out of the way when needed? And what about other popular destinations where the number of cars sometimes exceeds the number of parking spaces? Will the Sylvia Park end of Route 66 get the same treatment?

With a long, hot summer on the way, is Santa polishing up a lump of coal for whoever made this call?

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* except when it runs on the half-hour, which is before 7am and after 8pm on weekdays and Saturdays (until the last bus from Sylvia Park at 11.30pm (or 11pm from Coyle Park), and after 7pm on Sundays until the last bus at 10.30pm, but anyway. 

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69 comments

  1. Shocking indictment of the reflex anti-Public transport culture still obviously rampant in AT. Some mid level muppet still living in 1965; when will policy finally trickle down to those making operational decisions like these?

    1. Matt L – Looking at the photo of the carpark the easiest way is reseal it and then put in new markings and make them to cub parking which then will remove at least 2/3’s of the spaces and make those that go there walk a bit further , and also have a couple of drop off only spaces .

      1. You clearly have no idea of the majority of people who use the car park. I assume you expect a parent to leave their babies on side of road alone while they go off to find a park. Other than “I hate people who use cars” there is no reason to reduce the parking. There is plenty of space for buses to turn. Just enforce current parking helped by physical barriers and maybe painted keep clear surface.

        1. No …. we park further away and walk. We have these amazing devices called prams and pushchairs which easily transport our children to where we need to go to. Parking like this is purely laziness.

        2. I assume you mean the double parking etc is laziness, which is true and should be stopped. Not sure why it is lazy to park in an available car park which is possible most of the year. There is plenty of space for buses to turn.

        3. O.K if you don’t like people walking the fill the place with parking meters with a max of 30mins at $2.00 a pop then see where they will park then .

          And as Alex said put the kids in a pushchair/pram and walk to the beach the same way people use to do . Or use a push bike like I did when I was a kid .

        4. I will repeat to make it clearer….. There is plenty of room for the buses to turn when the park is full so AT have no excuse for not running the buses to the end.
          What I was referring to is there is also no need to use one bad decision by AT as an excuse to push an agenda to reduce the number of legal car parks.

        5. Stu
          I am a simple guy so perhaps you could explain to me why AT shouldn’t reduce the number of legal car parks.
          Here’s my thoughts on the rationale for reducing them. The world is in the midst of a climate crisis where NZ’s top climate scientist says that we should reduce emissions by 5% every year until 2030. The UN, just last week, says that’s not enough and that the yearly target should be 6-7%. Surely with a decrease of that magnitude required decreases in carbon emissions have to occur in all sectors. Arguably leisure activities such as going to the beach on a weekend are areas that we could address without majorly affecting lives. How hard is it to get on a bus, bike or walk?
          Driving to the beach and parking; or trying to preserve uninterupted access to food and water in our lifetimes?

        6. John trouble is it seems that most people that go to the beach also want to bring most of their garden furniture with them . But in the old days you brought a towel and or rug plus a bag with drink and eats and that was it , but not today so they think they need to be closer to carry all that unnessecary rubbish with them .

        7. John. I am sure you are not so simple to understand that not everyone is as privaledged as you and me to live close to great beaches or even within reasonable PT route of one.
          It is sad that you suggest the less privaledged not be able to enjoy a day at the beach with their families.

  2. Who are the councillors for this area? Really needs to be time these stories got out more other than a group of enthusiasts who already know of the issues AT bring to the table. Whoever voted to declare a Climate Emergency on the Council need to all come forward and put pressure on AT.

    1. Albert-Eden Ward, councillors are Cathy Casey and Christine Fletcher.
      Christine Fletcher also holds the ‘Parks’ portfolio on the council, so this would be a great issue for her to get stuck into.

  3. I presume you’ve done the basics but a quick look at Council GIS shows that this area is part of the park and not the road. So it would sit under Community Facilities and AT would have no authority to tell them how to use it. Presumably, Community Facilities priority is having this as a Park carpark rather than a bus turning circle.

    1. @graham it looks from the Council GIS that the painted triangle area the post mentions it is in the road reserve, along with the rest of the southern half of the larger turning/parking area. The northern half of the turning/parking area is zoned open space and is owned by Auckland Council. So it looks like AT control the southern half of the turning/parking area, and AC the northern half. Map: https://imgur.com/a/CCZSwpf

      1. Are you sure this is relevant? Who owns AT? AC does. Is there anyone on this planet that thinks AT can’t enforce its own street parking rules on Auckland streets, except perhaps AT’s own legal team?

        1. Well, yes, it might surprise you but it is relevant. If this isn’t “the road corridor” as defined by law then it’s entirely possible that AT cannot enforce in it, or at least AT cannot enforce its view of how the area should be used.

        2. Gosh who could possibly resolve a disagreement about priorities between two parts of the same family of organisations?

          It’s almost as if they have no culture of working together, nor clear escalation processes.

        3. @Sacha – That would be the Local Board. Who presumably, as the landowner, approve the current arrangement which heavily favours carparking for access to the park. It’s difficult to image that AT would not have preferred removing a few car parks to having to go to all the trouble of moving bus stops and services.

        4. David Milne: If that is the case, the AT’s answer is simple – cut all 66 services to point chev until the local board resolves the issue. I doubt it would take long. Don’t work around them…

  4. That’s just appalling.

    The Big Gay Out is happening on Sunday 9th Feb so I sincerely hope the buses will run to Coyle Park – because there’s no parking allowed in the turning circle that day apart from ambulances, and other needed vehicles.

  5. This is obscene.

    I would say that far worse than being dropped off 500m short of your destination, is the effect on waiting for your bus home at the end of day:

    Having it at the park means you can literally wait in the park, in the shade of a tree, chatting with friends, keeping an eye on the bus stop until you can see your bus is here to pick you up, saying goodbye to your buds at the last moment before hopping on.

    Now, you’d need to anxiously check your phone app, and calculate how long it’s going to take you to walk up to the bus stop and catch the next bus, and more than likely miss it, now waiting for the bus in a random bus stop with nothing to do but watch the cars full of beachgoers driving past. If only you were in one of those cars…

    Spineless move from AT.

  6. Are you f’ing serious AT?!??!?! This bus route is so convenient, I can take a short walk with my toddler to Mt Albert road then get straight to the beach. I take the bus because parking is stupid around there!
    What a weak pathetic push over change. Just enforce the parking! I can walk the extra distance just fine but moving the bus stop away from the main destination is insane.

    Have AT staff there to advise and direct people to correctly park, before they park wrong. Add a “kiss and drive” section. Build the damn bike lanes already!!!
    If that doesn’t work, just ban parking in the trouble spots. a few concrete bollards should do the trick.

  7. And when they have the BGO the carpark is only open for drop off only which then allows all the buses in to do their job . And there is no problems , as they have gatyes there put thge parking wardens on them as traffic controllers .

  8. A) paint no parking yellow dashed lines there (or mark it as a single car park only).
    B) Even with the 3 cars there it still looks to be plenty of room for any bus barring a bendy bus!
    C) AT are just ridiculous and their own worse enemy.

    1. Yellow paint was my solution as well.

      I’d probably go a bit further and turn all of the parks in the turning circle into accessibility parks or close them each weekend.

  9. If they’re not in a designated car park they should be towed not ticketed.
    If there is some other reason then reroute via Harbour View Rd. Its half the distance to Coyle Park and immediately adjacent to the beach.

  10. The city I used to live in as a student has 3 tram termini within 200-300m of the beach (and a number of bus stops too). It was absolutely brilliant – being able to catch a tram right to the beach. That’s what I miss a lot in Auckland – except for the access along Tamaki Drive is really hard to get to the beach with decent (i.e. frequent) PT. And now another stop is being taken away. But not really surprising – AT still think that they only have to cater to “commuter” users, since no one else uses PT for anything else, right?

    1. Pshem, Takapuna has very good access from north and south with bus services at least every 15 mins. Sure there is a 7 or 8 minute walk at the end, but that is hardly arduous.

      1. Yeah well if you live in Milford you can take the bus to Takapuna Beach… … or maybe it is also easy to go to Milford Beach.

        Well, there are a few populated patches in the catchment of the 83 which don’t have a beach nearby. But they would probably go to Browns Bay.

        From the south: no. There is no frequent service to the south.

        From most of the inland area: no, there is no frequent service either.

        It would certainly make sense if there were such frequent services, but they are just not there.

      2. Perhaps if you live nearby. I live in Te Atatū Peninsula. And that’s about 90 mins by bus on the weekend (and to be honest Mission Bay is not much closer either).
        Even from my friends place in Birkdale – that’s almost 40-50 minutes to cover about 9km. Not really user friendly.

  11. This is ridiculous move by AT, goes against everything the are trying to move towards.
    To stop the warden abuse just some specific signage may be needed (is there any now?) One person parks and I guess people think they can, it’s not that clear. Take the police with them as well if the parking still continues.

    NB Yes this 66 is a great route, runs just 7 min walk away from our house at the Sylvia Park end of things.

  12. Crazy. I wondered why the waiting buses were parked down Oliver St. Once it is full on summer and the side streets get full the buses may struggle taking them too, or take out a few mirrors. I am sure residents won’t be happy.
    One problem with terminating /starting at Coyle park is there is often multiple buses stacked there hence the current 4 bus parks. But I am sure that can be sorted with better planning.

  13. In addition to the beach access, I have a real problem with AT making PT much more complicated than it needs to be (especially buses) for little reason. For example:
    – Frequent services that have a small number of exceptions to the advertised frequency
    – Bus stops that are not in use at certain times
    – Bus routes that change or get cut short at low use times

    All up the savings are probably a few million a year, but the usability of the total system which costs hundreds of millions is badly affected.
    AT should adopt the KISS protocol: Keep it simple, stupid. Any exception to simplicity should only be if absolutely necessary.

  14. That is certainly an interesting development.

    Isn’t it illegal to abuse parking wardens?

    How do they get that abuse anyway, don’t they just have to write down license plates and make a phone call? For example my local speed camera doesn’t need to walk up to my car and tap my window to give me a fine.

    1. giving in to bullies weaponises that tactic, if AT are going to just retreat from enforcement when faced with abuse, they had better get ready for a whole lot more of it…. abusers are quick to learn the limits, or lack of them.

  15. Have the tow trucks there all day. Tow them away. Why are we even considering changing PT to suite a few idiots who can’t park properly?

    Also painting “BUS TURN AREA” or something in the triangle might detour some people who may be misguided to think its OK to park there, and are oblivious to the bus?

    Theres 2 really easy things they could do just from using my brain for 5 seconds. I guess AT would need 3 months of workshops to figure that out. There you go, free one for you AT. >_>

    Also we have a climate emergency. Cars should be bottom of the list of priorities. Not the top, as they still seem to be for some reason?

    1. Or get rid of the triangle and mark the entire thing similarly to a roundabout. Simple stop line on that inbound lane. So it does not give the illusion of having a corner of unused space.

    1. They can’t ‘legally’ do so. As i understand it, AT can only enforce roads and Council car parks where they are designated to do so. I support Frustrated and confused below. Just do the right thing. Tow these idiots and then deal with correcting the regulations/laws later. Ridiculous that a car obstructing a bus can’t be towed. AT be bold. Sack the Legal Team and paper pushing form fillers. If you do the right thing. Aucklanders will support you.

  16. One of the biggest issues is that AT’s Legal Team is so risk adverse. AT management is then to sh1t scared to do the right thing lest they offend the Mike Hosking admirer’s of the world. AT, grow a pair and do the right thing. AT’s risk adversity has created a Kafka-esque bureacratic hell hole. A culture of not doing anything then ensues.

    This is a sentiment shared by a lot of AT staff i’ve talked to.

    If there is some archaic, or clunky bureaucratic hurdle that trips you up then test it!!!

    You can then either get a Judge to make a ruling on the law or failing that, petition Parliament when an absurd outcome is reached. Doing nothing all the time means you will never run foul of the ‘law’ but it means you will hold back the efficient functioning of Auckland’s transport network.

    1. +1 spot on.

      Towing someone for impeding a bus route is really not that controversial. 99% of right minded citizens would support that. If the law/process doesn’t support that; then the law/process is broken. Stop being scared AT. Deliver for the people. If it blows up into a media storm and some knob takes you to Court for illegally towing his car then that is a great. outcome. If you lose then you take it to Parliament. That’s how healthy democracies are supposed to work.
      Sunlight is after all the best disinfectant.

      The Vogons will not be pleased that you didn’t fill out the correct form first, but what can you do…

      1. Not sure about that support. Some may argue that nobody needs that space anyway, and nobody apart from some losers takes the bus anyway.

        The same happens when parking on footpaths comes up. How many times have you seen page-wide articles in local newspapers about how unfair it is that people get ticketed?

        I had the fine experience of seeing both my local MP and my local board campaign against a bus lane (which carries 30 buses per hour during peak). Not sure what the people at AT are supposed to think of that. They’re not supposed to go against the council, are they?

        (and yes I would fully expect similar stupid things to happen if they start towing those cars from that triangle)

  17. I don’t think the bad parking issue is just the triangle being discussed. If you go there in peak summer, people end-to end double park on the north side of the trees which of course narrows the turning circle.
    These people should be towed of course. I am not sure that painting no parking lines would help but at least would give the wardens ammunition.

  18. Great, detailed and well documented post, thanks. I agree that the current solution can be improved, and I hope someone gets this page to the Councilors/AT staff. Heck, they should be monitoring this site, most things here are going to be in their face eventually!

  19. Alternatively, why does there need to be a lane for cars to turn right to make another loop of the circle (currently southeast of the turning circle as seen in the overhead shot in the article)? Take it out and replace it with three parks. The triangle behind it then disappears, you’ve either gained three carparks or replaced the three illegal ones (depending on how you look at it) and the buses can turn without impediment.

    1. This has a very similar feel to the Akoranga bus station where bus patrons parked their cars anywhere that they thought appropriate alongside the approach road to the station. The consequence was that, just as in Pt Chev, buses struggled to navigate the road to the station. Some drivers simply didn’t attempt the journey and circled arond the block probably adding three or four minutes to the journey.
      In just a little over 6 months AT was able to resolve this by placing “no parking” signs on the road sides. The first set was illegal, but everyone makes mistakes, perhaps more likely when you are operating outside your area of expertise, but eventually it was fixed.
      There may be hope yet.

  20. “Will AT resort to the same appeasement tactics if and when the beach-going motorists, having parked all over the turning circle, start double-parking on the road, parking on the footpath, or even parking in the park itself?
    Will this same approach be rolled out at other beaches all over the city?”

    This model has already been rolled out in Takapuna. On a normal Sunday there will be cars parked on the grass verges on the Strand. Last weekend they were on the reserve on the other side of the road and it is not unusual for them to be parked partly in the gardens further around the Strand.

    Through someones benevalence parking on Sunday is free. Having discussed the matter with AT I suspect this a decision made by either the local board or councillors. As a consequence of the free parking even Takapuna’s overgenerous abundance of parking cannot cope.

    Fortunately some semblance of order exists in Takapuna with parking wardens active on some weekends. Fortunately also public transport is not affected by cars parked everywhere.

  21. AT’s Problem: AT’s parking wardens are being abused by illegally parking motorists.
    AT’s Solution: Punish bus passengers…

    How does that make any sense at all?

  22. Correspondence from the Council:


    … Auckland Transport (AT) are aware of the issue, but it is particularly complicated as some of the area is road reserve and some is council reserve. This makes it very difficult to enforce parking restrictions. AT are seeking resolutions to this situation, however this may take time.

    Because the buses can find it very difficult to turn around when the cars are parked incorrectly, they can lose up to 30 mins of their timetable, meaning they then run late. The buses need to stop somewhere where they are able to turn which is why they are currently using stop 8004.

    So yep as stated elsewhere in the comments there’s the recurring issue of AT not having authority to enforce parking on council land.

    1. “AT are seeking resolutions to this situation, however this may take time.”

      aka

      ‘Screw your summer beach trips, bus users.’

      Not. Good. Enough.

      1. Especially not good enough when you consider there is a 2015 bylaw that was supposed to give enforcement powers on all Council land like this to AT. Perhaps the lawyers f**ked it up? Or perhaps they didn’t and it’s just a case of AT refusing to enforce what they can because of ideology, again? In either case, Council’s intentions haven’t been realised, Aucklanders are being shafted, and Council appears to be swallowing the lawyers’ and AT’s story that it’s all too hard…

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