Leading Image: Busbahnhof Poppenbüttel, Germany. Credit: Blunck + Morgen Architekten.

This is a post by Paul Callister and Heidi O’Callahan

Plans are underway for a new long-distance bus terminal.

The terminal will play an important role for New Zealanders in the challenging times we have ahead. Public transport for regional travel will increase in importance as climate and safety awareness rise, as the population ages, and as driving and vehicle ownership reduce in popularity.

We can expect it to be a beautiful space, with all the amenities users might need; clean, well-maintained and a pleasure to be in.

Adelaide Central Bus Station

Most importantly, it will be central, and well-connected for onward travel.

This vision is a natural outcome of fit-for-future transport planning:

  • prioritising energy efficiency, long distance low-carbon transport, and good management of our resources
  • harnessing the safety benefits of public transport over private vehicles
  • reducing the burden of car ownership on individuals, recognising the economic and equity benefits of public transport for our population, and
  • protecting all our people, regardless of their age or ability and means to drive.

In this post, we’ll outline:

  • the features and drawbacks of the current depot
  • what we know about the current plans
  • changes since those plans were hatched
  • a solution, and
  • why Council should act

The current depot

Auckland’s current InterCity terminal has a great central location on Hobson St. It is close to many hostels and hotels, is flanked by bus routes and the new Aotea Station will be very close. Being so central provides the best possible connection for passengers by public transport to all the regions of Auckland. It also has ample parking for those needing to drop passengers off.

Hosting the bus terminal was a requirement of SkyCity’s resource consent. SkyCity wants to be relieved of this requirement, but Aucklanders should have a say in whether we want to give up this key location. If we do, any deal would need to involve SkyCity providing sufficient compensation to both procure and maintain an equally well-located terminal elsewhere.

The waiting facilities at the central long-distance transport terminal are a barrier to using public transport as they are unpleasant and a public health concern. The design traps the diesel fumes, so the air is often polluted (and buses that spend the majority of their time on regional roads could be the last ones to be electrified). This affects passengers, people meeting them, staff and people walking past.

There are no parenting rooms, insufficient seats, and no drinking water provision. As most of the buses have no onboard toilets, bus interchanges need to have adequate bathrooms for all users. Yet these graffiti-covered toilets have no specific facilities for the disabled or for infants, are poorly maintained, feel dangerous and are often closed for maintenance (as the build-up of glue from “Out of Order” signs shows.)

The street connection is also very poor, and pedestrians are prevented from walking past the building, forced to pick their way through diesel fumes, waiting passengers and luggage on the inadequate, dark and grimy footpath of the undercover area.

We have been campaigning for the last four years to get the facilities upgraded, writing to InterCity, SkyCity, local MPs, the media, Ministers of the Crown, Auckland’s tourism agency, Auckland Transport and the Mayor. Some never replied, others passed the buck, few have taken any action.

The grunge in the corners remains.

The broken facilities are still broken.

Sky City holds the responsibility for providing adequate facilities, but say:

SkyCity doesn’t manage the facilities and maintenance of the terminal but we will pass your comments on to the InterCity team so they can address. 

Pressed further:

It’s a shared responsibility to maintain the bus depot, in particular InterCity looks after the cleanliness and on-going upkeep… we will continue to work with InterCity to improve the cleanliness of the depot.

Hosting the terminal comes with the responsibility of maintaining to an acceptable standard. As mode bias is no longer acceptable in transport practice, Council should be enforcing the same standard at the bus terminal as is upheld at the airport.

We need consistent, mode-neutral standards across the National Public Transport Network, regardless of whether the responsibility is vested in the transport operator or the owner of the premises. If InterCity and SkyCity will not willingly offer good quality facilities, local or central government need to step in either as a provider or a regulator.

What we know about the current plans

SkyCity started to disentangle itself from having to host the bus terminal some years ago.

The New Zealand International Convention Centre Act 2013 introduced a raft of new areas that can be used for casino premises. Importantly, the act allows the area known as the ‘bus terminal’ to be used as casino premises.

Auckland Transport said in 2014 that removing the bus terminal would require a change of resource condition under the RMA. As of last year, the “encumbrance registered against the title” for the provision of the bus terminal was still in place, according to SkyCity’s Annual Report 2019.

February’s AT Board meeting agenda said:

Design and Construction: Inter-Regional Coach Terminal. The procurement has been completed for the designer project team. Initial feedback on the proposal has been received from Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa who have raised some concerns. Discussions are continuing.

The likely location, given Ngati Whatua’s involvement, is in Quay Park somewhere, or maybe the old Auckland Railway Station on Beach Rd.

The old Auckland Railway Station. Photo credit: NZ History

Below, the current location is shown by the black rectangle in the midst of all the bus routes on Wellesley, Victoria and Hobson Sts, while the black shape on Beach Rd to the east is the old Auckland Railway Station.

The difference in connectivity offered by the two sites is clear:

The Strand Station and the old Auckland Railway Station have adequately demonstrated that this area is not sufficiently well connected to host a terminal.

The Strand Station is so poorly located that advice is often given to passengers wanting to connect to the train there using public transport, to make the way to Papakura instead.

The Auckland Railway Station’s location is also poor; when the Auckland suburban rail services were moved away from there to Britomart, Auckland’s rail revival was able to begin:

The distance from downtown Auckland was soon regarded as inconvenient and was an impediment to passenger services until the opening in 2003 of Britomart station on the site of this station’s predecessor…

Perhaps the proposed site is closer to Britomart than this. And perhaps Auckland Transport has been directed to also rework the bus network as required, with ongoing increases in opex charged to SkyCity. If these plans exist, though, where are the public communications?

In the same area, a slightly better site for connection to the existing bus network would be one of the other sites at the intersection of Stanley St and Beach Rd. However, planning for the City Centre Masterplan’s Grafton Gully Boulevard, and the Albert Park tunnels is not far enough advanced; any new terminal at those locations would be premature.

Changes since the idea of moving the terminal was first mooted

Change 1. Auckland is finally set to catch up to other international cities:

The City Centre Masterplan refresh presents a vision of a city centre that is:

  • More family-friendly
  • More pedestrian-friendly
  • More environmentally-friendly.

Access for Everyone (A4E) is a new idea to create more space in the city centre, responding to the needs of our inner city neighbourhoods… A4E aims to provide healthier, safer and more equitable transport and public space in the city centre – for now and for future generations.

The current terminal location is shown in the A4E schematic below, by the black rectangle above the pink, on the edge of the pedestrian core. The old Auckland Railway Station is the black rectangle to the right, well away from the Queen St valley. Buses, of course, can still run between neighbourhoods.

Hobson St, where the terminal is located, will be transformed by these plans. The street will cease to be a thoroughfare, and will serve (in terms of vehicles) just the traffic that visits that small part of the city centre – and buses.

We know the traffic evaporation effects of this sort of circulation plan are considerable, from places like Waltham Forest, Barcelona and Ghent. On Hobson St, the removal of through-traffic means the number of lanes can reduce from 6 to 2. It is through intentional traffic reduction measures like this that European city centres achieve their lower traffic volumes.

This government has also put a higher priority on walking and cycling improvements. Hobson St is a ridgeline, and should become a major route in the cycling network. With a multi-modal people-friendly streetscape coming to Hobson St, the location will be perfect for a quality bus terminal.

Change 2. Council declared a Climate Emergency last year. Bizarrely, their Letter of Expectations in December instructed the CCO’s to continue with business as usual (and especially not to come knocking for any funding for climate action).

But once Council has caught its tail and launched its Climate Action Framework, climate action will steadily build. Any move that makes taking public transport more difficult cannot be endured in a state of climate emergency.

Change 3. SkyCity itself wants action on climate change. Chief Executive Graeme Stephens wanted to know:

what he could do “tomorrow” to make an immediate climate impact.

And SkyCity’s chairman Rob Campbell (in his article “I was a late convert to being a climate change leader for business, and I’m not alone“) wrote:

I take a simple view. It is beyond time for humanity to react to the negative consequences of climate change… I say keep up the pressure. Do not rely on business to continue the progress itself… legal instruction is required… activists must push for levels of regulation and cost recognition which are necessary for the task.

A Solution

Rather than move the terminal, the changes listed above open up an opportunity that delivers better value-for-money and outcomes.

Access for Everyone will provide four extra lanes of space to use. Here is one of many options for a redesign of the terminal that this new streetscape offers:

  1. Use one lane for the buses to park on the street.
  2. Add cycle lanes, trees, wide footpaths and a clear canopy as required.
  3. Convert the current under-cover area into a waiting room with windows and doors at the building edge, making it light-filled and airy.
  4. The ceiling height of the under-cover area is high, as it can accommodate double decker buses. Some of this could be sacrificed by raising the floor level, if required to provide more length of indoor-outdoor connection over the carpark ramps. If not, the high ceilings will contribute to a fantastic space.
  5. The carpark entrance and exit remain a challenge. Allowing such a lot of parking was bad urban planning, but it’s not insurmountable. The danger to pedestrians and cyclists on the street can be lowered by installing barrier arms or rising bollards to make the drivers entering and exiting the carpark pause.

Aarau Bus Terminal, Switzerland. Credit: Eduard Hueber, Niklaus Spoerri, Z3RCH Structural Engineering and Textile Architecture.

Why Council should act

Moving to a less-well connected location, if that’s what’s planned, will simply continue a series of poor public outcomes. Throughout, Council has failed to enforce the basic, decent maintenance of the terminal facilities which would have gone some way towards mitigating SkyCity’s activities.

Now it appears that Council may be willing to relieve SkyCity of their responsibility to providing a public amenity, without public engagement.

The Auditor General reiterated in the SkyCity inquiry:

The good practice advice that our Office has published identifies basic principles that help ensure that public funds are spent wisely and well: accountability, openness, value for money, lawfulness, fairness, and integrity. We expect public sector organisations to be able to demonstrate how their work meets those basic principles. 

Which of these principles has Council followed?

Regardless of details about the new terminal, has the mayor been fully informed about an option of bringing what we have up to standard? Has the decision to move the terminal been made on the basis of good network design, user needs, fairness to the public and climate considerations?

Or is the basis simply that SkyCity wants it gone?

Renovating the terminal instead wouldn’t ruffle too many feathers. It’s a climate action that doesn’t threaten the road builders or the automotive industry. It wouldn’t upset the aviation industry, or the waste management, finance or farming sectors. It will even be welcomed by the tourism industry. It will assist the re-establishment of a low-carbon public transport network, and so serves future generations. It provides a good outcome for Auckland residents and other New Zealanders visiting the city. It will please equity-minded Aucklanders, and won’t upset those who are resistant to change.

It even meets SkyCity’s climate goals.

Conversely, what is the cost of moving the terminal away from its good central location, and then having to either:

  • rearrange the bus network to serve that location, including opex considerations, or
  • purchase central city land to bring it back, after some years of a substandard location for long-distance transport users?

Do we have money to waste like this?

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  1. Great if a new terminal is possible – having used Intercity services a lot over the years, I can well testify that an improvement is long-overdue. Nationally: Hamilton and Rotorua are excellent, Wellington, Hastings and Christchurch are pretty well non-existent.

    This will also give us the scope to look at the volumes/frequencies of intercity bus services. Some sort of national policy statement is needed here, because the current frequency patterns are not nearly strong enough.

    1. There is nothing wrong with Christchurch InterCity terminal, The InterCity terminal is part of the Christchurch Bus Exchange. The area InterCity, Great Sights. Atomic Travel, Akaroa and Hammer Shuttles depart from have a modern waiting room. Whilst toilets are in the main terminal, are clean. There are various food outlets. The Christchurch bus terminal is 5-7 minute walk to/from the Square.

      Rotorua as a main tourist destination, the so call bus regional and long distance and sightseeing terminal is badly designed, with no protection from the rain and lacks proper passenger travel facilities as tourism relent city.

      I do agree that Wellington needs some serious upgrading. There have been plans on the table for years but nothing is done.

  2. Great post. I really hope the terminal doesn’t move to the abyss. You should send this post to Graeme Stephens and Rob Campbell – I’d be interested to hear their response.

  3. Albert Street – Remove a private car parking and designate sections all the way up and down the street for buses going to specific regions ie. Northern end – Buses travelling to & from North/West stop over closer to Swanson St & Wolfe St, While Southern end of Albert St – Buses travelling to & from South/East stop over near Windom St & Kingston St.

    Albert St is two-way road, runs up and down along Hobson & Queen. It could easily designated as CBD’s bus strip.

    1. Albert St is a designated CBD bus strip, and has been for about 30 years. It’s the main bus corridor for the western suburbs. If you made it an coach terminal you’d also need to move them somewhere else. It also doesn’t have any parking on it, hasn’t done for decades.

  4. What about Manukau’s existing bus station?

    Closer to airport, very accessible by eastern line, SH1 very close, Govt is investing more 8n bring govt departments.

    Could be another catalyst for revitalizing a neglected part of our city.

    Love this blog. But always such a huge and disproportionate focus on our main CBD and the leafy inner suburbs surrounding it. Be good to have more championing for things in the South. As the people down there often dont have the bandwidth to do it themselves.

    1. Almost all long-distance buses already stop in Manukau as well as the City Centre, so terminating long-distance buses in Manukau would have no advantages compared to the status quo but would have a lot of disadvantages.

    2. Dont worry Lydicrius the South is in good hands at the moment both in advocacy and record infrastructure investment. It might not be as visible as say on a blog (well not at the moment – it was in the past) but lots of work going on behind the scenes.

      Having the major inter city bus terminal at Manukau Bus Station would work well as it is connected to
      State Highways 1 and 20
      The Eastern Line to Britomart
      And from 2021 to the Airport and Puhinui Station as stage 1 of the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Line.

      1. Those are all good reasons for long-distance buses to serve Manukau, which is why the majority of long-distance bus services to and from Auckland already stop at Manukau Bus Station. But none of those reasons create a valid justification for making Manukau ‘the’ major long-distance bus terminal in Auckland, as a replacement for a bus terminal in Central Auckland.

    3. Lydicrius – You have to be kidding. Manakau is totally unpractical for Auckland main inter-regional, long distance bus/coach terminal. Its to far out of the city plus it will be a major logistical exercise for all inter-regional, long distance and tour bus/coach operations.

  5. Does Auckland really need an long-distance bus terminal in a central location? Apart from buses to Whangarei/Northland, every long-distance bus drives South at least as far as Pokeno. This is unlike continental cities where buses might arrive from and depart to all points of the compass.

    GreaterAuckland regularly argues for local PT solutions that involve frequent services and high quality transfers, allowing good mixed-mode journeys. Why should this principle not apply to the interface between long distance buses and the local PT network?

    Transfering between the current Skycity terminal and Aotea station will be around a 300m walk up/down a hill and across multiple roads. Surely we can do better than this at a well-connected suburban train/bus station like Manukau or Puhinui?

    1. Cities with functioning long distance PT have the terminal in the city centre. The reasons I’ve seen given for why Auckland shouldn’t do the same all tend to be short-term work-arounds for a problem with our network, not sound reasoning. And not reasons based on the needs of passengers other than able-bodied Auckland PT enthusiasts.

      Central is important because long distance bus trips can be tiring, and the most direct connection to their destination makes the whole journey possible.

      It’s also important because children can’t just hop onto the public transport system. If they’re from out of town, they’d want to be met by a guardian. And currently InterCity won’t even allow them to transfer from one InterCity service to another. So by putting it out of the city centre, you’d make meeting the children difficult for all the guardians bar those who happen to live in the area where the terminal is.

      Anywhere but central is a hindrance to using long-distance public transport.

      1. Anywhere but central is a hindrance for some but not all. Why do we even want everyone to flock to the CBD?Am genuinely interested to be educated.

        1. For the same reason that most city-level amenities need to be central unless they take up a lot of space, like an airport. Which doesn’t rule out having a stop in Manukau for buses from the south, and a stop on the north shore for buses from the north.

          Unfortunately the terminal could easily end up out of the city centre simply because people making the decision will be thinking from the point of view of an able-bodied driver. The point of view they need to be planning from is that of an exhausted traveller who then needs to connect to the smallest public transport journey possible.

          My observations of passengers on InterCity buses and what they probably need are:

          Many of the tourists probably just want to get into the city centre.
          Youth from out of town will probably need to make their own way to their destination, and a central location makes that easier.
          The many children from out of town need to be delivered to a location that needs to serve people from all parts of Auckland, not just one.
          People who don’t drive because they don’t have the mental or physical capacity, even if they’re Aucklanders used to our public transport, will also need to have the shortest possible public transport journey after getting off the bus.

          Council hasn’t surveyed these people. I don’t think they should be pursuing plans to move the terminal until they have.

        2. Unlike a lot of other cities Auckland is bi-coastal, you can only go North or South, if you locate the bus terminal in Manukau then how do people in Central and North Auckland get to it? It’s much easier to have a central terminal with a stop in Manukau for buses travelling South and a stop in Albany for buses travelling North.

          If you’ve ever used National Express from London almost all the routes start at the London Victoria Coach Station, they then make stops at various town centers on the way out of London. Auckland could be the same.

          There are various central locations in the CBD like behind the Town Hall which are used as car parks, which look like the have the space for a half decent bus terminal.

        3. Mike – What about people who are travelling to or from Auckand CBD? What solutions do you suggest? Do they get off their InterCity/Skip coach at Manukau and take another bus or train to the CBD like with the proposed Hamilton to Auckland train service?Who pays for this fare – the passenger of coach operator?

        4. As I said Kris the Central Bus Terminal has to remain in central Auckland, preferably not to far from where it is today. The buses then stop at terminals on there way South, which would be Manukau and North in Albany.

    2. Thanks Logarithmic Bear. Said much better than I. Completely agree. A tonne of good things to think about. Sometimes feel like the posters on here need to check their white privilege bias. Manukau or Puhinui would make alot of sense. But because it’s not convenient for them it isnt even considered. People in the South who are already disadvantaged by many measures would likely benefit most from having a long distance bus terminus nearby. Arguably tourists as well with access to airport. Further can you imagine a long distance bus terminal along Oxford Street, London, Champs d’Elysses, Paris or Times Square NY….

      1. Everytime I’ve caught the intercity to Hamilton, the bus has stopped at Manukau bus terminal, which is far better than the city terminal. If someone wanted to get off and catch train to the city they can already do this.

      2. You seem to be completely overlooking the fact that the majority of intercity buses stop at Manukau on their way to the CBD, and some also stop at Papakura and Bombay as well. So all of the benefits you listed for moving the bus terminal to Manukau already apply, so removing intercity buses from the City Centre would have no additional benefits for South Auckland.

        Perhaps people need to check their facts are correct before accusing other people of being biased.

        1. Moving the intercity bus terminal to the region’s South also makes connections harder for those in the West and North. The current networks converge in the old city centre.

      3. Buses already stop in Manukau, its already is a long distance hub. Not sure what having it central has to do with being white? Is everything in the CBD because of ‘white privilege?’ What about the Airport? That’s not central, is its location race based?

    3. LogarithmicBear – Great Sights scenic point to point and touring coach services also depart from Skycity not just InterCity and Skip. it is important for any major city, especially a tourist destination, to have inner city for all urban, regional, re-regional and long distance bus/coach terminal.

      A regional, re-regional and long distance bus/coach terminal is the gateway to a city like a railway and airport is.

        1. I am not sure what you mean? Auckland airport is the gateway to Zippo – NZ for domestic and international visitors and the Strand is the gateway to Auckland for the Northern Explorer train passengers. Both the airport and the ‘Strand’and add it the Hobson Street Coach terminal, are dismal and bad gateways for the Auckland being the largest and in some overseas markets the only city in NZ.

        1. True. I thought about that after I made the comment. Manukau is better placed, and serves the current and future network, including to Botany, etc.

      1. Heidi – You have to think of the costs of going to Puhinui. it would be more expensive for the Operator of the InterCity and Skip brands. It is more economical to stop at Manukau as the next stop is Skycity.

  6. Queens Wharf. It’s practically perfect in every way. Sure, Quay street has been narrowed, but long-distance bus numbers in NZ really aren’t that high and are scarcely growing – I’m fairly sure the area could handle it.

    Connections to local bus, train and ferry – and soon a proper cycle network. It’s an ideal spot.

  7. If AT were put in charge there would be no need for a long distance bus terminal. Instead passenger would get a train to Manukau, change to a bus to Pokeno, change to another bus to Te Kauwhata, change again at Huntly, change again at Hamilton, and at- Tirau, Taupo, Waiouru, Bulls, Levin and then get a train at Otaki. Total travel time- 3 days.

    1. I looked at having a break in Omapere … it would’ve taken 3 buses, and 3 days to get there, because the bus from Kawakawa to Kaikohe arrives half an hour after the bus from Kaikohe to Omapere, and both those small bus journeys are only every two days…

  8. Great post! I am a regular user of intercity buses and–for all the good long-term talk of passenger rail–the reality is these bus services operate without subsidy and offer an immediate way to reduce congestion and emissions, if well used. I totally agree this facility need to be somewhat central and connected to rest of PT network. I’m thinking something functional, of moderate size, and with good aesthetics is what we need!

    1. I agree with with you. The humble bus service is over looked by desk bound bureaucrats when in comes to transport planning.

      NZ has an excellent national regional, inter-regional and long bus/coach coverage and is cost effective, sustainable and friendly means of travel. But unfortunate the car and plane are the fashionable means of travel.

  9. It is pleasing that up to this point Sky City haven’t been allowed to simply walk away from a commitment made as part of their consent process. Too often businesses try and wriggle out of any minor concessions that have been asked to make. This often in other areas, takes the form of applying to build a design that exceeds the zoning regulations with the knowledge they can then haggle the council down and still build something which would otherwise not be allowed. For private individuals this would be a non-starter. Aside from the employment numbers, Sky City is simply hoovering large sums of money out of the economy. If a deal is to be done, the result needs to be a terminal which meets the needs of bus users to encourage growth in public transport in an equally advantageous location and preferably at no cost. This can be paid for with the gambling they hope to install in this area.

    1. Anyone know why it was part of the consent? Did the council hold them hostage? A bit of a worry if the council has the power to do that…

      1. Because before Skycity was built the land it sits on was actually owned by the council and acquired and designated for transport purposes. It was earmarked for a bus terminal for the north and western suburbs.

        Skycity owned a piece of land up by Symonds street (around Burton Street), a literal landfill left over from building the motorway.

        In a spectacular piece of crooked dealing, the council swapped their prime block of midtown real estate for an old tip next to the motorway so they casino could be built. They got around the transportation designation by making them build the coach terminal as part of the deal.

        1. Are the details of this deal public? I’ve always wondered why anyone would do a deal like this. I’d always understood the Brierly’s land is where they then went on to build all those cheap leaky townhouses in the mid 90s which makes it feel even worse…

        2. The details should be public if you dig into them. The consent requirements are.

          They did a deal like this because they wanted a big flash casino with a skytower, and were willing to hand over plenty of public wealth to get it.

          Cf the Convention Centre deal and other such projects.

  10. If we want it in the city center it would be best to redesign the current facility. The old rail station would be fine and rather grand especially if the old foyer was used as the waiting room. Maybe there could be a city link electric bus which could run from K road down Queen Street to the Old Railway station new Bus Station. The Queen Street buses used to run that way prior to the opening of Britomart. A walkway across the tracks to the Strand Railway would complete the picture and give access to long distant trains which hopefully will run in the future. I am not too fussed either way.

    1. Redesigning the current facility has lots of different options. I think it is best, but I too am open to other ideas as long as SkyCity pays for them.

      Planning for the long distance bus terminal and the long distance rail station to connect would have no point unless the reliability of each was improved substantially. Particularly as both the trains and buses are often full – so it’s not easy to put a set of passengers onto the next service (if there even is one). And ticket prices are only reasonable if you buy in advance, so you can’t plan to arrive and then see about the connection.

      1. There would be little interconnection between long distant bus and long distant rail except maybe to Northland and even that would have enough vagaries to make it unattractive. So I suppose I am just suggesting getting a local connection to both the long distant bus and train terminals in one hit. I suppose it really depends upon the success of the Hamilton train service and whether terminating at Otahuhu is preferable to terminating at the Strand. Although long term Jezza’s idea of starting most long distant buses at Hamilton would be another option to look at. Maybe we could have a hybrid long distant bus and train service to compete with Intercity.

      2. Heidi – Skycity needs to try and stop getting out of its obligations it has with Auckland Council. As you and I know, that Entrada Group that owns and operates InterCity, Skip and Great Sight brands has a long term lease for the Hobson Street Coach Terminal.

        Since we don’t have access to the Lease Agreement, under most commercial leases, the landlord is responsible for the cleaning and maintaining the public areas of the building premises and apply this normal ‘lease’ arrangements to the lease agreement with Skycity and Entrada Group (formally InterCity Group), that Skycity would be responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of the ‘public’ areas being the footpath and toilets and Entrada Group responsible their ticketing office facilities.

        Auckland Council needs to get off its butt and say to Skycity, you have an obligation to provide inter-regional and long distance bus/coach facilities as per your consent for the construction of Skycity. There is no ifs and buts about it.

    2. If the long distance buses are moved to the old railway station it will be another back to the future moment. You can guarantee if this move does take place there will be the absolute minimum of facilities provided. The old rail station is unlikely to be opened again to the public for a bus terminal.

  11. SkyCity’s attitude to the terminal is weird. Why do they want to antagonise terminal users? Would think that being a good host by providing good facilities and access to the Casino would encourage people to visit. After all there is a captive market waiting out there. Maybe that they think bus users are too sensible and careful with their money.

    1. If you make the customer experience bad enough, tis easier to persuade regulators to let you out of your obligations. You know, the ones that allowed you to develop the whole site in the first place.

    2. Have you ever been to the Sky City Casino ? You should. The people playing are not the same people that arrive on buses. Virtually no cross-over at all.

      It’s not nice to say it, but the Casino is massively racially segregated, unintentionally, of course. Massive amount of Chinese people gambling, and massive amount of Polynesian people being servers. Its a pretty toxic atmosphere in my eyes.

  12. Almost all long distance buses already stop at Manukau in addition to Central Auckland, and there’s no suggestion that this would change if the SkyCity terminal is upgraded or relocated. Terminating long distance buses at Manukau wouldn’t have any benefit for South Auckland, but would be a significant inconvenience to people whose destination is elsewhere in Auckland, and would create a major barrier for people with limited mobility.

    The notion that forcing people to transfer from long-distance buses to local public transport at Manukau would increase the vibrancy and vitality of the local area is hugely misguided. People travelling with luggage are very unlikely to hang around and use local shops and services, as evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of people who currently change between long-distance buses and the 380 Airport bus never leave the bid station. Many long-distance buses also arrive and depart from Auckland during peak hours, so forcing hundreds of people with luggage to crowd onto peak-hour trains if they want to travel onward to the City Centre would be a negative outcome for both long-distance travellers as well as the Eastern Line’s existing users.

    The bus station at Manukau is an important stop for long-distance buses as it is conveniently located in the heart of South Auckland and also allows people to easily transfer to buses to the airport. But any suggestion that it could replace the need for a long-distance bus terminal in the City Centre is misinformed as doing so would have almost no benefits but would cause significant inconvenience for many public transport users and would discourage people from using public transport for long-distance journeys.

    1. Oops, this was meant to be a reply to an earlier comment which argued that all long-distance buses should terminate in Manukau, but I think it still makes sense as a standalone comment.

    2. Manukau to CBD is 40 mins by train. If we want to be truly multi modal wouldnt it make sense for people to train into CBD. Bus from Manukau must struggle to hit 40 mins and can drop no one off in between. Train is generally on time and is lower emissions. Bus can only drop people at limited stops in between CBD and Manukau, causes congestion and takes up infinitely more valuable CBD land. I would then put the next major bus terminal north in Albany. Well serviced by Northern Expressway.

      1. So here is a real life scenario. I arrive on my low carbon InterCity bus from Wellington at 8pm on sunday at Manukau bus depot wanting to get to the Liverpool Street YHA. Unload my luggage, cross the road to the station and find, oh dear, just missed the train. A half hour wait until the next one which gets me just to Britomart. Or I use the AT trip planner. Its most helpful fastest suggestion is: Catch 380 bus, arrive at Papatoetoe Station. Catch STN train. Arrive at Newmarket train station. Walk to Broadway/Kyber pass (lugging my bag). Catch INN bus. Arrive nearly an hour after setting off – if all connections work. If I happen to have a HOP card that is an extra $5 on my trip. Next trip catch a plane.

        1. Car crash on Southern…. takes 1 hour to get to CBD. Realise I’m actually booked at an Air b
          N b in Newmarket. Trundle down to Britomart, just miss my train. Anyone can make up worst case scenarios….

        2. Wookie, you’re case is another great example of why having a city centre terminal and a Manukau stop is way better than terminating the service in Manukau. There is a direct bus from Wellesley Street to Newmarket that takes about 10 minutes, vs two trains at over 40 minuntes from Manukau.

      2. Wookie, I’m not sure why you would argue that everyone should have to get off in Manukau and take the train. That option is always open to them to do so.

        Yes, land is valuable. Providing an experience that encourages people to use long distance public transport instead of driving or being restricted from travelling is something we should value. (A casino, and a convention centre, on the other hand…)

        Are you suggesting that every bus from the south should go to Albany, and every bus from the north should go to Manukau, just so we don’t have to include a city centre terminal? InterCity might have an opinion about that… the move would have to involve an opex payment to InterCity for the extra costs of doing so. That’d be another thing for Council to have to negotiate with SkyCity, I guess.

        Here’s another reason why it’s not a good idea to terminate in Manukau: resilience.

        When the trains are out of action, InterCity’s not going to be able to whip up available buses or driver time to replace the trains.

        I tried to organise a movie get-together for friends from several different suburbs in January, when the trains to Manukau were out of action. Manukau seemed to be the logical place for us to meet. But no, Manukau was just too difficult; the journey times on rail buses made in impossible. The choices were the city centre and Newmarket.

        So let’s keep the terminal in the city centre. If something goes wrong with the motorway, the resilience offered by the train system can provide options. In reverse, it’s not true.

        1. Ok, ok..I’m being turned so to speak by the comments on here. Just think from experience that downtown bus terminals can become inner city dead zones. Attracting antisocial behaviour and a tonne of buses idling in a built up area. I guess it will be down to how it is executed…

    3. Arthur – I agree with you. The only reason most southern inbound/outbound InterCity and Skip services stop at Manuaku are –

      a. Manukau is the major catchment for South Auckland

      b. For 380 Airporter bus services to from/Auckland especially InterCity services southern inbound/outbound services where the travel to/from the airport is included in the fare.

  13. Wrong thread, but wanted to share Melbourne’s response to last year’s climate & biodiversity emergency declaration. Eliminate council’s own emissions (already halved in 6 years), build 44 km of protected bike lanes in 4 years rather than 10. This is for the City of Melbourne which is relatively tiny (pop. 170,000); the important stuff, e.g. transport, is in the hands of the state government. Still, nice to see specifics. https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-council/committees-meetings/meeting-archive/MeetingAgendaItemAttachments/886/15806/FEB20%20FMC2%20AGENDA%20ITEM%206.5.pdf

    1. Great to see what Melbourne is doing especially in relation to cycleways. Imagine if a relatively flat city like Palmerston North took up this challenge and got stuck into rapidly building good cycleways. Maybe students would start to bike to Massey instead of driving!

      1. Hm that campus can’t be more than 10 km away from the other side of the town.

        On one hand, the assumption that students drive doesn’t surprise me at all, this being the New World.

        On the other hand it surprises me a lot because I can’t see how a car would fit in the average student budget. Even if you can afford driving a car, why bother, surely you have better ways to spend money as a student.

  14. I use Intercity buses all the time and agree that the Auckland terminal is disgusting and reminds me of some Third World bus depots.

  15. I can see one major flaw with the idea of retaining/renovating the current facility: opportunities for growths are pretty much non-existent. A new location should be picked less on the basis of what is convenient for inner-city dwellers, and more along the lines of where there is room for future growth and (another missing part) where the future of local public transport is going to take us. With inner city streets getting more busy as the time goes by, and forecast growth in public transport in suburbs, locating the future hub near one or more major local transport hubs (such as Manukau) would reap major benefits. I am aware Manukau is not in CBD, but I am sure everyone can see past that point.

    1. We dont know who the bus passengers are so cannot assume it is inner city Aucklanders -or people from South Auckland -who are the main users. When i go to and from Auckland a significant number of people get on and off at Manakau. But at least half the bus passengers usually go onto Auckland or start from Auckland central. I suspect many are not Aucklanders and include international tourists, NZ tourists – plus people visiting family in Auckland – people passing through – like i sometimes do catching the ferry to Great Barrier the next morning. The other problem with just a Manukau base it assumes no one is travelling north, which a number of long distance buses do. It would be a challenge if going from Hamilton to Whangarei to get off at Manukau, catch a train or bus into the city, then another bus out to some depot north to then transfer again to the longer distance bus.

      1. And most people in Auckland have a direct public transport option to the city, but not so much to Manukau. So it would mean catching 3 buses (with your bags) instead of 2.

    2. The issues that people have raised with moving the intercity bus terminal to a suburban location such as Manukau are not based on some arbitrary reaction that they are ‘not in the CBD’, but are instead based on a wide range of accessibility, mobility and legibility factors which would be adversely affected by removing the intercity bus terminal from the City Centre.

      I also struggle to see how such a move would ‘reap wide benefits’ since several suburban centres, especially Manukau, are already served by many intercity bus routes. So I can see plenty of disadvantages arising from removing the intercity bus terminal from the City Centre and almost no positive outcomes from doing so.

    3. Albert, I think it’s good to think about a growth in bus service and passenger numbers. To achieve it, of course, we need not just a location that can serve larger numbers, but coordinated planning to improve the service so that the growth happens. That coordinated planning isn’t happening, but if you’re keen to help campaign for it, that would be very welcome.

      Moving the terminal out of the city centre would work against encouraging growth in numbers.

    4. Albert – I am suprise by your comment as an frequent InterCity traveler. You know there is a good mixture of both local and tourists traveling on InterCity, Great Sights and Skip services orginating out of Skycity. You need to remove your Auckland tinted glasses and see that Auckland is the not the only city in NZ.

  16. Just an observation – in Washington DC they spent millions restoring the old Union Station so that it could be suitable for buses. They then charged a fee for buses to use it (seems fair enough).

    Upshot was: all the el-cheapo bus companies wouldn’t pay the user charge and so did not use the bus station, but instead merely loaded and unloaded passengers on nearby suburban streets without any amenities whatsoever. Result: nice bus station fails. Neighbours get hacked off by buses idling in their streets. Chaos ensues. Trump gets elected. (Cause and effect?).

    What I’m trying to say is that it HAS to be central and it HAS to be used by all, or else it becomes like Topkapi Bus Station in Istanbul (total chaos….). No one wants a bus station near them though, especially if you are a high-rolling poker player. Mind you, there used to be a good bus station down near the waterfront, at a place called Britomart…

  17. I’m open to multiple options, but no matter which option is chosen, Sky City ABSOLUTELY needs to pay for most if not all of it to get out of their cozy little deal! Another option would be the old City Works Depot connected by foot tunnels to Aotea station.

  18. Yes I think we do need a central city long distance bus station still. I had previously started to think that the transfer to train idea at Manukau etc could handle this well but can see it’s shortcomings (fine as a stop for South Auckland/Airport etc).

    It’s not like it has to be that big so I think the city centre could still/should handle it. Perhaps in the future if the old Stand station had a massive upgrade & handled intercity trains then integrating it into there would be a good longer term solution. The trouble with there is the location for local bus connections is kind of limited & it’s quite far from the central city proper really. In saying that, just relying on the Inner Link bus could be OK (especially if it’s frequency, bus size & operation is improved).

    So yes current location upgrade sounds like a good idea.

  19. Albert St. Would be a good location but not on the surface – Under it!
    With the excavation of the centre of the road for the CRL instead of being backfilled the cavity could have housed a bus terminal. A single lane entrance at the centre of the road at Customs St intersection with two exits North bound and southbound either side of Victoria St coming out in the street as a single lane each way. This would have given excellent connectivity to the rail at Aotea station.
    Alas the whole space has been backfilled
    Another opportunity lost 🙁

  20. To me, it’s obvious that the current coach terminus is a disgrace and a replacement should be commissioned ASAP. From what I understand; the current terminus has a highly flawed design with especially poor ventilation, I’d be surprised if WHS regulations aren’t being overlooked.
    But I disagree that the replacement needs to be especially close to Queen st. The market that Coaches capture isn’t generally the same market that necessarily wants to get close to the CBD & hotels & offices. It tends to be more the budget travelers who’re going to cheaper hostels (if they’re tourists) or the residences of associates.

    As for the Strand; yes its location didn’t work out for Auckland’s urban rail and the commission of the Britomart terminus was a major milestone in bringing Auckland’s urban rail up to standard.
    But urban rail and long-distance travel such as that by coaches are two different kettles of fish. For all its shortcomings for urban rail: The strand was fine and dandy as a terminus for long-distance passenger services. In terms of its basic design; the large concourse is ideal for coaches and if nothing else it is well-connected to Grafton gully and thus the motorway.
    Its biggest shortcoming is as stated in the article; the currently poor connectivity to other Public transport. Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt that this couldn’t be remedied.or that it won’t change in the future as the surrounding area becomes more population-intensified. And as far as I’m aware; the Ngati Whatua iwi are planning to build a residential development that will include station platforms on the eastern line, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that one.

    So I disagree that the Strand is necessarily such a bad choice for replacing the current revolting Coach Terminus.

  21. Can InterCity Buses use the 2 Mayoral Dr Bus stop area, Auckland CBD with shelters & ticket purchase facilty for a solution? Close to Queen Street Bus Stops, etc

  22. Auckland needs to stop living in its little fantasy world that is great place to visit and stay. In reality Auckland is a dysfunctional city, that has years of short term quick fix urban and transport planning predominantly based on the car and urban sprawl, making it not that visitor friendly.

    From a frequent public transport user and tourism industry point of view and experience, Auckland is not that tourism friendly nor inviting, based on its 4 gateways that visitor or tourist needs to pass through to visit and experience Auckland. If traveling by road, the visitor has to put up with traffic congestion, if arriving by air the visitor has to pass through a domestic terminal that was built in 1965, an international terminal that is drab and tired, a long distance railway station that consists of a couple of huts, a inter-regional and long distance coach terminal that is dirty and run down and to it off, to get their head around a confusing bus network. The only good thing for a visitor, that is easy to use – is Auckland metro rail network.

    Nothing can be done with Auckland airport, whilst the airport company is only interested in making money from rents and fees from landing and gate parking and the congested road network but something can be done for those visitors arriving by rail and bus.

    Ideally Auckland, as NZ’s largest city and major gateway for NZ, should have a central city integrated metro, inter-regional, long distance rail, urban, regional, inter-regional and long distance bus/coach interchange like the Southern Cross station in Melbourne, Central Station in Sydney and Roma Street station in Brisbane.

    Plans for one was in the original Britomart concept plans but deleted due to cost, leaving Hobson Street coach terminal the best option for a visitor arriving into Auckland by inter-regional and long bus and scenic coach services. I hope once the CRL and 3rd or hopefully the 4th track is completed that inter-regional and long distance passenger train services can arrive and depart from Britomart station.

    The Hobson Street Coach Terminal is the best option, as there is no other location in the CBD to put a coach terminal in. Auckland Council needs to tell Skycity of its consent obligations and to tidy up the footpath and improve toilet facilities at terminal, as the terminal is within 10mins walk to 4 hostels and 8 hotels, 10-12 minutes walk to Queen Street and is 2-3 minutes walk to. Auckland Co-op ride sharing services at the main entrance of Skycity Hotel and Casino.

    The concept of having inter-regional and long distance bus and scenic coaches terminating at Manukau and Akoranga is a totally stupid and ridiculous idea and shows how un-inviting Auckland is for visitors.

    1. I think Auckland can be above-average place to live (if you can afford the rent/mortgage).

      But I agree that it offers not much more than nothing to visitors. Other than for business: Exactly why would anyone especially go to Auckland beyond as a first stop after getting off of the aeroplane? There’s nothing really interesting nor exotic nor especially charming about the place. And it’s really not well set-up for visitors either, with an obvious emphasis on milking people for their money.
      And Aucklanders defensively pretending otherwise are only preventing it from improving.

  23. Relocating the Intercity coach terminal to the old Railway Station on Beach Road would be better than where it is currently located at SkyCity.

    The Beach Road site would be easier for coaches to access from the motorway and for pick ups and drop offs.

    The Beach Road site was of course previously used by Intercity / Railways Road Services buses, so is already purpose made for purpose and is certainly a more attractive locality than the current grotty hidden facility at SkyCity.

    It is not that far from the city centre to walk to Beach Road and if the site could be relinked to The Strand station site, an upgrade of the long distance rail terminal there could be carried out in conjunction with the Intercity coach terminal move. This would have all long-distance coach and rail services in the same location.

    Failing this, the next best option would be Queen’s Wharf next to the ferry terminal across the road from Britomart.

    1. It’s a terrible walk to the central city from the Strand, hence why they built Britomart. Could be improved but still too far. The Hobson/Nelson combination of roads is much the same as Grafton gully. Both of these should be detuned for general traffic in the future so still on an even footing perhaps. Regional trains (hybrid if necessary) should ideally terminate (stop anyway) at Britomart post CRL. Could lay over at the Strand.

      I like the idea of regional bus and trains interacting at the same point so perhaps Sky City as a stop and a redeveloped Strand for train and bus would work best rather than one or the other. This way we have Aotea for local/metro access from all regional buses and say Northland buses to/from a regional southern train all accessible. The weakest link is to our ferries if you don’t use Britomart.

    2. I agree Robin. The old Railway station as a coach terminus would be an improvement over the current crappy site.

      But given the nightmare automobile traffic surrounding it: It would also need improved public transport connections of its own.

  24. SkyCity wants coach terminal moved from Auckland complex

    Todd Niall·12:26, Feb 27 2020

    And Sky City says, “The original decision to locate the terminal at SkyCity was made well over 25 years ago, today that use does not fit well with the activities on the wider site, including the NZICC (convention centre) and the facility could be put to a more useful purpose,”

    I wonder how this fits into Sky City’s plans to operate a reduced carbon emission model of trading? Yep, the people who arrive by taxi and car to your casino, food outlets, and soon Convention Centre are causing emissions that are directly sheeted back to your current operating model based around thousands of car parks.

    Well done to the CEO of Ngati Whatua in telling them no.

    1. Sky City obviously want it gone before the NZICC and associated luxury hotel open on the other side of the road. The fire will have taken the heat out of push to get rid of it by April, so to speak, but you can guarantee the threat of legal action will remain. The question is, will the council buckle? A move to Manukau solves all the problems from the point of view of the Council/Sky City and only upsets Intercity and its passengers, and frankly, councils around the country have shown zero regard for long distance bus services.

      1. What possible legal leg can they rest on? They have to provide it, it’s just they ideally don’t want to. Yes bullshit CEO and PR talk they go on about climate responsibility regarding their hotel side etc but not this very related aspect.

        1. The pictures of quality terminals we’ve included in the post indicate that these terminals don’t have to have any ill effects. If grungy places attract grungy people, SkyCity should clean the place up.

          SkyCity’s business is more of a detriment to our public health than the terminal is a detriment to their business. The idea that the public should give up its rights to a terminal on that land in order to serve socially-damaging corporate business interests is bizarre.

          They agreed to the terms. Now they can uphold them.

        2. Heidi; this isn’t a matter of “should”.
          The fact is: Skycity will make no effort to regardless of whether they should. And forcing them too will be considerable un-needed arseache that probably won’t yield results.

          Why not solve the problem by just cutting them out of the picture altogether? Be honest; it’s a pretty crummy location anyway. Surely you know by now; pragmatism trumps principle.

        3. Hosting the terminal is a key part of their RMA. Their socially detrimental licence to do business came with strings attached that go some way to mitigating that downside. If they get to get out of doing this, then they would need to compensate society in some other way, significant payment, downsizing their business etc etc.

          Whether they like it or not, it is required.

          I think a way to get what we all want, is if instead of Sky city running it and being responsible of day to day operations, they let (probably pay) AT to run it out of that same space. It’s quite clear that Sky city don’t care that much about ground floor retail fronting Hobson, or basically anything that could possibly use that space. That whole block frontage they’re just using it for parking / service entrances, vents, backdoor type stuff.

          A streetscape upgrade, with some more trees, nicer pedestrian amenities on street, would make the place a lot nicer to look down on from the neighbouring buildings. Rather than 5 lanes of vehicles. And with their fancy sky bridge, the convention center guests still don’t have to interact with the paupers down below taking the intercity bus.

      1. I think Auckland should dump the casino because it is detrimental to our society. The bus terminus is one of the few good things they do.

  25. Great post, thanks for raising this.
    Of the two options known at this stage the present site is the best. Enlargement is essential as is making it more user friendly and with more shelter from the fumes and elements. SkyCity is under contract to provide this and enforcement to fulfill their obligations is needed.
    The present ambience resembles some of the worst Greyhound Stations in the US.
    The use of Puhinui is not practical. The present Manukau stop is essential and will be close to the direct feed for the airport but only as a stop not terminal. Once Puhinui is operational it is to be hoped that the eastern link from Botany to the airport is running that will simplify the airport access.

  26. Quality post Heidi. IMO is very much worth a re-upping in a flashback weekend post.

    A long distance bus terminal is a critical thing to get right for the city. Buses will remain the dominant mode for long distance PT trips for the foreseeable future, likely forever. The location in sky-city is perfect, going to be right beside a big time rail hub. The on street bus parking, under a canopy of trees (and maybe glass), would be the perfect solution.

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