Top Debate: Parnell Bus Plan


Updated here with account of meeting

A showdown tonight over plans for the Parnell railway train station proposed for the Mainline Steam area at Cheshire St.

The ARC and local Parnell groups, spearheaded by the energetic business group Parnell Inc are outraged at the KiwiRail plans to use the proposed area, which is owns, as a depot for NZ Bus buses.

A petition opposing the plan has already got over 900 signatures.

KiwiRail, along with Infratil, plan to park over 60 buses behind Parnell each evening forcing traffic lights to be installed on Parnell Rise. Residents say their on-street parking would be lost and the area would be surrounded by high wire fences and floodlit at night.

Members of the Parnell community will present the case for opposing KiwiRail’s plans to the Hobson Community Board tonight and KiwiRail and bus owners Infratil will also address the meeting.

ARC chair Mike Lee called the KiwiRail plan “bizarre.”

Today, Debbie Harkness, manager Parnell Inc. said that the historic area wants to see a visionary mixed-use development on this key site, between Parnell Road and the Domain - “not seven years of security-fenced bus parking, followed by intensified housing.”

“Residents and businesses are gravely concerned that the constant movement of buses in and out of the area would have a major negative impact on the quality of life that historic Parnell offers,” Ms Harkness said.

This would become a bus depot

Parnell Community Committee Chairman, Roger Cole-Baker reiterated the business association’s view saying, “It is not acceptable for a government agency to disregard the needs of residents and businesses, especially given the impacts to Parnell’s heritage neighbourhood.

“Under KiwiRail and Infratil’s plans for the site, local residents and businesses would have their narrow back streets clogged with buses, see yet another set of traffic lights that adds to the congestion together with increased levels of air, noise and light pollution,” said Mr Cole-Baker.

“There is an opportunity to develop this Parnell site into a world-leading architectural project centered around the existing Mainline Steam depot building and creating a future destination train station for Parnell,” said Ms Harkness.

“Instead KiwiRail seems determined to bulldoze ahead with plans at the expense of significant community opposition.”




  1. karl says:

    Not In My Backyard. The usual response. After all, (upper) Parnell residents don’t usually use buses, do they?

    I may be missing part of the argument, but living next to a motorway and a major busway, I don’t see why sixty buses each night are such a horrible deal. I have thirty to sixty per hour most of the day.

    I suspect it is more (or also) the fear that their/ARC’s plans for a station at the Mainline Steam shed are felt to be threatened by this. Some days I despair about Mike Lee.

  2. Matt L says:

    Karl, I don’t live near the area but if you see the land they are talking about you would probably agree it is completely stupid to put a bus park there.

    The big concern I have with this is the impact it would have on a future train station nearby (I don’t think it should be on the mainline steam site but slightly further north at the end of the Parnell Rise bridge) there is quite a bit of potential in the site for re development.

  3. tuktuk says:

    Karl. There are strong arguments for and against siting of the Parnell station at several possible locations along the Parnell line. I look forward to the construction of a Parnell station in some form; better sooner than later. I believe it will quickly become a winner.

    However, the proposal to use the space for 60 buses is just dumb!

    The streets are tiny and hilly, buses negotiating these streets will emit higher than average diesel fumes and noise. They will also be a real hazard to parked cars of residents and employees at local businesses.

    The Mainline Steam site and indeed the whole valley is a historic area dating from the earliest years of Auckland’s development. I visualise an artisan’s and sculptor’s studio and educational facility. Perhaps some form of Trades Polytech Workshop Facility as an extension to the AUT or Unitec. This would help this historic precinct reconnect to its past, and incidentally also provide a ready source of rail passengers for the new Parnell Station.

  4. I’m off to the Hobson Community Board meetig tonight, supporting Parnell friends on this one.

  5. Luke says:

    Although I was initially against this proposal, after looking closer at the streets involved I am not as bothered about it any more.
    The streets the buses would be travelling along are certainly not the nicest streets in Parnell, and are lined with light-industrial/auto oriented commercial buildings.
    My bigger concern would be the extent of buildings to be demolished, and if this was only a minor part of the site would be OK
    Although often I am supportive of some nimbyism, in this case it seems to be a case of rich SUV owners not wanting poor mans buses in their suburb.

  6. Harry says:

    @ Karl hear hear!

  7. Having lived in many different parts of Auckland, currently Parnell, I’ve come to see it is a ‘posh suburb’ partly due to it’s early establishment and natural assets, but also because it’s community makes sure it’s assets are preserved and developed. This benefits all of Auckland, tourists as well as residents. You can’t knock that in my book.

  8. DanC says:

    Not in my back yard. Yep I do know where you are coming from but me personally not this time. I do like the area & was excited to read a while back about plans to day light the original stream and turn the main line steam building into a public space for small events… I was all for this area being used as a railway station but has my mind changed to the location of the tv dish due to a closer proximity to the strand. The gulley area has a lot of history and should be used in that way.

  9. James Pole says:

    I would have thought it would be better to have bus depots out in the suburbs. Having the depot near the city just means NZ Bus will end up running lots of empties out to the terminals in the morning to run the morning peak schedule and lots of empties back to Parnell/Westhaven in the evening when the buses have done the afternoon peak schedule. Perhaps NZ Bus should look instead at expanding their exisiting depots at Panmure, Wiri, Roskill, etc.

  10. Matt L says:

    James - they need somewhere to store the buses during the day as well, they currently have a site on Jellicoe St (I think) but need to give that up as it costs to much and is only going to get worse when all the development happens. Overnight it is the link buses that are stored there, it would be stupid to drive them into town each day from Mt Roskill or Panmure.

    Personally I think they should look to put them somewhere down on the rail land near the strand.

  11. Infratil need to set up a permanent depot near the CBD. Keep out of our suburbs. I blogged the meeting tonight

  12. DanC says:

    The rail land behind the old railway station would be perfect. I don’t know how you would get the buses in there? A link off the strand?

  13. karl says:

    “Infratil need to set up a permanent depot near the CBD. Keep out of our suburbs.”

    Okay, Cameron - are you happy for Auckland Transport to stump up the extra land cost of bus companies having a CBD depot, or are you just saying this because you are standing for a suburban ward?

    One can’t just simply say “Go away, do your dirty business somewhere else”. Not if one wants to support public transport.

  14. The Parnell community’s fight is not about NIMBYism - it’s about saving a great site, with a significant heritage, from being squandered. It’s about saving the Mainline Steam depot building from future demolition and ensuring that the land around it - former Domain land - can be developed with vision.

    This is NOT a normal commercial site. It has greater strategic importance for Auckland and is too valuable to become a mere bus park.

    There are other industrial backyards out there that Infratil/NZBus could use without tearing up a community of people.

    For all the comments above about Parnell as a “posh suburb”, take a look at where Infratil plans to travel its buses - along Bedford Street, with a string of elderly state apartments (and there are more on Cracroft Street). Has Infratil literally chosen the path of least resistance? Residents here will have at least 14 street parks removed, if not more.

    There will be significant impacts on the local community, if the bus park goes ahead. Traffic lights, car parks removed, pollution and noise from hundreds of bus movements daily along narrow streets (with five heritage scheduled buildings in the immediate vicinity).

    Parnell is New Zealand’s oldest suburb. That’s something for all of us to treasure, appreciate and safeguard into the future.

  15. Matt L says:

    Karl - You seem pretty hostile, this isn’t about a politician or local saying “not in my suburb” How about being constructive and trying to find a solution.

    The buses do need to be somewhere near the city but the problem is where to put them. Link buses would be parked overnight and other buses during the day need to be close to town to start the afternoon peak services. If these buses were put out in the suburbs they then have to travel further at the start/end of their route which costs more in fuel, staff and risks getting caught in traffic meaning on time performance could be affected.

    From what I have read the issue is just finding the right place and I don’t think that this is it.

  16. karl says:

    “Karl – You seem pretty hostile, this isn’t about a politician or local saying “not in my suburb” How about being constructive and trying to find a solution.”

    I was unhappy about Cameron Brewer’s post, which to me was pretty much exactly the encapsulation of “not in my backyard - go somewhere else”.

    But “somewhere else” is much more expensive. So how about him explaining where that money comes from?

  17. DanC says:

    The gravel area between Grafton Road / Stanley Street and Alten Road suitable or too small?

  18. James Pole says:

    I agree that there needs to be a temporary solution for stabling the buses in the CBD. However I wonder, in the long run, just how many buses will run all the way to the CBD.

    I suspect in 10-20 years time the bus network will shift from competing with the trains to feeding the trains. So there will be less buses operating all the way into the city — and instead buses will serve local suburbs with timed connections to trains at the local station.

    So there needs to be more depots built closer to where bus services will operate. Hence why I believe there is a need for more depots out in the suburbs. They don’t have to be set up in residential areas. I was thinking more along the lines of East Tamaki, Wiri, Penrose, Onehunga, Henderson, et al.

  19. Luke says:

    @James There are already depots in most of the places you mention. The issue is there are all owned(at least controlled) by the bus company (usually Infratil) that serves that area. This restricts competition, as any new provider wanting to bid will have to set up a new facility, or add costs by driving further between/after runs.

    There will always be a need for a CBD depot though for services like the Link, the North Shore services, and the traditional ‘tram-line’ bus routes like Dominion and Remuera roads.
    Hopefully once electrification is here we will see the end of the Papakura, Henderson, Swanson, Manukau City services with these routes split and turned into rail/QTN bus feeders. So more like 5 years.

  20. Karl says “But (parking buses) “somewhere else” is much more expensive. So how about him explaining where that money comes from?”

    Well how about looking at it this way… Infratil’s stated primary goal is to make a 20% return on shareholders funds. The company’s public transport operations in Auckland are handsomely subsidised by the local community and no one has a clue what margin NZ Bus makes on its public transport routes because the public can’t take a look at their books.

    One has to assume that the deal Infratil is keen to push through for this outrageous bus park idea has to meet that same 20% return criteria. So our Parnell community gets torn up and residents lives ruined so that a corporation can make a fat profit.

    And if a fat profit isn’t immediately forthcoming in the bus park business you can be sure that Infratil is also viewing this land with a property speculator’s eye for the rich returns to be made on its future development - which could include 100 to 200 apartments as Andrew Lamb,GM Development for Infratil Infrastructure Property, mentioned in his address to the Hobson Community Board last Tuesday.

    I therefore suggest the extra money that might be required to park buses a further away from the CBD come from a reduction in NZ Bus’s operating margin.

  21. karl says:

    “The company’s public transport operations in Auckland are handsomely subsidised by the local community and no one has a clue what margin NZ Bus makes on its public transport routes because the public can’t take a look at their books.”

    That fact is squarely on the Central government’s head, which is refusing to act on reform (or in fact gutting reform) that would allow just that - to check the level of income/subsidies.

    “I therefore suggest the extra money that might be required to park buses a further away from the CBD come from a reduction in NZ Bus’s operating margin.”

    Interesting idea. But not very likely in our capitalist economy. I am partial to PT being a government-owned and operated enterprise, myself. But that is considered on par with drug dealing and obscenity these days.


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