Manukau has had a railway station for 3 years, and work started on Friday on its new central bus station (image above), across Davies Avenue in what is now the old council carpark.
All of Manukau is a motorised extension of urban Auckland, which accounts for a town centre that you don’t walk around. And you don’t use the parking lot of one building to walk to another to conduct your business. Much of central Manukau’s parking is private space, not for sharing.
The railway station showed Manukau could venture into a different world – a station below ground, a tertiary institute upstairs. The bus station, though, is a step backwards.
Auckland Transport & the NZ Transport Agency chose a 23-bay sawtooth design for the bus stops, with a concourse behind them for passengers. It may be that this concourse will evolve into more than a large bus stop, but the images provided on Friday don’t indicate that.
A pity, because this is the theoretical centre of town. A surface carpark is to be transformed into a standalone bus-station building, with a line of commercial premises, several storeys high, along the Manukau Station Rd side.
It will not look or feel like the centre of town, and nothing else in central Manukau quite does that either, although some of the nearby side streets are starting to get the town-ish feel to them. While the rail station was all about transforming a central area, the bus station is about shifting passengers – a turnstile, not a destination.
You could say the same about Albert St, where most of downtown Auckland’s main bus stops are going to be transferred to – no series of sawtooths, but not too much street ambience either at the moment. That ought to change when Precinct Properties NZ Ltd builds its Commercial Bay office & retail development on the Downtown Centre site.
Auckland Transport & the government transport agency said the Manukau bus & train hub would make it easier for people to connect between high frequency trains & buse, which would run every 15 minutes from 7am-7pm, 7 days/week. In my definition that’s a transfer station; a hub has more going for it, businesses upstairs that are destinations, residents in close proximity (there are some now at M Central, across the street from the new bus station), hospitality outlets along the street frontages that invite people to linger.
Perhaps this call for a busier street scene comes too soon – Panuku Development Auckland, the council’s urban transformation unit, has started work on ideas for central Manukau to make it a true satellite destination – but a standalone series of bus stops doesn’t seem the smartest starting point.
Panuku is working with Auckland Transport on initial planning of the development around the new bus station and will work with a private sector partner to deliver the mixed-use development.
2 areas available for commercial & residential use have the potential to deliver about 50,000m2 of mixed-use space that could include at least 200 apartments.
The combined bus & train “hub” is intended to be the heart of a new public transport network for South Auckland from late this year. The $26 million government- & council-funded bus part of it is due for completion in the second half of next year.
Auckland Transport said most of the 15 routes planned for the new network would terminate or start at the bus station, rather than being through services, so buses would need to wait in the bays. The sawtooth layout eliminated the additional layover spaces needed if the station had parallel stops.
Putney Way, between Davies Avenue & Osterley Way, will be upgraded on the southern side as a key connector road between the bus station & Manukau city centre. Footpaths will be widened to a minimum 4m on the southern side of the street.
Attribution: Auckland Transport, NZTA & ministerial releases.