15 May 2017

Downtown dilemma: should Akl get bus route or new park?

9:08 am on 15 May 2017

Plans to turn a downtown Auckland street into a park look likely to trump the possibility of it becoming a high-frequency bus route.

Auckland Council hopes to develop Victoria Street in a linear park, mostly catering for pedestrians and

Auckland Council hopes to develop Victoria Street in a linear park, mostly catering for pedestrians and cyclists. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Council

Reports made public by Auckland Transport show Victoria Street as one option for high-frequency bus traffic passing two universities.

The Council's own ambition for the street in its 2012 City Centre Master Plan is to turn most of its width it into a cross-town park linking Albert and Victoria Parks.

The chair of the planning committee Chris Darby is adamant the park plan will prevail.

"I'm confident that we will land this in the right place with Wellesley Street for buses, and Victoria Street for people," he said.

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Victoria Street looking east to Albert Park is currently a major bus and traffic road. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Council

The possible conflict between the plans of the council and its transport agency arose after consultation documents released suggested the views of AUT and the University of Auckland had swung AT's preference away from Wellesley Street, to parallel Victoria Street.

The university chief executives who had met with AT favoured a loop system with outbound buses on Victoria Street.

A record of that meeting noted that the group, including the university leaders, would make the final decision.

Auckland Transport insisted it had not yet decided which option it preferred, and that decision could come in July after it finished analysing feedback and finalising plans.

Mr Darby said any differences between the council and agency positions were just details.

He said while the agency had the job of setting bus routes, a council-controlled organisation (CCO) must fall in line with the council.

"The CCO needs to be absolutely cognisant of the grander vision of the council to create that linear park, and fit its operations within that vision, and not compromise that vision," Mr Darby said.

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