A recent meeting between the Howick Youth Council and Auckland Transport (AT) has sparked hope among east Auckland youth of greater transparency around transport projects in the future.
The topics of discussion included the possibility of restoring direct bus routes from Bucklands Beach and Cockle Bay to the city, transparency around future public transport initiatives, and how AT can better engage the local community.
The Howick Youth Council, under the Howick Local Board, handed over a set of proposals for AT to consider.
The recommendations included restoring some direct bus routes, increasing the frequency of local services and trains, improved shelter at Panmure station, and how AT could better include youth in transport decisions.
The proposals were established from local student Khorshed Tarapore’s petition to save east Auckland bus routes which amassed more than 1500 signatures and hundreds of comments (Howick & Pakuranga Times, May 10).
The petition caught the attention of Youth Advisory Panel chairperson and Howick representative Veisinia Maka who says she was amazed at how many young people cared about transport.
“At the time, the long term plan was up for consultation and when I looked up what the Howick Local Board’s priorities were for the long term plan I was disappointed to find transport wasn’t high on the list,” she says.
“I reached out to Khorshed and told her I thought this would be a great opportunity to use her petition as a starting point and write some recommendations for the Howick Local Board on how to prioritise transport.”
Maka, Tarapore and the Howick Youth Council used the petition as well as the concerns of a number of young people in the area to create the recommendations.
Upon presenting the recommendations to the Howick Local Board, they caught the attention of Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore who organised the meeting with AT.
Tarapore says the meeting went well with AT representatives listening to her concerns, but says it was obvious that it is very hard for them to reverse changes they have already made.
“It seems the old transport system does not fit with the new vision of transport which involves a lot of feeder buses onto the main bus line. This was very sad to hear from someone who thought the old transport system was very good,” she says.
“The main restriction is that Auckland Transport only wants one bus to be travelling from Panmure to Britomart which means only one suburb wins- and in this case Botany clearly won.”
She says AT did acknowledge that the new network doesn’t benefit everyone, and says they would look at increasing the frequency of the 735 bus which travels from Botany to Half Moon Bay.
Tarapore says she just hopes that in the future Auckland Transport has a thorough consultation with more people from different suburbs so that this situation never arises again.
“It’s hard to say if we have actually bought any improvements to the transport system,” Tarapore says. “But for me the next step will be making sure citizens are well informed, because I really think that if citizens had been informed properly about the changes that occurred we could be looking at a very different picture.
Auckland Transport’s response to the proposals
- AT stood behind the Eastern bus network but recognised the new network disadvantaged certain individuals and were willing to hear out Tarapore’s recommendations from the petition.
- Cashmore suggested focus groups made up of ordinary students could improve readability of future consultation documents
- AT agreed to look into potential infrastructure improvements at Panmure Station’s bus shelters to address its limited ability to protect commuters from rain and cold weather.
- AT said they may explore increased frequencies for 735, which travels from Botany to Half Moon Bay via Cockle Bay.