By Andrew Frame

Put simply, Napier’s newest Inter-city bus stop is a disgrace.

Earlier this month Intercity moved its bus stop from the former railway station, to outside the Marineland site on Marine Parade. The new bus stop is just that, a bus stop. It doesn’t have booking facilities, shelter, a phone, or toilets, but you should see the size of the swimming pool out the back!

I remember when Civic Court, the current home of Tourism Hawke’s Bay, was Napier’s main bus station, a large portion of which was under cover. Then it moved to where Countdown now resides on Dickens Street, then in Station Street just down the road from the Police Station and finally the old railway station. All of which had seats, shelter, toilets and even the odd snack bar.

Unhappy (as well as cold, hungry and um, ‘highly pressurised’) travellers have started a petition to go to both Intercity Bus Lines and the Napier City Council who are still arguing over who is to blame for the new “facility”.

The Council claims it gave Intercity the choice of the Dalton Street covered bus stop (minor cover at least and more central, but nothing more) or the Marineland site, because it was close to two public toilets (classy!) and had space out front to park the busses (because its not like thousands of visitors can go there any more). If Intercity wanted to use part of the Marineland building as a ticketing office and rest / comfort stop, the bus company would have to pay for it. This facility would be primarily making money for Intercity after all. Otherwise, said NCC’s Neil Taylor “We’d have to raise rates to pay for that”.

Napier City Council continually champion the fact their annual rates increases are some of the lowest in the country, but there must come a time when money needs to be spent. “You have to spend money to make money.” “If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.” “Inspirational third quote involving money” and all that.

This wouldn’t be a financial commitment to the level of Hastings’ Sports Park, Splash Planet, Nelson Park and other monetary black holes. It would be a reasonably small facility, but it would be somewhere passengers could at the very least escape the elements or make phone calls to arrange further transport or accommodation.

Until Napier Airport’s runway is extended and we are inundated with swarms of medium sized jet planes unloading thousands of tourists flying on highly discounted tickets (did you sense a hint of cynicism there? – Air NZ expressed some time ago that they were in no hurry to send jets here, runway extension or otherwise) buses are still the primary form of mass public transport bringing visitors to the region and Intercity is still one of the industry’s biggest players.

Aren’t the buses and their passengers worth far more than a stop outside a closed tourist attraction where the only shelter is a public toilet in a nearby car park? Napier says it prides itself on tourism, to any passenger arriving on an Intercity bus today it certainly wouldn’t look like it.

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  1. You think Napiers bus terminal is ugly? Have a look at the Hastings terminal! I am ashamed and was picking visitors up from Napier rather than show them that disgrace. What a toss up now. Are the councils trying to put off such lowly visitors?

  2. When it's so hard just getting people here in the first place, the least we can do is welcome our visitors appropriately. Come on the council, let's make them feel welcome & give them another opportunity to tell others what a great place this is.

  3. I agree with the overall sentiments expressed here, but where I differ is that the ctiticism should be directed at the bus company, not the NCC.

    Newmans Bus co, the forerunner of Intercity, used to provide decent terminals in most towns of any size.

    Then, in a trend to sell these terminals off, they shifted towards smaller leased or shared facilities, I sites etc.

    This enabled them to keep fares to a level that cannibalised the Railway passenger services many of you were/are fond of.

    Among other reasons, they were no longer bearing the direct cost of providing shelter, toilets , ticketing etc.

    It was a simple plan to transfer costs from the private to the public sector.

    Now bus passengers are travelling from Napier to Auckland for fares such as $28.00.

    Doesnt leave much margin to clean toilets does it?

    I say dont get hoodwinked or blackmailed into pressuring NCC & ratepayers to pick up the tab for private enterprises profiteering.

    Surely the passengers could afford a $5 levy on top of their fares to pay for the facilities they demand?

  4. I agree with A Harris. The article inappropriately lays this at the doorstep of the NCC, when it it is a commercial decision that should have been made by Intercity. You should be giving bouquets to the NCC for approprately distinguishing between a private good and a public good – and the benefits of such discipline – rates, that are under control in comparison to peers. Instead, yet another brickbat – which of course sells more 'eyeballs' to this site than bouquets. I can just imagine the story that would have broken if the NCC had actually provided Intercity access without charging commercial fees (which clearly Intercity are attempting to avoid). There would be an uproar. You really can't have it both ways Andrew. Bust-ed, indeed.

  5. Intercity have been doing their best to dodge bullets, accountability and costs here and being a no-show at Thursday's public meeting on the matter didn't help their case at all. I am certainly not giving them a free bus pass, but why does nobody want to pay for anything here?

    In Thursday's public meeting, Mayor Arnott was quoted as saying "We (the council) knew it (the Marineland bus stop site) was not going to work". Eh?

    The Council has the ultimate decision over where this bus stop gets to go. It's their roads being used, their car parks taken up with busses, their traffic flow being interrupted, their public toilets being used and their city that gets the good or bad first impression from arriving visitors. So if they knew moving the Intercity drop-off and pick-up point to Marineland was not going to work, then why let it go ahead? Why not have something more appropriate pre-arranged when they knew the Napier Travel Centre was going to shut up shop? I find it hard to believe that with all the 5-year planning and contingencies they go through, this never showed up. I, along with Napier’s long-haul bus passengers, am still waiting for something bouquet-worthy from anyone on this matter.

  6. What people are ignoring are the backpackers, coming into town with their packs and suitcases, on a budget, and lost in a new city.

    At least the Marineland stop was close to 4 of the city's hostels.

    Was there never an option to build a toilet/shelter on Marine Parade, down by Marineland? The ticketing office isn't necessary. The i-Site and YHA, both on Marine Parade, both do bookings for Intercity.

  7. I work in Napier and avoid walking near the bus station on Dalton Street around 1pm as it is carnage, to say the least. I've now been on the receiving end of picking people up from that site at 1pm and can now confirm it is pretty disastrous. It was so busy (admittedly, it was school holidays) that the bus driver who had just finished dropping off a full bus took off with his luggage doors still open and nearly swiped them on the next bus – albeit for the quick thinking of an off-duty bus driver.

    Now that the "SaveMart" site on Munroe Street (opposite the old Travel Centre) is vacant, is there any possibility that Intercity/NCC could move the bus station there? Might be worthwhile considering.

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