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.