Rodney Local Board has set the ball rolling on top priority transport improvements to be funded by its controversial targeted rate, starting with a Wellsford to Warkworth bus service and a Warkworth Park and Ride.
Board chair Beth Houlbrooke said the Wellsford bus service would be “first cab off the rank”, hopefully as early as September 30, when the new daily Auckland Transport (AT) Warkworth to Silverdale services start. It will go out for public tender and be an AT HOP service.
"There's still a bit of work to be done with AT, but we're progressing this fast as we can. We can't give an absolute date, but it will be as soon as possible and remains our top priority," she said.
She told Warkworth Area Liaison Group on July 4 this would be partnered with a park and ride at the Council-owned Atlas site on State Highway 1, just south of Warkworth Showgrounds, which is currently leased by Electrix. The site has been retained for future community use, but with nothing specific planned in the long-term budget, she said the Board could build a 120-space carpark which could be used for whatever building eventuated in the future, as well as being shared with the sportsgrounds.
Buses would enter and leave the carpark via the Hudson Road traffic lights, and go round the back of the A&P buildings to pick up passengers.
Ms Houlbrooke said although there were long-term plans for a permanent park and ride for Warkworth, there was nothing in the Land Transport Plan for one and it would be “way off in the distance”.
“This is quite new, the Local Board delivering services directly, instead of going through AT, so it has put us in a very responsible position but, finally, quite a hopeful position as well,” she said.
“I know this rate has not been a popular thing to do, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make. The easy thing to do would have been to say, ‘let’s not do it, it’s too hard’ and walk away, and we’d still be here in three years’ time saying we have got a parking problem in Warkworth and at the showgrounds. But the problems are not going to go away, so we had to make a really hard call and now we’re taking charge of our own situation.”
She said that by taking commuters, and even local business owners, out to the park and ride, there should be less congestion and more parking spaces in the town centre.
Ms Houlbrooke said AT was working on details for both services and would bring recommendations to the Board’s next Transport Infrastructure & Environment Committee on August 16.
“It is likely that we will agree on a programme of work over several transport-related projects and approve all in one resolution, rather than do them piecemeal,” she said.