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NZ’s first Dedicated Busway inaugurated by PM

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NZ’s first Dedicated Busway inaugurated by Helen Clark

Syed Akbar Kamal

New Zealand ‘s first dedicated 6.25 km two-way busway with 5 stations that took one decade to build was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Helen Clark this morning amid cheers from the hundreds who came to witness the historic occasion.

The ribbon was cut at Smales Farm Station in North Shore by the Prime Minister and Transit New Zealand Chairman Bryan Jackson flanked by representatives of Transit New Zealand, North Shore City Council, Auckland Regional Transport Authority and Auckland City Council in celebrating New Zealand’s first ever two-way dedicated busway.

A host of MPs from across the political spectrum were present on the occasion. Keith Locke Green Party MP was seen distributing the pamphlets acknowledging their support for the busway.

Shortly later the Prime Minister was joined by hundreds of members of the public along with North Shore’s ‘Walking School Bus’ whose banner read “fuelled by pure kids power & energy” in what is deemed to be the only access for the members of the public to walk freely on the busway before it goes operational from tomorrow. The serpentine walk on the 1.5 km from Smales Farm Station to Akoranga station was done under intense humid conditions that did not dampen the spirits of the participants.

Many families were seen with their kids in tow for the fun day with entertainment including bands, face painting and a bouncy bus, and an opportunity to see the new stations up close.

The dedicated public busway runs parallel to the northern motorway on Auckland's North Shore.

The busway will have a wealth of passenger information, audio help, and 24-hour security surveillance. For the first time in the country’s transport sector an integrated ticketing, cycle lockers, covered walkways and drop-off zones for motorists will be on offer.
The Prime Minister said she hoped the public would opt for the alternative mode of public transport and embrace it. She said Auckland was growing rapidly and just building new roads was not a solution. “Solving Auckland traffic issues is totally dependent on what the public use for transport otherwise as soon as we build the roads, they are full.”

The $300 million transport project is expected to change the way Aucklanders think about public transport, said Bryan Jackson Chairman Transit New Zealand.
He pointed out that Transit in conjunction with other partnering agencies had taken an overview from cities like Brisbane, Adelaide, Toronto and Chicago, all of which have highly successful bussways."

Mr. Jackson expressed his happiness at what he termed as “an amazing opportunity to work together with a consortium of agencies to achieve the objective of finishing the project on time and within the budget.” He said the results were a pointer in that direction.

Speaking on the service on hand for the public, he said the busway would ease the traffic congestion building up during the peak hours by plying buses every three minutes.

ARC chairman Mike Lee announced “This is an historic day and a proud day; a proud day for North Shore city, a proud day for the Auckland region and a proud day indeed for New Zealand.”
He heaped bouquets on Fletcher constructions for building the busway ahead of schedule and congratulated them for doing it within the allocated budget.
Mr. Lee particularly singled out the contribution of the former mayor of North Shore city George Wood amid cheers from the crowd. He recalled “George was a passionate champion of this project from the beginning and someone who doesn’t get acknowledged.”

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams declared that it was a huge day for North Shore and the Auckland region and predicted that the busway will bring about a radical and social change in the way the public move about.

Dr. Wayne Mapp National MP from North Shore exclaimed “this busway has been 10 years in the making and it is a gigantic improvement for transport and certainly ex-mayor George Wood and his previous council had a huge role to play including National government of the 1990’s had a large role to play.”

Former Mayor of North Shore city George Wood expressed his happiness and said “look, I actually feel wonderful. In a city like North Shore city new council is on board, new mayor, they have got new ideas but this was my dream; this was my passion to get this up and running. I am pleased now and relaxed about the whole situation.”

He continued “I am happy Mark Gosche was mentioned this morning. He was pivotal in this whole project and I can very well remember the meeting I had with him at his home on a Saturday morning.”

When persisted on what Mike Lee had in mind when he said there’s dearth of acknowledgement for him, he chuckled “I don’t know what Mike Lee was inferring there but at one stage I was myself wondering but then…I am happy at the outcome. I hope the busway is patronized to its full extent.”


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