A new bus depot at the Miramar cutting

The City Council keeps on delivering for the Eastern suburbs. Shelly Bay is going ahead, and so is the Airport expansion, but no sign of progress for the Regional Park (north of Mount Crawford).

On the transport front, things are moving: the Cobham Drive crossing is going ahead, and public consultation is underway on what to do with the Shelly Bay road, now that Cassels’ abomination is going ahead. No, it’s not about trying, for a third time, to make one lane of the road north of the peninsula pedestrian-friendly, but what to do with the road between the Miramar cutting and Shelly Bay. For the next decade, this road will be roamed by trains of trucks to deliver a 10-storey high row of concrete on the Shelly Bay waterfront.

One thing that no one saw coming, though, is that these trucks will have to share the road with … no, not bikes, but buses. NZ Bus has indeed lodged a resource consent for a depot along Shelly Bay Road, just after the cutting. Indeed, looking for the keyword “Shelly Bay” on the WCC Resource consent webpage returns this:

If approved, the brand new depot will be located precisely here:

This won’t be a small depot.

The resource consent can be read, in all its splendour, here. A point of interest, for the author of these lines, is the impact such a facility will have on transport in this location. A Transportation Assessment can be downloaded from the list of appendices. It’s a sobering read, and some snippets, like this one, give an understanding of the future at the cutting:

The following baseline mitigation is proposed to be included in the project:

– New on-street parking spaces (55) provided to cope with the peak parking demand generated from the site.

– Contribution to the cost of signalising the Miramar Ave/ Shelly Bay Rd intersection

The proposed NZ Bus depot on Burnham Wharf can operate with acceptable traffic performance at the Miramar Ave/ Shelly Bay Rd intersection in the period before the Shelly Bay development is fully built out. With the increase in traffic expected from the Shelly Bay development the Miramar Ave/Shelly Bay Rd intersection would have unacceptable delays both with and without the NZ Bus depot. The modelling results indicate that signalising the Miramar Ave/Shelly Bay Rd could provide an acceptable level of service in the future with both Shelly Bay development and NZ Bus depot traffic. WCC has identified the Miramar Ave/ Shelly Bay Rd intersection for upgrade at a point in the future. NZ Bus is prepared to make a contribution to the cost of upgrading the Miramar Ave/ Shelly Bay Rd intersection so that this work can be brought forward.

There is so much to unpack in this statement, from the projected forecast to the NZ Bus-centric view of the crossroad.

Now, anyone using the cutting at peak hours will be painfully aware of how chocked it is today. The development at Shelly Bay, with its rows of trucks, was already a valid source of concern, as it would undoubtedly worsen the situation. And now NZ Bus has chosen this location for its new depot. One has to wonder why this very specific location, which, on the face of it, looks like the worst possible choice from a traffic management plan?

Moreover, how can the consultation on Shelly Bay Road, which legitimacy is already questionable, be taken seriously when the bus depot is not even mentioned in the discussions? How can residents believe their views will be taken into account when plans are already made behind the scenes and not even communicated?

I am all in favour of better public transport and better support for active transport. But I don’t think car users will take lightly another wave of punishment being sent their way. One doesn’t take a city and its residents on a journey by making their life significantly harder: the road network has to work for everyone. A depot, in this location, could be the stretch too far, and one would hope elected members will intervene to restore some resemblance of democracy. Not doing so will continue to forge the impression that for the Wellington City Council, the East is a suburb it is happy to sacrifice.

6 thoughts on “A new bus depot at the Miramar cutting

  1. This development sounds crazy. Cyclists and walkers versus trucks and now buses. But it is also undemocratic. At the recent sports Stadium meeting to explain the Shelly Bay Road issue neither our mayor nor his deputy made any mention of this. Did they not know about it? The Cassells development at Shelly Bay should be canned. Public Safety along that narrow road needs to be paramount.

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  2. Pamela, Council staff are pretty good at delivering non-notified consents for moneyed interests, so I suspect that they had kept this under wraps in order to help move it along. Heaven forbid that the public should know this sort of thing before it is a fait accompli. The associated OIO request with respect to this property notes that it is a $42M deal, which is of a size that seems to make council officers jump to action and not in a way that favours Wellington City residents.

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  3. The consent was only applied for two weeks ago. There goes that conspiracy theory.

    What is the problem with a bus depot? Where they charge electric buses? There may not be many other easy options for the heavily contaminated site.

    55 new public car parks on the road may not sound great, but realistically, how are all the bus drivers going to get to work at the start of their shift (when there are no buses)!

    Aharoni owns both the current Onepu Rd ‘bus barns’ site and the Shelly Bay site, so my guess is that this may be driven by his plans for more commercial (intensive housing?) development in the Kilbirne centre – relocating the bus depot sounds like a good outcome.

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