The dignitaries rolled into town last week, but not via public transport.
Instead, they were here to mark the beginning of second stage of the new public transport system upgrade for Pukekohe.
The Pukekohe Train Station is set to be transformed into a fully-integrated bus and train interchange. Once completed in late 2017, it will make it easier for people in Pukekohe and the surrounding areas of Waiuku, Patumahoe and Tuakau to connect between high frequency trains and buses.
The site for the construction of the ‘house for the steel horse’ was opened and blessed by Kaumatua, Ted Ngataki, last Wednesday morning in a ground breaking ceremony by Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, and Transport Minister, Simon Bridges.
Stage 1 began in July, which saw the construction of a temporary facility for the recently introduced bus services and the installation of traffic lights at the Custom Street/Manukau Road intersection.
CEO Auckland Transport, David Warburton, said the sod turning ceremony commemorated the next stage of the upgrade for Pukekohe’s integrated public transport system.
“The restructure of the transport system in Otahuhu has seen patronage use increase by six fold, and we hope that this follows trend for Pukekohe once it is established. The whole integrated network provides us with real choice and movement around Auckland.”
Simon Bridges explained that the Auckland Transport project, which will cost $15.4 million to construct, is funded by Auckland Council and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency.
“This upgrade is exactly what Auckland, and Pukekohe, needs. In the deep south, we need to do more, and this upgrade is very much part of that, as in the south, the growth is bigger than anywhere.”
Mr Bridges also touched on other projects that they were currently investigating further, including the upgrade to motorways, arterial roads, the electrification of the trains from Papakura to Pukekohe.
“These are projects that we do need to get going.”
Phil Goff was excited to see the construction of the new transport hub begin, as he now has a personal interest in the local community and next generation of transport users.
“This is a red letter day for Pukekohe, both personally and for the community. In the early hours of the morning, the Pukekohe population increased by one as we welcomed my first grandchild. I now have a personal vested interest on the future of Franklin’s public transport, and would like to ensure that when my granddaughter is growing up, she will be connected with the wider Auckland region.”
“This has been a big step forward, and I understand a long time coming for Pukekohe, and the wider community. More and more people are traveling using rail. Having a decent public transport to cater for growth will allow us to behave like a global city,” says Mr Goff.
“The station is going to be more accessible for everyone to use, with CCTV cameras and bicycle racks installed and disability access, and I look forward to seeing a whole lot more people using it.”
Local Board Chair, Angela Fulljames, says she is looking forward to seeing the more modern facilities.
“This is the start of a positive journey for public transport in the area, and we have had really good feedback from the new bus services. However, it doesn’t stop there, and there is still the pressure of making our services the best that can be. I have a feeling that the people of Pukekohe have the longest commute that any Aucklander has to do, so it is about making the use of public transport more attractive and enjoyable experience.”
With the official sod turning last Wednesday marking this beginning of construction, earthworks for the new park and ride is set to begin later in the year, with completion estimated to be late 2017.
– Facilitate increased public transport services
– Better connectivity between new network buses and rail
– Provide better and faster connections within the Franklin community and wider Auckland region
– Enable bus and train timetables to be aligned
– Increased park and ride facilities will encourage people to use train services