Changes to the congested Matiatia ‘keyhole’ are likely to be voted in by Waiheke Local Board at tonight’s monthly meeting, moving pre-booked tour operators into the public carparking area.

Auckland Transport has confirmed it is ready to undertake work if the board passes its recommendation from last month’s meeting – a $50,000 investment to move tour buses and vans out of the keyhole area into the gravel car park next to the old harbour master’s building. The board has stated that the amount of public parking space should not decrease.

If the changes are approved, only AT Metro buses, Fullers’ double-decker tour buses and taxis will be allowed to use the keyhole.

In its agenda for tonight’s meeting, the board says the keyhole outside Matiatia terminal is too small to provide sufficient space to meet all the needs of transport providers on the island.

“The demand for this space more than doubles during the summer months, particularly over the Christmas and January holidays. Many conversations over many years have yet to yield an appropriate solution.”

The $50,000 allocated by the board will pay for AT’s recommendations to develop the gravel car park and create new signs for passengers.

Mike Horne, chief executive of Fullers Group, which operates bus services through subsidiary Waiheke Bus Company, says it is working with AT and the local board to design signage and trial the organisation of the new space, with several tour operators involved.

“We’re doing it on a smaller basis to what the final solution might look like and we’re keen for other operators to follow that lead,” he says.

“Other pre-booked tour vehicles will in fact be moving, so once we have proof of concept that the space works, we’ll consider it for the Hop-on Hop-off [double-decker] tour as well.”

But with AT considering the move just a temporary trial solution to the problem, it is still unclear what long-term solutions the board or the council has in mind – a process led by community group Direction Matiatia.

“I know the local board are looking at different options and plans, but most of that will come down to what level of funding they have,” Mr Horne says. “We’re focused right now on how to make the flow work as seamlessly as possible. Right now we have a number of years where we can make improvements to that before we start to make some major investment in and around the area.”

He says the changes are likely to take place shortly after Christmas.
Richard Jones

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