The site, the Old Post Office (Highflyers), was recently purchased by new owners. Council has successfully leased the east facing side of the building and subsequent car park area which will be turned into a bus terminal large enough to cater for up to six buses at a time.
Palmerston North City Council's infrastructure and projects engineer, Robin Malley, says both the long distance coach operators, InterCity and Naked Bus, serving Palmerston North with scheduled services have agreed to use the new terminal which will boast waiting facilities, including toilets, inside the part of the building previously known as the Coliseum.
"The site has many advantages," says Mr Malley. "It was suggested as an option by several submitters during a consultation process undertaken in 2012 and it became a possibility when the previous owners placed it on the market later in the year."
"Council is satisfied that providing an off-street facility, close to, but not within the Square addresses the needs of both travellers and the concerns raised by retailers and residents during the previous submissions process. It's also pleasing to note that we are helping to secure the future of one of the city's historic buildings."
Construction of the new terminal will begin in the next couple of weeks and will be paid for by the owner of the property, apart from the platforms which will be built by Council. The new terminal should be fully operational by mid-Winter, subject to resource consent, and will operate for at least three years.
The new facility is an interim facility only as Palmerston North City Council has budgeted up to $9.58million dollars to create bus terminal facilities in the city in the 2014/15 financial year for both inter-regional and local city bus services.
It had been planned to have been built by now however the plan was placed on hold while Horizon's Regional Council, which operates the bus services in the city, carries out a First Principles Review of the service. "Waiting for the results of the review enables Council to ensure that the facilities can be designed to suit the needs of the service and its passengers into the future." Mr Malley says.
Late last year, the largest inter-regional coach operator, InterCity, gave notice of its intention to leave the current Pitt Street terminus for a more central location similar to The Square iSite location used by Naked Bus.
Concern about the increase in bus services using The Square, and the use of The Square as a terminal led Council staff to investigate the issue following which they presented three options to Councillors. In December last year the Palmerston North City Council directed staff to undertake confidential negotiations on the lease of part of the Old Post Office in a bid to take inter regional bus services out of the Square and to provide a modern, tidy, central facility for visitors and travellers comfort.
Following Horizon's First Principles Review Palmerston North City Council staff will begin the process of identifying a site for the new facilities. The community will then be consulted on the preferred options before a decision is made by Council and the preferred option for Palmerston North City is built.