Historic bus shelter in peril

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A public meeting has been called to save a 1920s Maori Hill bus shelter from destruction.

The Dunedin City Council has earmarked the bus stop, at the intersection of Highgate and Drivers Rd, for removal due to its “deteriorating condition”.

The Otago Heritage Bus Society, which called the meeting for this weekend, said it asked the council last week to do its part in restoring the bus stop and consider an alternative use for the structure.

“We hope an innovative and imaginative plan for its reuse can be devised to the benefit of the community and the city’s heritage,” society chairman Andy Langford said.

The shelter was built at the time of the New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition at Logan Park in 1925-26.

During that time, petrol buses were used to augment the tram service and one of the first routes was between Maori Hill and Pitt St, which was “extremely popular”, taking residents directly to the exhibition, he said.

In an attempt to preserve the shelter’s history the society asked during consultations on the council’s latest district plan, to register it as a heritage item and consult the society on any further decisions regarding the structure.

A council spokesman said this week the shelter’s corrugated iron roof was causing interference with a neighbouring cellphone tower.

It was also not a protected heritage building but the council was “exploring the possibility of an alternative use”.

“Council staff have been in contact with the society about the bus stop as the society investigates options for a new home for the shelter,” the spokesman said.

It had not been used for the past two years after being damaged by a vehicle and since then “basic” maintenance was carried out to ensure the structure was safe, he said.

The council planned to replace it with a modern shelter, which would be relocated across the road, at the top of Drivers Rd.

Mr Langford said it would be sad to see the bus shelter go as it was one of the few landmarks to remain from Dunedin’s tram service, as well as from the history of the exhibition.

The public meeting will be held at the Maori Hill bus shelter at noon on Saturday.

A former Dunedin bus, preserved by the society, will depart the bus hub’s stop “K”, in Moray Pl, at 11.30am to transport people to the meeting.