Now that all the money has been spent to make the CBD friendlier and faster for buses (and less attractive for pedestrians) the Regional Council has discovered that the result is: congestion. “At least 140 buses per hour in the morning and evening peak,” Councillor Glensor told us on Monday. “Resulting in significant jams and delays,” said Councillor Ponter five days earlier.
The council has also acknowledged, belatedly, that there are huge inefficiencies along the Golden Mile, caused by duplication of routes. And it has finally accepted what the rest of us have been seeing for months – what it delicately describes as the bunching effect of buses, particularly at Willis and Manners Streets. (Manners Street – where we were told that all problems would be fixed when buses were given priority.)
So it’s trying to fix the congestion by rearranging all the routes and all the timetables. It intends to move one of its high-frequently services on to the Terrace, and to shift some peak services on to the waterfront. (That’s right, where peak hour traffic can often come to a standstill.)
The Regional Council made its official announcement of the changes on Monday, and also announced five “information sessions” where it will tell us what it intends to do. If you go to one of these meetings, you’ll be told what has been decided. Much the same behaviour as the dictatorial Transport Agency and its Basin flyover obsession. (What happened to all the public submissions?)
Regional Councillor Daran Ponter has bravely gone on record by saying this process is not consultation. He is concerned that some people will feel that the proposals will leave them worse off. So he says: “I urge people to make submissions on the proposed changes to both routes and services. People need to let us know how the new services will affect them in order that we can take this into account in more detailed planning.”
He and councillor Bruce have organised a separate series of community meetings (two so far, seven to go) where they will be inviting feedback and listening to it. Before the Regional Council had even announced its plans, they’d collected six points of concern from local people.
. Concern that quality bus stops will be erected and that waiting times are adhered to at bus transfer points.
· Concern about the removal of some bus routes.
· A strong desire for integrated ticketing
· Concern about proposals to retire trolley bus routes (replaced by diesel buses) in Seatoun and Aro Valley.
· Desire to retain current bus route numbers as much as possible
· Concerns about how the elderly and disabled will adapt to the changes.
If you’re a bus traveller, it’s in your interests to look at the changes that the Regional Council is planning, in the CBD as well as in your part of town. You may have concerns of your own. (Peak-hour buses on the quays?) Then you’ll have to decide whether you want to state your opinions direct to Councillors Ponter and Bruce, or whether you’ll chance your luck by sending your thoughts to the Council. The deadline for official submissions is the middle of March.