by Lindsay Shelton
There’s a credibility problem with yesterday’s decision to introduce a public transport system called Bus Rapid Transit in Wellington. The result, we are promised, will be “faster journey times through the Golden Mile.” But we’ve heard it all before. It’s exactly what the same people promised when they reopened Manners Street to buses.
On June 15, 2010 the city council told us that reopening Manners Street for buses would …
… create a quicker … public transport route through the city.
In the words of soon-to-be-defeated Mayor Prendergast, the new route …
“… will mean slightly shorter bus journey times…”
There were even more specific claims from the Regional Council. It released a report in October 2009 which was definite about the result of routing buses through Manners Street:
Opening up Manners Mall to buses would relieve one of the most significant bottlenecks for buses on the Golden Mile and substantially improve travel times and reliability…
David Dunlop of Opus, which carried out the study, predicted:
“With the introduction of the Manners Mall project or the entire Golden Mile bus priority project, the journey times are significantly reduced, but more importantly, the variability between direction and different time periods is reduced significantly.”
But instead of faster travel, the Regional Council discovered that a result of the new route was more congestion.
And then there were the promises from the city council that there would be greater safety.
To help make the city safer, the 30kmh speed limit is being extended to coincide with the start of the new bus route. It will apply all the way from the bus interchange to the Embassy-end of Courtenay Place. Pedestrians will need to take extra care crossing and look both ways, particularly in Willis and Manners streets where buses will be travelling in both directions.
But greater safety didn’t eventuate. Within a month of the new route being opened, the accidents had started. In the first three months, six pedestrians were hit by buses. In August 2012, a dozen injuries had been reported. Faster buses no longer seemed to be a good idea.
Yet all this now seems to have been forgotten. On the same route, our elected representatives have decided that we must have not only faster buses but also bigger ones … In the full-page advertisement in the DomPost this morning, Fran Wilde of the Regional Council assures us:
“we want … quicker trips through Wellington city … Bus Rapid Transit will move [commuters and others] more rapidly through the Golden Mile.”
Which is exactly what was being promised four years ago. With consequences which are recognised by almost everyone. But not by the people who voted for bigger faster buses through the CBD.