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Improvements for buses keep rolling


4 March 2004

Improvements for buses keep rolling

Auckland City Council’s Transport Committee yesterday continued along a path of improving priority for buses on key city arterial roads.

“Buses make efficient use of road space, particularly in the morning and evening commuter hours,” said Councillor Greg McKeown, Transport Committee chairperson. “By improving bus services we are developing a viable alternative to using the car for many Auckland commuters.”

“My message to many commuters, particularly those travelling to the CBD in the morning, is not that they should get out of their cars, the choice is theirs, but rather, to try the bus once or twice a week,” said Mr McKeown.

The Transport Committee agreed the following:

New bus lanes for New North Road
Bus lanes will be introduced along New North Road, between the Sandringham Road intersection and the New North Road flyover, in both city-bound and outbound directions.

The introduction of the New North Road bus lanes will complement newly completed bus lanes on Sandringham Road, and will benefit passengers travelling from Sandringham and Mt Albert to the CBD.

“To develop an effective transport network, we need to implement priority measures that complement each other,” said Mr McKeown. “The new bus lanes on New North Road will improve travel times and service reliability for many bus services along these routes.”

Changes to operation times of clearways and bus lanes
The committee agreed that operating hours of central area clearways will be extended to 6am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm to accommodate demand during peak hours. The standard operating hours for clearways across the city will generally remain as 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm but will be reviewed on a route by route basis to ensure effectiveness.

“While the suggestion had been made to have standard bus lane hours for all routes, at this stage it is more sensible to have the lanes operating at hours that are suitable for the services on a particular route,” said Mr McKeown.

Use of bus lanes
Careful consideration has been given to a request by the taxi industry to use the bus lanes. While the committee noted that taxis are providing a passenger service, it confirmed that the priority lanes had been established to provide alternative to cars carrying only one or two passengers.

“In commuter hours, buses on Dominion Road for example are carrying 40 to 60 people each, making quite a difference to the number of cars on the road,” said Mr McKeown.

Buses, cyclists, motorcycles, enforcement vehicles and emergency vehicles are currently allowed to use the lanes. The committee has also approved the use of bus lanes by a restricted number of individually approved users, including prison services.

“Careful consideration needs to be given to impacts on the passenger transport network and road use before allowing others to use the bus lanes,” said Mr McKeown. “We need to ensure that any new users will not impede the flow of buses around the city or reduce road safety. Any permitted new users will undergo training on the use of bus lanes and will be accountable.”

Next steps for the central transit corridor
The proposed central transit corridor aims to reduce the journey time and improve reliability of bus services along the preferred route (Anzac Avenue, Symonds Street, Grafton Bridge, Park Road and Khyber Pass).

The route will provide for high frequency bus service between the CBD and Newmarket via the university, hospital and medical school, currently benefiting 29,000 bus passengers per day.

Grafton Bridge will be dedicated to buses, pedestrians, cyclists and all emergency vehicles between 7am and 7pm weekdays. Outside of these times all vehicles would be allowed to use the bridge as at present.

“The central transit corridor plays an integral part in providing a complete passenger transport network. The route caters for the growing demand in bus patronage between the CBD and Newmarket as well as benefiting bus routes along New North and Mt Eden roads,” says Mr McKeown.

The council will consult on the corridor’s design details before reporting back to the Transport Committee later this year.

Funding for the estimated $25 million project will be sought from Infrastructure Auckland, Transfund and other beneficiaries.


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