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Council set to give bus commuters a faster run


Council set to give bus commuters a faster run

April 7, 2004

The North Shore City Council is planning to introduce more transit and bus lanes on city roads to give buses and cars with three or more occupants congestion-free travel.

The bus priority programme is also being integrated with plans to upgrade suburban centre bus interchanges and put in cycle lanes throughout the city.

In the city's draft City Plan, just released for public comment, the council is proposing to spend $346m on new transport capital projects over the next 10 years. This includes $65m on public transport infrastructure.

Councillor Joel Cayford, chair of the council's works and environment committee, says that the city's bus priority plans are an essential part of making the most of the regional investment in the North Shore Busway.

"The Busway will form the spine of a new bus rapid transit network for our city. But equally important will be bus lanes on key arterial roads linking North Shore suburban centres with each other, and to the Busway. It is at the local suburban stops where most people catch buses and where we need to improve waiting and interchange facilities and improve the speed, running and reliability of bus services," he says.

"We need to co-ordinate, integrate and link the new facilities - so it all works together to deliver a better public transport service for commuters," he says.

"The Busway won't work in isolation. People want a fast door-to-door bus service. Bus trips need to be uncongested from end-to-end. That means bus priority lanes need to be provided on key city streets."

Councillor Cayford says the council is keen to see the benefits and efficiencies that transit and bus lanes can bring to the transport system spread out throughout the city.

The Onewa Road Transit Lane has received national recognition. It is a crucial part of the Birkenhead to Auckland CBD bus infrastructure. North Shore City enforces the Onewa Road transit lane, Transit provides a bus lane on the Harbour Bridge by the Ponsonby off ramp and Auckland City has allocated a bus lane along Fanshawe Street.

Councillor Cayford says, "Working together, these priority links ensure fast and reliable bus services. It is this combination of speed and reliability along whole bus routes which is persuading commuters to take the bus to work."

He says that buses carrying 40 or 50 people move quickly in the am peak and keep to timetables, and bus patronage has gone up 25 per cent as a result. Cars are encouraged to carry three or more people to get a quicker run too and car pooling has increased from 9 per cent of all vehicles in 1982 to 26.5 per cent in 2003. Now buses in the transit lane carry 41 per cent of all commuters using Onewa Road in the peak in just 3 per cent of the vehicles.

Councillor Cayford says the council's strategy is aimed at making traffic flow better as well.

"We are completing the missing links in our system - such as the Esmonde Road Interchange Upgrade by Transit. But we are also concentrating strongly on improvements that will move more people but in less vehicles.

"Increasing the occupancy of the vehicles using our roads is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get more bang for the many bucks we spend on our roading infrastructure," he says.


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