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Council approves bus priority plan

Council approves bus priority plan

Improvements to the city’s metro public transport system were given the go-ahead by Council at its August meeting with the approval of a plan to develop and enforce three bus priority corridors on some of the most congested routes into the city.

Approval of the Citywide Public Transport Priority Plan follows months of development and consultation in association with Christchurch’s six community boards and other key stakeholders, who gave the plan widespread support. The plan will promote bus use and help address Christchurch’s growing traffic congestion problems on its urban roads.

Traffic volumes in Christchurch are conservatively predicted to increase by 50% within 15 years, with traffic delays and additional costs to the economy far exceeding this figure.

The three corridors selected for initial treatment are Main North Road and Papanui Road from the north, Colombo Street from the south and sections of New Brighton Road and Hills Road from the north-east of the city.

The plan identified the three corridors as the most unreliable for metro buses, with sections along the routes making journey times vary widely day to day whilst also being slower than car trips.

Bus priority techniques to be considered on these routes include bus lanes, special traffic signals to give buses a head-start, and bus stops that make it easier for buses to rejoin traffic flows. Other traffic management measures to improve overall traffic flow, such as clearways, will also be considered.

Also approved was the development of ways that Council enforcement officers might enforce bus lanes, if and when these are developed. This follows trends in the Auckland region where some city councils operate their own bus lane enforcement operations to deter illegal use of the lanes by other traffic so that buses can flow on time.

As part of other public transport strategy targets, the Council will also install more than 150 new bus stop shelters across the city and develop three suburban bus interchanges - building on the success of the award-winning central city bus exchange opened in 2000. The City Council aims to complete these improvements by June 2006.

Prioritising buses in Christchurch follows targets set in the Regional Land Transport Strategy for Canterbury and the public transport strategy developed by Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council in 2003.

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