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Christchurch: Bus lanes will ease traffic effects



31 July 2008
Planned Bus lanes will ease effects of traffic growth

Transit New Zealand (Transit) plans to construct peak hour bus lanes on both Main North and Main South roads.

In October 2007 Transit surveyed residents along both routes and found overwhelming support for peak hour bus lanes as opposed to 24 hour bus lanes.

The proposed bus priority lanes form part of a city-wide bus priority proposal. Transit aims to ensure construction of the proposed Main North Road bus lane coincides with construction of Christchurch City Council’s proposed Papanui Road bus lane, creating a continuous bus lane extending from the City Centre to the start of the Northern Motorway. Construction is expected to start next year, subject to funding.

Colin Knaggs, Transit’s Canterbury regional manager says, “Peak period bus lanes will operate from 7am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm and allow buses to bypass lines of congested traffic. This will make it quicker for people to get into and out of the city and, ultimately encourage more people to start using Christchurch’s bus services.”

Transit has also been consulting on another bus priority project. In February 2008, Transit wrote to all potentially affected property owners asking for feedback on plans to improve the reliability of bus services using the Travis Road and Bassett Street intersection by removing the right turn from Travis Road into Bassett Street. Residents agreed with the proposal and work on removing the right turn into Bassett Street will begin next year, again, subject to funding.

Currently 400 people a month move into the Greater Christchurch area and by 2021 Christchurch’s population is predicted to increase to 440,000 people. As Greater Christchurch has the highest rate of car ownership in New Zealand it is important to encourage more use of public transport. This will help ensure that the increase in population does not adversely impact on the city’s existing transport infrastructure.

“The increase in population not only has serious implications for transportation but also for the environment. One full bus is equal to 40 fewer cars on the road. However, to encourage people to use the bus, we have to provide a reliable service, and bus priority measures, such as peak period bus lanes will help achieve this,” says Colin Knaggs.

Christchurch City Council Mayor Bob Parker says he is delighted Transit, Environment Canterbury and the Council are working together on bus priority measures.

“Reliable, efficient public transport system is one of the keys to a sustainable city. It is important that we all make this a priority and put in place measures to ensure our buses arrive on time.’’

Environment Canterbury acting chairman Jo Kane says, “Environment Canterbury believes that all bus priority measures will assist in improving reliability for our Metro services, thus making it more attractive to existing and additional users, and reducing traffic congestion. Our Metro planning staff will also be able to schedule services to better utilise the Metro fleet and this will reduce our carbon footprint in providing these services.”

Colin Knaggs says, “The majority of the construction work will involve changing road markings and road signs. There will also be some limited kerb and channel work. During the design stage and prior to any construction taking place, Transit will ensure residents are kept informed.”

To find out more about the proposed bus priority measures visit http://www.transit.govt.nz/planning/buspriority.jsp



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