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Feedback sought on plan to open mall to buses

6 November 2008
Feedback sought on plan to open mall to buses
Wellingtonians are being asked what they think about proposed central city changes, including once again allowing buses through Manners Mall.
The changes – outlined online at www.Wellington.govt.nz and in booklets available at libraries – aim to strengthen the Golden Mile and provide a more direct and obvious public transport route, reducing delays for bus users. They include altered bus and general traffic routes, relocated bus stops, new traffic lights on the three pedestrian crossings in Courtenay Place, more than 50 new on-street car parking spaces mainly in Dixon and Wakefield streets, and street improvements in lower Cuba, Wakefield, Mercer and Dixon streets and at either end of what is now Manners Mall.
The proposal to allow buses to once again travel the length of Manners Street in both directions would significantly alter the mall. A roadway would be developed down the centre with wide paved footpaths on either side, much like those at the Willis Street-end of Manners Street. General traffic would continue to use most existing routes but would no longer be able to turn right from Victoria Street into Manners Street.
The Council’s Urban Development and Transport Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, says preliminary discussions over the last few months with a wide range of people and organisations have been largely positive
“We believe these proposals potentially have significant benefits for shoppers, retailers, bus users, cyclists and pedestrians but we are very keen to hear what Wellingtonians think of the idea before we consider this further,” he says. “We are also taking this opportunity to find out what people think of plans to extend the 30kmh speed limit that already exists in Lambton Quay and Willis Street to the rest of the Golden Mile – Manners Street and Courtenay Place – to help make the city safer for pedestrians.”
Cr Foster says re-routing buses through Manners Mall would restore the Golden Mile – which runs from the bus terminus in Lambton Quay, through Willis Street and Manners Street to the Embassy-end of Courtenay Place.
The route was traditionally the main retail and public transport spine  Trams and then buses used it until the late 1970s when Manners Mall was built and north and southbound routes diverged – heading into town along Dixon and Willis streets and out, via Mercer, Wakefield and lower Cuba streets.
“Internationally, public transport systems work best when routes are obvious and an important part of that is making sure buses travelling in each direction share the same roads,” he says. “A more direct route with fewer difficult corners and congested intersections will significantly reduce bus travel times through the CBD and help improve the reliability of the service.”
The Council is looking closely at all aspects of its operation at the moment and has some tough decisions to make over the next eight months about priorities and spending as it reviews the Long Term Council Community Plan (2009-2019), which Wellingtonians will get to comment on next year.
The roading and street improvements being proposed to strengthen the Golden Mile can potentially be funded over the next five years using money that has already been budgeted for bus priority and urban redevelopment work and it is likely some aspects will attract New Zealand Transport Agency funding. 
City Councillors will consider the proposal early next year along with the feedback from the community and depending on the results of the consultation, the project will be assessed against other projects.
Council staff will be in Manners Mall to answer questions on Friday 21 November, 8am-5pm, and Saturday 22 November, 11am-3pm. Feedback is required by Friday 5 December.

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