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Metro Strategy looks at bus services improvements

Metro Strategy looks at bus services improvements

Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council have both today adopted the Public Passenger Transport Strategy, developed jointly by the two councils. The strategy will be implemented early next year.

Branded as the Metro Strategy, it covers the period from 2006 to 2012 and addresses a range of service and infrastructure improvements, many of which were identified through community consultation. More than 2000 submissions were received in which strong support was expressed for various measures outlined in the draft strategy to improve the city's public passenger transport system.

The chair of ECan's public passenger transport portfolio, Cr Nicky Wagner, says a high number of submitters wanted improved reliability of bus services and of the 2154 submissions received almost 86 percent supported the proposed improvements for bus priority.

Both councils have been working closely to develop suitable bus priority measures, which are proposed on all high demand passenger transport corridors. This will assist in achieving reliability of 95 percent of all trips arriving within five minutes of scheduled arrival times. Other priority measures, such as enabling buses to have priority when they are pulling out of bus stops, will also be explored.

Christchurch city councillor Bob Shearing says a high percentage of submitters also commented on the central city bus exchange, with more than 75 percent of all submitters in favour of improvements to the exchange. "These submissions are reflected in the strategy, which proposes expanding the bus exchange to improve passenger capacity, safety, comfort, information and operational efficiency," Cr Shearing says.

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Improvements are also recommended in the ticketing system, the drivers' role, customer service, vehicle standards and suburban passenger facilities. "Combining cycling and bussing is certainly a viable option for many. So, the strategy is proposing facilities for bicycles, including safe and secure cycle facilities at suburban interchanges and at strategic points along bus routes," Cr Wagner says. "Some of these cycle facilities should be up and running in 2008. The option to carry bikes on buses has proven more difficult to achieve and further analysis of the commercial viability of this option within New Zealand legislation will be carried out."

The Metro Strategy proposes a patronage target of 25 million passenger trips per year by 2012. Currently patronage is around 16 million trips per year.

ECan and the city council also adopted a recommendation that both councils lobby central government for a law change to require motorists to let the bus go first in urban areas and that in the interim a marketing campaign be undertaken to promote the concept to other road users.

ENDS

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