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Manners Mall bus improvements vital - study finds

19 October 2009

MEDIA RELEASE FROM GREATER WELLINGTON REGIONAL COUNCIL

Opening up Manners Mall to buses would relieve one of the most significant bottlenecks for buses on the Golden Mile and substantially improve travel times and reliability, according to a recent study.

Greater Wellington regional council commissioned Opus International Consultants to carry out an investigation of bus travel along the Golden Mile (Courtenay Place to Wellington Railway Station), as part of its wider Wellington City Public Transport Review. The investigation will also help deliver on the Ngauranga to Wellington Airport plan, in terms of improving the central city public transport network.

Cr Peter Glensor, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport and Access Committee, says the findings of the Opus investigation highlight the importance of improvements in the Manners Mall area. “We knew that the area between Taranaki and Willis Streets was problematic but this study shows that the situation is getting worse, with longer journey times and trips taking much longer at evening peak hour compared to other times of the day. And it will only get worse unless something is done.”

Surveys of bus trips along the Golden Mile, carried out in August this year, found that a significant portion of bus travel time was spent in the Manners Mall section (northbound, between the Dixon Street and Cable Car stops, and southbound between the Willis Street and Courtenay Central stops).

David Dunlop, of Opus, says the survey results show that public transport delays and variability along the Golden Mile are significant and will only increase in future unless changes are made to the existing bus network. “The significant difference between the evening peak and other periods highlights this variability. The results show that the Manners Mall section is subject to the greatest variability, particularly in the northbound direction.”

Peak hour public transport along the Golden Mile is predicted to grow by between 10 % and 30% until 2016. “This growth will place increased pressure on the existing network, highlighting the need for short to medium term enhancements to those locations in which reliability and operational conditions are poor.”

The central city review tested three scenarios for improvements: Manners Mall only; opening Manners Mall plus dedicated bus lanes and green light priority for buses along the Golden Mile; and dedicated bus lanes and green light priority along the Golden Mile without opening Manners Mall.

The test results showed that the Manners Mall project would provide the most benefit of any improvements along the Golden Mile. “With the introduction of the Manners Mall project or the entire Golden Mile bus priority project, the journey times are significantly reduced, but more importantly, the variability between direction and different time periods is reduced significantly.”

Cr Glensor said the Opus study showed that while other less viable improvements, such as removing all other traffic from the Golden Mile, could have significant benefits, opening up Manners Mall was the most effective of the feasible options.

He said Opus had investigated several other possible improvements that included reducing the number of buses along the Golden Mile, ticketing, enabling passengers to get on the bus at both doors and improved scheduling. “All of these are important components that have been considered in the investigation and they will help improve journey times and reliability. But the study finds that opening Manners Mall is by far the single most effective improvement that could be made.”

A presentation on the Opus investigation will be given to this Thursday’s Transport and Access Committee meeting. (9.30am, Greater Wellington’s Wakefield Street offices)

Cr Glensor said the Opus findings were timely, given that Wellington City is currently calling for submissions on the Manners Mall improvements. “I strongly encourage everyone who travels on Wellington city buses to have their say.

“Opening up Manners Mall to buses is the single most significant change we could make to improve the reliability of bus services through the central city – now and in the future.

“Our public transport customer satisfaction surveys consistently find that reliability of services is the most important aspect to passengers. This is a real chance to improve reliability. I urge people not to waste it – make an online submission today.”

Submissions on the Manners Mall improvements close on Friday 30 October.

ENDS


Attached – a copy of the interim report of the Opus investigation (PDF).

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