Buses Should Have Been Given Priority
Cr Celia Wade-Brown Says That Buses Should Have Been Given Priority Before Replacing A Zebra Crossing With Traffic Lights.
Traffic signals are being installed on the pedestrian crossing near Reading Cinemas. Originally this was part of a package designed to improved bus priority that included 30k limits and giving buses priority during peak hours. Wellington City Council agreed to consult on the details of bus priority lanes in Courtenay Place in June 2008 but a couple of elected members changed their minds and revoked that agreement.
Cr Wade-Brown has walked, cycled, caught a bus and driven her car along Courtenay Place at different times of day.
She says "There are considerable peak hour delays in this part of the route caused by private cars, especially in the evening. Sometimes there are ten cars per bus going through Courtenay Place."
"We should have collectively had the vision to improve public transport by reducing car access at peak times, not simply restricting people on foot!"
"At the moment many Wellington traffic signals give very poor priority to people on foot," says the founder of Living Streets Aotearoa, the national organisation for improving urban walking.
Wellington is the only metropolitan region where walking to work has increased between 1991 and 2006. More people live downtown and in inner suburbs and enjoy walking to work.
"Giving priority to a bus with 40 or 50 passengers is acceptable but why should walkers have to give way to one person occupancy cars?" says Ms Wade-Brown.
"Walkers, cyclists and public transport should be natural allies in improving the liveability of downtown cities, improving access and economic success without increasing congestion, pollution and parking problems. The private car has its place in Wellington's transport system but not at 5 p.m. on Courtenay Place!"
"Drivers could use other roads to get across town in these busy times instead of paralysing our public transport spine."
1 - original Bus Priority Plan http://www.wellington.govt.nz/haveyoursay/meetings/committee/Strategy_and_Policy/2008/12Jun0915/pdf/3_Bus_Priority_Plan.pdf
extract "During peak periods Courtenay Place is no
longer adequately coping with the competing demands. This is
especially the case for buses and bus users, who unlike
cars, have no alternative routes through this part of the
central area. Currently passengers and bus companies
experience significant delays on Courtenay Place, which
filter through the entire transport system and affect public
transport users and drivers across the city.
The average journey time for buses along Courtenay Place in the morning is 1.5 minutes and in the evening is 4.25 minutes. This is against a free flow journey time of 40 seconds. Of more concern is the variability of the bus journey time ranging from 40 seconds to in excess of 10 minutes. "
Two New Zealand regions that bucked the overall trends by revealing increasing levels of walking warrant further comment. Regional strategies in Wellington and Nelson have made substantial investments in active transport. Wellington has proposed an urban development strategy, based on the idea of a "growth spine" (a strip of land along which more intensive urban development is encouraged), a bus lane programme and school, workplace and community travel plans.