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Councils receive plan for bus priority on key corridoors

A plan to make buses more reliable and quicker on the busiest routes in Wellington City has been released today.

It names eight priority bus corridors for improvements and estimates that, with a programme of long-term investment, bus journey times on some key routes could be reduced by up to a third in the morning peak. The programme would include improvements such as more bus lanes, changes to bus stops and intersections on key routes into the city.

Mayor Andy Foster says bus priority will help deal with the bottlenecks that currently undermine our city bus service’s reliability and efficiency. It is about getting buses past and to the front of traffic queues.

“Obviously we will be focusing on the areas where we know the buses are significantly delayed. Technology now gives us excellent information about where and when major delay occurs.
“Reliability is key to making the bus service more attractive.” Mayor Foster says.

Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council Daran Ponter says reliability is the holy grail of public transport. A strong partnership with Wellington City Council focussed on delivering bus priority, as part of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme, will go a long way to delivering it.

“Operators tell us that no two days in our city are the same and that drivers are locked in a constant battle against the city’s layout as they try to get from one side to the other.

“Bus prioritisation is important. For more impact we need a broader package of changes to road layouts, the spacing between bus stops, bus priority at traffic lights, and making room for buses at the kerbside.

“These will make a big difference to making buses more reliable in Wellington City,” says Chair Ponter.

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free says: “Some of the straightforward improvements are already underway, including making it easier for buses to pull in and out of bus stops by trimming trees and changing road markings. More significant changes - such as alterations to intersections, bus lanes and bus stops - will take a bit longer to be put in place because we want to hear from the public on many of these proposals before making changes.”

The Bus Priority Action Plan was commissioned by the City Council and the Regional Council earlier this year.

The eight priority bus corridors identified for improvements in the plan are:
• Johnsonville to Ngauranga Gorge
• Karori to city
• Kelburn to city
• Brooklyn to city
• Newtown/Mount Cook to city
• Miramar/Kilbirnie/Mount Victoria to city
• Miramar/Kilbirnie to Newtown
• Newtown/Mount Cook to city.

Chair Ponter says: “Last year we took Greater Wellington and City Councillors and public transport and community advocates on a double-decker tour across the city so they could experience first-hand what drivers were up against. This proved a catalyst for this great programme of work and we will continue to work with our partners and the community to realise this work.”

Both councils will be asked to agree that bus priority improvements will be part of Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) – a joint initiative between the two councils and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency focused on moving more people with fewer vehicles.

This is because much of the work will be funded and delivered through LGWM’s City Streets package which will deliver improvements to bus priority, alongside improvements for people walking and on bikes, on key routes into and through the city. LGWM will seek feedback from the public in the new year to inform design of the improvements.

Mayor Foster says: “We are taking a whole-of-streets approach and will look to include improving conditions for walking and cycling, and improving the local urban environment.”

The councils will vote on the endorsing the direction of the Bus Priority Action Plan at their meetings on 12 December.

The Bus Priority Action Plan can be read here.

The joint council Bus Priority Action Plan is separate from, but closely aligned with, the GWRC Bus Network Review report that will also be considered by GWRC on 12 December.

• 70,000 bus trips every day in Wellington (nearly a third are for education).
• Buses often take twice as long as cars for the same journey.
• About 97% of Wellingtonians live within easy walking distance of a bus stop (400m) but just 37% of people travelling to the central city in the morning peak use the bus.

© Scoop Media

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