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Friday, April 1, 2011

New bus routes needed

New bus routes needed

Last updated 10:04 01/04/2011
Christchurch's bus network will take at least a month to adapt to earthquake-enforced traffic changes.

Parts of the city are in gridlock, with traffic queues on some routes three times longer than usual as commuters avoid the cordoned central city to drive to temporary workplaces in the suburbs.

However, the city's bus network is mainly geared for travel from the suburbs into the city, while most people are now travelling from one suburb to another.

The Environment Canterbury (ECan) commissioner responsible for public transport, Rex Williams, said it would be at least another month before there was sufficient "stability" in demand for buses for route planning to be done.

He said traffic patterns had been unpredictable, especially straight after the February 22 quake, when schools and universities were closed and many businesses were seeking alternative premises.

"It has been quite difficult," he said. "It's important to keep people in the habit of using the buses."

Transport planners and engineers from ECan, the city council and NZTA have discussed possible adjustments.

ECan transport programme manager Rob Woods, who led last Friday's meeting, said many workplaces had shifted to industrial areas and business parks in Riccarton, Addington, Middleton, Redwood and near the airport.

Buses restarted on March 3 and were free until Monday.

Eleven routes are still not running and "three or four" routes will not restart "in the foreseeable future" because of extensive road damage, a report to yesterday's ECan meeting said.

Williams said patronage to March 28 had been half the expected numbers.

Bus services have been limited in the eastern suburbs, particularly Dallington, Burwood, Avondale, Aranui, Queenspark, Southshore, Bromley and Woolston. There are no services to some hill suburbs, such as Huntsbury, St Andrews Hill and Mt Pleasant. Two terminals have been set up in Bealey and Hagley avenues for buses going into the city.

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