Monday, July 14, 2014

Bus plan - a city going nowhere fast!

Ramped access, door level loading, full veranda shelter, on busway system in Mexico 

Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury are planning a new Riccarton Super Stop to reduce travel times on the city’s busiest bus route

I have campaigned for 36 years to get decent public transport.  I still vomit when I see such nonsensical bullshit as this..

Super stop?? As far as I can see this is just a bus shelter with a slightly enclosed bay - very much like the semi-enclosed bus shelters that used to be outside the public hospital or in The Square when I first arrived in Christchurch in 1970. Except more glass.  Back to the 1950s??

...reduced travel times - ....come on !! How does creating a often crowded bus stop on a busy arterial "increase travel times" in any significant way. 

What utter nonsense  All the genuinely fast bus services in the world nowadays are being built on exclusive busways, not pissing around in the odd hope of saving 30 seconds ( if lucky!!)

I am going to use a really offensive term (to me too) here.  I don't think I am a racist (or not more than anyone can't help being a bit at times) and but when I look a the level of public transport in Christchurch,  I think this just  "bus services for niggers"  

Please be clear here; I am not talking about skin colour here but the sort of despicable arrogant attitudes that once ruled in South Africa or the Bible belt states in the south of the USA, where funding of public facilities constantly shortchanged one sector of the population

In other words "who cares how pathetic and outdated in style and concept the services and facilities are   - they are only bus users!!". It comes through in almost everything the Government, the city authorities and regional bus administrations do, in Christchurch as in many other cities. Most of what passes for public transport is actual just "tokenism". How can we pretend to address this issue, whilst not really changing anything.

Years of being treated liked n------- (yuk word )  by various public authorities, all levels trying to avoid commitment to effective modern transport,  have left most bus users ridiculously grateful for the clumsy shambles currently passing as an efficient bus service, because the buses look modern and have a few technological lollies to hide the real lack of vision and commitment. 

It is the old theory if you kick a dog often enough it will be eternally grateful that one time a week you pat it.

Yet what intelligent 12 year old child could not look at the technology we have on tap to day and say why not create a bus system where the buses hardly ever stop for anything but passengers, where most major bus corridors have exclusive roads, or (fulltime) exclusive space on roads; where a few dozen properties are bought to create a super effective interactive grid (at about 20% the cost of the equivalent in light rail!); where all core service buses run to the same pattern and same times all day and always interact in the same pattern 9am-7pm Mon Sat and another pattern evenings and Sundays. Basically get anywhere within the city, anytime, and often faster than by car and usually so in peak hours..

Sounds impossible ??- Not so. Rather it would need much deep thought on how buses serve key functions ( malls etc) without entrapment in heavy traffic; it would require buses being given exclusive road space and priority access through traffic lights  (less than 5% of the total asphalted road space in the city - and why not 5% of people use buses!!) ; it would probably require the purchase of about 50 properties, here and there, to create some "stents" - bus, cycle and pedestrian congestion  bypasses ; it would require the building of four or five underpasses or overpasses exclusive to buses and active modes. It would include a whole set of interwoven support strategies and integrated computer listings to ensure buses run on time (within 5 minutes of time shown)  every time. It would mean Hornby to city centre; Belfast to City Centre etc in 20 minutes journey time, whether at 8.15 am rush hour or 1.15 am at night - hugely uniting the city and making the city centre fantastically lively - literally a hub rather than a doughnut. 

However these are the easy bits to get - they just take good planning, cunning strategies (I can name a dozen)  and good technology - what we have never had in Christchurch is a single person in public office who has the guts and nous to get up and say we are going to build the most reliable, fast and effective integrated bus system of any small city in the world. No half measures (we might even study bus systems that are working well overseas!!)

Wouldn't it be better to stop wasting millions subsidising outdated concepts and ridiculously low patronage and actually get some return for all that public money?

What is the point of a wizzo 2020 bus exchange in the city centre when the actual journey times and (in most respects) journey quality  are barely improved on 50 years ago - indeed in many cases worse?

Instead we are fed this ridiculous double speak about "super stops" and (magically) "reducing travel times" merely  by building a shabby characterless c-grade class waiting shed.

"good enough for...".  I won't bother repeating the word. But the heart weeps. Such an opportunity lost. 

Nothing changes, year after year, same old crap.

Exclusive bus corridor in South Hampshire UK - buses will never win the battle with cars and interruptions on busy congested roads and maintaining rush hour speeds of 50 km per hour even through built up areas can only happen with "stents" hugh congestion location by pass corridors exclusive to buses. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Strategy could boost Canterbury provincial bus services significantly

Unlike regional councils in other areas ECan takes no responsibility for supporting or enhancing regional public transport systems, or addressing the environmental issue that it is the longest car journeys that do the most damage in global atmospheric conditions. There is no effective region wide commuter system at all, and no effective Riccarton bus interchange (for cross town links) that incorporates long distance services - as is obvious from the Intercity coach drop-off point above!

NOTE This blog was originally posted on January 29 2010; it upgraded and amended, with all photos added January 24  2014

A couple of months back I suggested that Environment Canterbury had created reasonably effective services to some parts of the greater Christchurch metropolitan area (Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Lincoln etc) but seemed to pay no regard to regional services. 

Over 30 million Government dollars have been funnelled into Wellington's regional rail links to the Wairarapa (pro-rata the equivalent of about $4.25 million ex Canterbury road taxes),

Environment Waikato has created a network of services to its region (and unlike Ecan features links to privately owned and long distance bus services in its region on its website site). Likewise Bay of Plenty (a Rotorua-Tauranga bi-directional commuter service was so successful the operator,  let-go the annual $50,000 subsidy)

In contrast the road between Christchurch and Ashburton is one of the busiest in the South Island, and yet there is no user friendly commuter link between the Timaru district (42,000 residents) and the Ashburton District (26,000 residents) and Christchurch city and Christchurch Airport. 

The arguments I presented in favour of this, and the potential to create a luxury coach service operated by Metro (and tendered out to a private operator) are in the archived entry "Timaru to Christchurch - in three steps"  

Recently I came across my own calculations of how such a service might look, if two coaches ran from Timaru early morning to Christchurch; back mid-morning to Timaru [which also allows driver changes, vehicle replacement for maintenance etc]; back to Christchurch early afternoon; and then evening commuter trips from Christchurch back to Timaru. 

An obvious rider to this (or rather lots of riders, literally!) is that the majority of the regular - in some cases daily - commuters would most likely be be those joining the service between Ashburton and Christchurch. Commuters the further south the location the bus comes from would more and more likely be "irregular" or casual. These might include those catching early morning flights from CIAL - the biggest and most obvious market (?) given the high cost of storing cars in Christchurch. Other travelers might be attending business or business training courses  or medical appointments or visiting friends or those in Christchurch hospital; or students and workers returning to Christchurch after visiting family in Timaru overnight or over the weekend. 

But the middle of the day services through mid-Canterbury areas would also offer internal travel to and from rural areas and Ashburton, and ditto Temuka and Timaru, for shoppers, elderly, kids and teenagers etc. Obvious possibility exists to link to these north-south Metro bus services smaller shuttle van services to and from Geraldine  and ditto tofro Methven, creating a comprehensive network, when integrated with existing long distance bus operations.  

It does not seem a huge Ecan rate would need to be introduced to float such a system - divided between Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru urban areas, and a smaller rate for all rural areas, it is hard to see this costing much more than a few dollars per household, in return for a service that will save thousands of needless car journeys each year. 

Almost all locals stand to benefit at some time, for instance saving journeys to drop off or pick up friends or relatives from Christchurch International Airport. 

Below - a little crooked - I compared the current service levels (top chart) with what could be if a Metro organised service was strategically inserted, timed to run between existing patterns as well as offer completely new early morning city-bound/evening homebound trips (bottom chart).
I have not bothered to include my (equally effective) charts for southbound services but based on current bus services, these are entirely feasible, with the Metro evening commuter services departing Christchurch at 4.15 pm and 5.15 pm.  

It is often commented that as a concept Canterbury barely exists any longer, there's just Christchurch and the land beyond (shades of New Zealand as an adjunct to Auckland!) It may seem minor but I think  it is an important statement about the integrity of a province, that cohesive, reliable and frequent public transport services link all parts of the province. [click on charts to get full size/complete image]

How Canterbury could have eight services per working day between Timaru and Christchurch - a level of integrated service that truly starts to challenge car use as always the better option.

Please Note - existing operator names and times are included as an academic exercise and do not infer in any they support concepts put forward here.  

Note (2014)  that some departure times may be altered but four years later ECan still hasn't created a quality provincial commuter link such as those offered elsewhere.

Existing patterns* (see comment above) ...look good until closely examined

Suggested alternative, including franchised discount for Metrocard and two XP Metro commuter buses making two return trips a day.

*Error Here;  re 1.50pm  XP Metro service from Timaru - timing points add 30 minutes, actual arrival ChCh 4.35pm

Above, working from existing running times for other services (and allowing for added morning congestion in Christchurch) the blogster adds two Metro Express buses - two trips from Timaru to Christchurch early morning; two return to Timaru mid-morning; two return to Christchurch early afternoon; two services back to Timaru late afternoon (after schools and work).  

The same lack of quality access, across the day or at times that suit full and part-time workers, and students and city appointments is evident in the reverse flow pattern Christchurch - Timaru. 

Having two dedicated Metro buses covering two return trips tofro Christchurch from Timaru each working day AND negotiating with relevant existing long distance operators to accept Metrocard, and special fare structure (i.e. for resident Metrocard users only, within Canterbury only)  and alteration of afternoon departure times 15 minutes later) could give a VERY attractive frequent pattern of services from Christchurch via Christchurch airport.  

Based on the times above Southbound services to Timaru could depart at 8am 9am 10 am 11 am and at 2.15 pm, 3.15 pm, 4.15pm, 5.15pm and 5.45pm. 

One suggested entry/exit  route for Christchurch is (from Hornby) - Russley Road; Airport;Orchard Road; Wairakei Road, Rossall Street, Carlton Mill Road, Park Terrace, Gloucester Street to bus exchange. This links lifestyle blocks and rural communities to Rolleston Izone; Hornby; the international airport; high tech industrial areas, university (high frequency Orbiter transfer) several private schools; arts centre, public hospital and city council HQ. 

People that are likely to commute regularly over longer distances to maintain rural life-styles are also more likely than most to work in the higher paid professions (eg air industries, computer tech, tertiary teaching, medicine, public authorities ) or be saving on the teenager's boarding school fees;  or saving on travel and parking costs/stress  if travelling to airport or public hospital. This route serves everyone but recognises many of the key potential user groups, needed to win a core frequent user group.

We are talking about a very user-friendly public transport backbone serving Canterbury that is every bit competitive with the five services a day that $31 million investment in rail delivers the much smaller population of the  Wairarapa.  

A pity that it is still beyond the organisational capacity of an organisation fictitiously called Environment ??? Canterbury??? . 

Three seats across the aisle, fold down trays, e-leather seats - where long distance travel is heading - and all for a fraction of running costs of rail.  Photo first appeared in  RedCoach (USA) promotional material

Below e-leather seats and fold down cup holder on Wellington's Airport Flyer service - NZ in Tranzit

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"Think rail and build bus" - modern bus systems well advanced in parts of China

A bus rapid transit station in Chengdu, China. Modern bus technology if used well can deliver most the benefits of rail or light rail at a fraction of the cost, lower operating costs, greater frequency and more diverse spread of services.

A few years ago, watching TV I saw a a high ranking Chinese politician being interviewed (I think he was an associate minister of finance or something similar) on a BBC business programme. In response to a comment by the interviewer he said ( the best of my memory), "Oh no China is not trying to catch up with the western world, we are trying to jump ahead of it. We aim to try to learn from western mistakes and not repeat them."

China has many thousands of bus systems* and scores of commuter rail systems, a few underground metro systems but only a handful of light rail projects are planned. And indeed  these few appear to be less about glamour trams and more about lightweight gravel bed trains. By contrast where a rail corridor is not seen as appropriate, bus rapid transit systems, often of the most sophisticated kind and with substantial infrastructure, have been implemented. 

Chengdu with a metropolitan area population of 14 million has a full range of transport options the most recent a bus rapid transit system on a central suburbs orbital route, built on an elevated bus-only roadway. This busway opened this year and is expected to carry 300,000 passengers per day (clearly one doesn't have to have a rail based system to handle heavy loading if the right infrastructure and technology is applied).  
While Christchurch doesn't need elevated bus roadways, applying the principles of rail to buses  - a clear passage with minimum intrusion from shared and conflicting traffic and other modes - can lift main corridor bus services out of last century into what is virtually a whole new mode of transport, as the bus station in the photo above makes clearly evident. 

As the term "bus rapid transit" is a somewhat loose one - now often used by cities that do little more than build partial on-street bus lanes, the Institute for Transport and Development Policy - the leading international body promoting bus rapid transit - has introduced grading standards

These allows bus companies and operating authorities (and the general public) to measure what sort of commitment is being made to create best practice public transport systems. 

*According to World Bank figures, noted a few years back, China also has 294,000 inter-city bus companies. Phew!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Primary "Green Road" corridors suggested for Christchurch

The concept of a "Green Road" strategy as applied to Christchurch's two major traffic flow corridors - northwards and westwards. Indicative map only (busway does not pass through Paparoa School grounds!!).

Red lines = the four highly congested main arterial roads entering Christchurch from west (Riccarton Road; Blenheim Road) and North (Main North Road, dividing into Papanui Road;Cranford Street). Some conventional bus services, with or without, part time/part-way bus lanes will doubtlessly always run on these roads

Green Road services (see below) do not displace these existing services so much as build and channel major "trans-active" growth (cycling and bus travel) through new corridors. These primarily link outer suburbs directly to the city centre, by-passing major congestion. A secondary function is to facilitate easy movement around inner higher density suburbs on high frequency corridors.

Green Lines = Potential "Green Roads" linked roading corridors along which buses and cycles - usually on completely separate lanes - have priority and extensive supportive infrastructure and devices. On Green Roads the roading for cars is primarily related to accessing private homes or businesses, rather than through traffic, with some exits "left turn only etc. Reduced on-street parking - or specific residential or commercial visitor parking bays - rather than curbside would also be a feature on some sections.

Green Lines dotted = expansion in 20?40? years time - room for an underground bus or light rail tunnel under part of Hagley Park and under the rail line to link to Green road west. A cycle subway under the rail line from Brockworth Place could be built much sooner.

Blue Line = Northlands and Nor-West feeder route, not a Green Road beyond Northlands but with added infrastructure support for quality bus services, particularly "Express, via Edgeware" services

Dark Green (left hand side) = existing  rail corridor; any subsequent expansion into commuter rail would add further connections, not compete or render obsolete the suggested Green Road corridors


Most of these Green Roads would be on existing streets upgraded to create superior smooth (and vibration free) roading surfaces to carry buses, including potentially (as patronage grows over time) articulated "bendy buses" or three axle double decker buses.  Potential exists too for all-electric or hybrid buses greatly reducing noise. 

The fact that buses given more or less continuous right of way on their passageways would offer very quick journeys without needing to speed or accelerate fast. Add in special landscaping and some residential buffering and small park zones and throngs of cyclists and this would create a scene often  busy yet one leisurely in spirit.

Most of these Green Roads would be along existing streets but (importantly) along minor arterial and feeder roads where bus services and cyclists are not competing against huge volumes of conventional traffic and where bus and cycle lanes do not actually add to the congestion and road space reduction or fight other uses such as shop front parking.

However the key factor that makes these Green Roads viable is the "cut throughs" - the linking together of existing streets by new infrastructure and/or parkway boulevards that only active and public transport vehicles can use. Some of these involve public land, others require some property purchase. Some like the land around the Cranford Basin, below, has already been purchased for motorway, with ample room to include a completely separate busway (here shown red) skirting the area and crossing over Cranford Street. Adding together northern suburbs built and planned and rapidly growing satellite towns at Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Pegasus and Woodend, probably already 50,000 plus people stand to benefit from this smooth pleasant and quick access to Central Christchurch

It takes political courage to say the long term needs of the city and to relieve congestion must inevitably involve some purchase of private property (with an added compensation) but the areas in the way of these proposed "cut throughs" - on both west and north Green Roads are almost entirely older stock single story rental housing in areas that are anyway likely to be rebuilt as two or three storey apartment blocks within the next decade or two. It will also be much more difficult, politically as well as financially, to rebuild these neighbourhoods to retrofit transit corridors in a few years, and likely to lead to far less attractively planned solutions.

With property purchase comes great opportunity to foster better local community infrastructure, parkways and native bird conservation corridors, enhanced community facilities and new attractive transit linked housing at all social and income levels. Some of the projects could be joint public-private, such as redeveloping the South side of Maxwell Street to apartment blocks, deliberately designed to minimise impact of bus lanes below.

The Green Road projects as shown here might run up to $150 million in total (including some residential enhancement etc) but this seems to me a a very appropriate level of technology, spending etc for a city of Christchurch size, even as it protects corridors for future use. This might include possible later conversion to a light rail system, though the huge cost of these (averaging $56 million per km) makes these currently patently unsuited to such a small city and our rather modest GDP per capita by western economy standards.

In contrast I believe any serious international traffic consultancy study would show the cost-benefit ratios and multiple spin-offs inherent in this "Green Road" (bus and cycleways) suggestion represent a far better return on investment than the rather mediocre bus stations and squashed in low standard bus lanes that form the core of present infrastructure policy. Good transport shapes cities!!

It is also  reasonable and appropriate that Christchurch model its 10 year public transport infrastructure around a budget of at least around $250-300 million - a relatively modest amount, mostly funded by national taxes (reclaiming some small part of our own local fuel taxes) and something quite apart from earthquake recovery funds. This is a more than realistic amount viewed against a minimum  $1 billion (plus) spend-up in Wellington (adding the central spine decision, busway or light rail, to the $700 million commuter rail upgrade of last decade) and $4 billion plus spent or planned  in greater Auckland.on public transport.

Why should public transport in Christchurch a city almost a third the size of Auckland, and only slightly smaller in population be treated in the obscene, amateurish, miserly and ad hoc way that it is currently planned?

Where is the wider vision?? 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Riccarton Road and Quality bus stations - level thinking needed in Christchurch?

Photo: NZ in Tranzit 2010

This is a quality bus station, at Albany on the Northern Busway in Auckland.  The then city Council for the area - North Shore City (now amalgamated with Auckland City), governing a population only three quarters the size of Christchurch (290,000) paid $84 million dollars for fours such bus stations. This investment in busways has seen spectacular growth of patronage on the Northern busway which has virtually doubled ridership expectations, in the five years since completion achieving 2.3 million passenger trips per year. This is even more than Christchurch's highly successful Orbiter was carrying before the quake  A $550 million extension of this busway- mainly taxpayer funded - supported by NZTA is expected to begin construction in the next two years.

Regarding the photo above - note the door level -  and level  bus - internationally now considered a defining hallmark of A-Class quality bus rapid transit systems. 

Photo: NZ in Tranzit 2013

This is the current situation in Riccarton, Christchurch, in-stops (city bound). Both sides of Riccarton Road have a considerable camber, and it is not uncommon for elderly people (in particular) to find entering a bus with a sloping floor somewhat hair-raising, and for people of all ages to occasional stumble backwards. 
This is not a quality bus service, and the Christchurch City Council it appears will have considerable logistic engineering problems, to restructure the roading and footpaths to achieve safe, comfortable and attractive entry to buses, and also meet existing shop doorway entry levels. 

It is amazing indeed that OSH can consider such a steep tilted accessway, used by jostling crowds of all ages, and vulnerable people with age or physical disabilities or carrying shopping, or pregnant etc as acceptable. And has the Council scoped this work and calculated the real cost in remedying this situation, the time and disruption and loss of business to Riccarton Road shopkeepers?

It need hardly be said where buses run on lanes along steeply cambered roads, in gutter-side bus lanes as they do at some points in the current bus system, the sensation of falling off one's seat in to the aisle, or onto the stranger sitting beside one is not considered quality bus travel by most people. 

NZ in Tranzit sees a better way to create quality public transport corridors - by adopting overseas best practice strategies. In these cases falling back on bus priority and on-street lanes is done only when other more effective choices are not available. Preference should be given to creating entirely segregated "bus arterials" where road space is predominantly devoted to - separate - physically segregated bus lanes and off-road cycle lanes . 

To recognise their equal status with the grossly over valued automobile NZ in Tranzit calls these "Green Roads" .  On such roads camber would be minimal and the mini bus stations (rather than stops) have door level loading.

There is ample opportunity - at least currently, perhaps not tomorrow - to build such a segregated busway corridor through "central" Riccarton - with a very sophisticated bus interchange in Maxwell Street - and to do so for less than the cost of two of the bus stations built by North Shore City. 

But it all depends upon a city leadership able to build public transport infrastructure at an appropriate level for a city the size and wealth of Christchurch with in the New Zealand context. 

NZ in Tranzit believes the $6 million Government funding allocated for our premier Western Transport Corridor is absurd, trivial, debased, an insult - measured against hundreds of millions given to Auckland and Wellington, not least the better part of $170 million given for Wellington's Matangi trains only months ago. 

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and the National Government are milking Canterbury fuel taxes for hundreds of millions to send to Auckland and Wellington, while Gerry keeps his foot tightly placed on the jugular and airways of Christchurch city. 

This is blocking the realistic funding base for a proper rapid transit system - rail and/or busway corridors. 

Even before the earthquake the central city was strangulating under congestion - easier to shop at a suburban mall etc Only mostly segregated public transport corridors that deliver thousands of people quickly and easily right into the heart of city, even those from the outermost suburbs, can really create a vital alive city. Bus lanes are mostly elastoplast, not many will get out of bed for a two or three minute faster bus ride, but attractive modern busways build cities.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bus shelters attractive to passing motorists - less than fully effective for bus users?

The upgrade of the bus stops and cycle lanes on Ilam Road, outside the University of Canterbury, present an attractive image, designed in a way sympathetic to the impressively large trees that line the road.

Despite giving bus services a more attractive profile, in real terms (and in university terms) NZ in Tranzit believes these changes bring few extra benefits for actual bus users

Under the new regime the number of seating spaces has been increased by 50% or total seating for about 15 people, on each direction, more if going cheek to cheek with strangers on a bench seat is your thing. 

The area has been tiled, and also offers a better level surface. Unfortunately a rather thoughtless and narrow cycleway has been  built far too close, immediately behind the shelters, a sure recipe for accidents and near misses, especially with less cautionary energies of the more youthful.

Mixing cycleways, bus passengers and pedestrians - too close for sensible comfort or safety?

Unfortunately, too, the Ilam Road university stop us served by two cross town routes and two city suburban routes is probably the single busiest passenger loading zone in the city without some form of overhead veranda protection (including shop verandas), extensive windbreak or inside covered shelter.  

In term time - essentially the colder half of the year - scores of  passengers - students, university workers, transfer passengers - that crowd this area will be left unprotected from the elements.  

The failure to design some attractive greater wind-block shelter from the colder winds and overhead roofing from sudden down pours, hailstorms, snow, and persistent wetting drizzle is obscure. 

However uncomfortable walking to a bus stop may be in bad weather, at least the movement keeps the body warm. In contrast standing waiting at a stop without proper shelter can be almost unbearable. very exposed to cold or wet or both.

Why claim you are trying to attract people out of cars, reduce congestion, address the rapidly escalating climate change etc and treat bus user needs with such obvious distain?  The bus shelter is as much a part of the journey as the bus itself.

It is obscure too why the university itself would not make some of land immediately adjoining the stop, the treed embankment, in the top photo, available - one would think universities at least would support any move to create more sustainable transport infrastructure. 

One can only suspect busism at work here! Had this been a new tail or light rail facility no expense would have been spared in getting door level loading and more adequate or enclosed waiting facilities. 

Last Sunday's summer rain at the temporary central bus interchange.  Capacity for shelter from the storms and colder winds that will not be available at the busy term-time university stop!

I have said before and will continue to say our society is rank with "busism" - the transport equivalent of racism or sexism, that sees bus users as inferior or unimportant and only warranting token support.  

In the same way that certain ethnic groups or women in general were so long cheated off adequate resources to advance -  and then judged intrinsically "inferior" -  bus systems are continuously cheated off the massive investment that rail and light rail receives and then deemed incapable of delivering quality service. 

Most of the cycleway facilities in this Ilam Road rebuilt - see below - seem a major step forward for cyclists around this busy area. 

It is a pity that political commitment to building quality bus infrastructure didn't go further than the (business as usual) mere tokenism and really seek to lift bus use onto a new level.

Cyclists protected from opening car doors and a rather generous footpath north of the bus zone.
Below - attractive, quality, bus waiting facilities in Hangzhou China (Photo Karl Fjellstrom ITDP)

More on the humble street side bus infrastructure at this posting (despite the extremely dry subject much to this blogster's surprise one of the enduring favourites amongst NZ in Tranzit readers - almost 3000 page views in in last three years).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Road sign = GREEN ROAD - Cyclists and Bus priority. Watch for pedestrians

Following release of the Christchurch Central City (post earthquake rebuild)Transport Plan it has become clear that the city council is prepared to support having certain streets giving priority to a particular mode of transport.

Rather than the private car and commercial vehicle being king and queen of every road and street - with bike lanes and bus lanes squashed into one side - this strategy will see wide pedestrian or  bus or cycling lanes, taking priority in some central city streets. See official map below

NZ in Tranzit believes this is an excellent concept and should also be carried into the inner suburbs and even city wide, on a select number of streets.

Indeed this blogster believes the city should create a concept called "Green Roads" - these are not just a single street, but a number of streets that can be linked together (sometimes by off road segregated corridors) to create attractive corridors in which private cars and commercial vehicles are largely absent, restricted. or take second place to other modes.

A limited number of properties would need to be purchased, demolished or relocated, and the landlords (or in rare cases, owner occupiers) compensated but this also allows heaps of options. These  added features, such as drinking fountains, rain shelters, native forest landscaping, childrens safe play zones, or facilities for the use pf immediate local community such as a tennis or basketball court or a conversation pit.

Total land use planning would ensure a good mix of easy access to a rapid frequent bus service, but shielding and buffering of local housing from any pollution or undue exposure to buses.

Potential exists to create some very beautiful "green rivers" with a two directional busway (on beautifully smooth bus only roading and door level loading mini stations) and adjoining this bus lane but separate in almost every situation wide (4 plus metres) "roads" for cyclists, skaters, pedestrians.

The aim of each GREEN ROAd is to connect the dots - residential areas in outer areas, and in higher density inner suburbs, directly to the city centre and other high passenger traffic generators, such as malls, without being trapped in traffic jams and in ways that allow much higher quality infrastructure than conventional roads or just bus lanes can achieve,

NZ in Tranzit has long promoted the building of a GREEN ROAD (to use this new term)  from CBD to Grassmere Street area, dividing into arms running tofro Belfast and Northlands-Sawyers Arms etc. 

Campaigning on this modest busway suggestion, requiring purchase of about 15 properties, but remodelling a whole area near Edgeware into an attractive mix of higher density social housing, apartments and recreation facilities,first began  in 2002. I would guess (based on other similar projects) would cost approximately $80 million (not counting some work done under housing and parks budget). 

Special features of this Northern Green Road would include a wide landscaped transit and active boulevard, from Edgeware Road to Rutland Street direct; a elongated pak between Paparoa St and Grassmere Street; a bus and active flyover ramp across Cranford Street (about $8 million?) and a bus underpass - beside the bike underpass - under QEII Drive (about $6 million?).

Simple infrastructure across Cranford street, near the pooling basin, a ramp and central viaduct (cost  $8 million?) would allow millions of future bus and bike trips from north of city and from Waimakariri District to travel directly into the city centre via a Green Road under QEII Drive, over Cranford St, around the pooling basin through Rutland Street,  Edgeware, Canon Street and Manchester Street.

Earlier this year, in NZ in Tranzit I have added a similar concept  from Mandeville Street in Riccarton to Middleton Road, and the University. This bypasses almost all the congestion along Riccarton Road whilst delivering maximum access tofro the main people generators of Westfield and the University, and core high density Riccarton residential block. This project would require about 25 properties (mostly run down rentals occupied by students) but come in under $50 million. Later it can be linked,  under the railway line and back towards Hagley Park, Definitely a Green Road!

Both Green Roads could be the first sensible step (securing the land corridors) towards building light rail, probably not in this decade (it is far, far too expensive for our small city and GDP per capita!) but one day, and half the work done already. Alternately the rapid evolution of electric buses may make this unnecessary.

Two beautiful world class rapid transit corridors (but more aptly, potently and attractively called Green Roads) landscaped, a dream for walkers, joggers, skaters, cyclists, a natural environment for face to face community interaction. Corridors that steal almost nothing from motorists, residents or shopkeepers; add nothing to congestion, corridors that deliver on time (with 5 minutes) every time, corridors  with smooth gliding buses (and mini-stations along the way, with minimum delay from intersecting traffic, with maximum opportunity for public-private high density housing within minutes of easy access to CBD.  

All this for $200 million, spread across say ten years, and with Government funding two thirds, and getting off bloody easy at that!

Road sign; 
Green Road 
Cyclists and Bus priority. 
Watch for pedestrians

Definition of road  - a pathway for traffic of all kinds (in New Zealand even beaches are legally classified as roads!) 

... also "road" as a spiritual and philosophical concept, as in "the road to recovery" or "the road forward",