Monday, October 22, 2012

"There being no scope to expand the width of the existing roads"

Delhi has one of the largest bus transport systems in India. Buses are the most popular means of transport catering to about 50% of Delhi's total transport demand. But like many other cities, they are stuck in congestion by lack of understanding of how much they can deliver in reducing all traffic if given railway like status and priority.  Photo Wikimedia Commons

Attempts to stop public transport planning by those who believe that having a car gives license to access anywhere -  the 11th Commandment ("thou shall drive and park where you damn well please") are common worldwide. One has only to look around Christchurch to realise we are in the same boat, with a huge bias in favour of car owners in all town planning (despite a bit of huff and puff and green fluff) because "we will always be a car based society" and "cars are obviously a superior form of transport" . 
Smell the busism? I think so. 

It is council policy fequently to give on-street parking maximum reverence rather than working towards designated zones specifically for short hop businesses (takeaways, convenience stores, dry cleaners etc) which allow 10  minute park lots, away from actual traffic lanes.  Instead thousands of bus passengers per year are disadvantaged.

No where in the council thinking is the concept the "bus comes first". I don't mean in the odd bus lane here and there, but in the global sense,  
As in  - "Our first priority is to ensure street and subdivision design and traffic management systems (from traffic signals to underpasses) start from this basis -  the free and unimpeded corridor for public transport to run along" , and then and only then, "Ok now let's see how we can build space for private cars as well in ways that does not compromise the bus service.". In Christchurch Bus priority is NOT a priority and it shows all the time, in the years of failure since the first attempt in 1996 to move foeward bus laning at any but a snails pace; in the resulting poorly designed, 1950s style bus level of integration, that operates despite all the added computer age toys and a relatively modern fleet. Until public transport comes first basically passengers, tax and ratepayers dump tens of millions a year into a service too fractionated and disorganised to attract great patronage [and likely to get much worse]  and which fails to even motorists help by freeing up roads from excessive cars. It is such an expensive bomb. 

But this is by no means just a NZ problem Even in cities as crowded as Delhi there are lobby groups that would rather see the whole city clogged into smoky chaos, than sensibly grant space for buses to run freely. The fantasy that roads can be ever expanded for more cars is now as entrenched in India as elsewhere by the sounds. This has been an ongoing disputed situation for as long as I have been doing this blog (or longer), though so remote from the traffic/population levels of Christchurch I have not followed it closely. Even so it is good to read an attempt to use the High Court to dump a 5.8km busway implemented in 2008 has been rubbished by the judges.

I like the commonsense of what judges Pradeep Nandrajog and Manmohan Singh had to say; 

“There being no scope to expand the width of the existing roads and the population of Delhi continuously being on rise, we see no escape from the fact that the citizens of Delhi have to, one day or the other, use public transport,” 

They said Planning always has to be for the long term, the court said, refusing to call the implementation of the BRT an irrational decision. 

While the same traffic density situation does not apply in Christchurch, the principle does. The moment priority shifts from cars to buses the passenger capacity of that stretch of road effectively triples or quadruples, from roughly 2000 commuters per hour per to over 7,000. But to put that many buses on the road effectively and ways that are not overly invasive takes years of forward planning. It needs a long term bus enhancement programme not the old knee jerk, puppet dance, cutting back of service quality planned.

Victoria Street is the principle outlet to the North and will be so, not just next week, but next year and probably in 50 or 100 years, when the city is a million people. When cities have been destroyed by fire or war or riotous mobs, such as London, Paris, Berlin etc, intelligent planners like Christopher Wren or Baron Haussmann instantly grasped here was opportunity to create wider, straighter, more intelligent street design. We had such a wonderful window of opportunity for the council to purchase an extra three and half metres of the frontage of sites of buildings at this bottleneck, to give a bus only "queue jumper lane" - forever! Instead it now appears to allow traffic coming from the north greater time to turn right towards Riccarton the actually delay time for traffic moving northwards up Victoria Street is to be increased by another half minute!! Which is even more than it sounds long term, because clearly Victoria Street will be first cab off the block as an integrated shopping/medium rise offices street and traffic on this will significantly rise, meaning longer queues and more traffic signal phases missed for buses, possibly not one but two or three extra half minutes on top of the existing 2-5 minutes on many peak hour trips. on a very short stretch of road.

1 comment:

  1. is developed and maintained by meteorologist Efstathios Konstantinos Mironakis.
    The website uses NCEP's models RAP, NAM, GFS and GEFS, also the models NOGAPS and COAMPS.
    For high resolution local weather forecasts uses the mesoscales models WRF, ARPS and MM5.
    The Sea-Ice Model ROMS, is used for specialized services over the sea.