Friday, May 6, 2011

Restoring full services on route 40 Wainoni needed to boost depleted eastside access particular it seems to me thoughtless to run the 40 Wainoni service only as a 30 minute service given the lack of other services in areas through which this route passes .......

Why Environment Canterbury and Metro are running services in the current clumsy manner is hard to comprehend. But one thing is for certain, the eastside of Christchurch is suffering more than any other area through reduced bus routes and bus services.

In fact the eastern arms of five routes are not operating at all at the moment. These are 23 Bromley via Eastgate, 35 Heathcote to Lyttelton via Eastgate, Ferrymead, 51 Aranui via Eastgate, 83 Burwood to New Brighton, and 84 Avondale to New Brighton. No other area of the city is so impacted by service loss. This must be huge extra stress for people, getting to work (especially if their previous workplace has been relocated, out of the closed-off central city area, to locations further west) or in many cases just getting to the doctor or an open supermarket. While road conditions, from ruptured streets, to road and sewage repairs through to unstable cliff areas will take time to repair, it seems to me Metro should be doing far more than they are to offer genuine public service.

The east has suffered devastating liquifaction and house damage; massive loss of normal sewage functions; relocation of several high schools with students bussing to temporary shared used with other high schools; and closure of both major malls at The Palms and Estgate, including their associated supermarkets - the last thing eastern residents need is for Metro to offer nothing but an enfeebled bus service with long waiting times between departures.  

NZ in Tranzit believes there is a very strong case for why a 15 minute service should be restored on route 40 Wainoni as soon as possible.

The higher density areas around Tuam Street and Harrow Street used to have 8 buses an hour in each drection, four from 40 Wainoni (15 minute service) and two each from the half-hourly services of 23 and 35 route. A reduction from eight to two per hour seems grossly inadequate, not least because with the closure of Eastgate supermarket thousands of local residents will either have to travel much further out to Ferrymead or Pak'N'Save Wainoni, or into a Moorhouse Avenue supermarket. It goes with out saying (Murphy's Law) that without adequate timetables for intermediate stops being offered, big potential exists to emerge from the supermarket just as the one and only bus for the next half hour disappears out of sight, leaving shoppers including the elderly and mothers with young kids (and grumpy old men like this blogster!) with a 29 minute wait - add a cold wind or rain for added hassle!

With no bus services at all operating to areas of Avonside and  to Avondale housing lying north of Wainoni Road,  it would seem caring to at least ensure that those still living in parts of Avonside or Avondale and able to walk the 5 or 10 minutes further to a bus service can at least be assured of a regular service, or in worst case scenario no waiting period longer than 15 minutes.  It is primary school level knowledge in the basics of public transport that the distance people feel comfortable and secure to work is fairly closely linked to the frequency (and speed) of the service they have to walk towards. If you are going to spend five to ten minutes extra walking, the last thing you want is an extra twenty or thirty minutes waiting because you missed the bus! This can happen anytime if passengers are delayed, or buses don't turn up, or run through early etc. With post-quake-shaky-flaky current time-tables (on-line only) showing only outer terminus departure time, showing no immediate timing points and showing no indication of how long the journey may take to the city, getting an accurate fix is loaded with even greater risk!!

For those people normally served by 84 route, living  in the Avonside area near Woodham Road and Dunarnon Street who can walk to 40; for those people around Avondale around Breezes Road (north) and Avondale Road, Orick Avenue etc who can walk to 40 route; for those people in Aranui  southside of Wainoni Road (normally also served by 51 route) - for those people living in one of the city's most earthquake devastated areas in the whole city the very least Metro could do is to try to reinforce the one service they can access.

Then there is New Brighton itself. For several years the 5 and 40 route ran at simultaneous departure times from New Brighton, reducing what could be in effect a direct 8 minute link to western Aranui, Eastgate, Linwood in the Tuam-Cashel area down to a quarter hour service. These two routes share a lot of common territory, either sharing parts of the same route or housing areas between, many parts being accessible from either route. It was just crazy to run on the same time and it has been a great improvement to see buses return to integrated pattern for the many who can use any route.

Now that east-side people need buses more than ever, post quake this sensible integration has been thrown out the window! New Brighton service has regressed to having Route 5 buses leave New Brighton at a time not supplied (!!) but by guessing the running time from Caspian Street (Southshore) approximately 02 and 32 past the hour; route 40 at 05 and 35 past the hour, in other words virtually simultaneously.  For those wishing to get to city and Hagley Exchange area this reduces services to, de facto, 30 minutes only,  at all times other at peak times Monday-Friday business days only, when extra sevices are added to route 5 [noted return trips offer more slightly more departure time options].

Needless to say when all services are running at 30 minute intervals and transfers, between routes terminating at Bealey Avenue and Hagley Avenue temporary exchanges require reliance upon a central link that runs only every 15 minutes, there is a recipe for huge complicated journeys, in my experience of the last nine weeks often absurdly taking between 90 and 180 minutes to get across town!!  Restoring the 40 Wainoni route to a 15 minute services would at least bring waiting time down and help restore some degree of quality to all services and all associated transfers. And not least;  40 Wainoni anyway normally terminates at Parkside - the site of the temporary exchange - it is not a through route and it is one route where service could be restored (with slight route variations) to almost normal relatively easily.

It may be that Civil Defence or CERA have asked Metro to limit buses along the Wainoni Route, in which case Metro should re-argue the case and bus speed be strictly limited (there is a 30kmph speed limited gazetted in many eastern areas anyway). For all the reasons above current eastern services seem grossly inadequate to address the situation - returning route 40 New Brighton via Wainoni to 15 minute headway on services is a key step towards recovery.

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