Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ecan-Metro - Can it rise to the new needs of quake devastated Christchurch bus patrons ?

NZ in Tranzit Opinion Piece

In what must feel to most eastside residents an unrelenting assault, two further large and violent earthquakes  have twisted, ruptured and broken roads in many eastern suburbs. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of gey silt like liquifaction, were previously forced out the ground by earthquake impact in this area -  cleared from these streets by thousands of residents and the "student army", by the Farmy-Army (Canterbury farmers bringing tractors and small loaders into town to help) and by commercial and local government contractors. Yesterday, heartbreak for the east.  Amongst power cuts and water cuts, tonnes more silt has appeared again, as well as broken water mains and widespread surface flooding .

The effect of broken silted roads; today there are virtually no buses running eastside south of the Avon, or not at least not running until all roads and bridges are checked. All bridges appear to be compromised and some may not re-open immediately or perhaps until rebuilt. Metro has had to make more service changes

Both The Orbiter and No 5 Southshore, until further notice, are terminating at Eastgate. Route No 40 Wainoni is completely suspended. 84, 83, 51 ceased to run eastside after February's quake. Access to New Brighton is now down to one peripheral route, north of the Avon, 60 Parklands, with that route itself with deviations avoiding the North Beach corner of that area.

After February's killer quake I thought it shameful, callous and arrogant, that Ecan/Metro actually cut service frequencies to the solitary route still operating, the only service offering some degree of "walkable from bus stop" access  to a large swarth of eastern Christchurch.  To say, as one official said in The Press that all city services were reduced to 30 minutes was spurious nonsense given even rudimentary analysis showed this only effected very small sections of the south, north and western areas (also served in many cases by Metrostar and The Orbiter) but grossly deprived worse damaged eastern areas.

Let us hope that Metro, whose recovery strategy since February 22nds's earthquake, almost five months ago, has been virtually non-existent can at better fulfill it's duties to the punters this time round!!

For a start - decency suggests -  look at the map and identify which areas have no bus service at all and remember, yes, some people are totally dependent on buses for access to food and work in other areas of the city. And nobody wants to wait for bloody hours making multiple transfers to buses that don't even have proper timing points identified - never more so than at this time of maximum stress!

Frequency can replace accessibility in over-all journey time. If you have to walk further, then the shorter the waiting time for a bus the better, get rid of the up to 30 minute wait!  I think the case for running No 60 Parklands route into New Brighton on its normal frequency - every 15 minutes - instead of the 30 minute truncated service is very high; also for taking it as far down the spit towards Southshore as can be reached, at least Bridge Street, even if only for a few days until No 5 resumes.

There is also a strong case for running the 60 route at the city end around Hagley Park to start and finish from Parkside is very strong, and avoid the double transfer farce It will need extra buses and drivers, there will be plenty of these idle in the immediate future.

Also if nothing else, a special extra service through the Tuam St/Harrow St corridor to Eastgate or as far into Aranui beyond as possible. This is a higher density housing area which after Feb had services de facto cut by 75% and now has no service at all, though it is by no means clear that it is road damaged in the same way as further east. And No 40 route should be re-instated, at 15 minute frequencyas soon as possible, even a major truncation such as loop around Cuffs Road, or Breezes Road,  if still possible, reduces the walking distance.

Environment Canterbury - a junta imposed by the Government after throwing out a democratically elected body - was sold to the Canterbury public as trouble shooting experts; what a joke this has proved for many regular bus users. 

This time around Environment Canterbury and their Metro officers must do what they are being paid for, and run the best bus service possible.

In old fashion parlance, it's called "going the distance"....for the bus reliant consumer, to facilitate movement when car journeys to drop others off are so painfully slow as to be impossible in some cases, for the welfare of those suffering, for the morale of a battered city.


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