NZ in Tranzit - opinion
Anyone who follows the news regularly knows that bad news is rarely broken abruptly - that large companies and big public authorities tend to sow elements of doubt or uncertainty in the public mind first, step by step introducing the real blow.
"Let them down (to earth) slowly" might be the marketing strategy for a planned or expected down grade or reduction in service levels, or closure or abandonment of a project.
I suspect I am not the only one reading this morning's news "Fate of Bus Exchange Unclear" as a very strong indicator that the glamorous $119 million underground bus exchange originally planned for the Lichfield Street "Katmandu" (etc) site site is now unlikely to ever go ahead.
Instead a "temporary" (cynics please read 10-15 years?) exchange on this site is planned.
Compared to the $119 million planned, the "temporary" bus exchange is expected to cost hundreds of thousands. According to a report in The Press, based on an interview with a city transport manager, this will need bus platforms [my emphasis] road markings, a passenger waiting room, and transport related technology. This seems to be a possible indicator that the new "temporary" exchange may have only open platforms with a separate waiting area (albeit alerted by Real time signage) instead of present Bus Exchange style of enclosed waiting areas and electric doors opening only when the bus pulls up.
Back in 2001 this "airport lounge" type bus station was considered was a world leader and indeed it was a huge advance on the cold and windy, diesel fume polluted open platform stations of yesteryear's bus stations, such as Auckland's former bus station at Britomart.
Reversion to bus technology of yesteryear is likely to further reduce the quality, image, status, and growth of public transport, a network already battling after the grossly inadequate service (post immediate emergency period) in the months since February's massively damaging and fatal earthquake.
However "temporary" such an exchange is, quality standards - so woefully missing with current "exchanges" - must apply.
Central exchange needs to be but one of many "exchange" points
As is obvious from past postings on the failed "two bus exchange" strategy, response to the earthquakes, there is a prime need need for a single central point through which ALL major and most minor city-suburban services pass, complementing Christchurch's hub and spoke pattern of arterial roads and bus routes.
This said I see any central bus exchange only as one point on network of about 9 or 10 transfers stations (6 or more routes) and about 30 other transfer "nodes" (2-4 routes) all bound into a consistent and integrated flow pattern of core services.
For this reason downgrading the originally planned Bus Exchange from the marble temple originally planned does not overly phase me, if it means an upgrading of multiple suburban transfers points (and not an attempt to preserve limited forseeable funding for a light rail corridor!).
Quality can be modest but effective, though "hundreds of thousands" sounds suspiciously like shoddy but medium term to my ear!
The real re-building priority to me is really sophisticated bus network, including purchase of now empty site frontages to add bus advantage lanes, corners and cut-through points where these can guarantee clear bus priority.
And the city itself - in its totality - would be one big bus exchange !