Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ecan requests more time to create Regional Public Transport Plan 2011-2021

The road to hell (and low patronage)  is paved with good intentions!
If buses and trams are  to offer really competitive transport, planning of routes and corridors
and purchase of appropriate properties needs to be running years in advance ....not
the sort of obsolete thinking and ad hoc strategies implied in this 2010 bus queue!

Tranzwatching (with comment)  in Christchurch, Te Wai Pounamu, New Zealand 

Environment Canterbury (ECan)  commenced preparation of a Regional Public Transport Plan in 2010, with a view to completing a Draft in mid-2011 and finalising the Plan in late 2011 following public consultation.

Legislation requires all regional councils file such plans at regular intervals, the next January 1 2012,  but Environment Canterbury is now requesting to push this date back much later for the province, in light of the damage and disruption (to all processes) caused by the sequence of major earthquakes

The damage created by several severe earthquakes has meant that large parts of the central city, including the central Bus Exchange, are cordoned off and not accessible to the public, including ECan's own headquarters in Kilmore Street Christchurch. The Ecan building not believed to be seriously damaged but is within the "drop zone" of the damaged Durham Copthorne Hotel.  The massive earthquake damage has also resulted in a significant change in trip patterns, with many business and employment activities moved to outer areas, many of which are not well served by the pre-earthquake bus network with its focus on the central city.

As the Christchurch City Council responsible for infrastructure has still  - after five months - not established an alternative single Bus Exchange area for all services to pass through, and only provided limited roadside areas in Hagley Avenue and Bealey Avenue, it has anyway been impossible to reinstate full levels of service. Many of the main arterial route services are not yet back to 15 minute headways, not least because there is clearly no more room for extra buses in the shambolic peak hour bus queues!

This is greatly aggravating the difficulties inherent in having to travel through two exchange points or making transfers in outer areas. ECan itself has followed a policy of providing very little timetable information (including few routes with intermediate timing points or arrival times at "Bus Exchanges" listed.).

This has led to a significant drop in bus patronage from 50-60,000 passenger trips a day  preceding the first quake in September 2010. (and associated fare revenue). This is threatening the ability to fund public transport services in a sustainable manner. This is now likely to be further impacted by the Government decision to shift spending away from public transport onto major highway projects.


Another major factor is that apart from a few bus laned roads and a rather grand new centralised buses ECan does not appear to have an adequate strategy to build a really sophisticated bus service in the years ahead.

For example ECan Commissioner Rex Williams said in The Press this morning there was  " "A real need" for buses in Christchurch, and Williams said he believed that the city could be made more suitable for public transport during the rebuilding processes".

Could?? The city is already rebuilding on some sites!!

Where is the ten year strategy if routes that are part of the ten year process weren't identified long ago?

And please don't pull the earthquake excuse because these processes should be embedded and evolving over years - in fact already buying the freed up sites where property loss facilitates implementation of the plan.

This is a public authority taking tens of millions in taxes and property rates to operate and plan  public transport, a mobility system hugely dependent upon identifying and protecting linear corridors to facilitate ease of movement across congested cities, still talking such nonsense as "could".

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