Saturday, March 17, 2012

North New Brighton bus services could be improved despite system wide cut backs to bus services

It is fairly obvious that bus cuts are on the way in Christchurch, very drastic reductions by rumour.  The services can be hacked to bits, trimmed back in a rough and ready fashion or this can be an opportunity to create better and frequent services, using a limited resource more wisely  Frequent corridor buses with useful "community service tails" as in the case suggested here, offer one alternative 

Palmers Road residents have complained about the lack of bus services from this North New Brighton enclave to New Brighton shops and services. Particularly effected are some using walking frames who face a 500 metre walk. After the earthquakes damaged roads in this area the 84 New Brighton via Avondale service was withdrawn.

David Stenhouse, Metro's new passenger services' manager is quoted in "The Mail" as saying how the affected residents lived with 500 metres of three bus routes. This squared with the policy that at least 90 per cent of residents should be no more than 500 metres from a bus route. "We won't be making any changes to current services, " he said.

One part of me totally agrees with this response. It is good Stenhouse does not mince his words, buses can't go everywhere and it is better not to pretend otherwise or weep crocodile tears. The criteria of a service within 500 metres is in fact very intense by world standards for small cities  - many cities only seek to meet access to public transport criteria of 90%(or less)  within 750-1000 metres. 

The 84 Route loop formerly traversed inside the triangle formed by the Metrostar (Keyes Road) , 40 Wainoni Route (New Brighton Road) and 7 Queenspark route (Bower Avenue) - all 15 minute services. At no point were the roads traversed at any a great distance from adjacent, more frequent, routes. It was also cumbersome, tight and tedious, rarely in my few experiences picking up any passengers in this loop on the half hourly (hourly evenings,weekends) service. Few other routes in Christchurch were so indulgent of a very small sector  - it seemed to be designed (over a decade ago) by an amateur planner bending to the demands of the loudest squeaky wheel, rather than working to effectively meet the overall needs of an area. Hard reality says chop it.

And yet ...

....and yet Stenhouse ignores that Metro's bus service access from North New Brighton area to the New Brighton shops, services, cafes and library is really far from effectively structured.         I know from my industry experience what a large number of North New Brighton residents look to the beachside hub as their local centre and point of identity and yet bus access is far from simple or convenient for most residents.

The three routes serving this area to New Brighton's hub all tend to skirt the residential areas, traversing routes patterns with significant dead-sides, instead of through the MIDDLE of actual residential areas.

Route 60 (via Parklands) instead of travelling through Effingham Street travels first past Golf Course in Beach Road to travel down Marine Parade for 2-3km - I am sure hundreds of beach goers catch buses day and night, 12 months a year - and the seagulls deserve a bus service more than rate paying residents! And  Wainoni 40 route dead-sides against the Avon River embankment all the way (1.5 km) from Bower Bridge.

Metrostar offers 15 minute services  via Keyes Road to a Golf Course and Rawhiti Domain and a new electricity substation (for tourists who enjoy engineering projects). Only the top end of Lonsdale Street gets steady patronage.   However Metrostar, for all its peripheral nature,  is the only service in the large arc between New Brighton Road and Marine Parade - the whole centre of this residential area - that actually serves New Brighton. 

An alternative would be to run 40 route up Bower Avenue as far as the intersection with Palmers Road (which curves around to meet Bower Avenue just south of the roundabout) and then run through and down Baker Street before rejoining New Brighton Road. This is a far less precious, fiddly loop than previously, and importantly connects a much larger chunk of North New Brighton, including Bower Avenue, various side streets and enclaves such as Freeville School. Not only New Brighton, but also the local high school (Aranui) and Eastgate are then linked into this much more frequent route. At the same time for most passengers along Wainoni Road it is remains a straight run into the city - the loopy bit at the eastern end does not effect this and is largely local servic orientated. For some of the day Wainoni 40 is a 15 minute service, the bottom line for a bus service to be widely attractive, not to need a timetable (especially if consistent departure times apply each hour).

               No not the Metrostar, despite the orange route colour! Here this colour is is used to suggest 40 Wainoni route replaces the role lost by the removal of 84 route creating a more frequent and more widely accessible link between North New Brighton and the seaside hub.. This also offers the enclave  west  of Bower Avenue bus access to New Brighton

This makes far more effective use of such a frequent service than running beside a river. Although not every need can be met, looking at the street and alleyway pattern, very few residents will as far as 500 metres from this service.It has no right hand turns across heavy traffic and river end residents of the enclave can still reasonably access stops at the bottom of Bower Avenue or Baker Street or on New Brighton Road sections still traversed.

The Metrostar could remain on Keyes Road or possibly, instead, run via Rookwood Avenue and Bower Avenue, and Marine Parade bringing a big chunk of North Beach into gteater access with this useful (The Palms/adjacent schools, Papanui Road, Westfield, University, Hornby etc) service. This still dead-sides beside a bit Marine Parade and Thompson Park, though providing access from the east end of Lonsdale St, but the combined changes of these two routes offer get very much bigger bang for the buck than the present "empty vessel" hollow shell of peripheral routes.

Ideally Metrostar and 60 would enter New Brighton by looping around Hawke Street and back around to Beresford Street,  better  covering the several schools and access to supermarket and library, and creating a sensible single stop for all services instead of the bizarre fragmentation as at present, a source of great confusion and distress to visitors, and annoying to locals, another sign of ineffective bus management.

It is fairly obvious that bus cuts are on the way in Christchurch, very drastic reductions by rumour.  The services can be hacked to bits, trimmed back in a rough and ready fashion or this can be an opportunity to create more effective frequent services, using a limited resource more effectively. As suggested here. Make some of the frequent service arterial corridor buses work harder at their tail end. Far from losing a service residents in this area - much extended in catchment - would get a better and more frequent service.


  1. When the roads are restored perhaps better for Metrostar to use the current emergency route (Baker Street) a much much richer catchment of housing and side streets (including those off Keyes Road)and offering access to New Brighton every 15 minutes. In that case Wainoni 40 - only half hourly in the middle of day - to do the route as above via Bower Ave but the last leg via Keyes Road...all of this only possible when the roads are restored!

  2. Stop all busses down baker street the street if stuffed the houses are stuffed, the houses shake when people walk past let alone busses .seems baker street is a good short cut for power poles the river and earthquakes