Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bus shelters attractive to passing motorists - less than fully effective for bus users?

The upgrade of the bus stops and cycle lanes on Ilam Road, outside the University of Canterbury, present an attractive image, designed in a way sympathetic to the impressively large trees that line the road.

Despite giving bus services a more attractive profile, in real terms (and in university terms) NZ in Tranzit believes these changes bring few extra benefits for actual bus users

Under the new regime the number of seating spaces has been increased by 50% or total seating for about 15 people, on each direction, more if going cheek to cheek with strangers on a bench seat is your thing. 

The area has been tiled, and also offers a better level surface. Unfortunately a rather thoughtless and narrow cycleway has been  built far too close, immediately behind the shelters, a sure recipe for accidents and near misses, especially with less cautionary energies of the more youthful.

Mixing cycleways, bus passengers and pedestrians - too close for sensible comfort or safety?

Unfortunately, too, the Ilam Road university stop us served by two cross town routes and two city suburban routes is probably the single busiest passenger loading zone in the city without some form of overhead veranda protection (including shop verandas), extensive windbreak or inside covered shelter.  

In term time - essentially the colder half of the year - scores of  passengers - students, university workers, transfer passengers - that crowd this area will be left unprotected from the elements.  

The failure to design some attractive greater wind-block shelter from the colder winds and overhead roofing from sudden down pours, hailstorms, snow, and persistent wetting drizzle is obscure. 

However uncomfortable walking to a bus stop may be in bad weather, at least the movement keeps the body warm. In contrast standing waiting at a stop without proper shelter can be almost unbearable. very exposed to cold or wet or both.

Why claim you are trying to attract people out of cars, reduce congestion, address the rapidly escalating climate change etc and treat bus user needs with such obvious distain?  The bus shelter is as much a part of the journey as the bus itself.

It is obscure too why the university itself would not make some of land immediately adjoining the stop, the treed embankment, in the top photo, available - one would think universities at least would support any move to create more sustainable transport infrastructure. 

One can only suspect busism at work here! Had this been a new tail or light rail facility no expense would have been spared in getting door level loading and more adequate or enclosed waiting facilities. 

Last Sunday's summer rain at the temporary central bus interchange.  Capacity for shelter from the storms and colder winds that will not be available at the busy term-time university stop!

I have said before and will continue to say our society is rank with "busism" - the transport equivalent of racism or sexism, that sees bus users as inferior or unimportant and only warranting token support.  

In the same way that certain ethnic groups or women in general were so long cheated off adequate resources to advance -  and then judged intrinsically "inferior" -  bus systems are continuously cheated off the massive investment that rail and light rail receives and then deemed incapable of delivering quality service. 

Most of the cycleway facilities in this Ilam Road rebuilt - see below - seem a major step forward for cyclists around this busy area. 

It is a pity that political commitment to building quality bus infrastructure didn't go further than the (business as usual) mere tokenism and really seek to lift bus use onto a new level.

Cyclists protected from opening car doors and a rather generous footpath north of the bus zone.
Below - attractive, quality, bus waiting facilities in Hangzhou China (Photo Karl Fjellstrom ITDP)

More on the humble street side bus infrastructure at this posting (despite the extremely dry subject much to this blogster's surprise one of the enduring favourites amongst NZ in Tranzit readers - almost 3000 page views in in last three years).

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