Bus Interchange: Frequently Asked Questions

Find out about the new Interchange, its design and how to use it.


The New Interchange

Where is the Bus Interchange and how large is the site?​

The Bus Interchange is located on a 14,000sqm block bounded by Tuam, Colombo and Lichfield streets.

How many passengers does it cater for?

The Bus Interchange can cater for 18,000 passengers per day when it opens, although population and public transport growth will see that swell to an expected 70,000 passengers per day by the year 2041.

When will the new Bus Interchange be completed?

Stage One of the Bus Interchange opened on Monday 25 May. Two platforms and eight doors are operational in Stage One.

Stage Two will continue to be constructed behind walls, and will open later in Winter 2015.

How does the Bus Interchange fit with the new Metro network?

The Bus Interchange is the central point of the Greater Christchurch public transport Metro network. Since the earthquakes, significant changes have been made to the Metro network to create a more integrated and flexible system that better meets post-quake travel needs. The new network includes five high frequency core services across the city that run every 10 to 15 minutes. Four of these travel through the new Bus Interchange along with a number of other city connector services.

The four core routes and city connector services are supported by suburban links. The suburban links bring people to these high frequency services if they don’t live nearby to the core routes, as well as travelling to other key destinations.

Who is responsible for the Bus Interchange project?

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) is working with its strategic partners Christchurch City Council, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Environment Canterbury to deliver the Bus Interchange project.

CCDU is part of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and exists to help bring a renewed central city to life.

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The building design

The Bus Interchange has been designed as a place for people and will use state-of-the-art technology to make buses as efficient as possible. Spacious lounges will keep people warm, safe and completely separate from the bus circulation area.

Who designed the building?

The governance group appointed Architectus and Aurecon as the design team for the Bus Interchange via an open Request for Proposal process.

The design team’s personnel includes architects with recent bus interchange design experience and a transport specialist with more than 30 years' experience that spans operations, scheduling, network planning, infrastructure delivery and bus interchange layout design.

The current layout was peer reviewed by global consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Who built the Bus Interchange?

Thiess and Christchurch’s Southbase Construction as a Joint Venture.

How has sustainability been incorporated into the design?

Environmental sustainability was a key consideration in its design, with natural ventilation and under-floor heating ensuring the inside temperature adjusts to mitigate seasonal outdoor changes.

Does the Bus Interchange provide adequate shelter for bus users?

The large canopy over the main entrance, on the corner of Lichfield and Tuam streets, provides plenty of outdoor shelter and a generously proportioned veranda continues this shelter along Colombo Street.

The indoor lounge is fully covered, with all pedestrian areas fully separated from bus roadways by glazed screen walls and sliding doors that unlock for passengers and cyclists to go through when the bus arrives. The bus entry and exit points also have canopies over them.

How have Christchurch residents and bus users had input into the Bus Interchange development?

The Bus Interchange is one of 17 anchor projects outlined in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan that builds on the Christchurch City Council’s draft Central City Plan. During public consultation on that draft, the community submitted over 106,000 ideas in the Share an Idea campaign. The Recovery Plan defines the form of the central city, identifies the locations of key anchor projects needed to boost the recovery (including the Bus Interchange) and outlines block plans showing what the central city could look like in the future.

In addition to this public consultation, the CCDU and its partners have engaged with many interested groups and organisations in the planning of this project, including:

  • Bus and coach companies
  • Drivers
  • Union representatives
  • User-groups
  • Business groups
  • Disability groups, including an audit by barrier free trust
  • Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) that includes police
  • Neighbouring property owners.


How were bus operators involved with the design?

All of Christchurch’s major urban bus operators were consulted on the proposed design and their feedback was taken into account by the design team. Their involvement included a full-scale field test where working bus drivers were enlisted to take over an empty car park and test the various ways of manoeuvring buses, as per the design options. The feedback from the drivers was helpful, positive and constructive.

How will culture and art be incorporated into the Bus Interchange?

The designers are actively working with Strategic Partners Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to ensure cultural elements are integrated into the Bus Interchange design.

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Using the Interchange

Accessibility - How does it cater for a range of people?

The design team has consulted with specialist accessibility groups via Environment Canterbury’s Public Transport Advisory Group to ensure the Bus Interchange is accessible to all. In addition, an independent accessibility auditor has worked with the project team to ensure that the facility is accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

How are bus movements be controlled?

Buses are assigned to bus stops automatically as they arrive at the Interchange.  Passengers know that their bus always leaves from the same area but the specific bus stop in that area is assigned in real-time by the automated management system. Information signs throughout the facility clearly show passengers where to go to board their bus.

Can cyclists load bicycles onto the front of buses in the Interchange?

Yes. Cyclist-controlled access from within the glass-enclosed lounge to the front of buses enables the loading of cycles onto bike racks.  Access is only possible when buses are stationary in the respective bus stop.

Is the reversing bus model safe?

Yes. The safety of pedestrians, bus users and staff is a top priority.

An automated bus management system manages bus flows within the Interchange for maximum efficiency. The design allows plenty of space for bus movements, with a 7m wide designated backing lane that is separate from the 5m wide bus circulation lane so buses can back out of their stop while other buses move safely around the facility.

Passengers boarding and alighting from buses are completely separate from the bus movement area. Glass doors from a fully enclosed lounge will only open when buses are stationary in the respective bus stop. Passengers then step directly from the lounge onto the bus. They do not enter the bus movement area.

The speed of buses will be restricted within the bus movement area, ensuring that on-board passengers are safe and comfortable when buses are moving either forward or backward. Computer modelling has included measuring the effect of g-forces on passengers and speed restrictions will be based on this information.

There are national and international examples of reversing bus stations, such as in Hamilton and across the United Kingdom and these have been looked at closely in order to deliver the best solution for Christchurch.

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Vehicle Movements

Has traffic modelling been undertaken to ensure traffic does not interfere with bus movements?

Yes. Significant modelling has been undertaken to understand how traffic would affect bus movements and are working with urban and transport planners, including the team behind An Accessible City, to ensure buses are given priority down Lichfield and Manchester streets.

How does the Bus Interchange help users of different types of transport such as bicycles, private vehicles and taxis?

A key objective of the Bus Interchange is to encourage more people to use public transport. Its design and location ensures an efficient bus service and easy links with other modes of transport.

Key features include:

  • Pedestrian links and through-block connections in the area
  • Taxi ranks and regional bus bays just outside the Interchange
  • A dedicated cycle lane on Tuam Street
  • Cycling priority route along Colombo Street
  • All city streets around the Bus Interchange have 30km/hr speed restriction
  • Covered, lock-up facility within the Bus Interchange for 100 bicycles.
  • Secure lockers for the public
  • Central location of Interchange means a five minute walk for pedestrians to most areas of the Central City Core


​Go to Your new Bus Interchange​​ »​ ​ ​​