Proposed changes to the bus services network could make bus travel more efficient and help get more people back on to buses.
Environment Canterbury Passenger Services Manager David Stenhouse says "Since the earthquake, the network has not catered well enough for the needs of all passengers. Patronage has also decreased significantly so we need to make changes to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the community as well as operating a service that is economically viable."
Currently buses travel from most suburbs to the central city, resulting in duplication of bus routes on major corridors such as Papanui Road. Even in peak hours, this means buses often have too few people on board which is not an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly use of resources, says Mr Stenhouse.
The new bus network will make it easier to travel from one place to another across the city as well as to the central city. High-frequency services will link major destinations across Christchurch and these will be supported by local bus routes which connect to key suburban hubs.
The suburban hubs will be developed at major suburban centres, such as Papanui, Riccarton, Barrington and Eastgate and well be well-lit, warm internal spaces. Initially these may be on-street, but eventually some hubs will be upgraded to high-quality, off-street bus terminals.
“New bus timetables will be designed to connect at suburban hubs and at the central station. This means if your bus doesn’t travel directly to where you want to go, you can have confidence there will be a connecting bus for onward travel,’’ says Mr Stenhouse.
The new bus network will occur in two stages with the first stage involving services that currently operate in the north and south of the city. Affected suburbs are Cashmere, Beckenham, Barrington, St Martins, Sydenham, Merivale, St Albans, Bryndwr, Papanui, Casebrook, Redwood, Belfast and the Waimakariri district.
Central to the proposal is the introduction of a high-frequency service from Belfast to Princess Margaret Hospital which makes use of existing bus priority lanes. Currently to travel from the city to Papanui, users have to refer to mulitiple timetables to find out when their next bus arrives. These mulitple routes will be replaced by one high-frequency bus route with buses every 10 to 15 minutes during the day.
Mr Stenhouse says "There have been a number of changes to the network since the earthquake with the most major changes occurring in November last year. The next step is to streamline services across the network. The proposed changes will enable us to provide an efficient, cost-effective system that better connects people to the places they want to travel to."
Full details of the proposed changes are available here
The consultation period ended 3 August 2012 and feedback is currently being collated.