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Wellington Bus Review submission – 2012

March 2012

Wellington Region Bus Review.  Submitted by Richard Keller.

Transport priorities; is this review enough? – Increased public transport is a requirement (long overdue).  As such, it is disappointing that Wellington Regional Council is holding this review without an accompanying increase in public transport funding.  More generally, integration of pedestrian, cycle, train and bus services is required, not just a bus review.  Will this review be seen as a way to put off the process of realigning Wellington transport more toward public transport?

Pedestrians – Catering for pedestrians should be the first priority of any transport review.  Any changes at major bus transfer points must assure the safety and convenience of pedestrians, both at source (e.g. residential centres) and destination (e.g. govt centres).  Placement of major transfer points and their facilities should be determined from such activities and locations of pedestrians.

Environment / Trolley Buses – Improvements in the environmental impact of transport must remain paramount, of course.  Trolley buses are one way Wellington helps; they must be retained as the core service.  Perhaps it will be necessary to add new wires for new routes.

Resourcing at Major Transfer Points – To be an improvement on the current situation, major transfer points would need to be adequately resourced.  Additional and upgraded waiting facilities and pedestrian access are required. There must be sufficient room for the numbers of buses coming through the point.  (Some major bus stops in the current arrangement don’t have enough room.  This might mean more street length for the stop; or multiple stop locations.)

Kilbirnie – One example is Kilbirnie.  Several bus routes come through Kilbirnie and at times there is a backup of buses and cars.  In order for Kilbirnie to be an effective major transfer point in the proposed plan, a realignment of the stop will be required, possibly with redirection of car traffic.  More street space for buses, and improved waiting facilities along with safe pedestrian access are required.

Payment processes / transfers – As there are more planned transfers (re ‘major transfer points’) the method of payment will be a key factor.  For fairness, all journeys with transfers must entail only one fare payment.  Also for service, where more frequent service is planned, the payment method must be quickened. (e.g. no change handled by drivers)  Perhaps it will be necessary to advance an area wide card system (Snapper?) before implementing any route changes.

Downgrades? – It looks like some current services are downgraded in the new plan.  Is this true?  Downgrading should be avoided.   (Explanations in the review information seem to indicate an expectation that where routes are downgraded that other route options might make up for that.  However, this can only be believable where route details are spelled out in the review.)

Core CBD routes – More frequent services through the CBD from the major transfer points is a promising idea, even with transfers required.  In order for this to work, it should be noted, the on/off process must be quicker than at present and fares should not increase.

Express Routes – Express routes are popular at peak times.  (‘Express’ meaning no scheduled stops into the CBD.) With more services originating from major transfer points there should be additional express routes originating from those points as well (e.g. Kilbirnie).  These would be in addition to the express routes currently originating at outlying points.

Fares – Use of public transport must be encouraged and fares are a way of doing this.  No fare increases!   Transfers at major transfer points should attract no additional cost.

Richard Keller

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