Thursday, August 22, 2013

Innovative Bus Lane - Is it taking Christchurch into the future?



Above Redbus vehicle in the frontal livery known locally as "Homer Simpson Underpants" design.

I love the new bus queue-jumper turning lane in Montreal Street -  in fact it is a bloody miracle, given the exceedingly dismal level of growth in public transport infrastructure in Christchurch in the last decade. 

I doubt whether it is a world first but I have not run across a bus coming out of a centre lane and cutting across the front of other turning traffic. 

As can be seen above buses come out of a central road lane, heading north up Montreal Street [a one way street] move ahead of other traffic turning (ie veering) left. It sounds dangerous but shouldn't be, working within a specific sequence of traffic signals. Cars turning left as well rely on an arrow which stays red as long as a bus is moving forward on the straight ahead signal and then peeling off leftwards into Victoria Street. Buses are the only vehicles allow to veer off to the left in this phase. Not sure what happens if forward moving lights are already green - do the signals read the situation (ie intelligent signals) and adjust the signal phasing?



Signs inform motorists heading for Papanui Road to continue up Montreal Street rather than use Victoria Street. [see photo below] Yeah right. 

If noticed. 

Ok the signage is piss week in size and stature and also being massively ignored (as far as I can see), not surprising in that it sounds tentative rather than authorative.  But maybe that is just a first step. I am not sure whether the planners are too uncertain of this system to be fully confident yet, or whether this is merely a temporary (medium term post quake recovery) exercise. Needless to say the Government  is unlikely to have picked the infrastructure tabs for a bus system in Christchurch.


Small sign or not I applaud the Council, Ecan or whoever for at last - at long last - moving to try to give active support to Christchurch bus user needs above those of motorists. 

Perhaps it is all part of some long term radical green city plan I have not heard of or missed! But before commenting on this I regret I have to add a bit of reality first to any kudos. Most of the advantage that buses gain at this intersection are lost within seconds as they run straight into the queue of cars are Victoria Street. And on average the buses then take about 6 minutes in idling traffic to reach Bealey Avenue, about 500 metres at most, this representing at least four or five traffic light changes!



If city planning continues in the current direction I imagine Victoria Street will be the most polluted street in Christchurch, with long queues of cars idling most of the day. And I am not sure this is anything to do with earthquakes, or if it is so, whether even longer and more constant queues will be the norm once the central city revives and there bring the inevitable huge increase in people in the CBD working, shopping, doing business etc.

The reason (at the moment anyway) is the reduced phasing of the north bound Victoria Street into Papanui Road traffic signal - I am told by a bus driver to only 19 seconds - barely enough time for half a dozen cars including a bus to get across.  The signal length for northbound traffic has been reduced to accommodate a new right turn arrow for southbound cars turning out of Papanui Road heading west towards Riccarton. 

And this reason is directly linked to what seems to me to be to three long term (non-earthquake related) traffic problems. The first of these is even though the city is expected to grow, 400,000, 500,000, 600,000 population etc over the coming decades and workplaces are increasingly decentralised there doesn't seem to be enough arterial roads. For instance to travel east-west from the north-side of the city, say St Albans towards Riccarton/ industrial areas/university/airport etc there are only Bealey Avenue -Harper Avenue; Innes Road-Heaton street; and QE Drive, that offer "straight through journeys".  

Every other journey path means a complex pattern of turning corners and travelling down roads that have been narrowed, have speed slowing humps, and landscaped berms all designed to convey a genteel elegance. A classic example is the number of cars feeding out of St Albans Street, briefly onto Papanui Road, then right into Rugby St [see photo] to get through to Rossall Street, and access either the various private schools in this block or to travel further west. This is a constant queue workday mornings, despite all the impediments to this flight-path.


I do wonder whether the Council, full of good-hearted people who like to please, has made an enormous noose around its neck by converting so many through roads to "landscaped neighbourhood", politically difficult to convert back to more straight forward through roads.  Has the emphasis been creating a  green, attractively landscaped suburban city to the extent this is a nonsense, when car usage makes such elegant road design of "quiet streets" everywhere unrealistic?  Has the city not been giving enough attention to creating a more comprehensive grid of through streets, as a necessity if it does not want to develop a rapid transit corridor strategy similar to those developed by Auckland and Wellington over a decade ago (and since funded around $2 billion by central Government)

The reason we are getting a rare added bus queue jumper lane from Montreal Street into Victoria Street may be less about a sudden new found commitment to really supporting bus users, than it is about the "unfair delays" suffered by cars turning right out of Papanui Road into Bealey Avenue and westwards. In other words knowing the absolute slowness of queues on Victoria Street, local government is creating a bus lane as a sort of compensation for long neglected bus passengers rather than a positive future facing pro-active support for public transport!

But if we are going to block off through streets and gentrify areas, then maybe Victoria Street is a good place to start. Indeed to be fair there might be some innovative plan afoot to convert Victoria Street to a southbound only (all traffic) and a northbound classy extended footpath area, with a bus/bike lane only running through to Bealey Avenue - all other northbound traffic being "Shopping Precinct only" and Dublin Street being a left in and left out intersection. All evidence points to buses being fully electric within a decade or so, so bus pollution (anyway less frequent) will be a thing of the past. Indeed hybrid buses - slipping past noiselessly in the inner areas - could be employed tomorrow if Government funded bus-based public transport with the same commitment they fund commuter rail - another $100 million plus for Wellington trains last month!

In a scenario like that above, this new bus queue jumper lane may be  just the beginning - and will indeed take Christchurch into the future. But don't hold your breath.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is this the death knell for New Brighton?


Commercial heart of New Brighton, on a wet Sunday afternoon in June 2011 
- no all weather hub activity here to draw in visitors and customers   Photo NZ in Tranzit

An article in the [Christchurch]  "Star"  on Friday states that the City Council is about to publicly reject plans for a water-based amusement park and indoor swimming complex at New Brighton, on or near the foreshore.

Local advocates, community board members and long time community activists Tim Sintes and David East proposed that $36 million, half the insurance from the earthquake damaged and demolished QEII Pool, earmarked for aquatic facilities on the east be used as the foundation finance.

Council,says the scheme would cost over $100 million but according to Mr Sintes made no attempt to consult with himself, Mr East or project leader Alan Direen.

Before they built Eastgate back in the late seventies I remember a bloke from the developers, G.U.S (Grocers United Stores, I think) saying in the paper that you could draw a circle at 3km radius from the intersection of Linwood Avenue and Buckleys Road, the Eastgate (as it became) site,  and 50,000 people were living in that area. (It probably far more now)

Drawing a circle from the centre of New Brighton  means 50% will be ocean! And even before the earthquakes from the other 50% of land area subtract the land for the sand-hills, Rawhiti Domain and Thompson Park, South New Brighton motorcamp, the Avon River and extensive Estuary area , the four large golf courses, the land at QEII (a former race course site), the wetlands at Travis swamp and Burwood Forest - straight away there is a huge disadvantage for East siders, not enough residential land, not enough population to generate the energy and profits that fosters widespread enterprise -  of any sort.

Now with the loss of Bexley and parts of Southshore, North New Brighton, and Avondale, etc that population is even further diminished. None of the big institutions such the University, Airport, major industrial areas are built in the far east. There are no buildings of any significance east of Linwood Avenue and the few that almost were, or heritage buildings, like the Ozone, are now gone.

Without a major drawcard to bring people into the area, either to live or to visit there is no way New Brighton can even begin to sustain again significant busy community. It is cruising mostly on infrastructure built in busier times and even that is often empty or derelict, or has a constant turnover of unsuccessful tenants.

However the community does have a very strong community spirit and a remarkably simple marketing tool - its name. Brighton in the UK is arguably the most famous day-tripper beach in the English speaking world.

The name New Brighton spells "BEACH" in many parts of the world, and NEW Brighton is a clear indicator that the suburb, town or district so named is indeed a reproduction in some form of the famous Beach resort at Brighton, England. It is also still the biggest reason why people come from outside the immediate area to visit New Brighton - for beach walks, jogging, swimming, surfing, parties, fireworks displays.

Clearly good business practice is based on starting from what works and building upon this. New Brighton is about water activities, but inclement winds can undermine that. Solve that problem and it will boom. It will develop a secondary culture and style in cafes, shops, entertainments etc linked to the central role.

Any other activity is high risk.  An ice skating rink, one council suggestion, for example promotes a cold image (just what New Brighton doesn't want!) and an activity of interest and access to a relatively limited group, with out the democratic appeal of water activities, for every age and culture. How many toddlers and grandparents get on the ice? Who wants to be in an ice rink on a summer's day? Who wants to go into a even colder place in the middle of winter?

Indeed, any other activity immediately splits the focus of the greatest sales pitch and asset - a magnificent beach and related activities.

Logically the big pool should be at Linwood/Eastgate - logically everything of significance should be at Eastgate!! That is the sort of Stalinist soviet thinking typical of politically correct bureaucracies run by ant-like administrators, the sort of thinking that eventually creates a dull and characterless city, no quirks, no colour, no vision. What makes a city attractive is art and the awesome, the unexpected and unique.

Build logical pools elsewhere, built an unique facility at New Brighton and one immediately linked to the beach. One size suits all, suits no one well in the end. Give New Brighton something special and unique or see a whole area, one that should be a gem, decline even further.

Some sort of classy water based facility to me is the only logical, good business step, to avoiding the absolute decline of New Brighton with all the associated financial losses and social behaviour problems typical of such areas.

Or after years of hopes, and hopes dashed again, and again, are we hearing the final death knell of New Brighton as a potentially vibrant commercial, recreational and entertainment centre?

Or just a wake up call for creative instinctive leadership and dynamic governance in the city?

A PREVIOUS POSTING ON THIS SUBJECT HERE




Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cough Up Gough! Saving Christchurch's most valuable worthless building.




One of Christchurch's richest men, Antony Gough, owner of multiple bar and cafe premises on "The Strip" (or the land where they stood before the earthquake) is offering a farcical "about $20,000" for someone to remove Shand's building from the Hereford Street site he owns. 

Presumably Gough was aware in buying this site he was purchasing the oldest existing commercial building in the central city and one of the very few from the early 1850s,  in all of Canterbury. 

We are a raw new country, human settlement doesn't go back longer than a 1000 years. Weird eh? Early Maori sites were often transient (for only a few decades at most) and building materials wood, rotted with time. 

As a people we are like newborns without a deep culture to stand in. A building built in 1851 is hardly ancient by the standards of ancient Egypt, or even Europe, indeed laughable. But, it is all we have got. 

Shand's building is probably the most dungary building in Christchurch, built of flimsy, dried old wood. Worn out, old bones, past it. Technically it is a peace of shit. But it is all we have got. 

Never was something so worthless so worth saving!

It takes us right back to the brave madness of building a bit of England in a swamp and doing so in a country so far across the world it was almost outer space in modern terms. 

It takes us back to the dream time long before all our impressive stone Gothic buildings were built. It takes us back the very first decade of organised settlement when Christchurch had all those Anglican pretensions and utopian dreams of building a new world (without all those ugly aspects of the industrial revolution) but actually looked - in modern terms -  like a low budget set for a b-grade western!

The reality of those first ten years is almost obliterated, even from the history books, but if we need a reminder - a humble "first truth" symbol - Shand's building is it. 

I don't want to be gross, tacky, presumptous, but the Gough family has been  publicly stated as worth $300 million. An offer of $20,000 to take away a building is equivalent to most of us common mortals offering $200! And the cost of  having the building demolished and removed by Gough  himself would probably absorb most of that $20,000 anyway.  

In other words can things get more cheesy than this - the man in the Golden Suit has bought almost the equivalent of Shakespeare's Cottage, in terms of age and spiritual roots, and clearly has an agenda to uproot it, with out meeting the moral obligation inherent in this purchase of fully covering its preservation and restoration.

What is so double cheesy (excuse me MacDonald's) is that the Gough family built its first fortune on the Caterpillar tractor franchise, Gough, Gough and Hamer  - "Cough, cough and stammer" as we used to call it as kids.  The very machines that built so much of New Zealand's infrastructure.

It feels to me like there is a very, very serious downgrading of the Gough name going on here! 

When you got that much dosh you owe something back to society, what used to be called "noblesse oblige" . Nowadays we might put it less elegantly - cough up Gough! There is so little heritage money around. Make a decent fist of saving Christchurch's most worthless building! And ideally where it stands, because that is where it stands, a rock against the tide.  Wrap it in a courtyard and put your bars one step removed. 





Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Infrastructure Australia sees light rail as unwarranted in Canberra


Xpresso Bus offering direct link worker services, as part of the ACTION bus network in Canberra. Effective public transport is about getting people where they want to go -  in multiple directions - quickly and smoothly.  Photo Wikipedia Commons


The building of a light rail route near Australia's Parliament in Canberra has received a big thumbs down from central government agency, Infrastructure Agency.

According to a report in The Canberra Times  a report from Infrastructure Australia, the Canberra submission failed to turn up sufficient evidence of traffic congestion or high value use value that would warrant the federal government offering support or funds.

The report said that a case for economic viability had not been strongly made "particularly when the government's economic analysis showed buses would deliver a greater cost benefit than light rail"

In this case it seems the newspapers do not seem to be able to distinguish buses from bus rapid transit.

This was point made more obvious in the same article when an opposition spokesman said the Government's own document suggests that "bus rapid transit returns $4.70 [for every dollar invested] and light rail returns $2.30".

This rejection (at least, reading between the lines, until Canberra ticks enough boxes) is relevant to Christchurch.

As with Canberra, Christchurch a radial city of low density spread  lacks any geographic, social or financial reason why light rail would of any significant benefit, to any but a few tourists or be of use to all but a small quadrant of the population (such as Rolleston-City only). Yet it comes with a huge price tag for everyone.

In Christchurch the ongoing fantasy of light rail by various local politicians has already cost the city huge amounts in misdirected focus and significant failure to develop a modern bus system or rapid transit strategy to overseas best practice standards.




Friday, August 9, 2013

Proposed Riccarton Road bus station lacks sense, vision or commitment.

    
A plan to keep buses locked in queues on Riccarton Road, is doing a major disservice to bus users,  including transfer passengers that rely upon predictable times, for decades to come.It  is not great planning and does not suggests a great deal of vision or commitment to building a quality public transport infrastructure for our city.

The most  recent proposal, below,  ignores all common sense and will tie hundreds of buses per day to travelling along the most congested section of road in Christchurch for the next ten or twenty years.  


Recently the City Council website announced; 


Riccarton public transport hub passenger waiting lounge proposed


The committee has asked Council staff to assess the proposal for the development of a public transport hub on Riccarton Road (south side of Riccarton Road near Division Street) to facilitate public transport passengers. The nearby bus stops accommodate 2000 passenger daily and an interchange hub similar to the interchange lounge on Colombo Street has been proposed.


All appearances to the contrary - this is not (belated) progress but a backward step!


The quality of facilities to be scrunched at the top of Division Street is unlikely to be significant. Add to this the hugely busy corridor of vehicles between stops on opposing sides of the road. Without a specific speed  reduction zone and/or distinctive tiled bus users crossing zone (unlikely on such a significant arterial road and corner site) switching bus routes on opposite sides of such a busy road is recipe for crap facilities and crowding and dangerous practices -  kids running across roads to catch a bus in urgency etc.  How many buses will be able to load simultaneously and will there be separate stops for university, airport or city bound and Cross town (Metrostar, Orbiter)? I suspect not, just a hodge podge, as now of racing towards the  bus at the back of the queue one needs.

Building a bigger bus shelter (a lounge with minimum facilities) on a transit unfriendly, highly congested road - a road with a strong retail sector absolutely opposed to bus lanes (twice - in 1996 and again in 2010 - see shop window poster below) is high risk indeed! 


This risk is especially great when bus lanes by themselves anyway offer only modest advantage in peak hours and this is a road congested at all sorts of times, needing guaranteed free flow.  


What a bus services needs in the 21st century is absolutely reliable times and no where more so than at Riccarton which is a significant transfer zone, and would be even more so, if proper transfer facilities and integrated timetabling systems applied. 





Thanks to the Christchurch Transport Blog in 2010 for capturing this shop window poster image from Riccarton.


Was it not clear years 17 years ago ! that there are multiple  issues in regarding to using Riccarton Road  as a free flow bus corridor that could not be solved and other options needed to be investigated?  


Keeping buses stuck on Riccarton Road is especially out-of-date and clumsy when a far superior alternative exists. 

This option is building an bus mall and interchange, that will provide offer unhindered bus service for decades between the Riccarton Railway line and Church Corner, and which could be build for under $30 million (including some property purchase) behind Riccarton Mall at the end of Rotheram Street, now the central and busiest part of Riccarton shopping area.


Rotheram Street with Westfield Mall and Cinema Complex entrance on left, major retailers on right and - always adding value to a bus stop - the option of handy taxis also available. Note the bus on Riccarton Rd the new route suggested here is only 300 metres further south but closer to most major traffic generators

In this scenario being suggested here buses would use on-street bus lanes  before and after the central commercial area of Riccarton Road, bus laned from the railway line westwards. But instead Instead of fighting traffic in the central commercial section,  west bound buses would turn left into Mandeville Street and then turn right, directly right onto an extended Dilworth Street (access for buses and active transport only) and then continue in a straight line onto Maxwell Street  (which runs along the back of the Mall) past an attractive spacious well laid out bus station opposite the end of Rotheram Street, Afterwards they would continue to Matipo Street  turning left or right according to route, and where relevant back onto Riccarton Road along bus lanes until Church Corner).  

It is an apt solution in terms of bus lanes not disadvantaging the main Riccarton Road "street front" commercial area; also in creating a faster and consistent flow time of buses by virtue of allowing four intelligent traffic light intersections that always read the road and bus flow and give buses priority the maximum time safely appropriate (a degree of variation in signals not possible in main stream traffic flow). 


It allows for very superior bus station facilities both sides of the road (the larger on the sunny side) with a pedestrian friendly, traffic slowed, crossing zone (difficult on the major arterial); it allows allocated stops for different bus routes (eg to City, to airport) and  it is possible with minimum variation of routes  - two extra corners only - for several routes (Orbiter, Metrostar, 5 Hornby, 21 Ilam, 120  included) and with only an added 60 seconds of slight deviation  for the Selwyn Star, and 84 route buses that come off and return to Riccarton Road). A pick up and drop off stop can also be allocated at this bus mall for long distance and shuttle buses, given this excellent offers access to the Metrostar and Orbiter routes, in a way central stations can not.


The main infrastructure and cost involved would be extending Maxwell Street across to Mandeville Street, involving purchase of two or three properties; the purchase of a Maxwell Street property/s for adequate bus station lounges and associated facilities; the adding of one set of traffic lights (at Mandeville and Riccarton for eastbound buses (only) to enter traffic (other traffic could be left in and left out only (give way)  with a exit bus lane islanded for city bound buses. 


Below are some photos relevant to the NZ in Tranzit  bus station proposal;




Ample room to create a bus only right turn island, with left in and left out for other traffic, Mandeville St & Riccarton Rd

Ample room to create multiple lanes by removing parking and if necessary relocating berms to central division islands, with bus stopping lanes and bus passing lanes at back of Mall.  The nature of the road (mainly a carpark access) lends itself to slowed traffic zones greatly increasing bus passenger and pedestrian safety and ease of movement


Towards the western end of Maxwell Street - ample room to create a very different pattern. removing parking and probably creating island protected bus lanes and landscaped noise/fumes and visual protection hedging or design feature walls to insulate houses from "too many buses"


The Mall entrance & a cafe zone - a minutes walk from the "bus mall" proposed by NZ in Tranzit

AND THE MOST AMAZING THING -

  All this could probably be built to very high standards for less than $20 million - a tiny fraction of the $170 million (mostly from central Government) recently allocated  Wellington public transport to buy another 35 Matangi electric train units!!  

And an even smaller fraction of the $1.46 billion dollars the central Government will allocate Auckland Central Rail link

In other words after years of transporting taxes north to fund public transport infrastructure in Auckland (which has spent well over $246 million on busways, as well as almost 2 billion on rail) and Wellington the central Government will really welcome the chance to at last play fair by Christchurch and support such modest equivalent Christchurch transit projects. 



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Electric Bus Way corridors in Christchurch - and Government must contribute



Chinese built BYD all electric bus (runs on four hub motors) in service in Holland (per Wikimedia Commons)


Todays news; ....... a prototype built by Swiss engineering conglomerate ABB – is an articulated, or bendy bus that can carry 135 people and has just one battery pack on the roof that gets “flash-charged” in as little as 15 seconds as passengers get on or off, by a recharging station the size of an overgrown lamppost.



It is a mistake to see the billions of dollars being poured into Christchurch earthquake recovery as some sort of generous gift. It is appreciated but it is not in anyway charity, not a hand out.

The Government is picking up about two thirds the tab for rebuilds of infrastructure such as roads and sewerage. These are normally costs entirely covered from local taxes (rates) and tasks entirely funded by local government. But the sequence of 13,000 earthquakes Christchurch endured, with huge damage and significant loss of life,  is recognised as a national disaster and the Government has the implicit role of sharing the burden across all taxpayers. That's their job, the right of any town or city faced with a major disaster to expect.

The Government to their credit recognises some elements of rebuild may go beyond just replacing "what was", a superior system in the infrastructure involved  could be implemented and it is logical to do so whilst rebuilding the original elements. The Government says it will also support these where seen as sensible.

But all this said and done, to return Christchurch to where it was before the earthquake will in many aspects see Christchurch set further back in any attempt to remain competitive with Auckland and Wellington. Nowhere more so than in matters of public transport. 

Again and again we get assured by cliches  that Christchurch does not intend to make the same mistakes Auckland did. What a bloody shambles it is already, even though we are still well below future expected traffic levels.

After massive motorway investment (from all taxpayers!) over the last 40 years, Auckland has belatedly discovered that building to meet increased car usage may look like one is building a super modern motorway -  but is really building something far more old fashion, a dead end street. 

Only transit -  buses, light rail, commuter rail,  - can carry very large numbers of people down a single land corridor simultaneously, and if given absolute Right of Way, often much faster than the equivalent number of people in cars.

So if Christchurch  wants not just catch up but get ahead in the prosperity stakes, the matter is simple and clear. Spiritually we must dump the outdated style of bus system we are running and place public transport on the same level of importance as private cars. This does not downgrade cars. Apart from one or two intersections narrowed it does not even disadvantage cars. 

But it does implicitly recognise buses can not compete on the same level as cars if buses have to stop and start in traffic queues as well stop and start to pick up passengers. 

They therefore must have an advantage that cars do not have, freedom of movement, primary right of way in many situations and bus (or bus and active modes) specific technology including segregated bus way corridors, permanent bus lanes at any congested point, part-time bus lanes where viable and  no (or very minimal) queuing at traffic lights.  

It should be possible to get from point A to B pretty much in the same time, regardless of the time of day, or day of the week. This in turn, also lifts buses out of their 20th century limitation of being limited to offering travel only in two directions per route. It offers a sophisticated grid of relatively fast travel in any direction.

Because with all the modern electronic and computerised support systems now available, a predictable travel time means a predictable pattern of integrated travel, bus A travelling roughly north-south always goes through location XYZ, 8 minutes before bus B, travelling roughly east-west, and 15 minutes before bus C to the University and Airport etc. 

You don't need a timetable or an APP if a regular user, it is a pattern as predictable as night follows day. Across the whole city. Any regular trip will become a known pattern, possibly with supplementary patterns for other alternatives.

Unless Christchurch does this mental jump now and creates a complete pattern of integrated bus corridors, and linked transfer stations and associated facilities it can forget following this bullshit about not repeating Auckland's mistakes. 

It is not rocket science - what blocks it is the mentality of the politicians, the voting ratepayers and even the bus users themselves. I had to laugh when a survey showed that 87% of people are satisfied with public transport infrastructure. Quite apart from most of these questioned per se not being regular bus users or dependent upon buses in general we are so deprived in Christchurch  even bus users do  have a relevant vision of what modern public transport can and should be doing in this era! 

We have some nice clean new buses and most driven reasonably well by courteous drivers and we have a range of reasonably high frequency routes and everybody - comparing this to 20 or 30 years ago thinks "Wow, what a great bus system Christchurch has". 


No we don't and this is very easy to prove because such a small percentage of people use buses on a regular basis, even for commuting. They vote with their feet. They intrinsically say using the car is far better and more effective for me than catching a bus. And this is true, and probably always will be for 75% of peak commuters (including also those who can walk or bike easily to work from home). But what a massive improvement on city congestion, and quality of life and air pollution, and liveability etc and in savings would occur if the public transport system was just so damn good, in speed, reliability, comfort and value for money, 25% of commuters and a significant portion of off peak users found buses as good or better than taking the car. 

Or in the case of marginal car users, the bus system was so good it allowed them to  postpone the buying a car, or deciding not  to buy a car, or buying second car, at all. These might include the younger driving age citizens, the aging and retired, those studying, the couples saving for a house or overseas holidays,  visitors to the city, those living close to work and those immediately on fast transit corridors to malls or city etc who find that their "effective speed" (journey time plus the time takes to earn the money to make the journey") is better by transit.

A public transport system based on transit with free flow right of way as the norm, and with integrated operating patterns, I believe would effectively triple bus usage, halve waiting time and higher patronage levels would in turn virtually double the route options -  three or four Orbiters for a starter and more specialised services, such as to industry. It could also usher in a region wide XPT level of service so badly wanting in the current crude Canterbury set up. 

In Ottawa with its extensive network exclusive busways over 30% catch buses from the outer suburbs to work - way above even systems with underground rail systems, its patronage levels for public transport some of the highest in CANZUS**, the comparable world to Christchurch. In Auckland use of the Northern Busway, only opened in 2008, now sees 17% of people who travel  to work or study across the Harbour Bridge, now making the journey by bus (and lead the recent trialling of double decker buses). The greater capacity of modern buses -  articulated or double decker - and the worldwide shift to electric buses means light rail is even more irrelevant in NZ conditions, but exclusive road/corridor space for public transport is even more relevant. Imagine trying to pull articulated buses into current bus stops on Papanui Road!

The creme de la creme of effective busways is specialised buses on these major routes - we have seen ten years of seeing both Labour and National governments pump hundreds of millions into rail infrastructure and rolling stock for suburban rail in in Auckland and Wellington.
I believe it is possible to have buses (such as bendy buses or electric buses needing routes with recharge pads) specific to a route being owned by Metro, with their day to day operation tendered out.

The earthquake recovery costs must not blind us as a city to the huge payout of Canterbury "transport dollars" (at very least $260 million from Canterbury taxpayers, pro rata) shipped north in this last decade. 

Not despite earthquake rebuild but rather intrinsic to the earthquake rebuild the new council and Mayor must go beyond the piss public transport weak (or light rail light weight fantasy) approach of the present council and plant a real stake in the ground - just as Len Brown did in Auckland. 

Wellington only marginally bigger than Christchurch has received the best part of $700 million for public transport. Isn't it time in Christchurch we had a real (i.e. 21st century) public transport master plan? 

Isn't it time we had a council that could say to the government here are the 68 (or whatever) corridor improvements, busway corridors, permanent lanes, underpasses or cut-throughs, transfers stations, sophisticated traffic signal systems and state of the art electric buses  etc we need to run a fully integrated, city wide, free flow bus system. 

Time to give us our share of the dosh. Sure it might cost $300 million for the Government share over ten years - but haven't they just promised Auckland several billion dollars for underground and under harbour public transport?



**CANZUS = Canada, Australia, New Zealand, USA, countries with very similar demographic factors. there are approximately 120 cities with over 200,000 residents in these four countries, the most relevant listed here (a listing that is bit out of date)