Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wabbit for Mayor! First cab, oops, first bus off the rank


Wabbit for Mayor??!!

No not really! (put that shotgun down Fudd, your worst nightmare is not coming true!). But the wily hopper does jump the queue by announcing his cost effective, highly attractive, everyone benefits, public transport policy now -  yes, an opportunist minow surfing ahead of the wave of frenzied public excitement generated by the upcoming slugging match between Bob and Jim

Christchurch City Council Election 2010  
NZ in Tranzit Advocates these Public Transport Policies
Note; Policies do not discriminate between tasks of CCC, Council or Community Boards, OR Environment Canterbury, or joint committee of both Ecan and CCC, Or Metro or private bus operators. What the city does not do directly itself the city can campaign for Metro to do.

General Strategy

Policy recognises and believes;

 -  Christchurch has a very very comprehensive radial bus network, with relatively frequent (by comparable world standards) services on most routes seven days a week


- much of the use-value of this asset is thrown away by failure to integrate routes and running times of interacting routes on shared corridors, passing through common hubs (Malls etc) or intersecting points or running closely through adjacent areas eg six bus services an hour on Papanui Road  delivering only, de facto, a half hour service, evenings Sundays etc; two routes often running simultaneously up Papanui Road during interpeak periods middle of the day; two buses an hour to Cashmere Hills on Sundays departing four minutes apart!


-  bus service should be planned holistically so that core patterns of service are fully integrated and operate (a) between 9am and 6pm Mon-Sat; and (b)  between 6pm and 11pm Mon-Sat and 9am -9pm Sunday. During these periods all routes run to a co-ordinated core pattern of services, pulsed alternating access to and from each area or major junction/transfer point. Additional services may or may not run on some routes, during peak hours or other times, but the integrated easy to remember, consistent knowable transfer, patterns - the underlying A or B core patterns do not alter. Some logistical challenges, but none insurmountable with political will!


- although park and ride is not realistic within city boundaries (except perhaps for a few older drivers not comfortable with central city driving) "kiss and ride" should be developed further. That is, the dropping-off of spouses, children, teenagers, guest etc at multi-route hubs is likely to be a successful transition strategy away from "total length by car" journeys if support system is there.  Policy believes ten or so hub points need to be identified, service patterns developed, departure times of routes pulsed [as per integration above] and suitable drop zones created. Stops to be brightly lit, CCTV and security checked. Service criteria standard guaranteed at each hub; to city - not less than every 8 minutes weekdays and Saturdays; not less than every 15 minutes evenings and Sundays (i.e. consistent and evenly spread services).


- ultimate aim is to offer frequency and grid pattern of  bus services in all directions, a grid with underlying predictable patterns, so that options to go via route a,  or via b and d,  or via b and e, allowing rapid ease of movement around city and patterns that can be learned and once learned applied at any a hour within A or B pattern parameters.

- Bus Exchange should be built underground, include long distance coach centre and offices, and cafes and convenience store, etc and (after allowing for natural light wells) air space above facility sold for multi-faceted Bus Exchange linked development - including small, bus commuter orientated supermarket, childcare facilities and student and retirement accommodation levels


Central city circulator -  iconic Designline Shuttle appears to achieve pro-rata patronage comparable to modern street car, inner city trams elsewhere and at far less cost!!, and actually offers far more unique and distinctive tourist image, particularly when off-set against historic buildings or heritage tram in background.
-  Policy to create more iconic shuttle buses ,different route variations (including museum, North Hagley Park and inner city residential areas in North-East). Same "cartoon" vehicle body styling, if not motor, and distinctive pink or bright green or blue colours to define different routes.

Cross town bus services There seems no rational reason to create a loop with the Metrostar through south Christchurch, as there are no clear cross flow demand patterns not already met by The Orbiter or conventional routes.   Rather,other more significant and attractive branded cross town links should be created.  
Notably a service from Northlands down through Bryndwyr, Fendalton, Burnside, Avonhead to Hornby linking work places, major schools, malls, libraries, and swimming pool complexes. All high use facilities and travel direction patterns not currently available by public transport.

Events Strategy

- city has an under-developed, largely ad hoc, event transport strategy (major shows, Super 14, test matches etc) compared to many overseas which offer extensive bus or rail services to mass attendance events. City needs to develop booklet and web pages of event route maps and departure times for predictable regular events involving in excess of 10,000 participants

Commuter Strategy

Policy recognises;
- that Christchurch has a reasonably good bus system but is not doing well in comparison to other transit leader cities of similar size and demographics (in NZ, Canda, Australia)  in capturing public transport share of peak hour commuters, the key economic and environmental target market for reducing car use and reducing stress on roading, parking etc
eg Comparable proportion of commuters using transit to get to work (all cities here are under 415,000 metropolitan population) -  Gatineau (Quebec) 19.1%;  Wellington (NZ) 17%;  Halifax (Nova Scotia) 11.9%; Victoria (British Columbia) 10.2 %;  Canberra 7% (ACT) Christchurch (NZ) 4.5%  (figures c2008 )
[note only Wellington has rail system]


- city needs to investigate strategy for services to industrial areas, short sharp attractive frequent shuttles between employment zones and adjacent multi-route hubs such as Westfield, University, Barrington.


- city needs to create cross town [east-west] work day south link service corridor Sydenham-Addington-Birmingham-Parkhouse-Hornby office-park industrial corridor (the indycorr) by-passing central city-Westfield  between Ferry Road and University.(Possible south-link shuttle or added variant of The Orbiter route in Peak hours ex Eastgate hub via Sydenham (etc) -Addington-Birmingham Drive-Church Corner then to rejoin Orbiter route at University hub)

- city and rural towns need peak-hour express link from Belfast to Hornby  via Johns Road, Orchard Road, Airport, to Hornby linked to transfer hubs at Supa Centa, airport and Hornby Mall (with integrated time patterns)

Rapid Transit

- Loss of funding for further extended route-length on-street bus lanes and overly extended 22 year programme of implementation suggests revise current thinking; suspend laning of extended route lengths (unless Government changes), instead city to self-finance bus lanes and traffic light priority at identified hotspots. Key sites where multiple routes incur delay eg approach to Linwood Avenue on Aldwins Road (where hundreds of buses a day are delayed) are seen as far more important than general lanes in areas out in the suburbs, achieved one bus route at a time. 


- city needs to embrace concept of five or six major commuter railway corridors (total length approx 40 kms) spreading out from central city through to outer suburbs, and offering, in peak hours, non-stop travel (approx ten minutes) to points 5km from city centre; No it doesn't!
Rail NOT!! Rather to recognise that to build rapid transit able to offer city wide access by rail would cost millions or billions, be incredibly intrusive and clumsy, need feeder bus services and only be able to offer services every 15 minutes at most and far less at nights and running to only one terminal area per line. Cheaper options just to create one line, essantially mean all ratepayers funding a multi-million project which only a portion are likely to be able to use regularly.
A note on Rail- Wellington (with unusal historical and geographic factors) aside commuter rail (and light rail) is virtually non-existent in the 120 cities under 1 million (i.e metropolitan population 300,000 - 1 million) in the most similar demographic cities to Christchurch, and in low density countries in the world, - those in USA, Australia, Canada. The few places it exists beyond Wellington, it does so primarily to allow commuters access to a much larger city (eg Wollongong -Sydney)  Cost to implement and operate shared by fewer taxpayers  and low patronage per kilometre of rail (than Germany, Switzwerland etc) is prohibitive burden. Nor is rail likely to be environmentally friendly when under-utilised.

Nonetheless Council should investigate potential new rail link Islington-Airport-Styx Mill-Belfast in talks with KiwwiRail and CIAL - in the event of massive oil price rises a loop route with SIMT may become viable. However a commuter rail link to Lyttelton, now that key factors, such as no road tunnel, hundreds of watersiders on the wharves, and 500-1000 overnight ferry passengers passing through twice a day, would seem to fall far below any viable minimum criteria for rail.


- Rather to recognise more attractive and frequent services could be created by "think rail-build bus" - the bus rapid transit corridor concept now being widely implemented all around the world.  In the Christchurch context this might involve creating attractive landscaped corridors with on-road bus lanes in parts, and segregated bus (and bike and pedestrian) only cut throughs linking secondary arterial roads offering short cuts, and where necessary building bus underpasses and queue jumper lanes at traffic lights and would have platformed waiting room mini-stations with pre-purchase tickets approximately every kilometre 



Outer suburb and rural town pattern of residential settlement suggests following busway corridors utilising a mix of bus only infrastructure to link conventional streets with or without bus lanes in ways that significantly advantage buses (particularly express or limited stop buses from outer areas) over cars.  Seen as an appropriate level of technology for a city the size of Christchurch with top quality systems delivered at fraction of the cost of rail being built in Auckland and Wellington and delivering rapid transit within easy access of most the populationAs with overseas practice,  busways to built in such a way they do not rule out later adaptation to light rail eg adequate height on underpasses etc


1; Belfast Busway - via City counterflow lane north on Durham to Bealey then via Caledonia Rd centre lane busway, then crossing Edgeware Rd (bus station), landscaped corridor to Rutland, past Rugby Park,  to Tomes Rd , landscaped corridor (around edge of suggested new park east of Paparoa Street school) to turn north near Grassmere St on embankment until crossing under Cranford St  between big box sites, then to underpass under QEII Drive (beside cycle subway) into Grimseys Road, continuing north until veering off to run alongside new motorway near top of Grimseys Road,curving west to join Radcliffe Road and arrive at Supa Centre (approx 12 minutes after leaving city in peak hours, on express buses to outer areas). Return route the same to down Durham Street continuing down beside Avon River near Hereford, entering Bus Exchange off Lichfield.  Trunk route service plus some added express services from/to Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Pegasus, Belfast, West Belfast, Redwood, Papanui


2; Northlands Busway - as for above from city except upon arrival at Grassmere Street continues straight ahead to Northlands with lights to allow buses exiting northwards or to Sawyers Arms Road (city Northlands express buses approximately 8 minutes in peak hours).
Trunk route service plus some added express services from/to Styx Mill, Northcote, Sawyers Arms, Johns Road/Airport industrial areas


3. Westlink Busway - services feeding from new SWAP housing area, from Cashmere Hills and from Barrington Mall, then travelling up Hoon Hay Road, passing north of Hoon Hay shops in a short bus only cut through (two or three properties purchased)  to cross Lincoln Road (bus priority lights) at Annex Road.  Then past Hillmorten Hospital gates on Annex Road and under southern motorway via bus only subway tunnel  to Birmingham Drive office-industrial area, then via further subway from end of Midas Place under rail yards and purchased r.o.w to bus lanes up Middleton Road, crossing Riccarton Road, then  up to Canterbury university and them via streets to Sheffield Crescent Tech Park and Airport and adjoining employment zones
Trunk route services between Barrington Mal - Airport and some added express services from Hornby and Halswell areas to city via bus subway and Birmingham Drive -Tower Junction.

4. Eastern Busway via Gloucester Street and veering across (through purchased properties) onto Worcester Street (or via Worcester Street bus subway under Latimer Square) to bus subway under Linwood Avenue up Worcester Street north veering across through purchased property to cross Woodham Road (at bus triggered lights) up Ngarimu and then across Dunarnan Street to Wainoni Road (express buses non-stop to Wainoni and Breezes Rd in ten minutes). Trunk routes to QEII and New Brighton, also added express services from/to North Shore, Parklands, Avondale

- in the event of Prestons subdivision - as above to cross Avon River on special bus and cycyle pedestrian only bridge, running along busway beside Avon River to New Brighton Road then left into Burwood Road and up to Hospital and Prestons - a housing estate which if granted resource consent will cover an area the size of Hagley Park (express buses non-stop to Burwood Road in ten minutes). Trunk route City -Burwood Hospital and Prestons, also added express services to Parklands via Tumara Park

5. Southern busway - potential site runs under railway line at Claridges Road (bus-rail station with escalators up to rail platforms) Addington,  then uses land beside rail or under pylons (or section of high tension cables placed in underground tunnel?) including ramped earth embankments to protect from adjacent heavy rail line (coal trains etc) and bus flyovers to travel to Hornby and Rolleston alongside South Island Main Trunk line and Waterloo Road Trunk route to Templeton and into and around Rolleston, added express services to/from Hei Hei and Branston via busway

NOTE; Various ideas expressed here appeared in expanded format (some with maps and photos) by searching "busway" in the "NZ in Tranzit" blog.


A note on some bus technologies that will make busways and buses even more attractive and versatile,  that have introduced here, or overseas or being developed.


Euro 5 Diesel engines - smaller quieter, cleaner and less polluting, much more grunt -  the day of the loud banging, gurgling, chugalug, smokey diesel engine is passed.
Articulated buses with stabilisers - improved diesel engines now allow bus capacity as high as 300 passengers (largest buses in Shanghai), albeit as with trams often over-stated capacity, mostly standing! More commonly  articulated buses carry 90-190, some with computerised stabilisers and adiitional computerised backwheel steering eg Mercedes CapaCity.
CVT - continuous variable transmission - not new but continuously evolving - no gear shunts, seamless trolleybus-like acceleration and deceleration
Engine Stops when bus stops - engine of bus stops and starts again (imperceptibly) while bus is at stop or waiting at lights, no noise no vibration  big fuel savings and reduced environmental impact (already operative on some models)
GreenDrive - Dashboard monitor has green light, which flashes red if bus is driven in rough, lurching, jolting manner - allows driver (and boss!) to identify and eliminate bad driving practices and minimise fuel waste practices that impact on environment - already introduced by two of UK's biggest bus companies First National and Stagecoach
E-Leather armchair style seating
Fold down trays and Wifi access in New York, London and elsewhere regional and long distance buses (including "Megabuses") are offering wifi en route, enabling work preparation, studying  or recreational activities online,  attracting many new educated and excutive commuters.


Attitude

- Public transport is not a charity for the poor but is subsidized (as is every other form of transport including private car usage, parking etc) to lessen the burden on roads, keep a mobile work force available, keep the city tourist friendly and meet mobility needs of those on limited student or retirement incomes or who are disabled. It follows we should not be "grateful" but demand and expect the highest standards. In the 21st century, with all the technology available, citizens should expect systems that run in giant network patterns, intermeshing like clog-work cogs, and offering predictable consistent departure times and patterns and services  running in multiple directions intermeshed into transfer friendly patterns. And peak hour services that traverse Christchurch via busways and lanes etc at journey times far below present journey times or indeed, in many situations, faster than a car journey. 

It should be noted that around two billion dollars  is being spent on public transport infrastructure and upgrades in Auckland and Wellington (rail and busways) and anyone who has followed public transport over the last decade can only be appalled at the failure of successive administrations in Christchurch to use the city's political clout to get some adequate, if more modest, funding towards local infrastructure. No plans, no projects, no funding! The current financial or political climate should not deter forward planning now, not least the urgent (if belated)  planning, funding and negotiation to create a busway tunnel under the Southern Motorway at Annex Road,  before the chance is virtually lost for ever!!  With or without an added subway to Middleton Road, this confers huge advantage on buses in accessing one of Christchurch's biggest employment zones and most congested peak hour areas.

These two subways (extended underpasses)  - expensive but minimal compared to equivalent spending in Auckland and Wellington on rail and busway infrastructure -  will allow unique public transport [and cycle] only ease and speed of movement right across all western suburbs completely by-passing heavy congestion on Curletts Road, Wrights Road and Clarence Street Addington - for all time.



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