Feedback guides next steps in bus review
People’s feedback on proposed changes to Wellington City bus services have indicated clear themes that will be worked through over the next few months
A report analysing the feedback and outlining the next steps will be discussed by Greater Wellington’s Economic Wellbeing Committee next Tuesday (29 May).
Peter Glensor, Chair of the Committee, says the more than 6000 responses received, along with feedback from people at the information sessions and public meetings, have been a great help in setting the direction for the next steps.
“We took the proposals out our communities earlier this year to find out what they think of the new bus network that we’re aiming to create and how the proposed route changes would affect them. We have been given a very good picture now of what people like and don’t like and what we need to work on to ensure most people are comfortable with the changes.”
Greater Wellington councillors and staff plan to meet with a wide range of people over the next two months to talk through the themes and how they would be addressed. “We are committed to talking to people at each stage of the process to make sure that the changes are as effective as possible. Over the next two months we’ll be involving and working with representatives from residents’ groups, community boards and public transport user groups to come up with some viable solutions to the key issues that people have raised in their feedback. We’ll then develop a programme to address these issues and begin drafting a new Wellington City bus network.”
Key issues include:
“To reduce bus congestion through the Golden Mile, and therefore speed up bus travelling times throughout the city, we need to reduce the number of buses going through the CBD. This would mean a relatively small increase in the number of people who would need to connect to another service to complete their journey. Most connections would need to be made outside peak times. There was a lot of feedback about the location of major connection points and the shelter facilities at these points.
“We are putting together a comprehensive infrastructure plan which will include the locations of major connection points and the specific types of shelters at these points. Detailed work will need to be done to get a clear idea of where the major points will be and the numbers of people that are likely to be using these points at any one time. The shelters will need to be weather-proofed and well-lit, and equipped with real time information screens. I can assure people that none of these changes will take effect until adequate facilities are in place.”
“People want to know that there’ll be sufficient services to meet passenger demand, particularly around peak times. Staff are carrying out demand and capacity studies on several proposed routes to ensure that there is sufficient capacity. We can assure people right now that if a peak hour bus is full when it gets to a main connecting point, people will not be expected to get off and get on to a bus on the core route - that bus will continue on.”
“The highest number of responses, more than 30 percent, came from people in the northern suburbs, and a major concern was capacity and frequency of services. The proposal was for all services on the core route to go to and from Johnsonville via Newlands. People were concerned, for example, that city-bound buses would be full by the time they got to Newlands and travel times would be slower. We’re exploring the possibility of splitting this core route into an eastern and a western route, going to and from either Newlands or Johnsonville.”
“The proposed changes include some peak-only services travelling along the waterfront quays instead of the Golden Mile, again to reduce bus congestion in this part of the CBD. People want some assurances about accessibility between the Quays and the CBD. We need to do some intensive work with Wellington City Council about the options for overflow routes, for example, whether more bus stops can be installed on the Quays or whether alternative routes can be explored.”
“We received a lot of feedback about the need for adequate bus services to and from the various Victoria University campuses. We’ll be working with the university about their specific needs.”
Peter Glensor says the changes aim to provide more services more efficiently. “When we began reviewing Wellington bus services in late 2009 people told us they wanted more frequent services throughout the day and more services at evenings and weekends. And this certainly came through again in the recent consultation in terms of what people liked. The changes will provide about 15% more services overall, which is a huge increase, given the large number of services in Wellington City at the moment.
“However, if we were to provide more services with the current network, all that would result would be even more bus congestion than we currently have. At peak times in the mornings and evenings the Golden Mile is full with buses and this slows down travelling times throughout the city. As well as more services we need a more efficient network.”
The changes aim to create a new bus network with several core routes running at least every 10-15 minutes from morning to late at night seven days a week, secondary services running throughout the day and evening connecting the CBD and suburbs, and a large number of peak-only services direct to and from the CBD.
A new Wellington City bus network is expected to be finalised early next year. Changes would begin to be implemented from April or May 2013.
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