Cars could be banned from Courtenay Place under a proposal from Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.
The move would affect about 6500 private vehicles that use Courtenay Place on weekdays. It is aimed at creating a more reliable bus service and lifting bus use.
A shop-owner says it is an "absolutely ridiculous" plan that would hit retailers and was for a traffic problem that did not exist.
Ms Wade-Brown's proposal is a revival of a bus priority plan that was ditched in 2008 and eventually replaced by the Manners Mall bus lanes.
The 2008 plan contained five options to restrict private vehicle access in Courtenay Place, the most drastic of which was to close it between 6am and 6pm.
Ms Wade-Brown believes the council should now consider closing it round the clock. "It is probably sensible to consult on the complete range of fixes, but I would take a lot of convincing it should be 24/7," she said yesterday.
She favoured the other options, which involved various combinations of peak-hour restrictions on private vehicles. "We should definitely have Courtenay Place [traffic] in peak hours looked at."
About 300 bus trips go along Courtenay Place during morning and evening peak times, carrying about 40,000 passengers a day.
Removing vehicles from Courtenay Place would build on the successful opening of Manners Mall to buses, which had created a public transport spine through the central city, Ms Wade-Brown said.
Bennetts Giftworld owner Robin Bowers said removing private vehicles from Courtenay Place, even if only at peak times, was ridiculous. "Every retailer relies on traffic passing their door ... people would bypass Courtenay Place and go and shop at Queensgate or Porirua, where they can park for free. There is no traffic flow problem in Courtenay Place, and no buildup of traffic except on Saturday nights when people are cruising."
Courtenay Quarter Accord president John Coleman said buses, not private vehicles, should be removed from Courtenay Place. This would make it more pleasant for diners and drinkers.
Ms Wade-Brown suggested that taxi-stand sites would also be investigated, and other bus-only peak-hour lanes may be created in Cambridge and Kent terraces. Pirie St could be blocked off at its intersection with Kent Tce so buses would not have to stop at the intersection's traffic lights.
Peak bus-only lanes could also appear on Taranaki St between Buckle St and Courtenay Place.
The draft bus priority plan is likely to be presented to councillors later this year. If they give it the green light, it would then go out for public consultation.
Restrict private vehicles from 6am-6pm, Cambridge Tce to Taranaki St. Allow cars in only if they have local business.
From 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm, Cambridge to Taranaki St, no exception for business traffic.
From 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm, Cambridge to Tory St, no business traffic.
From 4pm-6pm, Cambridge to Taranaki St, no business traffic.
From 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm, Cambridge to Taranaki St, business traffic allowed.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown also wants a 24/7 vehicle ban investigated.
- The Dominion Post
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