Bus superstop relies on car-park deal

Plans to build a bus "superstop" on Riccarton Rd hinge on the city council securing a lease on part of the Westfield shopping centre car park.

The council's environment committee yesterday approved concept plans for a $665,000 superstop on the south side of Riccarton Rd. It will incorporate two mini-lounges for waiting bus passengers but before this it needs to persuade Westfield New Zealand to hand over about 10 parking spaces.

Council asset and network planning manager Terry Howes said negotiations with Westfield were at a "delicate stage".

The council is under pressure to get the new superstop built by December, when Environment Canterbury is scheduled to roll out the next phase of its "hubs and spokes" bus network.

The council plans to create a signalised pedestrian crossing between Matipo and Kauri Sts, to allow people to safely get from the south-side superstop to the more modest superstop proposed for the north side of Riccarton Rd.

"This is the busiest bus corridor in the city. We all recognise that the current facilities are not adequate, both from a waiting perspective and a safety perspective . . . and we desperately need to get something in place as quickly as possible," Howes told the committee.

Andrew Russell, of engineering firm Aurecon, which has been working on the project for the council, said the proposed pedestrian crossing would have a minor effect on traffic flows along Riccarton Rd.

The mini-lounges included in the south-side superstop would not be fully enclosed but would provide some protection from the weather. They would be constructed largely from laminated glass so people waiting for buses would be clearly visible and would have wi-fi access and real-time bus information. Questioned whether the superstops could be built by the end of the year, Russell said it was a tight timeframe but the plan was to pre-fabricate much of the structure off site and to use modular components that could be re- used in another location once a permanent indoor waiting lounge was set up in Riccarton.

Environment committee chairman Cr Phil Clearwater said if the council wanted to reduce congestion on Riccarton Rd by getting more people onto buses, it was important they provided high- standard facilities.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck said because Riccarton Rd was one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city, the council needed to build something that functioned well and looked good.

The Press