Major changes proposed for Riccarton Rd
The Riccarton Rd roundabout may be replaced with traffic lights as part of a council plan to improve bus travel times.
About 800 buses travel along Riccarton Rd every day but currently they have to jostle with other traffic, meaning it can take them anywhere from three to 30 minutes to get between Christchurch Hospital and Westfield Riccarton.
Authorities now hope to change that by giving buses their own dedicated lanes and priority at traffic lights so they can cut their journey time and provide a more reliable service for the thousands of bus users who journey through Riccarton each day.
As part of an Environment Canterbury-driven plan to improve the public transport network in Christchurch, the city council is looking at a range of bus priority options along Riccarton Rd.
As a first step it is proposing to:
- Replace the roundabout at the intersection of Riccarton Rd/Deans Ave/Riccarton Ave with traffic lights and introduce east and west-bound bus lanes on the Riccarton Rd approaches to the intersection.
- Introduce a peak-time bus lane on Riccarton Rd, between the Deans Ave intersection and the Picton St intersection. This bus lane would operate only during the morning and afternoon rush-hour for westbound buses.
- Introduce a full-time bus lane on the west-bound approach to the Clarence St/Straven Rd intersection from the Riccarton Rd/Picton Ave intersection.
- Give buses an early start at the traffic signals at the Riccarton Rd/Clarence St intersection so they can get ahead of general traffic.
Some on-street carparking on Riccarton Rd will be lost as a result of the proposed changes but it is proposed to introduce some short-term parking on Bartlett St to compensate.
In the Riccarton town centre – between the intersection of Clarence St/Straven Rd and Matipo St – the council is exploring three possible options for giving buses greater priority, including introducing peak-time bus lanes on both sides of the road.
Council infrastructure, transport and environment committee chairman Cr Phil Clearwater said it was crucial to the public transport network that changes were made to Riccarton Rd as fast as possible.
"With the congestion on that road I think everyone is now aware we have to get buses through," Clearwater said. "It is a matter of deciding how we do that."
The council planned to consult the public on a number of options but hoped to have the new bus priority measures in place by the end of the year. Some of the options would lose more carparking than others.
Clearwater said the Riccarton business community had opposed bus priority measures being introduced in the past because of the impact on on-street parking, but he was hoping they would be more receptive to the idea this time round.
"There has been research done which shows that people who catch buses or people who are on bikes are more likely to spend more than people who just park their cars and walk a short distance," Clearwater said.
Environment Canterbury strategy and programmes director Jill Atkinson said ECan had worked closely with the council on the proposals for Riccarton Rd and believed they were essential to getting buses running on time.
"We believe this proposal for Riccarton will provide more reliable travel times for everyone," Atkinson said.
- The Press