A new bus route cutting through the heart of Christchurch is the first step in a plan to "revolutionise" public transport in the region.
Environment Canterbury (ECan) yesterday unveiled a series of changes to bus services, including altering 19 routes and adding a new "trunk line" linking the north and south corridor.
ECan commissioner Rex Williams said the changes would help build a more efficient public transport service based on a "hubs and spokes" model.
Under the model there will be five core routes, four of which will travel across Christchurch via the central city. The fifth, the Orbiter, will circle the city centre at a distance of several kilometres. Williams said the five core routes would be complemented by a network of secondary and local routes.
The idea was that passengers would travel to "hubs" in suburban centres before transferring to a core route to travel to the city centre.
"Instead of having 20-odd bus routes with six or seven passengers per trip we would have seven routes coming in [to the city] with 25/30 passengers per route," Williams said. He hoped the main routes and six key hubs would all be in place by 2015.
These hubs will initially be simple bus shelters, but some will eventually become actual bus terminals.
The Blue Line, which was announced yesterday, will run between Rangiora and Princess Margaret Hospital every 15 minutes. It will be the first of the core routes to begin operating. The service will start on December 3, linking with hubs at Princess Margaret Hospital, Central Station and Northlands.
On the same day, there will
be changes, some very minor, to 19 routes. Affected routes include Merivale, Cashmere, Redwood and Belfast.
ECan programme manager for transport Robert Woods said it was important to meet the needs of the region's residents with more people moving to live on the edge of the city after the earthquakes.
"It's the first step in a revolution of the network."
ECan wants the bus system to support 20 million individual bus trips every year by 2020.
Waimakariri-based list MP Clayton Cosgrove said the new service was vital for North Canterbury.
"[Waimakariri] has been bereft of public transport over the last few years, so I hope there's more come."
Williams said ECan would look at how the Blue Line worked in the next 18 months and would probably make further changes in 2014 before introducing the next core routes.
He expected another two core routes on the east/west corridor, similar to the Blue Line, to be set up by 2015, with a fourth line also introduced at a later date.
The key "hubs" on the east/west corridor were expected to be in Riccarton, Eastgate and the Palms.
The plan adds to the major transport changes planned for Christchurch.
Last week, the Christchurch Central Development Unit's draft Accessible City transport plan proposed reducing speed limits in some central Christchurch streets to 30kmh and making Kilmore and Salisbury streets two-way streets again.
#5 Hornby – New Brighton & Southshore
#8 Casebrook – Hoon Hay
#11 Styx Mill – Westmorland
#12 Northwood – Cashmere
#14 Harewood – Dyers Pass
#15 Bishopdale – Murray Aynsley
#18 St Albans – Huntsbury
#20 Burnside – Barrington
#22 Redwood – Spreydon
#28 Lyttelton & Rapaki
#45 North Shore
#912 Woodend Shuttle
#913 Woodend Shuttle F
or more information on the changes see www.metroinfo.co.nz
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can we afford a commuter rail service for North Canterbury?Related story: Traffic delays force commuter rail services probe