Quake law to be used on bus hub

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2011

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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An emergency earthquake law is being used to get Christchurch's temporary bus exchange running by the end of next month.

The city has been without a permanent terminal since the February 22 quake, with makeshift exchanges set up at Hagley Park and Bealey Ave.

Bus patronage has dropped nearly 50 per cent as a result.

The city council is set to approve the site of the planned permanent hub in Lichfield, Tuam and Colombo streets for the temporary exchange.

It has made a request under the Canterbury Earthquake Order 2011, which bypasses resource consent by deeming the exchange "permitted" under the Resource Management Act.

The order has been used only once by the council for its own facilities – the temporary events village at Hagley Park in June.

Cr Chrissie Williams said a late-September goal to get the exchange running was "a challenge".

"I don't think we'll be operating before late September and we may not have all the bits installed until a bit later than that," she said.

The exchange will be built in two stages, the first allowing buses to enter only from one-way Lichfield St and exit travelling west on to Tuam St.

As the central-city cordon is reduced, the exchange will run both ways and include car parking, a waiting area and information displays.

Funding for the $827,400 project will come from the New Zealand Transport Agency, insurance and a Civil Defence temporary works claim.

Traffic congestion would be a problem at first, Williams said, but the council was considering measures such as slip lanes to improve the flow.

"As streets open up, there'll be less of that happening, but initially there'll be a lot of that double-tracking because of buses having to go around in circles," she said.

"It won't be as good as the old bus exchange. People will have to cross bus lanes to get to their bus, but it'll be better than what we've got now."

Inefficiencies in the current system were starting to take their toll, she said. "[Environment Canterbury] are very keen to get it going. They just can't afford to keep subsidising the buses as they have been."

Work has started on clearing the site.

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