Mini-lounge touted for bus passengers
More than $1 million could be spent on improving waiting facilities for bus passengers along Riccarton Rd as an interim measure to appease Environment Canterbury (ECan).
ECan is scheduled to roll-out the next phase of its "hubs and spokes" bus network in December and has been pushing the city council for a new suburban interchange in Riccarton to cater for passengers transferring between its feeder services and core high-frequency service routes.
As an interim option, the council was looking at leasing retail space in Riccarton Rd and using that as a passenger waiting lounge.
It ditched that idea earlier this year after encountering strong opposition from Riccarton Rd shop owners and decided instead to investigate options for waiting facilities along the Westfield Mall frontage, near McDonald's.
The council's environment committee will today consider a report which recommends the council spend $1.1m on building a "mini-lounge" to cater for between 55 and 65 passengers on the Westfield Mall (or south) side of Riccarton Rd and a new cantilevered 18-metre long bus super-shelter on the north side. It is proposed to link the two with a new signalised pedestrian crossing.
Council transport policy engineer Philip Basher said in his report the mini-lounge and super-shelter would have real-time information screens, seating, security and wi-fi access.
They would provide an improved passenger experience until a permanent passenger transport hub could be built in the area, he said.
Basher warned there were several issues which could risk the successful delivery of the new shelters by the December deadline.
The council needed to reach an agreement with Westfield New Zealand to lease, buy or swap about 200 square metres of their car parking (about 10 car parks) and landscaping area to accommodate the new shelters, and there was no guarantee that would happen.
It would also need to obtain resource consent , which could take some time, especially if there were objections.
Riccarton-Wigram community board chairman Mike Mora said the interim solutions council staff had come up with were "absolutely wonderful" and would ensure there was a better level of service for bus passengers until a permanent indoor waiting lounge could be provided.
A working party is exploring potential sites around Westfield Mall for such a lounge, with a view to potentially incorporate it with a new community centre for Riccarton.
It was due to report its preliminary findings shortly, Mora said.
BUSY BUS CORRIDOR
The Riccarton Rd corridor is the busiest bus corridor in the city and the section of Riccarton Rd between Matipo and Clarence streets is the busiest passenger hub outside the central city.
More than 2800 passengers board bus services at the bus stop on this section of the road daily - a 40 per cent increase on the numbers boarding in February 2011.
The high traffic volumes and congestion along the corridor lead to significant operational problems for buses, particularly in the peak periods.
A public transport hub or suburban interchange on Riccarton Rd, near the Westfield Mall, is considered by Environment Canterbury to be an integral part of the city's overall public transport network and essential for the recovery of the network post earthqua