Firms oppose interchange

LOIS CAIRNS AND RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2013

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Businesses are pleading with the city council to rethink its plans for a bus interchange along busy Riccarton Rd.

Speaking on behalf of 32 Riccarton Rd business owners, Arthur McKee told councillors yesterday main-street retailers were already struggling to compete against internet shopping, and didn't need the council making it harder by putting a bus interchange in their midst.

The removal of nine parking spaces, and the installation of three bus stops and an interchange, would ruin the shopping experience along Riccarton Rd, and deter people, particularly the elderly and the disabled, from shopping there.

"The good shops will depart . . . and it will be a downward spiral for the area," McKee said.

The proposed site of the bus stops and interchange was already a bottleneck.

With buses moving in and out all the time it would become more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, and make it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through.

The business owners were not against the idea of a bus lounge, but believed the council had chosen the wrong site.

Diva clothing shop owner Elizabeth Alabaster said if the interchange went ahead she would have to move.

More than 2800 people join or leave bus services on Riccarton Rd daily, making it the city's busiest bus corridor.

As part of its new "hubs and spokes" public transport system, Environment Canterbury (ECan) wants the council to build an off-street suburban bus interchange in busy Riccarton Rd.

A survey by Opinions Market Research Ltd of 400 people at Riccarton bus stops found 83 per cent supported the proposed passenger lounge location, and 87 per cent supported including a cafe.

The interchange would have a passenger lounge capable of accommodating 65 waiting passengers, a cafe, free WiFi, toilets and up-to-the-minute bus information on airport-style screens.

ECan chairwoman Dame Margaret Bazley told councillors an average of 3000 people passed through Riccarton by bus daily.

"These people are the elderly, mothers with young children, schoolchildren, low-paid workers, the shopping public of Christchurch and people who are committed to reducing their carbon [footprint]," she said. "They need a safe, quality facility and I believe they will respect it."

Martin Taylor, from the Central Riccarton Residents' Association, agreed with ECan that an interchange was needed but believed the location was wrong.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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