Bus interchange design unsafe, drivers say

Drivers fear design puts pedestrians at risk

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2014
bus interchange

BACKING UP: Traffic safety experts have concerns about buses having to reverse over a pedestrian crossing in the proposed bus exchange for central Christchurch.

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Bus drivers are worried that the Government's proposed Christchurch bus interchange will pose a safety risk to people.

Amalgamated Workers' Union (AWUNZ), the union for more than 500 bus drivers in Christchurch, said the exchange plans released by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority this month, showed buses would reverse out of parks.

AWUNZ assistant secretary Lindsay Chappell said: "It is a big concern among drivers because in the industry you do not reverse a vehicle of this length when you don't have someone to guide you. If a driver doesn't have vision, they should not move."

The planned interchange on Tuam, Colombo and Lichfield streets has 16 bus stops in a fan formation that buses drive into.

Cera says there will be 115 "bus movements" an hour when it opens in mid-2015.

Chappell said the zebra crossing within the bus interchange for staff and the reversing of buses made it unsafe.

"It doesn't matter the cages or lights they have proposed, people are unpredictable. It just takes one, and we want to avoid that trauma for bus drivers."

Environment Canterbury said it did not talk to the union but instead consulted bus firms, who were "happy" with the design.

Chappell said he understood the field test had been carried out but drivers were "not happy".

"Why on earth they [ECan and Cera] didn't want us there I don't know," he said.

Cera said similar bus interchanges in Hamilton and the United Kingdom used the reversing design.

Canterbury University transport engineer Dr Glen Korrey said the position of the staff zebra crossing was "a dumb location" because it was in the middle of the interchange.

Cera said only "trained staff" would use the internal zebra crossing. An "airport-style lounge" and glass doors would separate passengers from the buses.

Korrey said the rest of the plan looked safe.

"The key would be for them to come up with protocols for bus drivers to negotiate the interchange. For example, buses on the right give way."

Chappell said the union would have raised its safety concerns but had not been invited by ECan or Cera to make comment on the plans. The first it had seen was when it was released in media.

It is not the only organisation which is frustrated at the consultation behind the bus interchange.

ECan's Active and Passenger Transport Working Group, which has experts in transport design, sustainability and health, was "frustrated" at the lack of consultation.

APTWG administrator Kate McKenzie said it wanted to have feedback into the design before it was released.

It had been given a verbal brief but no "solid plans".

ECan said APTWG was invited to a meeting on January 29 and only one member attended.

"They [the working group] have now contacted someone at Cera, and I believe they are arranging a time for a briefing as their next meeting is not until May."

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