Bus detours cost $300k

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014

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Buses detouring around post-earthquake roadworks will cost ratepayers $300,000.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is footing the bill for the unexpected cost to bus firms of negotiating the city's roadworks.

The costs include more bus driver hours, and additional kilometres and buses.

ECan passenger services manager David Stenhouse said it could not expect bus firms to bear the cost because detours were not factored into operator pricing.

The $100,000 financial-year cost is budgeted for in the annual plan. A further $200,000 has been budgeted for next year's costs.

There has been a seven-fold increase in the amount of roadworks since the earthquakes, and this is predicted to ramp up this year.

Stenhouse said the biggest culprits were the New Brighton Rd detours and the Sumner causeway detour.

Due to commercial sensitivity, he could not say how much the specific detours cost bus firms, Red Bus and Go Bus.

"Each variation is negotiated directly with the bus company operating the affected route."

The toll of roadworks was not just financial, Amalgamated Workers' Union secretary Lindsay Chappell said.

Drivers were under "unprecedented" stress from the roadworks. "Stress levels are just too high . . . when drivers are stressed it can lead to more accidents," he said.

"Drivers are meant to take a half-hour break every five and a half hours but the roadworks and detours are keeping them driving too long without a break.

"Passengers and members of the public are frustrated with the delays, and take it out on the driver," he said.

Last month, ECan's performance, audit and risk committee noted that "the unreliability of the network" was an issue because of roadworks.

More buses were put out on the roads and buses rescheduled to help.

Despite lengthy delays and roadworks, bus users had increased by 5.18 per cent compared to the same period last year.

This meant network changes made in December 2012 were encouraging bus use, Stenhouse said.

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