Both the Christchurch City Council and Ecan appear to be pleased with the performance of Christchurch’s bus lanes (where we have them at least).
Unfortunately, The Press once again missed the whole point by putting an “after all the millions of dollars we have spent on bus lanes on Papanui Rd we only get 42 seconds in time savings” spin on the whole thing. This was a misleading headline anyway as that was the figure for city bound morning peak hour services only. Outbound afternoon peak hour services saw savings of two minutes and 12 seconds (which begs the question of whether the disjointed nature of the Papanui bus lanes has led to the difference). Nevertheless, the real strength in the bus lanes, of course, is keeping transit times reliable and consistent, a point made by both the Council and Ecan.
Of most interest is a comment from Ecan acting director of operations, Wayne Holton-Jeffreys, pointing out that the bus lanes do not go the full distance leading to buses having to re-enter the general traffic stream at various points, which does take away some what from the point of the bus lanes. This is something I shook my head at when they were planning the route, so it’s good to see an official making a point of this, even if it is someone from Ecan and not the Council. Ultimately, the reason for the sporadic bus lanes was probably to please business owners, but it begs the question of what is worth more to the community and whether a business can hinge on a couple of car parks out front. Surely there are alternatives? Surely we should actually make the best use of the road for the community? Surely we can come to a balanced and fair solution that is not based on unsubstantiated emotive arguments? Right?
At the end of the day though, bus lanes appear to be leading to consistent and reliable travel times on routes they have been introduced to. Ultimately, this has been of great benefit to the public transport system and will do much to improve the image of bus travel in Christchurch. Some time savings is great news as well. It’s a shame that it had to be presented in the local media in a slightly negative way, particularly as this is some good news following all the disasters that have plagued the system recently (old broken buses, reliability issues, CBS etc).
Of some further note, Holton Jeffreys also made another interesting comment in The Press about the need for “future proofing”… whatever that means.