Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Just the ticket

Many thanks to Greg for pointing out something that should be more widely known: for the month of July, Daytripper passes (unlimited bus travel within zones 1-3 after 9am weekdays and all day at weekends) are half price. At $3, that brings it down to the same cost as the carbon-unfriendly cheap weekend parking that was announced with much more fanfare than this bus deal. Conspiracy theorists, take note

$3 Daytripper bus faresIn less positive news, Stagecoach (or is it Go Wellington? Or NZBus? There's a real mishmash of branding at the moment) also announced that the City Circular service has been withdrawn. They put the blame on the fact that "patronage has fallen as the frequency of our other services through the city have improved", but might it not also have something to do with the fact that a couple of years ago they doubled the fares, making it more expensive than a standard zone 1 ticket? It's fair enough, I guess: I can't remember the last time I used it. But perhaps in the long term there'll be a place for a replacement service, perhaps even a free one.


At 4:08 pm, July 05, 2007, Blogger munkisquisher said...

They need to take a look at the equivalent bus that does loops of the central city in Christchurch, not only are they almost silent hybrid buses, they are free to ride, and are consistently busy.

Infact stagecoach could learn a lot from the Christchurch bus system. From the digital readouts on almost every stop that tell you how many minutes till the next bus (each stop tracks the buses wirelessly as they pass) to the online timetable that is actually readable on a cellphone browser.

At 5:47 pm, July 05, 2007, Blogger mikeymike said...

couldnt agree more james. although silent busses may prove even more dangerous for those punters who like to play frogger across willis and lambton.

and the cynic would say that installing readouts would increase frustration. especially on the no7 route (sigh...). with readers, unreliability will then be "up in lights".

having said that, we've put up with enough this last year or so to suggest that arrival displays would be welcomed as nothing short of a revolution. bring them on i say!

as you were

At 3:52 am, July 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a woeful lack of good research into the effectiveness of these bus improvements in Christchurch, particularly regarding demographics of the increased patronage.

The impact on car ownership and traffic growth has been negligible to date. Transit's travel-time surveys show that off-peak congestion on major arterials is much worse than Auckland or Wellington.

There is strong anecdotal evidence (from life-long bus drivers)that the growth in patronage is coming almost entirely from teens, superannuitants, cyclists and asian students and immigrants. Of course increased use by teens, especially of the mall Orbiter,could have a positive impact in the future and would definitely be helping the economics of off-peak services.

The failure to properly research the effectiveness of increased motorists subsidies to public transport can only increase scepticism that the rationale of motorists being the major beneficiaries is just window dressing. In fact overseas research suggests that this approach on its own doesnt work. It needs to be accompanied by removal of kerbside parking, pedestrian speed limits, congestion charging and similar initiatives otherwise motorists simply will not get value for their money and their willingness to pay will nosedive.

Or maybe it is simply that there is something perverse about Christchurch people that makes them use the one mode of transport that the city's roads are uniquely unable to cope with in large numbers. It is actually a compact city by New Zealand standards with a perfect arrangement of roads for effective bus routes and comfortable, safe cycling yet the residents prefer to travle to the many many shopping malls at a 30km/h crawl. Might have to explain that pervisity before any prgress can be made on reducing congestion in this city. Perhaps Christchucrh is really New Zealnd's most American city rather than it's most English?

What hasn't worked in Christchucrh may very well work wonders in Wellington and Auckland.

At 9:45 am, July 06, 2007, Blogger stephen said...

the growth in patronage is coming almost entirely from teens, superannuitants, cyclists and asian students and immigrants.

That has the unfortunate implication, kevyn, that those groups don't deserve to have a way to get around the city easily. I'm sure you didn't mean that, but there is more to public transport than getting people out of cars.

At 11:36 am, July 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strangely, I always felt embarrassed when I saw a tourist hop on the city circular. Partly because they were being ripped off, partly because it was such a silly narrow strip it ran through and it only ran in one direction. It was mighty inefficient.

It might make better sense if it came back but wasn't targeted so much at just tourists, but shuttling all pedestrians instead. It could reached up into Thorndon a bit (up/down Molesworth/Thorndon) and up into Te Aro a bit. And it would have to run both ways to make sense.

At 12:28 pm, July 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is also a similar free city loop service in Central Auckland, and that is very well used. It too uses hybrid electric buses to carry passengers. There is also the more frequent and popular 'Link' service, which runs around the inner city area. Surely Wellington can have something similar, perhaps using the trolley buses?

At 2:41 pm, July 06, 2007, Blogger i_am_sam said...

How about replacing the city circular with a bus service between the Railway Station and Waitangi Park, running up and down the Quays, looping around NW via Cable St and back down Wakefield Street to Taranaki then back onto the Quays?

Would be better if it was light rail, but it would be a good start - free of the congestion down Courtenay/Willis/Lambton. There could be a dedicated bus lane in each direction and services at 10 minutes intervals at commuter times.

The waterfront is a good shortcut accross the city for lots of pedestrians, but the weather isn't always conducive. Could also help to better connect the city to the waterfront by drawing people out from Courtenay/Willis/Lambton.

At 2:48 pm, July 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Sam: I think you're right that a linear route could be more appropriate than a circular one. The route you suggest is more direct than the golden mile, yet rarely more than 200m from it, and with more activity starting to occur on and near the waterfront, it could be the best choice. To be really successful, it would have to be free and very frequent (once every 5 minutes at most).

At 8:15 pm, July 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always thought that light rail along the Quays and Terraces to Courtenay and the Basin (or hospital!) would be a great plan - heaps of room on those roads, fewer buses to get in the way and a great boost to the waterfront. Also, easily extendable to the airport :) And, I have to agree with the inadequacy of the Wellington bus system re real time info. The text system is just silly - we all know what the timetable says and we all that it's largely irrelevant. I love the Christchurch system - once you've spent some time in a city knowing how much longer the damn bus will be... do I wait in the cold or do I have time to nip into Farmers and buy some undies... you notice it when it isn't there. Also I thought the buses were getting electronic ticketing this year...?

At 12:29 am, July 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen, I agree that there is more to public transport than getting people out of cars. For that reason general taxation should provide much of the funding for the PT subsidies instead of the whole lot coming from petrol taxes. It is the politicians who insist that motorists foot the bill who are the ones stating that "motorists are the main benificiary of increased spending on public transport" (Jeanette Fitzsimons). Labour must agree with this as it was they who turned the National Road Fund into The National Land Transport Fund, twice, once in 1989 and again this decade.


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