New bus priority lanes on the Main South Road in the Christchurch suburbs of Hornby and Sockburn will improve bus services and ultimately should help ease increasing traffic congestion in the south east of the city.
Buses start using the new lanes between the Sockburn round-about and Halswell Junction Road from Tuesday 20 March between 7-9am central city bound and from 3-6pm suburb bound. Signs will let drivers know when the bus lanes, which can also be used by cyclists and motorcyclists, are in use. The new bus lanes are a joint of NZ Transport Agency, Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council project.
NZ Transport Agency State Highways Manager Colin Knaggs says work on this initiative was well underway before the February 2011 earthquakes but was put on hold so priority could be given to earthquake related work. Now is the right time to get this initiative underway as these two areas are experiencing considerable population and traffic growth since the quakes.
“These new lanes will improve bus travel times and make public transport an attractive alternative for those currently travelling by car. Christchurch has the highest rate of car ownership in New Zealand, so it is not surprising that many vehicles a day are now delayed by traffic congestion in the City. The Canterbury earth quakes have changed travel patterns further exacerbating congestions level.”
Mr Knaggs said a reliable, safe, comfortable and convenient bus system offers a serious alternative to driving cars, and a solution to reduce the City’s traffic congestion. A full bus equates to 40 fewer cars on Christchurch roads. To get people out of their cars, bus travel times need to be more reliable and priority bus lanes like these ones help achieve that.
These separate bus lanes will improve the flow of traffic by reducing the need for buses to merge with traffic after picking up and setting down passengers. Main South Road will still offer motorists two lanes in each direction from the Sockburn round-about through to Chalmers Street.
More details on how to use bus lanes can be found at www.buspriority.co.nz(external link)