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Bus Transport in Christchurch Booming
Dorothy - 12/5/00

Consultation and careful planning bring results.
Environment Canterbury (formerly the Canterbury Regional Council), the organisation which oversees bus transport in Christchurch and surrounding districts, has been aiming to increase bus patronage in Christchurch and after public consultation has introduced new services.

The Orbiter stops to pick up its passengers
The Orbiter stops to pick up its passengers

Increased bus travel can ease traffic congestion
Not only has it been important to provide efficient transport to the people of Christchurch, but Environment Canterbury is concerned about the impact of growing urban traffic congestion on communities. Traffic planners estimate traffic on Christchurch's roads will increase by 43 per cent over the next twenty years.

Bus patronage booming
Thousands more people are taking public transport, according to the latest figures from Environment Canterbury. March patronage was up 10 per cent on the same time last year and a 15 per cent increase was recorded in February.

Why are more people travelling by bus?
Environment Canterbury believes better services are behind the growth.

"The improvements people wanted can be summarised in four words: frequency, connection, speed and quality. We've been working on all of these, and in response passengers are piling on," said Diana Shand, passenger transport spokesperson for Environment Canterbury.

Improvements include improved noise and emission controls, more modern buses, new routes and extended community consultation.

Wheelchair accessible buses
"Three years ago, there were no wheelchair accessible public buses in the city, but by November, they'll represent 60 per cent of the fleet," Cr Shand said.

The Orbiter buses carry nearly 50,000 passengers a month.
This new service, which as the name suggests orbits the City Centre rather than travelling to it, fulfils a long felt need for a bus to connect suburbs. Distinctive bright green buses can be seen regularly travelling across the north west side of the city from Papanui to Cashmere.

The suburban route has been carefully planned to pass close to five malls and nearby shopping centres, the University of Canterbury and student hostels, three large secondary schools, several intermediate and primary schools, two sports Centres, the Westpac Trust Centre, and the Princess Margaret Hospital. There are several points for transfer to buses on other routes including those that serve more remote areas like Lincoln, Burnham and Glentunnel. Passengers can ask for a transfer ticket when they board the bus.

School children enjoy travelling in the Orbiter
School children enjoy
travelling in the Orbiter

Photo source Environment Canterbury
The Orbiter runs seven days a week, every fifteen minutes during the day, and every thirty minutes at off peak times and the weekends.

The Orbiters are breaking all previous patronage records, carrying almost 50,000 passengers in a single month.

"Some of our main routes are doubling in frequency, and the Orbiter has been a tremendous boost to cross-suburb travel," said Cr Shand.

Environment Canterbury plans to launch the eastern leg of the Orbiter in November, years earlier than planned.

A range of timetables
Passengers who visit the office in the Square can obtain a range of timetables for the different bus routes, and pamphlets giving an overview like the Northwest Christchurch Bus Route Planner.

Over all passenger increase
"The great thing is that the growth is happening right across the system. From January to March this year, we carried 239, 214 more passengers than for the same time last year. That's an eleven per cent increase for the first quarter of the year," Cr Shand said.






 
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