Artist impression of Manners Mall with bus traffic.
Consultation on whether to revoke Manners Mall's pedestrian mall status to allow two-way bus travel through the mall begins today and submissions are required by 5.00pm on Friday 30 October.
The City Council's Principal Transport Planner, Greg Campbell, says bus operators and transport planners, who have looked closely at the bus route options, believe allowing buses to travel through Manners Mall is the single most beneficial change that could be made to improve bus travel times and reliability. "We hope people will carefully consider the proposal and think about the future needs of the city and its transport network."
The proposal is seen as an important step in further improving the main bus route through the city and builds on other work that has already been done in Lambton Quay and Willis Street to reduce delays and help the many thousands of people who use the city's buses every day get where they want to go more quickly.
The proposed changes would make it much clearer where to catch a bus because buses would travel between Courtenay Place and Willis Street via Manners Street rather than using the existing ‘split' route. At the moment, buses travelling to the Railway Station use Dixon, Victoria and Manners streets while those heading south wind their way along Mercer, Wakefield and lower Cuba streets.
We sought feedback on the idea of opening Manners Mall to buses last year. The reaction was mixed but many people told us they supported the principle of a quicker, simpler, more obvious bus route but didn't want to lose public space. "The new shared space proposed for lower Cuba Street has been developed in direct response to that concern," says Greg. "If the proposal goes ahead, we're also planning to create better pedestrian links and public spaces in Dixon, Wakefield and Mercer streets in the next few years. Vehicles will still use those streets but there are opportunities to improve them because they would no longer be used by buses."
The new public space proposed for lower Cuba Street is along the lines of similar shared areas developed in recent years and working well in Australia, Europe and the UK. The area would effectively extend Cuba Mall to Wakefield Street, providing better pedestrian links to Civic Square and the waterfront and space for large groups to watch street performances. Pedestrians would have priority but vehicles would still be able to travel through at walking speed and park to access local shops and businesses.
Manners Mall would no longer function as a mall. It would look and feel similar to other parts of Manners Street. A two-way 30 km/h roadway for buses would be constructed through it with low kerbs and wide footpaths on either side.
A detailed statement of proposal and summary brochure, both with submission forms, are available on the Council website in the Public Input section, from the Council service centre at 101 Wakefield Street, libraries or by phoning (04) 499 4444.