From Sunday on, buses travelling between Lambton Quay and Courtenay Place will travel in both directions on Manners and Willis streets.
The first bus to use the new two-way route will be the Airport Flyer that leaves from the Lambton interchange at about 5.50am.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Council is committed to working with Greater Wellington, the New Zealand Transport Agency and the bus companies to improve public transport in the city and this project will help by providing a single public transport spine through the city that is shorter and more direct.
"During the day and at peak times, buses heading towards Courtenay Place will now have their own dedicated lane all the way from the Lambton bus interchange to Taranaki Street and there will be more bus-only lanes in the other direction too," she says. "Wellingtonians are big users of public transport and we want to encourage that."
Mayor Wade-Brown says Wellingtonians made it clear during early feedback on the project that they weren't happy to lose public space and as a result, the idea of a shared space in lower Cuba Street was developed where pedestrians will have priority.
"The work in lower Cuba Street is due to start in January and be finished ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup. Lots of deciduous trees and native plants will be planted, so during spring and summer particularly, the area will be a lot greener and more attractive than it is at the moment. The changes will create a more appealing link from Cuba Mall to Civic Square and the waterfront and help rejuvenate this area."
It will still be possible to drive through lower Cuba Street, park and exit on to Wakefield Street but a 10 km/h speed limit will apply.
The Council's Transport Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, says the Council has deliberately kept the footpaths through the former mall area wide as Manners Street will continue to be a major pedestrian thoroughfare.
"Most of us use a mix of transport - lots of us walk, an increasing number of us cycle, we use public transport more than any other Australasian city and people still want to be able to access the city centre by car at times. The changes we have been making in the central city over the past few months have been carefully planned to take all of those things into account.
"The Council's transport strategy has long been to provide for all modes of transport while encouraging more use of public transport, walking and cycling to help address congestion, energy use and climate change."
The new bus route means changes for bus users, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
It will no longer be possible to get on or off the bus in Dixon Street and the only buses that will continue to use Wakefield and Taranaki streets are buses that have always gone that way.
The new Manners Street bus stops are near Burger King and Arty Bees Books.
To help make the city safer, the 30 km/h speed limit is being extended from Sunday to coincide with the start of the new bus route. It will apply all the way from the bus interchange to the Embassy-end of Courtenay Place. Pedestrians will need to take extra care crossing and look both ways, particularly in Willis and Manners streets where buses will be travelling in both directions.
Motorists need to be aware that they won't be able to enter lower Cuba Street from Wakefield Street any more. The flow of traffic is being reversed. There are also more bus-only lanes and time-related restrictions.
For instance, the new busway through what was Manners Mall will be for buses only at all times. General traffic will be able to travel along Manners Street from Willis Street to Victoria Street at weekends and over night (7.00pm and 6.00am) Monday to Friday. At other times, Manners Street will be bus-only in both directions between Willis and Victoria streets.
People can get detailed information about the changes in the Projects section of this website:
Projects - Restoring the Golden Mile