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This is the final version of our submission, sent Chritmas Eve, 2016.

Submission to Otago Regional Council bus hub consultation, December 2016

from Bus Go Dunedin: Bus Users Support Group Ōtepoti Dunedin


Bus Go Dunedin is proud to support the Otago Regional Council's plan for a bus hub.

In this submission, we will:

  • discuss the choice of location
  • outline the design concepts which we support
  • make suggestions for improvements or adjustments to the design
  • propose a radical reduction in the size of the hub which we believe will lower costs and increase benefits for both users and non-users

Location

Bus Go Dunedin is aware of opposition to the proposed location. We do not hold a strong view in favour or against the proposed location, but we ask that all parts of the city centre presently served by bus continue to be served, and some unserved parts of thecity center also be served. We accept the view of the Otago Regional Council that frequent Octagon street closures are disruptive to the present bus service. We also accept the Otago Regional Council's view that Moray Pl North is an undesirable bus route due to frequent closures for Town Hall events, but we are advised by DCC that the street here is never closed at the same time as George St near the Octagon, so we believe service by a few buses per hour from the hub to the City Library is possible and desirable by diverting a couple of hill routes via Moray Pl North.

Bus Go Dunedin requests:

  • that no part of the city centre be removed from the bus network as a result of introducing a bus hub
  • that city centre bus stops continue to be at roughly 200-metre intervals
  • that new bus stops be installed:
    • in Moray Pl South near Princes St
    • Moray Pl North near Filleul St (with alternative stop at George/Moray)
    • Dunedin Hospital
    • Dunedin Railway Station
    • Dunedin Chinese Garden

Access to location from the retail core

It is noted that the bus hub will be distant from the main George St shopping area. The lack of protection from rain between George St and the hub as proposed represents a downgrade of facilities, as all current principal bus stops in the city centre are linked from George St by uninterrupted veranda cover apart from street crossings. Bus Go Dunedin requests that the George St be linked to the hub by uninterrupted rain protection.

Community House represents an obstacle, a sort of "hairpin bend" on the way to the hub. There is an opportunity to create a convenient covered walkway to provide a shortcut behind Community House, with retail space which could draw benefit to the property from the passing pedestrian traffic. Forcing people to walk two sides of a triangular building without rain protection is unfair and unacceptable. If the heritage status of this building prevents a veranda being added, then a free-standing shelter not attached to the building should be added along both frontages.

Design

Bus Go Dunedin applauds the excellent design concepts for the bus hub. In particular we approve of:

  • the raised kerb heights to make boarding and alighting easier
  • the provision of generous "entry taper" and "exit taper" to allow all stops to be entered and exited by buses
  • the marking of stands with letters "A, B, C" etc, not numbers, which can be confused with route numbers
  • the use of bold colour and a distinctive design theme to inform visitors to the hub that they are in a unique part of the city
  • the use of attractive shelters, seating, stalls and other street furniture

Design adjustments

  • raised kerbs of the "tyre-friendly" type can encourage bus drivers to position their vehicles extremely close to the footpath without fearing damage to their vehicles. Bus Go Dunedin requests "tyre-friendly" bus stop kerbs be used. We recommend that the Otago Regional Council consult the Hamilton City Council engineer Kirsty Horridge and adopt her award-winning design of "Kirsty Kerb" ( see link: http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/82007087/award-winning-kirsty-kerb-opens-up-city-to-disable-people )
  • the lack of protection from rain between the stands at the proposed represents a downgrade of facilities, as all current principal bus stops in the city centre are linked by uninterrupted veranda cover apart from street crossings. Bus Go Dunedin requests that the hub provide uninterrupted rain protection between all hub stands.
  • the use of bold colours is attractive but may mislead, dazzle or confuse people with vision impairment People might "follow" a coloured stripe from a safe area into an unsafe area. Bus Go Dunedin supports the use of bold colour but asks that it given some functionality beyond attractive appearance, and be used to indicate safe walking and waiting areas, perhaps using route colours as a theme, and in consultation with visually impaired users.


Our proposal for "the half-hub"

  • half the cost
  • half the effect on local property owners
  • half the effect on motorists
  • half the walking distance between the outermost bus stands

Bus Go Dunedin has researched the behaviour of bus operations in the city centre. At principal "timing point" stops, we note that buses spend far more time simply waiting than they do loading or unloading passengers. At another important city stop, in George St outside Farmers department store (not a timing point), we have spent long periods closely observing the uninterrupted arrival, loading/unloading and swift departure of a steady stream of buses. All but one of Dunedin's bus routes serving the city centre use this present stop, which has room for two buses (or three at a squeeze). The fact that this stop is able to accommodate almost all present Dunedin bus traffic (in one direction) should provide an alternative model for the Hub design.

Here is a link to a timelapse video of the Farmers stop. The continuous arrival and departure of buses at this non-timing stop can be clearly understood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuYcBYBIJfQ

Bus Go Dunedin is aware of opposition to the hub. We have no desire to see bus passengers benefit at the great expense of retailers, motorists or visitors to the Police Station, and we support the concerns of many opponents to the hub proposal. As advocates for passengers we take no comfort from non-users of the bus service getting a harder time visiting the city.

We note that the outermost bus stands at either end of the hub are as far apart as some existing bus stops along George St. We think this is too far to require people to walk to change buses.

Bus Go Dunedin requests that the hub be reduced to about half its size. This will provide transferring passengers a much easier transfer and will allow a far more efficient and continuous use of the hub by buses. The hub would only consume half the number of on-street parking spaces.

Here is how we propose that this should work:

  • bus timetables are rewritten such that buses arrive "just in time" at the city centre, with waiting periods rescheduled to the outer suburbs
  • buses hold short of the hub a couple of stops back, for example near the Exchange, near London St, near York Pl, to ensure punctual arrival at the hub
  • no timing point is applied at the hub itself
  • an arrival platform or platforms for buses used only for unloading, possibly with turnstiles and kerb-mounted Go Card machines set back from the footpath to control flow of passengers

A departure platform used only for loading, possibly with turnstiles and card machines as above, possibly with a facility to "pay before boarding". The departure platform would only be used by one bus at a time; the buses would be listed in order of departure on an electronic display.

The reduction in size of the hub would benefit users and non-users:

  • shorter walking distances for transferring passengers
  • better access for motorists to nearby shops and the Police Station

The reduction in size of the hub would greatly lower costs, enabling:

  • more money for bus services
  • more money for better full veranda cover, including possibly out and over the stopped buses

The "bus stadium"

The cost savings from halving the size of the hub as outlined above could give an opportunity to provide a much higher level of weather protection, such as an overall roof. This could be modelled on the design of Forsyth Barr Stadium.


Our proposal for the "emergency hub"

The bus hub will become critical infrastructure. An unpredicted event or emergency at the hub would cause disruption of a far greater scale than at present caused by disruptions to present city routes from time to time.

Bus Go Dunedin requests that an "emergency hub" be set aside, with the following:

  • an acceptable reduced level of accessibility and comfort
  • a rehearsed plan for diverting buses
  • a rehearsed plan for setting up the hub
  • temporary signs and road cones made available in a locked cabinet next to the emergency hub
  • brief information about the emergency hub included in timetables
  • normal parking and street activity at all times of non-use

We suggest Filluel St between Moray Pl and St Andrew St for the emergency hub location.

Name of the hub

While "the bus hub" is a good name for an engineering project, it is an uninspiring name for a public facility. Bus Go Dunedin requests that the Otago Regional Council consult mana whenua and other authorities and come up with a distinctive historic or culturally significant name for the hub. We offer the name change from "Crossrail" to "Elizabeth Line" for London's newest underground railway as an example.

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