Warning over buses plan

Tauranga City councillors have been warned not to increase city parking fees before they increase cycle track and bus numbers in Cameron Rd.

BikeNow spokesman and sustainable business network co-ordinator Glen Crowther spoke about the council’s transportation plans in the public forum before this week’s Transportation Committee meeting.

The committee is recommending TCC take on a multi-million programme to tackle the city’s increasing traffic congestion by moving large numbers of people onto public transport – buses.

The parking fees increase is a tactic that will be used to make public transport more attractive to commuters.

Currently, buses take two-and-a-half times longer to travel to the CBD than the same journey by car. This excludes waiting times. Buses are more expensive than cars, not considering car running costs. And a return bus ticket to the CBD costs just over $5.

In Tauranga CBD there are more than 500 off-street carparks where the price for all-day parking ranges from $2 to $6. The average costs is $4.50. Parking concessions work out at $2 a day.

TCC is looking at investing more money in buses and radically increasing bus services along key routes in order to fight the increasing peak hour traffic congestion.

The plan involves boosting bus numbers along Cameron Rd from the 16 buses an hour to 26 buses an hour – or a bus every five minutes – by 2018.

This will be done by introducing priority measures for buses – priority at lights, queue jump lanes, shared lanes and clearways for buses. If full bus lanes are installed bus travel times along Cameron Rd would nearly halve from about 27 minutes to about 15 minutes.

Putting people on the buses is expected to cost TCC about $3.5 million in capital and construction costs for things like bus interchange sites.

At this stage the total cost estimate for the city council is $3.7m. About $200,000 is investigation costs and $ 3.5m capital and construction costs. About $2.5m of the $3.5m will be spent on improving Cameron Rd for buses.