February 16, 2005

The 045 bus trip

I took the 045 bus from Pt Chevalier to Downtown for the first time over its full length of the route. It was a Monday morning, in rush hour, so the first stretch was not so much blocked with traffic as popular with bus punters eager to get on and off along the route. Hitting Great North Road, you could see the point of having a separate bus lane, even though it was used by so many buses that some were forced to get into the traffic proper to overtake at bus stops lest they be stuck behind another bus. Climbing up hill to Grey Lynn, it was a pleasure to by-pass at least 300 metres of queueing cars. Then we came to the rather ridiculous bus stop configuration at the Surrey Crescent shops. Some buses go downtown via Williamson Ave while other continue down Great North Road, forcing potential bus passengers to gamble which one will come first because the bus stops are not within walking/running distance. It's living proof that people who design bus travel, stops and routes don't themselves catch buses to work. Great North Road has its "buses only" lane but it quickly becomes a free for all the closer we edge towards the Ponsonby Road interchange. Result: Queues at the traffic lights in all lanes. Solution: equip bus drivers with PXT-capable phones so they can instantly send offenders' carplates to a database and dispatch an infringement notice and fine that arrives at work before the offender does. Easy. Costs 50c.
The slowest bit is, of course, down K Road and Queen Street. Why are there no bus lanes where they are needed most? One of the mysteries of public transport planning in Auckland. Result: painfully slow progress in heavy traffic - total time taken from Ponsonby Road to Downtown is more than half the total route time. Why not make Queen Street and Albert Street one way for cars (like Hobson/Nelson Streets) with bus lanes in each? Too easy?

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