Victoria Street Upgrade

Council recently finished consulting on changes to Victoria Street (here).

This will likely now be approved and constructed. As I summarised previously here, it has been a long and confusing road for this project, which began its life as a significant change to the way transport would function on Victoria Street, but has ended up being little more than a reseal of the existing road.

To recap, the Accessible City identified Victoria Street as a street where priority was to be given to public transport, walking and cycling. It is one of the city’s busiest bus routes, with most of the city’s northern residents being serviced by bus routes that use Victoria Street: 300+ buses shift around 5,000 people every day.

The proposed improvements certainly make walking a bit nicer with wider footpaths and some beautification. I’m not sure there’s a lot of improvement for cycling – Cycling for Christchurch talks more about that here. The thing that really sticks out to me is that there is no improvement at all for public transport.

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The council report doesn’t deny this, stating that the recommended option:

Does not provide significant improvements to public transport journey time reliability (to be addressed under the Salisbury and Kilmore Streets two way conversion projects).”

The submission from the public transport team at Ecan shows pretty clearly that they are not happy at this lack of public transport priority. There is also a hint that they see this as CCC breaking their promise to support public transport in the central city:

“Environment Canterbury has routed its bus services in the central city in accordance with what was agreed in partnership through the An Accessible City Plan process. This means that Victoria Street is used by the Blue Line, route 29, and route 95. At peak times there can be up to 14 buses an hour travelling via Victoria Street.

This means that Victoria Street is the main bus corridor serving northern Christchurch, aligning with the existing bus priority corridors on Papanui Road, Main North Road, and Manchester Street. Improving the competitiveness through improved route priority is a key contributor to mode shift to public transport.

The intersections of Victoria Street with Salisbury and Kilmore Streets are excluded from this consultation, as they will be delivered with these one-way to two-way changes. However the delivery of these changes has been delayed until the mid-2020s. The main opportunities for providing appropriate bus priority along Victoria Street are at these intersections, so we would like to see these changes brought forward to deliver this.

It will also not be possible to provide the most appropriate public transport network in this part of the central city until these one-way street changes are made.”

It seems that the whole operation of Victoria Street hinges on the future changes to the intersections of Salisbury and Kilmore, along with Bealey Avenue.

It’s a shame that this means another 6 or so years of slow, unreliable buses down Victoria Street. Let’s hope that the Kilmore/Salisbury project can be brought forward as requested and that, whenever it does roll around, genuine change comes with it rather than just getting kicked further down the track.

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