The recent addition of a pedestrian/cycle underpass at Bayfair opens up the possibility of futureproofing bus infrastructure as part of the B2B project – to serve massive future population growth in Papamoa. NZTA and the Councils are urged to construct new bus stops as well as a dedicated bus lane to connect to Hewletts Rd.
We commend NZTA on the decision to include an underpass as part of the B2B project. It is heartening to see flexibility in the system has enabled a design improvement as a response to new Government direction and community feedback.
We now urge you to take the project one step further and help facilitate a move away from car dependency – and construct much-needed bus infrastructure at the same time. Not only will this provide a reliable and efficient alternative to private cars, it will also enable much better use of the under-utilised bus lanes on Hewletts Rd, as well as providing significant cost savings by constructing NOW, as opposed to a retrofit at a later date.
We all know the B2B project will still not solve congestion for commuters coming in to the city by car because of the bottleneck on Hewletts Road. The only real solution to this is to increase public transport use along Hewletts Rd, and fortunately, bus lanes already exist.
With traffic increasing over the last two years by 8 percent per year, and approximately 8000 homes being proposed in Te Tumu over the next 10 years – there is no question that public transport options are urgently needed.
We propose the following should be considered as a priority (refer diagram):
- Construction of new bus stops at the Bayfair intersection. These will be adjacent to the proposed pedestrian underpass and allow people to easily access all locations in the vicinity. Locating the bus stops next to the B2B will allow fast and frequent drop off, and continuation into the CBD. It will also allow connection with potential park n’ ride, cycle parking etc.
- In addition to the new bus stops, we propose a new dedicated citybound bus lane along Maunganui Rd, to connect to the existing bus lanes on Hewletts Rd. This is a vital link to be completed, if we are to get efficient and reliable services. Not building this will mean buses are simply stuck in traffic with cars. We acknowledge that land may be tight, however negotiations should be commenced now to acquire land as needed.
We think there are two options for the bus lane (refer attached figure):
1) Option 1: Along Maunganui Rd and under the flyover which would require accommodating an additional lane within the road reserve.
2) Option 2: Along Maunganui Rd and then MacDonald St (requiring an additional rail crossing and private land acquisition). This may resolve some of the complexity of navigating the two roundabouts.
- For east-bound buses, there is a single section of ‘bottleneck’ that should be resolved near the Golf Rd roundabout (shown above).
- We note the construction of the Bayfair underpass should also reopen the discussion of the services required at the bus interchange on Farm St. This proposal has met with significant community opposition and should be revisited.
We urge NZTA to collaborate with BOPRC and TCC to try and turn this from a disappointing legacy project to a success story for Tauranga.