Last year there was some talk of Onewa Road’s T3 lane being downgraded to becoming a T2 lane – an utterly mad proposal considering the enormous number of people that use the T3 lane at the moment (around 75% of people during the 7.30-8.30am peak hour). In fact, council modelling predicted that if the lane was converted to T2, more vehicles would be using it than the general lane: a crazy outcome as technically it would become more congested than the normal lane and therefore offer no advantage.
Thankfully, that proposal died a fairly silent death, and in late December we saw an extension to the Onewa Road T3 lane, and a new T3 lane on parts of Lake Road, leading up to the intersection with Onewa Road. The new section of T3 lane is shown in the map below:
This is a very handy addition, as it means that buses and T3 vehicles now have a clear run all the way down Onewa Road from the Highbury shops. Buses used to have to merge back into general traffic around the messy Lake Road/Queen Street intersection, and on the lower portion of Onewa Road (which in theory was single lane, though the traffic tended to form two lanes).
Interestingly, as someone who occasionally uses Onewa Road during the morning peaks (when I drop my daughter at school) an interesting side-effect of the change has been a general reduction in congestion along Onewa Road: even for traffic in the general lane. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive that removing roadspace for general traffic might improve the flow of cars – but I think there’s some logic as previously cars would go from one lane into two, and then back into one before getting on the motorway. Now most cars stay in the same right-hand lane, the buses have a lane for themselves and don’t block cars, there’s far less merging and the road’s throughput has been increased. Perhaps the best comparison to make would be the way in which closing passing lanes during holiday periods helps reduce congestion.
Now that the ‘downhill’ lanes are working so well, there seems to be little reason not to undertake the same thing on the other side of Onewa Road. Buses simply crawl up there now in the evening peak: getting stuck in general congestion and exacerbating it as they pull out in front of cars. If people on the northern side of Onewa Road can live without on-street parking for a couple of hours in the morning, I’m pretty sure people on the southern side could do the same for a couple of hours in the evening.