Sometimes it’s little things that can have a big impact on public transport and a bus full of people, stuck in bus stop because cars won’t let the bus out is a great example of one of those little things. It’s something that manages to tick mist of the boxes on the wrong side of the ledger and is frustrating while wasting both time and money. Some examples of why are:
- For passengers it makes buses slower and therefore less competitive compared to driving and therefore less attractive to use
- For operators and transport agencies like Auckland Transport slower buses mean they cost more to run because either more buses are needed to provide the same level of service or alternatively services need to be reduced.
- For private vehicle drivers, others pushing past buses can slow the entire road down, this was seen following the conversion of the Tamaki Dr bus lanes to T2.
Yet changing our rules to make it easier for buses to get of bus stops has to be one of the easiest things we could fix. And that’s something that NZ Bus have now raised.
New Zealand’s biggest bus company is calling for a new traffic law to give commuter buses right of way over cars.
NZ Bus says some buses are waiting minutes at each stop in for cars to let them into the stream of peak traffic.
Two minutes might not sound like much, but when it’s added to every stop on a busy route, it means buses are constantly running late.
“We think letting the bus go first is actually going to be not only good for the bus, but it’s going to have less people in cars and more people on public transport, and that’s hopefully going to be a win-win for all,” chief operating officer Shane McMahon says.
NZ Bus says on average a peak-time bus in Auckland carries 35-40 people. But on busy routes like Mt Eden Road, Sandringham Rd, Dominion Rd, Remuera Rd there’s up to 70 people on board.
A lot of Auckland’s main arterial roads have bus lanes, but not all the way into the city.
As mentioned in the article, many countries require divers to give way to buses pulling out of bus stops
Drivers in Australia, Singapore, and most of the UK must give buses the right of way. But with bigger traffic problems to fix, the Ministry of Transport says it’s not even on its agenda.
It would be interesting for one of our agencies to do an economic evaluation of the lost time caused by bus delays. A single bus with around 40 people on it delayed by just five minutes per trip equates to around 200 minutes which is over 3 hours, and that’s just for one bus on one trip. Multiply the delays across all buses across an entire year and the amount of lost time would be simply huge. My guess is the BCR would for fixing this would be off the charts and as a bonus, faster buses mean they’re cheaper to run and likely to attract even more passengers.
Now I must also say how good it was to see the media not just talking about the idea but showing just how much more efficient buses are by counting how long it took for the same number of people in cars to pass the bus stop, 1 minute 20 seconds. It’s why a bus lane that looks empty is actually doing its job and why filling those lanes up with electric vehicles is a really dumb idea.
As former (and now once again) Mayor of Bogotá Enrique Peñalosa once said “a bus with 100 people has a right to 100 times more road space than a car”. If you haven’t watched his Ted Talk on Why buses represent democracy in action then you should, and if you have watched it, it’s always good to watch again.
This seems like one of those no-brainer changes, it’s insane that this isn’t even on the MoTs agenda.