May. 7th, 2014

zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
There's a new plan out for bus routes in Christchurch, one part of which means I'd only have to take a single bus (the new 80) from home to work, w00t! The downside is that it still travels partly via Riccarton Road, an ancient one-lane thoroughfare eastward along which approximately 50% of Christchurch simultaneously attempts to travel between around 4:30 and 5:30pm every evening.

(I really think everyone's lives would be improved if we could just bulldoze all the shops on one side of the road in order to widen it, but (un)fortunately there was insufficient earthquake damage in this area to justify doing this. A fact which probably contributed to the popularity of the area. A new-to-Christchurch colleague asked me the other day what was so special about Riccarton Mall (not its real stupid commercialised name) and my first thought was that none of it fell down in, or really closed for long following, the quakes. Little things like having the only operational movie theatre in a town of 400,000 people turn out to be quite the selling point.

((Or did Hornby Mall have one too? During the quakes I stopped considering Hornby part of Christchurch, it was so unaffected. And I'm still bitter about the laundromats available in "3 Christchurch locations: Hornby, Kaiapoi and Rangiora". Kaiapoi and Rangiora are in Christchurch like Toronto and Ottawa are in the USA, and were approximately as accessible to many of us power-and-water-less folk in the East as Alpha Centauri would have been. So much rage. --But moving on.))

So I've just spent a couple of hours thoroughly filling out a submission form with all my thoughts about the proposed changes; I shan't bore anyone with all it, but below are my comments relevant to Riccarton Road, from the section What would you change about the proposed services?


Riccarton Road is a blight on the face of the city, yet you route more buses along the worst-congested part of it than anywhere else except the Central Interchange. For the love of all we hold dear, why? I had brief hope when I saw the 80 was to go along Blenheim Road (not that that's much better, to be honest), but then you make it *turn right* into Riccarton Road. Seriously, has anyone involved in this plan ever been on Riccarton Road, let alone in rush hour? I regularly get a good night's sleep while my bus crawls along in the evenings, and wake up maybe half a block further on. And that's just going straight ahead; I fear that if my bus has to turn right into that standstill I may be forced to just get out and walk the last 5 kilometres home.

If there was only a way to transfer from the 80 to the 140 without touching Riccarton Road I think I'd gladly forfeit the luxury of the single-bus journey I'll otherwise have. If the 80 must turn onto Riccarton, what about letting it go down to Mandeville Street first?

The 7 ends so tantalisingly close to the 80. What really is special about Richmond Ave? Turn on Whincops instead, then up Halswell Junction Rd - or the other way and up Quaifes/Marshs - and in a couple of minutes you've connected Lincoln and Prebbleton to Halswell. I'd seriously consider trying an 80 -> 7 -> 140 route, even though anything involving two transfers (especially where one of them has 3 digits) ends only in sorrow and regret. Look, I just really hate Riccarton Road, okay?


And under Would you like to make any further comments?:

You probably have no control over this, but Central Interchange *desperately* needs a convenience store, cafe, coffee cart, or at least an overpriced vending machine. Now that the library's gone[*] it's a miserably boring place to wait for a connection at. Plus by the time you've made it the looooong traffic-ridden road into town after work, you're pretty desperate for some provisions to tide you over until you can get the rest of the way home to dinner. Alternatively, a wifi hotspot so you can check Facebook/Twitter and let people know that you're not dead, just commuting via Riccarton Road.


I'm really hardly exaggerating at all about the amount of sleep I get on Riccarton Road.


[*] Central Library closed due to quakes. A temporary library was erected by the bus interchange, it was great. Books and free public wifi. Anyway then they had to move out to another temporary library on Manchester Street (which I haven't visited yet because I don't think I've seen Manchester Street since the quakes; does it still exist?) while they bulldozed the first temporary library to start construction on the new Justice Precinct. A permanent library is in the brainstorming stage.

I've spent many mornings and evenings watching the progress of various tonka trucks pulling things down and sorting and carting off the resulting rubble; currently digging for foundations is getting well under way. Other than the entertainment afforded by watching a months-long construction project in realtime -- or turning in the other direction to watch the demolition of the old city council building, old bus exchange, and various other old buildings -- the only location of interest in the vicinity is the Restart Mall, which keeps tourist hours useless to commuters.

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