15th Ave bus lane axed, Hairini given the go-ahead.

Wednesday 02 September 2020

A short bus lane along 15th Avenue will be removed to help improve morning traffic flow through the 15th Avenue/Burrows Street intersection.
The 250m bus lane was installed two months ago between Mayfair Street and Scantlebury Street. The bus lane was part of the 15th Avenue improvement project that finished in early August.

Brendan Bisley, Tauranga City Council’s Director of Transport, said, “The bus lane is appropriate as part of long-term plans for 15th Avenue. What we’ve seen this past couple months though, is that we’re not there yet and it needs to be the right solution at the right time.”

Brendan said that removing the bus lane should allow more vehicles through the Burrows Street intersection during the morning peak hours. “Initial traffic modelling suggested that the bus lane wouldn’t impact morning traffic flows, but further modelling indicates we can gain more through-traffic with two vehicle lanes in operation, so it makes sense to remove the short bus lane in the interim.”

Brendan said that the layout changes to 15th Avenue have successfully freed up the afternoon peak traffic flows as intended. The bus lane will be removed on Thursday and Friday this week.

Brendan said giving people more travel options is the long-term approach. “People need to have more options to get around. We’re working on the Transport System Plan with our transport partners. It will identify which transport projects offer the most benefit for the city and the sub-region. This will give us a better understanding about when and how multi-modal solutions for the 15th Avenue corridor fit into the bigger picture.”

Further down the road, the Hairini Street bus lane is working well and has now been formalised under the council’s Traffic and Street Use bylaw, allowing the council to fine people who use the bus lane illegally.

“The Hairini Street bus lane isn’t for private vehicle use,” said Brendan. “The council will send warning letters to offenders for the first few weeks of September, and then move to issuing $150 fines.”

The bus lane has been in place for almost two years but there has been an increasing number of drivers illegally driving down the bus lane which is why Council plans to start issuing tickets. Illegal use of the bus lane adds to congestion on Turret Road and creates safety issues for people who use the off-road cycleway that crosses the bus lane.

The Hairini Street bus lane was the first bus lane for Tauranga’s local road network. Road layout changes around the Maungatapu underpass were still being finalised when the Hairini Street bus lane opened in 2018.

Brendan said, “The council and Waka Kotahi needed to work through some road safety and layout issues before the bus lane was made official. The last piece of the puzzle was the SH29/Hairini Street intersection upgrade that Waka Kotahi completed this year. Questions about access to the causeway have been resolved, so we were able to take the bus lane back to the council with confidence.”

The Hairini Street bus lane was formalised into the Traffic and Street Use Bylaw 2012 on 25 August 2020.

Fifty three buses use the Hairini bus lane each week day, including 12 school buses.