Hairini bus lane cops flack

The new bus lane opened last Friday. File photo.

Residents are venting their frustrations over a new dedicated bus lane in Hairini.

The Hairini St and Turret Road bus lane opened Friday July 6, allowing buses to take an uninterrupted trip down Hairini Street and onto the causeway toward the Turret Road bridge.

An Ohauiti resident, who only wishes to be referred to as Andy, says he doesn’t agree with it.

“I tried to contact council about it and they told me it wasn’t their road. I got referred to NZTA, who diverted me back to council who finally admitted the road is their responsibility.

“They tell me the whole reason behind it all is they want people out of cars and onto buses or bikes.

“Only about two or three per cent of people use buses and they think this is enough to justify blocking a whole lane to other vehicles. It’s not good enough,” says Andy.

“If they want to get people in buses, they should put all the schoolkids in buses in the morning. You see it during school holidays, there’s no traffic and it’s a breeze.

“We’re paying for all these buses in our rates, and they’re all driving around empty. How long is that going to go on for? Why not get vans instead? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bus in this city at its maximum capacity, so why not downsize.”

Andy, who lives on Ohauiti Road, has been told Council are reconsidering allowing a right turn from the Welcome Bay Rd intersection again.

“That’s great but still have traffic going the other way too. Make it free, so cars are moving and get the traffic going.

“At the end of the day it’s not too much of an inconvenience to me, but it’s going to hinder traffic, slow things down and we want to get the roads moving, make it easier for people not harder.

“They say the decision is indefinite, but they might look into putting another road in, at a later time.”

Andy says council hasn’t given enough thought to other people using the roads.

“It’s all been driven by their own ideology. They want to put everyone in buses and on bikes but they haven’t thought about how practical that is.

“I’m a small business owner and I can’t fit all my gear in a bus. Eighty per cent of businesses in town are the same.

He says his thoughts are echoed by neighbouring residents.

Harini resident Peter Magnussen is another person who has voiced his disapproval.

He says he has been sent two letters.

The first, dated June 25, informed residents Hairini Road would be “closed for a few weeks".

He says this was followed by another, dated July 5, which claimed the road would be “closed for the foreseeable future".

“I sent an email to council asking what date it would be opened, and if it wasn’t going to open again, then why not? I’m waiting on a response.”

Peter says Hairini residents want the road open.

“I started walking around asking neighbours their opinion; I got seven people saying they want the road open.

“People who live at 1 and 1a Hairini Street can’t even legally get out of their house,” says Peter. “They have to do an illegal action to get out of their house and there’s a camera on the road capturing it all.

“Council have done a lot of stupid things here, but the most recent is that the Welcome Bay Road now has a right-turn, right in the middle of the road.

“We used to always have two lanes, we could park in the middle of everything to come down Hairini Street but now they’ve made the right-hand lane a right turn onto the Maungatapu roundabout and only one lane going down to Hairini Street.

“You can imagine if three cars are going down Hairini Street, we’re going to block the main highway.

“It’s very difficult to describe unless you’re there experiencing it for yourself.”

Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes says the bus lane is part of a long-term solution.

“If we’re serious about addressing traffic congestion then we need to help make public transport more convenient and reliable.

“The Hairini Street bus lane will allow buses a faster trip into the city. One bus lane on its own won’t solve the city’s traffic issues, but it’s an important piece of the larger puzzle.

"The Bay Of Plenty Regional Council is planning to introduce a new, improved bus service in December 2018. We’re supporting this initiative by looking for opportunities to give buses higher priority on the roads.

“We appreciate that it might be hard to see the benefits of bus lanes in the short term, but to improve the efficiency and safety of the transport network, we need to start somewhere.”

The proposed build of the lane was announced in May, however a consultation process did not take place.

“The road closure change happened faster than planned because Hairini Street was closed unexpectedly for safety reasons,” says Martin. “The NZ Transport Agency and council had to react quickly, not allowing time to consult with the community in the way we would have preferred.”

He has confirmed the bus lane is permanent.

“Safety above convenience is our priority. Council and the Transport Agency are monitoring traffic movements and reviewing the access for general traffic down Hairini Street.”

The lane is restricted to buses only with motorcyclists and cars using the general traffic lanes. In addition cyclists share an off-road facility with pedestrians.  

Anyone driving an unauthorised vehicle on the bus lane is at risk of a $150 fine.

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hairini bus lane experiment

Posted on 11-02-2019 13:50 | By Bill S

it,s time to re visit the bus lane introduction. Even when a bus does use the bus lane they will be basically empty,in the meantime the diverted traffic is adding to the congestion on the Maungatapu end. Both directions of the highway are conjested. The $45 m tunnel was sold by TransitNZ to clear their highway ! Then they agree to shutting the Hairini road and allowing TCC to put in a bus lane. Waste of asphalt. Time to admit a mistake has been made and return the road for purpose.

Lane for no one

Posted on 13-07-2018 20:27 | By Hopeful

TCC have to realise that just because they want the people out of cars & into buses just will NEVER make it happen. Tauranga Citizen’s have always used their cars to get from point A to B, then add the population explosion and development growth we are experiencing, add the country’s third largest port and remember we are in the centre of the golden triangle of Auckland Hamilton and Rotorua. Making Hairini sliplane just for a few empty buses has completely made the whole maungatapu underpass a big farce leaving only 1 lane into CBD for traffic coming from Eastern Link,Mount, Maungatapu, Ohauiti. There will always be cars on our roads, it’s a certainty that this will increase, it’s a given that TCC will never fix the problem till they four lane 29a Corridor and bridge, then think about bus lane wishes

School bus

Posted on 12-07-2018 19:26 | By Castreece

I totally agree, the amount of cars dropping kids off to school is dangerous. When my daughter was at school it started off that I could pay for a school bus pass, then there were too many children and my daughter wasn’t allowed on bus at all. The amount of dings and near misses with all the cars outside of the school when I had to drive her was shocking. I love driving in school holidays as the traffic drops dramatically. Come on council, look after kids and traffic congestion, bus our children to school.

About time someone started complaining

Posted on 12-07-2018 18:03 | By Angel74

the welcome bay tunnel has only caused new problems and more congestion, like Andy im also a resident of ohauiti, and getting on a bus or a bike isnt an option, im a support worker and need my car. Something else ive noticed is drivers coming down from the Maungatapu intersection changing over to the right hand lane, which is meant for traffic exiting the tunnel..................i say open up the exit on Hairini street and get the traffic on the welcome bay intersection moving again.

Lost respect

Posted on 12-07-2018 17:21 | By Blasta

As the title says, I have lost respect for the council over this rash, ill conceived ideologically based decision. Less safe, builds congestion and totally negligent. The welcome bay roundabout is now just a morass off people getting cut off, pulling out in f not of each other, frustration and horns. OPEN THE BUS LANE TO THE GENERAL TRAFFIC!

Complete Stuff Up

Posted on 12-07-2018 17:10 | By Taffy

We now have a bus lane on the left as we approach the bridge,and traffic on the right on the new through road,now I have noticed that if the left lane is even a little blocked we now have the impatient drivers switching lanes just to save a few seconds. Secondly if traffic is light on the Welcome Bay underpass traffic is going too fast, nobody takes any notice of the current 50kph limit. Maybe they need to put yellow lines down the centre of the road to stop lane jumping.We do not need a bus lane catering for a min number,I observed atleast six buses this morning that had 2 or 3 passengers and two that had 1.Come on TCC get it sorted!!!

What are they.

Posted on 12-07-2018 16:55 | By astex

Trying to make a left turn at the maungatapu roundabout with the tailback at rush hour is almost impossible.Allowing a right turn at Ohauiti Road will just send cars to another "car park". Oh, they keep saying that Hairini Road is closed for "safety reasons". Two things needed here. What are the safety reasons and how come, if unsafe, the buses are permitted to use it?