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Taxi drivers want to extend bus lane trial

Feb 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

taximainWellington City Council’s trial allowing taxis on bus lanes is too limited to be a real test of whether it’s a better use of road space, say people working in the taxi industry.

Wellington taxi drivers say more bus lanes should be opened for their use during busy hours than just the four approved for trial by the council.

It’s good that local government is initiating something like this, but it has to be done on a larger scale, and preferably all over the city, says Capital Taxis driver Jibril Ali.

Green Cabs driver Dale Donoghue agrees. “It’s either all or nothing,” she says. With just four stretches of bus lane signposted for the trial, confusion could arise and reduce its effectiveness, she says. 

The four bus lanes on trial are in the city fringes at Kaiwharawhara Rd (Kaiwharawhara), Adelaide Rd (Newtown), Glenmore St and Chaytor St (both Northland).

Council transport portfolio leader Andy Foster says the council sees taxis’ use of bus lanes as potentially better use of valuable road space at peak times.

But Green Cabs call centre manager Charlie Mclean says drivers could achieve a more significant impact on travel time if bus lanes in the city centre were also trialled.

Combined Taxis operations manager Paul Johansson also wants to see more bus lanes included and says the council is moving in the right direction.

However, NZ Taxi Federation secretary George Tyler argues that allowing taxis in highly congested bus lanes like Lambton Quay wouldn’t make much difference.

Sometimes buses are only a few metres apart there, according to Mr Tyler. “[Only] when there’s … a few buses every quarter of an hour, it will be realistic and helpful to let taxis use these lanes,” he says.

As traffic waiting time plays a huge part in taxi fare calculation, customers will also benefit from this scheme, he says.

Although taxis may hold up buses, it will happen only rarely, as safety issues and bus timetables have been taken into consideration. The city council worked with the Taxi Forum and bus companies to come up with the trial.

An independent evaluation will be carried out in August and September, with results reported to councillors by year’s end.

Picture: Dixon St bus lane during peak hours.

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