The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Wellington's new route

by Robyn on November 28, 2010 in Transport, Urban Issues

It’s been a long time coming, but finally the buses are running through the thoroughfare formerly known as Manners Mall.

Here come the buses

With clipped bus wing mirrors, bowled down pedestrians, and general chaos predicted by some, I decided to get down to Manners Street and check out the new bus route.

Manners Mall

Ol’ Manners Mall has gone, daddy, gone and in its place is the missing link of Manners Street. Buses were happily running in both directions, and even though the street looks fairly narrow, there seems to be ample room for buses to travel in both directions.

Though launching on a Sunday – the lightest bus day of the week – doesn’t give the full effect of a weekday rush hour. We’ll know what that’s like in 24 hours.

Manners Mall

Pedestrians were happily jaywalking across the street, but weren’t mindlessly stepping out into the traffic. All the ones I saw did look both ways before crossing, and indeed it’s possible to take advantage of traffic lights on red at either end to pick a safe time to cross. But again, things will be different at peak traffic times.

Willis Street

Buses on Willis

Buses are going up Willis Street too now. About a year ago, I had a bus driver preach to the bus about the futility and impossibility of buses making a left-hand turn from Willis into Manners.

Well, the bus I was on made that turn with no trouble, though the opposing lane was empty. It seems the road has been widened at the intersection, which should mean that both directions can get around the corner without crunching.

Mercer Street

Mercer Street

Devoid of buses, Mercer Street was strangely quiet. I think the 24 will still travel down Mercer, otherwise it will be left to the pleasure of the automobile.

With its role as an important bus road taken away, Mercer Street seems curiously reconnected with its former other half, the bit that became Civic Square. Could Mercer Street have a future as a shared space for pedestrians, motorists and motorcyclists, as well as part of a gateway to the waterfront?

Dixon Street

Dixon Street

Dixon Street is a bit of a mess. All the previous bus stop space has been converted to car parks. The street is packed full of cars, which is fine, but the pedestrian experience hasn’t been improved.

Dixon’s always been a bit shabby, and surely with the buses gone, now would be a good time to smarten it up a bit. New footpaths – wider footpaths – and more of a link to Aro Park.

If Memphis Belle cafe can come along and make its little corner of Dixon Street rather lovely, think what could happen if the council put a bit of effort into their part.

Lower Cuba Street

Lower Cuba Street

Ok, this is the one we really have our eye on.

The buses have gone, but more cars are in. Vehicle entry into Lower Cuba has to be done via a careful right-hand turn from Manners Street, and over a footpath-level hump.

All the signs are there for Lower Cuba Street to become a really lovely shared space that both people-on-foot and people-in-cars can use together.

But what about Rebel Sport’s recently constructed mall-like blank facade on the old James Smith’s building? Will the Downtown Local fit in? What of that crazy old boarded-up shop? Will munters try to use Lower Cuba as a shortcut between Taranaki and Wakefield? And will Lower Cuba become the new Upper Cuba? Will it be done in time for the Rugby World Cup?!

Let’s hope something nice happens there.

Emo watch

Farewell TimeZone

As we all know, Manners Mall was a favourite hang-out spot of the young emos of Wellington, who liked to smoke, spit and swear and generally loiter about.

Now with the mall gone and TimeZone moving out, where have these youth moved to? If you spot any groups of angry looking, black-clad young ‘uns in the CBD, let us know. Like the Powelliphanta snails, we’d like to know that they’ve been safely relocated to a new habitat.

Robyn Gallagher

Robyn used to live in Wellington, but now divides her time between coastal Waikato and wherever. She can be found over at her long-running blog, watching too many music videos, or generally mucking around on the internet.

Tui November 29, 2010 at 12:08 am

“With its role as an important bus road taken away, Mercer Street seems curiously reconnected with its former other half, the bit that became Civic Square. Could Mercer Street have a future as a shared space for pedestrians, motorists and motorcyclists, as well as part of a gateway to the waterfront?”

No, cos it never gets any sun and is generally a misery what with remaindered bookshop on one end and tramping shop (yick!) on the other … OTOH, the place that replaced Katipo at the top is really nice, it would be great if it could get a good view of something.

Robyn November 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

Yeah, Mercer kind of sucks at the moment, but could you use your imagination and picture it with different sorts of retail tenants, and a repaved street with a narrower road and wider, pedestrian-friendly footpaths?

Greg November 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

During the consultation process on Manners redevelopment, I spoke to councilor McKinnon and he had stated hope for improving Mercer, using Chews Lane as a guide for a micro-cluster of cafes and restaurants.

Mercy November 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm

“No, cos it never gets any sun”

You’d be surprised: this time of year the Mercer/Victoria corner gets sun at lunchtime, and the Mercer/Willis corner gets it a bit later in the afternoon. With the right design and the right ground floor activities (that one-storey building on Willis won’t last for ever) it could be really pleasant.

Daniel November 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

FYI, Downtown Local is closed. Being stripped out as I type this! Another victim?

Robyn November 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Aw, that’s a bit sad. A tiny bit.

I understand that the old Regent cinema building (which includes the old cinema, TimeZone and Downtown Local) is going to be massively redeveloped, including a Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. So it looks like the final day for those tenants was Saturday.

Mercy November 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Victim? I wish!

No, the owners have been planning to reuse the old Regent Centre for years, and since the Cordon Bleu school confirmed their upstairs tenancy it’s all been go. Hence, TimeZone and Downtown Local have been given the heave-ho, to be replaced by new smaller-scale retail tenancies.

Josh November 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Think we may have seen the first(?) bus-strike victim. Someone lay on the pavement near the bottom of Manners street at about 2:00PM. There were three busses that had just turned off Willis street stopped and the driver of the first looked really distressed – poor woman. I hope the pedestrian is okay. I’m no rubber-necker but I couldn’t help notice blood as I passed by.

Michael Hudson-Doyle November 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm
ange December 1, 2010 at 11:57 am

EMO watch – There’s been some kind of migration towards the waterfront. Its quite hard to cycle home without a lung full of dak these days, which makes it challenging to avoid those slow moving clouds of black intensity.

Willis December 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm

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