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