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Decentralising CBD bus stops was the right thing to do

Passengers using the Meade stop
These passengers using the Meade stop in front of the Dutch Reformed church in Courtenay Street, can now get on and off a bus very close to work. Passengers can also transfer to the Denneoord route here.

According to surveys conducted by GO GEORGE, the decision to spread out the main bus routes to the CBD over a larger area 17 months ago is benefitting passengers and the system as a whole. This revision of the routing was the result of the initial interchange facilities in Cradock Street proving to be inadequate for the number of buses and passengers using the system, which would be further aggravated with the roll-out of additional phases.

Before this major rerouting exercise in November 2016, all main routes travelled directly to the Cradock Street precinct. The revised routes travelling in a large block around the CBD now distribute passengers to some previously existing and several new bus stops along York, Courtenay, Memorium and Market Streets.

According to James Robb, GO GEORGE Manager, the system planning team is happy and relieved to take note of this positive outcome. “The initial resistance from passengers to the revised routing was expected, given us humans’ innate opposition to change when something seems to have been working well. During the rollout of the revised routes, individual complaints were assessed and where justified, adjustments were made to rectify the issues. Where a complaint was solely based on a resistance to change, the system was given sufficient time to settle and all role-players the opportunity to adjust. The benefit of decentralised stops in terms of the ability to alight and board buses closer to work or school soon became evident.

“It took intensive user pattern surveys, traffic analyses and even micro-simulation of the plan to come up with this solution, contrary to what some thought was an inconsiderate and uninformed decision. We were looking for solutions that would positively contribute to the CBD rejuvenation and developmental objectives of the George Municipality, while eliminating the need to build a larger central terminal facility elsewhere, and at great cost, taking time we did not have before rolling out the rest of the system,” said Robb.

Factors considered during CBD rerouting

A broad spectrum of factors was taken into consideration when the system planners went to work. These included:

  • Significant employment zones
  • Walkability – the distances passengers previously had to walk to a central terminal facility were significantly reduced by distributing bus stops throughout the CBD.
  • Economic renewal by distributing pedestrian activity and bus stops on strategic routes where commercial development is already focussed, or where there is the potential for commercial activity to be accommodated in time
  • Efficiency and convenience for commuters – bus stops located close to work, shopping and public services
  • Increased safety – focussing on specific and limited routes allows levels of passive surveillance to be increased over streets offering essential transport services

Review after implementation

To assess the distribution of passengers at the bus stops along the revised CBD routing a year after implementation, a series of kerbside surveys were conducted during the peak morning and afternoon periods. Information recorded at each stop included bus arrival time, the number of passengers getting off, the number of passengers boarding, the bus departure time, and the number of passengers remaining at the stop after the bus has departed.

Robb says the results and analysis have shown a clear demand for passenger access to the GO GEORGE service to be decentralised. “Statistics always tell a story. And in this case, comments from passengers finding the revised routing much more convenient, support this outcome.”

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