New Bus Network Spotlight: Karori

In the first New Network Spotlight we looked at bus services to Victoria University and Kelburn. This week, we’ll look at Karori.

History

According to Karori and its People, a regular tram service to Karori Park via Tinakori Road was operating by 1911 (prior to 1929, operating every 10 minutes to the cemetery – presumably for the use of zombies – and every 20 minutes to the Karori Borough Council chambers) and the current route via Bowen St opened in August 1940. Bus services, operated by the Kelburne and Karori Tramway Company also operated from the top of the cable car from its opening in 1902, and by 1926 were used by over two million passengers annually.

The last trams ran on Friday 1 October 1954, and trolley buses began running from the following Monday, until being replaced by diesels in 2017.

By the 1960s, the bus network in the suburb included (according to the De Leuw-Cather Report):

  • #12, Karori Park to Courtenay Place via Bowen St.
  • #19, Karori West (Montgomery Avenue) to the Kelburn cable car terminus via Karori Road and Raroa Road.
  • #17, Karori Mall to Taranaki St via Beauchamp St, Birdwood St, Upland Rd, St Michael’s Cres, Kelburn Pde, and Ghuznee St (and incorporating a spur route to Highbury).
  • #18, Karori Mall to Taranaki St along the same route as the #17 but via Kelburn Viaduct and Glasgow St.

Current service pattern

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  • #3, “the Green Route”, Karori Park to Lyall Bay via Tinakori Rd, Bowen St, Golden Mile, and Newtown (at least every ten minutes all day on Mon-Fri, every 15 minutes on weekends, and every five minutes between Karori and the CBD in the peak direction on peak). This is currently the most frequent service in the city on paper, but tends to bunch in traffic through the CBD and in Newtown.
  • #3W and #3S, Karori West and Karori South to Courtenay Place, #3S has around five trips in the peak direction every peak and #3W has a similar peak service together with an all-day hourly shuttle service between Montgomery Ave and Karori Mall.
  • #17, Lambton Interchange to Karori Park via University (to Karori Mall on Mon-Fri peak only, otherwise only runs as far as Kelburn).
  • #18, “Campus Connection”, Karori Park to Miramar via Ghuznee St and Newtown (every half hour Mon-Fri, and on peak sometimes acts as an extension of the #10 from Newtown Park to the University for no obvious reason).
  • #21, Vogeltown to Karori Mall via Birdwood St, Tinakori Rd,  Bowen St, Taranaki St, and Hutchison Rd (hourly Mon-Fri).

New Network services

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The new services to Karori will consist of:

  • #2, high-frequency service from Karori Park to Miramar via the Hataitai tunnel. This service will run every ten minutes during the day Mon-Fri, and every 15 minutes on weekends. This results in a slightly less frequent peak service on the main route, but otherwise the Karori end of the servic has a similar pattern to before. Hopefully the change to a service through Hataitai rather than Newtown will also result in fewer service delays due to congestion.
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There is to be an upgraded interchange point at the City end of the Karori Tunnel.
  • #18e, Karori to Miramar via Victoria and Massey Universities and Newtown. This is an extension to the Miramar local service, running to and from Karori every 20 minutes at peak times only. Off peak, every #2 will connect with the #18 at Miramar Village interchange, timetabled with a three minute connection window. (So the #18 runs every ten minutes, despite not being a spine route – and in effect there is a service increase for the end of the current #2 service).
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The new interchange maps in the timetables are fairly clear.
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Apparently these new colour-coded connection lines are not just for trains…
  • #21, Karori Mall to Courtenay Place via Birdwood St, the University, and Ghuznee St (every half hour, an increase on the current hourly service). Here, there are timetabled connections to both Mairangi and Wellington Station on the #22 bus at the Victoria University interchange. Out of interest, the #21 is scheduled to depart at :23 and :53 minutes past the hour from Karori Tunnel; this means a 2 minute connection time from a #2 bus if one wants to travel from Miramar to Karori.
  • #33 and #34, the same service as the former #3S and #3W respectively, but with slightly more trips and now terminating at the northern suburbs departure point on Brandon Street (apparently to prevent Karori Road passengers using them instead of the #2 if it shows up first).
  • #37, three additional morning & evening services following the route of the #21 but terminating at Brandon St via the Terrace to make the full peak service through Wrights Hill every ten minutes.

Final thoughts

Overall, these changes look positive; the only real problem I can see is a lack of a single service from Karori to the Hospital (although the existence of such a service before was more an accident of history). Metlink has provided one of their little stories on this subject (from the Karori suburb page):

Geoffrey’s trip to the hospital

Geoffrey needs to see a specialist at the hospital.

He is retired, and lives on Lancaster Street. In 2017 he uses his SuperGold card (which will be accepted on all Metlink buses) and takes bus route 3, running every ten minutes during the day on weekdays, taking him to the hospital via the city.

Geoffrey’s journey from 15th July

It’s been a nice surprise all round. Geoffrey still gets to the hospital in peak times on one bus (bus route 18e). Geoffrey often travels off-peak, so he boards bus route 2 on Karori Rd (the old bus route 3) on Karori Road and uses his SuperGold card for a free trip into the CBD. He gets off on Lambton Quay, and waits just a few minutes for a connecting bus running through to Newtown from the same stop.

Beyond this, it broadly looks like the new network will be a success in Karori, as long as connections work like they’ve been planned! The new network rollout in the Hutt was far less dependent on connecting services (mainly because the network there was already modelled on bus-train connections), so hopefully Tranzit is very prepared for problems on July 15th.

I am, on the other hand, a little disappointed that the service remains every ten minutes, seeing as current buses are quite packed and run every five minutes at peak – and double deckers can’t run through the Karori tunnel. Perhaps Metlink is hoping people will switch to using the express services and local services like the #21? I know NZ Bus currently runs several buses on each run following each other, so presumably this practice will continue, but I’m not so sure that the capacity will be there.

We shall see how the network fares after the school and university holidays are over, I suppose.

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