University students, school pupils and tradesmen were among the dozens of people catching a bus for the first time at Christchurch’s new bus interchange.
A technical glitch delayed its official opening, but buses started running out of the new $53 million facility this week.
The Lichfield St facility was set to open last week but a software issue meant authorities doubted its reliability.
The interchange will be the first Government-led rebuild anchor projegct to be completed when the second stage, which includes retail areas, a covered bike-lock area and access to the remainder of the bus bays, is finished in about two and a half months.
Tradesmen worked on completion of the second stage area on the Tuam St side as Cantabrians hopped on and off buses to mark the opening of the first stage of the project. Half of the 16 bus bays are now in use.
Christchurch resident Natasha Hawkins was catching the 28 line to Lyttelton.
She said the facility was “nice and flash”.
University of Canterbury student Claudia Dowling was waiting for the 18 line to university.
She would be using the interchange every week day, and said it would make a big difference to be able to wait inside.
“It’s so cold outside in the morning.”
Canterbury earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee said the facility’s opening was “a great moment for Christchurch” and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the rebuild.
“The Interchange is stylish and user-friendly, with airport-style passenger lounges that will ensure people can wait for their buses in comfort and protected from the elements. It has also been designed with a real emphasis on safety and sustainability.”
“Having an attractive facility like this is crucial if we want to attract more people to public transport.”
“The Bus Interchange is something the people of Christchurch can use every day and experience how far we have come.”
The opening of the bus interchange meant inner city bus routes would change. Buses were now designated to use Manchester St with routes changing across the central city.
While all CBD bus routes were affected, those with the biggest changes were the Blue Line, the 17, 28 and 29. Customers using these routes were advised to check route maps.
Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield said at the opening it was fantastic to see people enjoying the facility.
“It’s freezing cold outside and now we’re standing in a warm area.
“Our customers have been amazing over the past three years, using the temporary central station and just getting on with it.”
Christchurch Transport Operation Centre spokeswoman Tresca Forester urged drivers in the area to be wary of increased foot traffic on Lichfield and Colombo streets.
- Stacy Squires
- The Press