Mount road trial costs drivers $1.2M

More than 16,000 drivers have illegally used the bus lane on Links Ave in the month since the trial began. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

A road trial closing one end of a popular Mount Maunganui through road has racked up $1.2 million in fines in just two weeks.

Tauranga City Council is trialling a cul-de-sac on Links Ave that closed the eastern end of the street to through traffic, except busses and authorised vehicles.

The cul-de-sac is formed by two bus lanes and anyone that drives through them will receive a $150 fine.

In the first two weeks of the trial, council sent out 8500 warning letters and have now issued 8000 fines totalling $1.2 million.

Links Ave is a travel corridor for three schools, Mount Maunganui College, Omanu School and Mount Maunganui intermediate. The schools have a combined roll of around 2500 students.

The street runs parallel to Maunganui Road and Oceanbeach Road and is used by drivers in peak times to avoid traffic queues on the other roads.

The increased vehicle volume raised safety concerns for the children using the road, which prompted council to implement two cul-de-sac trials.

The first ran for six weeks, late last year and the cul-de-sac was in the middle of Links Ave.

Data shows the trial successfully reduced traffic but the placement of the cul-de-sac was unpopular.

The current trial will last at least four months and has attracted just as much vitriol from the community.

Matt Nicholson started a petition after learning how many people had been fined for using Links Ave. Photo: Supplied.

The huge number of infringements prompted Matt Nicholson to start a petition calling for council to refund all fines incurred during the trial.

As of May 5, the petition has 3986 signatures.

Matt was fined when travelling east towards Concord Avenue.

He says the new roundabout at Solway place just before the bus lanes is confusing and the signage that the road is closed isn’t clear.

“To say it's confusing would be an understatement.

“Over 16,000 people, not seeing a sign clearly indicates that there's not enough of that signage.”

The new roundabout at Solway Place is confusing drivers. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Council transport director Brendan Bisley says drivers will pass between three to five signs before they get to the bus lanes depending on the direction of traffic.

“When they get to the bus lane itself, there are large areas of road surfacing painted green with the words BUS LANE written.”

Matt says council should just give out warnings rather than fines and he hopes they will “do the right thing” and refund people for the fines issued.

“Making revenue off a trial doesn't really seem like the best thing to do for the residents in your area or anyone that visits,” he says.

“It's not really conducive to making your trial stick or be brought into by the public.”

Jacqui, who did not want her last name published, lives on Links Avenue near the cul-de-sac, and she and two of her children have been fined.

She says finding $150 out of her budget isn’t easy and the further travel caused by the closure is costing an extra $20 a week in petrol.

Jacqui’s family are reluctant to visit her now because of the extra travel, they live in Pāpāmoa and have to double back to leave the street.

“They avoid coming to my house now, that’s really sad,” she says through tears.

“It's very inconvenient to say the least. It’s inconvenient not just for the Links Ave residents, but for the whole community.”

Her commute to work in Brookfield at midday also takes at least 15 minutes longer. Other trips that would normally take 10 mins are taking up to 35 minutes, she says.

Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Philip Brown says people can’t see the point of having an “important” road permanently closed when the safety concerns are around a two hour period on weekday mornings.

Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Philip Brown. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

“It just seems ridiculous that you have to close it for 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Philip.

“It just does not make sense and it shows gross mismanagement of our transport assets.

“It’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Matt agrees.

“To shut an entire road, both directions as a bus lane seems way over the top, which obviously is causing congestion issues with all of the surrounding streets.”

Philip suggests closing Links Ave to through traffic during the morning weekday peak to help with the safety concerns.

He has received feedback from Oceanbeach Road residents that they’re unhappy with their road being blocked up by traffic for longer periods.

During the initial trial, Oceanbeach Road saw an increase of 3000 vehicles per day to a weekday average of 17,400, according to council data.

“If the trial was to remain in longer term, changes would be made to Oceanbeach Road to look at improving traffic flows at key points,” says Bisley.

The level of continued use of the cul-de-sac – in spite of the bus lane, shows just how many people use Links Avenue as a ‘rat run’ through Arataki, he says.

“The main purpose of the trial is to look at ways of getting the current levels of traffic down to a safer, more reasonable level for a residential street.”

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.




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12 Comments

@muzza3

Posted on 08-05-2022 11:53 | By Slim Shady

think of it as a Toll. You ventured down, saw the Toll, and carried on. Pay the Toll.

Anyone for a Fight?

Posted on 08-05-2022 07:49 | By muzza3

ANyone wanting to figt this , I’m up for it .Itis not till the very end of the journey down Links Ave is there any signage , saying a Bus Lane is approaching , only alternative is to retrace royte. I don’t know the area well , live on other side of bridge so no idea if any other way around this unrealistic road closure

Fines

Posted on 06-05-2022 10:16 | By peanuts9

I agree with Slim Shady and Ghost. This change was well advertised, and is well signposted. Are Tauranga drivers so blind that they miss all that or are they so self-entitled they think it doesn’t apply to them? Looking at the general driving standards on our roads, and hearing driver’s comments regarding other forms of transport, I suspect the latter.

Stuck with them

Posted on 05-05-2022 20:47 | By Kancho

Nothing can be done as they are protected by Mahuta and paid heaps so not going away. Fingers to democratic processes

@ Slim......

Posted on 05-05-2022 20:38 | By groutby

.....you know this isn’t about the quality of driving but the plain nuttiness of the idea eh?...and, to be a little blunt, you need your head read to believe more fines = a rates reduction!!...geez mate !!....I do agree there are way too many ’dopes’ out there tho :)

Don't Pay

Posted on 05-05-2022 19:27 | By WordsFailMe

Don’t pay and let them take the matter to Court if they’re game.

Guaranteed revenue.

Posted on 05-05-2022 19:22 | By Larny

Now where is that ticket revenue going to go?... Maybe diesel for all the oversized and under utilized buses to go round and round!

Way to go

Posted on 05-05-2022 16:15 | By Slim Shady

We need more cameras and more fines. This is like taking candy from a baby. So many bad drivers in Tauranga. I say we milk them dry and reduce Rates. This is my kind of governing. Make the dummies start paying for stuff for a change instead of taking it off ’middle’ income earners. I’m sick of subsidising dopes. They can start paying their way in life.

Ghost

Posted on 05-05-2022 15:05 | By TheCameltoeKid

You must obviously live in a different world. In this day and age who takes notice of signs! There one for every one foot of space. If the whole world ground to a halt so that everybody could read every sign the world would stop revolving. This trial is and absolutely stupid idea, thought up by unelected people intent on instilling there social engineering agenda on their "People!" If Bisley really wants people on his empty busses then he should think about why don’t people want to catch a bus during a pandemic? "HELLO!" And finally if you can get a bus to where you need to go, (say, Whakamarama to Papamoa snd then back, HA! Ghost, you must live in a perfect world where you rely on everyone else to get uou to where you need to go. Alas oh Phantom One, even a Ghost needs a car!

Proof again...

Posted on 05-05-2022 13:19 | By morepork

... (if proof were needed) of the woeful incompetence and lack of vision of this Council. They were made aware of the community dissatisfaction with this "solution" and they ignored it, like they always do. I echo sentiments expressed by CamelToeKid.

Open your eyes

Posted on 05-05-2022 13:02 | By Ghost

The factor that should be concerning for all is that the signage is so easily seen. If people cannot see the signage then they shouldn’t be on the road. If you cant see the signs then what else cant you see. We have become a society that blames others for our own actions. Man up, pay your fines and stop blaming others for your mistakes.

This Council is pitiful

Posted on 05-05-2022 09:40 | By TheCameltoeKid

To hold this trial while Baylink is still being constructed seems to have been made by people who shouldn’t be in the decision-making process. Bosley can blither on all he likes about safety when the fact of the matter is that no school kids have ever been involved with vehicle versus pedestrian accidents. But will he ever admit that the biggest safety is speeding,covid-infected busses. But will he admit that? Not on your Nelly! The decisions coming from this Council and these unelected Mahuta-installed Commisioners just aren’t rational. Good riddance to them all!

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