Vector have thrown up an interesting question by suggesting that their repair crews should be able to use bus lanes to get around the city.
Network lines company Vector wants its faults crews’ vehicles to be able to use Auckland’s bus lanes and T2 lanes in order to get quickly to the scene of storm damage, building fires, or motor accidents instead of having to wait in traffic jams like other motorists.
The company’s group manager network operations Les Parker said the time in getting the power back on, or making lines safe like during Auckland’s four major storms this year could be reduced by up to 20 per cent where traffic congestion was occurring.
However, though the company looked after lethal high and low voltage lines running down roads and streets, did not fit the legal classification of a “first responder” in the emergency sense, like police, fire and ambulance.
Accordingly, they were not allowed to use bus lane.
“Our crew have to obey the traffic laws and they have to wait in queues like everybody else,” said Mr Parker.
Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie said the company had asked the Ministry of Transport whether it could use bus lanes and T2 corridor lanes.
“It would be just for emergency events when there is storm or when a car hits a pole, to give our crews the ability to have flashing lights and get through the traffic quicker.
“This has not found any traction.
“But for us to be able move around the city quicker is really beneficial.
I can definitely see their logic and have some sympathy for what they’re saying however at the same time I’m concerned about whether it opens up the floodgates to others suggesting they should be able to use the lanes too. There are likely many individuals, organisations or businesses that would benefit from being able to benefit bus lanes. For example what about a cabinet minister trying to get between meetings or Auckland Transport shuttles, how about taxi drivers or couriers. In effect the biggest risk is the death by a thousand cuts type scenario where we keep creating exceptions and letting more and more people use them.
It’s also worth considering how many bus lanes would actually benefit vectors crews. As they say themselves faults could occur anywhere in Auckland but our bus lane network is extremely limited and is primarily in central Auckland with some on the North Shore although of course I think Auckland Transport should be growing the number and quality of them substantially to support the new bus network being implemented.
As an aside it would be great if AT could make a map showing all current bus and transit lanes across the city. These maps from AT only show transit lanes, one for the region (but excluding the North Shore) and one for the North Shore.