Trial vehicle ban may become permanent

Raymond Van Der Heiden, of Holland, photographs the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday. Plans for...
Raymond Van Der Heiden, of Holland, photographs the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday. Plans for a four-day trial banning vehicles from the area have been announced. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A trial banning vehicles from the forecourt in front of the Dunedin Railway Station could lead to a permanent change, the Dunedin City Council says.

The council yesterday announced the forecourt in front of the station’s entrance, used as a road linking Anzac Ave to Castle St, would be temporarily closed to vehicles from January 25 to 28.

Council transport group manager Richard Saunders said the four-day trial aimed to test the area’s suitability as a pedestrian-only zone.

Buses which used the area to drop off and collect tourists would be given new parking spaces, immediately to the north and south of the railway station, to use during the trial, he said.

The change would improve the safety of the area for pedestrians, as well as views of the historic building for tourists taking photographs, he said.

If the trial was a success, the change could become permanent by the middle of the year, and further improvements to the area’s streetscape could follow, he said.

Mr Saunders said  the change had been discussed "on and off for a number of years".

There had been reports of "near misses" in the past, as pedestrians mixed with buses and other vehicles using the forecourt as a shortcut, he said.

Planter boxes and signage would be positioned to prevent vehicles from accessing the area, he said.

Temporary bus parks would occupy 10 on-street car parks to the north of the station, in Anzac Ave, and five parks to the south, in Castle St, he said.

If a permanent change followed, the Anzac Ave parks would not be needed by buses, which would be concentrated in a new bus parking area to the south of the station, he said.

The trial would occur at a busy time, during which two cruise ships would visit, the Otago Farmers Market would be held and the Dunedin Courthouse would be reopened, he said.

That made it the "perfect opportunity to see how this works as a pedestrian space", Mr Saunders said.

"We’ll see what feedback we get and then make a decision about whether we look to make a more permanent solution in there."

Ritchies Dunedin manager John Ayoub said  the trial was a "positive" initiative that seemed "pretty sensible".

The company used the forecourt for tour groups and cruise ship passengers taking sightseeing trips on the Taieri Gorge train, as well as wedding pick-ups.

The change would mean a slightly longer walk to buses for passengers, but would provide a safer and less cluttered space.

Comments

Should have been done years ago.