Taxis have been given the green light to use Wellington bus lanes in a trial to see if such a move could benefit taxi users and more efficiently use dedicated road space to help ease growing peak-time congestion.
Four bus lanes - in Kaiwharawhara Rd, Adelaide Rd, Glenmore St and Chaytor St - have been chosen and will be open for use by taxis from next Monday 9 February.
Taxi industry representatives have been lobbying Wellington City Council for access to bus lanes and the Council wants to test the effect on bus operations and travel times.
Cr Andy Foster, the Council's Transport Portfolio Leader, said: "We want to see if taxis can benefit from using bus lanes without detracting from the travel time savings we have achieved for buses.
"Taxis are a vital part of moving people around Wellington and we see the use of bus lanes being potentially better use of valuable road space at peak times."
The Council has worked with representatives of the Taxi Forum to develop an agreement on which lanes can be used in the trial. All taxi drivers are expected to enter into this agreement. Cr Foster points out that the trial does not include bus lanes in the CBD - or the Mt Victoria bus tunnel.
Signs will be put up in the approach to each lane so road users can be clear about which areas taxis may use. The trial will be monitored, with a particular focus on any effect on bus travel times and peak-time delays.
As the four lanes picked for the trial operate at different times and carry different volumes of traffic it is thought they will give a representative picture of the effects of such a change.
A formal independent survey of the trial will be carried out in August - September to judge its success or otherwise. The results of the trial will be reported to City Councillors by the end of the year.