Auckland Transport intends banishing many buses - including those on the inner-city Link service - from Queen St in a suite of route changes.
But it will add more buses to a service running at five-minute intervals up Queen St to Karangahape Rd and back, and extend the service in the other direction to the Tank Farm every 10 minutes.
The council-controlled organisation is also planning a new outer loop service for the central isthmus to Pt Chevalier and Mt Eden.
The proposed changes are to be introduced in June or July subject to a three-week consultation period starting today.
These will include a more direct Link service - which as well as no longer including Queen St will also avoid Britomart on its circuit between Newmarket and Ponsonby.
Link buses will go straight to Karangahape Rd from Grafton Bridge and then cross Queen St in an east-west direction along Wellesley St on their return to Newmarket.
Students will still have high-frequency buses to carry them between Britomart and their university classes via Symonds St on a 50c inner-city fare.
But Auckland Transport said last night it had yet to decide whether free City Circuit buses, which carry about 2200 people daily under a sponsorship arrangement with the Heart of the City business association, would be replaced in favour of the extended Queen St service for which it had yet to determine fares.
Spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said people would be consulted on whether they favoured retaining parts or all of the City Circuit service.
The new outer loop service will run at a 15-minute frequency between Britomart, Parnell, Newmarket, Mt Eden, Balmoral, St Lukes, Pt Chevalier, Ponsonby and the Tank Farm.
Auckland Transport public transport operations manager Mark Lambert said it would connect popular sites such as St Lukes and Unitec with the city centre through an easy and regular bus service.
Pt Chevalier, Westmere and Ponsonby will have other modified services which will avoid Queen St, ending up in Albert St instead.
Mr Lambert said that should reduce travel time and he expected the overall changes would boost patronage by 10 per cent from six million passenger trips taken annually in affected areas.
Ms Hunter said the net effect of the changes would be about the same number of buses as now using Queen St, although she predicted an improvement in vehicle quality.
"It is a requirement in Auckland Transport's contracts with bus service providers that vehicles which are replaced due to age have a higher level of environmental compliance with each replacement," she said.
Extra services along Fanshawe St may justify an extension to that route's outbound bus lane, which begins on the other side of Nelson St from central Auckland, raising fear of delays for passengers who now catch buses in Victoria St to get to Ponsonby.
She said moving the route to Fanshawe St would provide a better service to the Tank Farm.By Mathew Dearnaley Email Mathew