Greater Christchurch short changed by the Government’s proposed mass rapid transit, satellite towns miss out

Over 62,000 residents will miss out on rapid transit to their communities, under plans announced today by the Greater Christchurch Partnership.

Releasing their plans for public consultation today, a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) service will aim to connect Belfast and Hornby to the central city. However, this falls well short of the Government’s initial promise to build an MRT service out to Rolleston and Rangiora, two areas seeing the country’s most significant growth over the past decade.

The proposal also takes the option of heavy rail out of contention, opting to focus on light rail and bus lanes. This decision has frustrated many, including The Opportunities Party Leader, Raf Manji, who believes Christchurch needs a better public transport system than the one proposed today, in order to support future growth and development. 

“With over half a million residents already living in Greater Christchurch, and 650,000 residents projected by 2040, we desperately need a comprehensive public transport solution that involves more than just painting bus lanes.”

“Under the current proposal, 62,000 residents will miss out on MRT services, with Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Rolleston and Templeton excluded from the Belfast - central city - Hornby route.”

Manji also believes that heavy rail should be put back on the table as an option to ensure residents in the satellite towns have a quick and easy option to get into the central city.

“Light rail and bus lanes will result in a large number of car parks being removed and traffic being redirected from two of the city’s main arterial routes and onto suburban roads. The construction of light rail especially, is highly disruptive requiring existing roads to be dug up restricting access for local residents.”

“The current proposal will also lack access to the parts of the city seeing the most development, while providing a less efficient service, both in terms of capacity and journey time. But, using existing heavy rail right away would lead to less disruption both in the construction phase and when services commence. A heavy rail network will also allow significantly more opportunities for additional stages to create a fully integrated Canterbury rail system. “

Manji wants to see the Government invest in heavy rail to Rangiora and Rolleston to help Christchurch meet its net-zero emissions target. 

“The government has launched yet another period of consultation to find a solution for Greater Christchurch’s public transport infrastructure. In 2017, the Government promised to start construction on commuter rail service within three years, and six years on, they are still in limbo. Cantabrians deserve better.”

“Christchurch deserves the same standard of public transport as its peers across Oceania, and the city’s best option for sustainable and efficient transportation is heavy rail. Waimakariri and Selwyn are two of the fastest-growing regions in the country - they should not be overlooked by the Central Government.

This plan falls short of providing a comprehensive transport plan for the Greater Christchurch area. With faster journey times and a larger percentage of the population living close to public transport, heavy rail to Rangiora and Rolleston is the most viable and practical solution to the city’s transportation needs.”