Analysing the Canterbury Regional Public Transport Plan 2018-2028 [1A]: Network – Proposed

Since the formation of the new government and also the formation of the Greater Christchurch Public Transport Joint Committee we now have a new Canterbury Regional Public Transport Plan for 2018-2028. It’s good to see the GCPTJC is doing something worthwhile instead of politicking (the Mayor of Christchurch has been in the habit of using it as a soapbox for reviving Christchurch City’s 120 year old campaign to be the administrator of public transport services in the city). This time around the plan was produced by the committee as a whole instead of Ecan by itself and this is a key to getting something that everyone can agree to and therefore defusing political tensions. Looking at the rows in Wellington and Dunedin lately between different local government agencies this is a better system.
Now the question is what this report promises. It is essentially a 30 year plan although the first timeframe is 10 years because that is how long regional plans like this have to be drafted to cover. The very first aspect of it is to look at what sort of networks are needed in the region. The suggestions for Greater Christchurch (slightly reworded) are as follows:
  • Nine fixed core bus routes with high frequency services and priority measures
  • Two rapid transit corridors from the north and southwest offering high speed services such as light rail, rapid busways, “automated trackless trains” [I have no idea what these are] which are separated corridors with park and ride facilities.
  • Supporting these corridors will be a network of both scheduled services (with a regular timetable) and flexible services (based on customer demand). (Flexible options might be “demand responsive transport”, bike sharing, ride sharing, car sharing.
And there is other stuff there but that is the gist of what the network is expected to look like in the future.
The map that is attached shows the various routes. The rapid transit corridors consist of one going from the CBD north as far as Belfast on its own corridor and then out to Kaiapoi. The other corridor is from the CBD as fa as Hornby on its own corridor then out to Rolleston. Well – my first question is why these corridors end at the Christchurch city limits. 
The core routes is a little difficult to work out but essentially there are proposed to be more routes than now. It doesn’t really show the routes very well – we assume there is an Orbiter in there somewhere, but key destinations include Belfast, Airport, Lincon, Halswell, Cashmere, Lyttelton, Sumner, New Brighton, Prestons etc. It’s hard to tell whether all the routes go to the CBD – obviously, an Orbiter wouldn’t, but apart from the Orbiter, routes that go across the city outside the CBD is something we want to avoid as much as possible. The core routes map shows the additions – Lyttelton, Lincoln, Airport via Papanui, Belfast. Prestons and New Brighton via Parklands/Wainoni are the new ones. Basically the core routes now are the Orbiter, Orange Line, Yellow Line, Purple Line and Blue Line. 
The next type of service proposed are “city connector services”. At the moment these are (going roughly by the map) Airport via Fendalton, University via Riccarton, Mairehau, Woolston and Huntsbury. A “city connector” appears to be a route from an outer suburb to the CBD. The idea is that maybe these services will eventually develop to become core services.
Cross town link services are the third type of service mentioned. Essentially these are the much-maligned hub services that don’t go to the CBD. Keeping these services only makes sense if people in suburbs they connect to also have access to the core or city connector routes to get them to the CBD. This is where I need to do some more research to see which areas, if any, only have these link services and don’t have a city connector or core service route.
There is also an intention to bring back the central city shuttle on a trial basis. This will obviously depend on demand. My guess is this service will struggle to attract patronage on the basis that it was operated previously with three buses, but one bus might be sufficient.
There are going to be a few posts about the network before I move on to looking at supporting  infrastructure. As the content of this page makes clear, infrastructure is important. We need hubs, shelters, pedestrian facilities, bus lanes, cycle parking, etc. These facilities are down to territorial local government (e.g. Christchurch City Council) rather than regional (Ecan) and since CCC has tried so hard to welsh out of their responsibilities in this area we will have to see if there is any more commitment than there has been previously.