Public transport routes and infrastructure shouldn’t be decided by territorial councils

Last Friday the Papanui-Innes Community Board decided to allow the installation of new bus stops in Innes Road, which is a major thoroughfare in Christchurch and part of the route of a major bus service, the Orbiter. The placement of the new bus stops raised concerns, and two members of the Board, a minority, chose to vote against the placement of the stops. A third member of the Board who has opposed bus priority measures in the ward was absent from the meeting. If he had been present and chosen to vote against the proposal then it is possible the proposal could have failed completely.

As a community board member has highlighted, the key issues are related to the need to make public transport services a viable alternative to vehicle usage and the placement of stops is very important in order to improve access to public transport services. The Orbiter is a high frequency service that is one of the most popular bus services in Christchurch. Improving PT services is very important in northern Christchurch because of problems caused by matters such as the development of the new motorway which will create significant issues for people in the area with high volumes of road traffic entering and leaving the motorway.

The community paper article identified the concerns given by submitters opposing the bus stop siting as being: a loss of parking; bus stops located over driveways; hazards to motorists pulling out of their driveways; littering; and traffic problems. The overall tone of these issues is a bias against public transport. Further, the views of the dissenting board members claimed there would be an issue with siting bus stops outside a school, and concerns over traffic problems in the area.

All of these issues are fundamentally caused by a car-centric transport culture that prevails at all levels of the Christchurch City Council. Most of the issues raised in opposition to the proposal are ones that are much more likely to be experienced due to the high volumes of vehicle traffic that travels down Innes Road. Therefore the biggest transport problem is simply that there are too many cars on the roads. The arguments about buses being a safety risk around schools ignore that most traffic problems are caused by parents driving to and from school to pick up or drop off their kids.

The biggest issue is not just that CCC is car centric but that councillors and community board members can do such a poor job of promoting public transport. The same Papanui-Innes community board a couple of months ago was handed the job of helping to find a new route for the 44 Shirley bus because of the Orbiter having to be re-routed away from a retirement village in the area. The Community Board sided with local residents in blocking the route change to the 44 bus service thereby ensuring the retirement village residents have no nearby bus service they can access any more.

This blog/page is personally opposed to Christchurch City Council’s long standing campaign to take control of Christchurch public transport services. It’s become clear to us that the councillors, especially the 2021 Labour/Green bloc, have no moral backbone and cannot be relied upon to prioritise public transport, but are beholden to the car lobby in many cases. The government has also refused to hand over control to CCC since at least 1899, so they have got a good handle on the advantages of having it in regional council control.

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