Transport Minister Steven Joyce has acknowledged the importance of Canterbury/Christchurch to the New Zealand economy, during a recent meeting with the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee & Local Mayors.
Mr Joyce acknowledged a history of under investment in Canterbury transport infrastructure, which is excellent to see. The level of investment in Canterbury transport over the last fifty years or so has been very poor when compared to Auckland and Wellington. It’s certainly encouraging to finally hear that the Government is aware of the issue and is committed to investing in the regions transport system.
Mr Joyce also made a rather interesting comment about rail, criticising Auckland & Wellington’s systems for not paying their full costs, and cautioning that for rail connections between Christchurch and its satellite towns, the numbers need to stack up and long-term costs afforded.
I find the former comment on the Auckland & Wellington’s rail systems slightly unfair and ignorant, but this has been commented on in other blogs. His comments about rail in Christchurch are very interesting, and suggests to me that there might be a bit of lobbying going on behind the scenes. I can only speculate, but I feel for the minister to make such a comment on this issue, it would not simply be a response to recent local media buzz.
Keeping key transport issues, beyond the ‘Roads of National Significance’, in the ministers sights, such as public transport, is important according to the meetings chair Cr Jo Kane. I agree. With the hundreds of millions recently spent on Auckland & Wellington’s respective rail systems, it must be about time Christchurch got its fair share.