Despite what the Press thinks (Chch commuters feel the pain), Christchurch has done pretty well in the IBM Commuter Pain Survey, ranking better than Auckland, Berlin, Amsterdam, Toronto, Paris, and many others. In fact, Christchurch sits right down the bottom of the international scale. Not bad considering we have quite a rudimentary public transport system in currently in a drawn-out stagnation, coupled with a council that continues to push scattered, unfocused, car-dependent development.
However, it still shows the dominance of the car, and the attitude of most commuters towards public and active transport is pretty lacking. The response to the survey is quite predictable from Parker – he wants rail to grow public transport, and will look into it next year (he said that last year as well). The couple of lines Parker gets about rail don’t tell us anything new, or give us any details at all, about alternatives to the current ‘basic bus’ setup.
From ECan and the regional transport committee, we see a more interesting response, with a particular emphasis on active transport, especially cycling. Cycling seems to be more ideologically acceptable to the Government than rail, and with ECan and the CCC’s transport committee now looking considerably more pro-cycling, it’s looking like the topic to watch for 2011.
Why is this important? The only way that Christchurch will improve its results for the next survey is by improving its cycling, walking, and public transport networks. The road network, while still the dominant factor in the city’s transport, is restricted by the city and the limits of car traffic. Motorways built on the outskirts of town might score points for campaigning politicians, but they do little to aid the inner-city congestion, and roads which are getting increasingly clogged and slowed (eg Riccarton road) cannot possibly be helped with a car-dependent transport policy.
For the councillors and commissioners searching for meaning, this survey shows that Christchurch has got off pretty well, but that if we are to improve the results, we need to redouble our efforts to develop a useful, reliable public transport network, and see serious action in making Christchurch a city that’s safe for cyclists and pedestrians.