Will we ever reach ‘normal’ again?

Posted on April 7, 2011 by


Its been a wee while since I have managed to get on here and post, a combination of going away on a fishing trip and having internet issues. Anyway, right now there hasn’t been a lot going on… well actually there has been quite a bit going on but nothing more than the usual rumors, scaremongering, half-truths, and uninformed opinions in the media. Really, I have started to realise we won’t have an idea of the true shape of post-quake Christchurch until everything has settled down a bit and we start to see some traction on formulating some plans for the CBD and the greater metropolitan area. It hasn’t been a great start, as I outlined in the post about CERA I have some concerns about how the governance of the rebuild/recovery process could potentially be taken out of ‘our’ hands. But it is still a case of ‘wait and see’.

In the meantime it is good to see more bus services are up and operating this week. There have been some increases in service frequencies and some services are returning to their normal routes (see here).

Services are still a long way off from complete normality though, and its likely some big decisions will have to be made before (if?) normality resumes. For example, what is the future of the underground transport interchange? Is it even on the table now? While I think comments such as “they can’t build it underground now” are slightly premature and ignorant, the projects priority will surely fall and even its future could be in doubt depending on the decisions taken when deciding how to rebuild Christchurch. On one hand, we might want to look at public transport a bit different, now that we have the opportunity to effectively implant a more rigorous public transport system, that effectively makes the interchange idea redundant. On the other hand, we might get foisted upon us an overwhelmingly pro-roads transport agenda (Milton Keynes in the South Pacific maybe?). I wouldn’t put it past this current government to dust off the old 1960’s transportation master plan and push ahead with unbuilt motorways, and then some!

One thing that has been mentioned in the media a bit is the idea of getting buses out of the CBD. Unfortunately some people have run with the idea a bit too literally and suggested we terminate buses on the edge of the city once it is recovered. One word. Disaster.

The same goes too for the still-under-construction bus lane network. If the recent traffic woes say anything then surely it is that priority for public transport is a good idea! If anything, as we rebuild and repair roads, it may be worthwhile fast-tracking bus lanes, particularly in the eastern suburbs. Or we could simply reject that and divide our city up into sections bounded by 6 lane asphalt barriers!

Whatever happens, I have a feeling, for better or worse, that Christchurch’s transport system will never return to ‘normal’ as it was before the quakes. I could go on, but the point is decisions taken before the rebuild will likely result in big changes being made before we are ever likely to get back to the situation we were in. Light-rail? Motorways? Bus lanes? BRT? All or some of the above? Nothing? I am betting on one thing, it won’t be the same.