Council looking for more balance in transport funding?

Posted on June 8, 2011 by


Something that kind of slipped past me the other day was the Christchurch City Council’s submission on the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding 2012/13 – 2021/22 (GPS) which was adopted at the Council’s meeting on 26 May.

While I haven’t seen a copy of the submission, the main points to it are outlined in the meeting agenda which is available online. It makes for some interesting reading, and will without doubt be something to keep an eye out for. I think it is clear that the changing demands and directions of Christchurch post-earthquake are going to be used as leverage to push for a reevaluation of the role of active and public transport modes in the overall transport system. The key comments of the draft submission, outlined in the agenda are:

• There is a need for more balanced approach to transport funding that supports local roads,
public transport enhancements and walking and  cycling. A wider view of the role of
transport in the recovery of Christchurch is required, particularly as it relates to transport
options for the Central City.
• More balanced investment in road safety to better support local roads and the whole of the
safer systems approach.
• Clarification on the Roads of National Significant expansion
• Reconsider the activity classes funding reductions in Transport Planning and Road User

Looking at this, perhaps the Council want to ensure that the Government take the Central City Master Plan seriously, and that the funding to begin to implement projects that come out of it are in place (i.e. money for cycling and better public transport rather than for State Highways only). Clearly, there is worry that the Central City Master Plan that the Council produces later this year will not fit in with the GPS. Certainly it doesn’t look that way, as the ideas flowing out so far have centred around increasing active transport modes and improving public transport while the GPS is really all about roads, roads, and more roads. Take the idea to develop rail for example, it certainly does not fit with the GPS. So what happens if that is something the Master Plan puts forward? There is further leverage for this of course, just look at the money that has been poured into rail in Auckland and Wellington in recent years. The goal will probably be to link the comparative lack of investment into public transport (such as rail) with the new directions required to be taken, in regard to transport, following the earthquakes, as will be outlined in the Central City Master Plan (i.e. walking, cycling and better public transport).

The clarification of the expansion of the Roads of National Significance is also interesting. Christchurch is already earmarked for quite a significant investment in major road projects over the next decade or so, so it was a bit of a surprise that further RoNS are being looked at to the north and south of the current projects. The current projects are pretty intense and I think it is a bit questionable to pour more money into expanding those projects further without first looking to invest in further improvements to the greater Christchurch transport network (i.e. public transport). It is about balance, and clearly the Council have similar concerns. Further details of what these expansions entail would be most welcome, and we could yet end up with our own version of the ‘holiday highway’ argument.

This will be an interesting development to watch. If Christchurch is really going to take the initiative and make some drastic changes for the better, we are going to have to convince the Government to come along for the ride as well. Without getting the Government on board, a lot of what may come out of the Central City Master Plan, as well as other widely supported ideas, may not come to fruition. For that reason, this will undoubtedly be important. We will have to pay attention carefully!