Don’t worry about trying to convince the Government about plans for light rail in Christchurch, the opposition has done a good enough job of pouring scorn on the whole idea already! In a rather pessimistic Stuff article, Labour MP for East Christchurch Lianne Dalziel has called into question the light rail concept, asking whether it is “realistic” and warning that the recovery planning process under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act is “not the time for vision to overshadow reality”. I usually try to remain non-political on here, but it is little wonder the opposition are struggling when their MPs are making comments like that!
There is no explanation about what Dalziel might find ‘unrealistic’ about light rail for Christchurch, and no further word on why it is we should have no ‘vision’. With the type of crossroads Christchurch is at, I would have thought that now was most certainly the time to have some vision, and make some very bold and brave decisions about the type of Christchurch we want so that we can have a city that will grow and prosper. Or perhaps Lianne could go have a word to Wellington and tell them that their electric commuter rail network should be pulled apart because such ‘vision’ overshadows reality. I mean, Wellington is about the same size as Christchurch so going by her logic it makes perfect sense, right? Better tell Wellington’s Mayor to forget their light rail ideas as well while she is at it.
At the end of the day we must ask these type of questions to ensure we do get the best outcome when the Central City Plan is finalised. However, with the light rail idea growing in popularity with the people of Christchurch, and the need to take bold action in the recovery of the city, shooting down popular ideas without doing a thorough analysis is going to be dangerous territory for politicians. History tells us that the Labour Party should be more supportive of public transport yet here we are in a situation where the most optimistic views on the light rail concept are actually coming from the roads obsessed National Party. This is a strange New Zealand we are currently living in!