There is an interesting article on Stuff today about ECans views at the draft Central City Plan hearings. ECan’s Chief Commissioner, Dame Margaret Bazley, said that there were “considerable risks” in the plan, and that it should not be approved without wider consultation.
The primary concern for ECan seems to be around the move away from a single interchange for bus services to a multiple central city station approach. I have to say that I share those concerns, although it ultimately depends on how that plan is put into action (for example, having multiple stations might work so long as all bus routes pass through all of them). Much care is going to have to be taken if we move away from the single interchange approach, to ensure the systems remains simple, effective and easy to use.
ECan also had concerns around the closure of some streets and the removal of the one-way system, claiming there might be a negative impact on the public transport system. Obviously, impacts on the operation of the public transport system needs to be taken into consideration when changes to the road system are made, and I don’t really see there being any substantial issues there (well, at least none that can’t be worked around).
Another interesting point made by ECan is that there should be consideration to the substantial growth in the Selwyn, Hurunui, and Waimakariri areas. This is a good call, and I think it was something that was conspicuous by its absence in the draft Plan’s transport section. The minimal information on developing rail to Rangiora and Rolleston really stood out, especially given the big-ticket item was light rail to the university. It will be interesting to see how/if feedback on that is reflected in the final Plan. Nevertheless, ECan supports the light-rail investigation, although it seems to be indicated that the numbers need to stack up. Disappointingly, the article seems to make out that ECan believe the costs of the system need to be met directly from patronage. This seems a little odd given that ECans own bus system doesn’t even do this, nor do most light rail or rail systems around the world (including both the Auckland and Wellington metro rail systems). This is becoming a worrying trend in regards to discussing light rail proposals in Christchurch, as it is a woefully unrealistic expectation. I would hope that ECan were not exactly meaning it in the way it comes across!
Something I am not entirely sure about was: “Bazley said the council should also consider establishing other public transport corridors throughout the city to cater for future demand.” Not entirely sure what that means, the Plan does propose establishing a long-term vision for a city-wide light rail system, so I can’t really figure what it means.