Transport model is 'flawed'

16:00, Mar 21 2014

Environment Canterbury's (ECan) boss believes Christchurch's public transport model is "flawed" and is lobbying the Government for change.

In a letter to then Local Government Minister Chris Tremain in January last year, Dame Margaret Bazley writes about how public transport sits between councils, and should be addressed at a national level.

The letter, released to The Press under the Official Information Act, states: "The current model for delivery of integrated and effective public transport is flawed in Christchurch in particular. We have signalled our support to the minister of transport for a review of public transport arrangements."

In Christchurch, responsibility for the provision of public passenger transport lies with ECan, but the responsibility for providing the infrastructure to support public transport, such as bus stops, shelters, and interchanges, rests with the city council, which has caused some tension.

However, hundreds of emails between the staff from both organisations, released under the Official Information Act in a separate request, show they appear to be working together, with the differences occurring at the governance level.

ECan commissioner Rex Williams, who is in charge of public transport, agreed it was a flawed model.


A review would most likely be done in "due course", he said.

"It's not urgent. We should be able to get around it," Williams said. "All we have to do it work together and commit to the policy instead of veering off with other stuff."

He hoped the two organisations would be able to communicate better at a governance level.

Any review of public transport would have to take place nationally, and would be unlikely for a couple of years, Williams said.

During last year's budget-setting process, ECan lobbied the city council to put aside $18 million a year for the next three years for public transport infrastructure, but $8.4 million was included in its budget.

In a written submission at the time, Bazley said ECan was unhappy with the level of funding from the council.

"The absence of any significant capital expenditure to improve the operation of public transport over the next three years reinforces our view that the city council no longer seems committed to a viable future for public transport in Christchurch," she said.

The city council then angered ECan when it took months longer than promised to deliver a new superstop at Northlands in Papanui.

Again, at the end of last year, ECan was left disappointed when the council failed to give approval to plans for a new waiting lounge for bus passengers transferring through Riccarton.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Government was not reviewing Canterbury's public transport arrangements, and did not have plans to.

He believed ECan and the council could work together effectively to deliver public transport.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel did not believe the model was flawed but "has flaws" that could be improved.

She was open to a possible review, either at local or national level, but said until then the council would continue to work as closely as possible with ECan.

The Press