The dweaded wabbit has been flushed out of hiding by the need to float a few new seeds of thought into the the public consultation on the Prestons development. Prestons is a huge housing development planned by a consortium of Ngai Tahu (the South Island's largest Company), supermarket chain Foodstuffs and Singapore linked developer CDL Land New Zealand. If permitted it will eventually cover an area bigger than Hagley Park and house 6000 people. I have had several looks at the plans, and a tiny portion of the vast reading matter (literally volumes of info!). On the basis of a nosey rabbit scan it seems impressively well thought through and well suited to the Christchurch of today - mainly the classic suburban homes, but also greater housing concentration around the core areas, which also include school areas and shopping facilities etc. Also what looks like good bike and pedestrian pathways and easy access to central core bus routes already identified.
I have been interested in busways for most of the last decade and have had plenty of time to think about options in Christchurch. These are relatively limited in every area of town, without massive social disruption and huge costs. Generally judicious linking of secondary (uncongested) arterial roads with some bus only infrastructure could produce very fast corridors (the buses don't actually speed - they are fast because they are never held up by traffic and their routes are short-cuts). Wellington has 210,000 people living up the Kapiti Coast and Hutt Valley corridors served by commuter rail - this pattern bears no relationship to Christchurch in any depth analysis. Most - two thirds - of the greater Christchurch "outermost 210,000 residents" live not in Rangiora or Rolleston but in areas contingent with the core city areas, showing in the Mickey Mouse ear pattern in the rough map below, and this ratio will not change. Identifying our city's peripheral population is based on drawing a circle at approximately 5km radius from the city centre and then looking at the major residential or activity areas built, or planned, out beyond that circle; one of these is the proposed Prestons suburb, and also across Burwood, Tumara Park, Parklands and North Beach, North Shore.
It is my belief that each of these outer areas should be able to reach the city in peak-hours in less than 25 minutes (cuurently typically 35-40 minutes) by bus rapid transit corridors - fifteen minutes picking up looping around the outer residential area then feeding onto the busway trunk corridor which has various technologies to give the bus uninterrupted flow - ten minutes to the city non-stop [or key stop only] from the point where the route crosses that circle; in the case of the eastern mouse ear that is Breezes Road or in the north east, where New Brighton Road encounters the Avon River.
Let's take a journey on the busway suggested above
...first step recall USA expression "Think rail- build bus" - this is a level of commitment to public transport similar to that normally only given rail