One of the big and unexpected winners in yesterday's budget is Christchurch's public transport system.
Announcing the Budget Bill English said it was imperative in reviving the earthquake battered city that funding be made available to lift the public transport system out of last century and into one that was truly competitive in making Christchurch an attractive cost effective city in which to live, commute to work, and do business in. Said the Minister, "You don't get that with-out investment in infrastructure, buying extra land for transfer stations, to widen roads, add separate bus lanes, or build underpasses to by-pass congestion ."
Interviewed after yesterday's budget reading in Parliament English admitted," The amount is not huge compared to the $500 million upgrading rail infrastructure in the Wellington region, or the billion and half dollars spent on Auckland rail, under the previous Government, but times are hard. This will allow Christchurch, a similar population size to Wellington, to get started. As has been noted years ago the city is notoriously behind other centres in rapid transit development".
Bill English also said the effect of the earthquakes has been to bite this rather staid, complacent, smug and very provincial city on the bum and post-quake traffic congestion shows it won't be long before moving around Christchurch by car is as miserable as Auckland. "Christchurch Councils have known this has been coming for years but little attempt has been made to build an appropriate rapid transit infrastructure." Minister of Transport Stephen Joyce commented, "Countless overseas studies show we can't build our way out of congestion by more roads, so getting thousands of cars off the road with superior public transport systems is a long term win win for everyone, motorists included."
Upon questioning English did admit Christchurch has the prettiest heritage tramway system, even if was no longer workable.
Mayor Parker has commented on the Government allocation, "It is about time, we have been sitting around waiting for years for funding like this for rapid transit to fall out of the sky, I just can't understand why has taken so long."
It was just a "yeah right dream".
From the Christchurch viewpoint it is same old same old.
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