I have followed public transport issues for over 40 years and I am appalled that this field of social engineering, with as many complexities as any other field of engineering, is being treated as some sort of “anyone can do it right” system.
We do not choose to purchase expensive medical equipment or wharf cranes on the basis of public or politician whim – why build and run far more expensive public transport on such a ridiculous basis?
Proposals to undertake studies on "light rail" and to create a business case for Government appeared designed to choose light rail without first examining other options, when clearly many other technologies exist to create more effective public transport. Obviously funding is finite and $400 million into one light rail project, a single short line, will seriously compromise other transport options for years to come.
Not least the future vitality of the central city will largely depend on easy direct access from all corners of the city, including public transport. Successful public transport needs to look at access to and from all areas, not just the CBD and Riccarton Road, or even the very limited future light rail network indicated.
I believe the city should set aside (or obtain from NZ Transport Agency) $5 million or sufficient funds to develop a public transport strategy more sophisticated than currently being applied or suggested.
Amongst other things part of developing this strategy would see international consultants, from firms with decades of experience and properly qualified public transport planners and financial assessors examining ALL major forms of city transport options and land use in Christchurch.
This would include conventional bus systems, integrated network bus systems, bus rapid transit, commuter rail and light rail as modes, and off road cycle ways (specifically built to address travel needs) and on-road bus and light lanes, and segregated or off road bus or light rail corridors, and commuter rail (including relationship to freight needs).
Any project involving substantial public funds needs to be determined on professional information and offer appropriate comparative cost-benefit studies to international standards.
All proposed choices or projects involving substantial funding imput (whether from taxes or rates or other sources) should be taken to a local body election before being fully implemented.