With all the talk about light rail in Auckland there’s been a bit of tea-break talk down here about how it might work in Christchurch. Down here, light rail to the airport would also mean light rail to the university, teacher’s college, the city’s largest shopping mall, several large schools, Hagley Park, Cricket Oval and Central Hospital, and would replace the city’s busiest bus corridor (Riccarton Road), so is one of the more obvious route candidates.
In my previous 2 posts I showed maps demonstrating that about a third of Christchurch’s population can get to the CBD in half an hour or less by public transport. I then showed how this would increase by roughly 50% if we just put in more bus lanes/priority and increased frequencies. Next I showed how introducing heavy rail would increase this by a further 10%.
In this post I look at how the introduction of light rail would affect this.
I used the same methodology, and added in not only the CBD to airport light rail route, but two others as well, mainly just out of curiosity:
- CBD to the Port Hills along Colombo Street
- CBD to New Brighton
There was some talk a while back around using the red zone to provide a light rail corridor out to New Brighton. My route just uses the existing bus route rather than the red-zone, but the idea is similar.
All three routes follow existing high-frequency bus routes so, in terms of my modelling, the only effect is that they’ll move people a bit quicker than buses. I assumed an average speed of 30km/h, in line with what Auckland’s light rail is expected to run at (compared to 20km/h for buses in bus-lanes).
First up is a recap map from my first post, showing the 106,000 residents currently living within a 30 minute public transport commute of the CBD (blue), along with the 163,000 residents that would be living within a half hour commute of the CBD if we increased frequencies and speeds of buses (red).
Next is a map showing how much more could be brought within a 30 minute commute by introducing these three light rail routes (green).
It shows some significant increases along the three routes, bringing another 23,000 people within a 30 minute commute of the CBD to a total of 186,000 (54%).
The most significant difference is on the airport route, where it would bring the airport and surrounding areas within half an hour of the CBD. It would also make it quicker coming in from the east and south, extending the walking catchments surrounding the routes.
Although I’ve use the term light-rail throughout this article, this analysis would apply equally to bus rapid transit, provided it was done properly so that it does actually achieve the faster 30km/h average speed.
I think this shows that light rail is worthy of further investigation. It brings several new areas of the city into a 30 minute commute of the CBD. In reality, and like heavy rail, light rail would also bring a whole raft of other benefits not related to travel time that I haven’t covered here.
Do you think light rail is a good idea for Christchurch?