Canterbury Rail and Housing Workshop 4 Results

Thanks to everyone who came to the 4th Canterbury Rail and Housing Workshop last week. We had some good discussion with 30-odd people debating the pros and cons of 6 different options for mass rapid transit in Christchurch.

To kick things off Glen presented on some of the similarities and differences between the three main modes available for mass rapid transit:

  1. Heavy rail
  2. Light rail
  3. Bus rapid transit

This summary slide shows the key points he explained.

Bus Rail Summary Slide.JPG

We looked at the maps and discussions we had during the first workshop, and developed the most common ideas into six options. These didn’t capture every idea, but we wanted to have a manageable number of options to work with, rather than the hundreds that were discussed. Note that these are not mutually exclusive – it may be that we want to combine two or three of these. Also note some of these are just a “what do we do first?” sort of scenario. In the long term, hopefully we’ll have a more comprehensive network than this, but we need to start somewhere.

The options are summarised below, explained in more detail as part of the full set of the evening’s slides:

  1. Bus Rapid Transit along Riccarton and Papanui Roads
  2. Bus Rapid Transit along Northern Corridor
  3. Heavy Rail to RollestonOption3
  4. Heavy Rail to RangioraOption4
  5. Light rail to HalswellOption5
  6. Light rail along to UniversityOption6

We then went through a multi-criteria analysis, ranking each option by the objectives we came up with together in workshop 3. I summed up the scores from the six groups, and have shown the average scores below (the raw sheets are here).


This shows that there was a pretty strong leaning towards heavy rail on the existing tracks. Both routes scored very similarly. People saw heavy rail as providing more reliable travel times than both light rail and bus rapid transit. It also scored higher in environmental outcomes, and was seen as using space more efficiently.

Light rail along Lincoln Road was scored next highest. People marked this highly in terms of perception/experience of public transport, improved environmental outcomes, and better/more efficient use of space.

Riccarton Road light rail was marked significantly worse than Lincoln Road light rail, due mainly to two categories. People didn’t see it resulting in lower cost housing/transport, presumably relating to the fact it is the only option that exclusively services developed areas, rather than opening up potential greenfield development areas. It also scored relatively low in terms of better/more efficient use of space.

People marked both bus rapid transit options lowly. People didn’t see them as providing the same travel time reliability as the other options, particularly the Riccarton and Papanui Roads option. People also thought they wouldn’t have the same high perception/experience as the heavy and light rail options. People marked them down for environmental benefits – this may be due to people comparing it to the existing diesel buses we have now. They also marked them lower for better/more efficient use of space.

We asked for participant’s thoughts on the evening via a Menti survey and will take the limited feedback received into consideration.

Our final workshop will be Monday, 8 July at Tūranga (TSB Space on level 1) where we’ll discuss how we go about making this happen, particularly focussing on funding and implementation.

What do you think of this scoring? Heavy rail came out conclusively on top, being marked highest for almost every category. Does this align with your gut instinct?

15 thoughts on “Canterbury Rail and Housing Workshop 4 Results

  1. I imagine a group of rail fans at a rail workshop evaluating transport options would choose Heavy Rail first, Light Rail second, and BRT last.

    Can I have the envelope please….

    1) Heavy Rail
    2) Light Rail
    3) BRT


    1. I’m fairly mode-agnostic actually John; I’ve seen some very cool BRT systems elsewhere for example. And I wouldn’t characterise our audiences to date as “rail fans”. But we’re talking about “what first?”, and using the existing heavy rail lines seems a logical first step – the other things are likely to happen later as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of the details around the options were discussed at our table and the scoring almost directly opposite to the consensus! It also sounds as if people had very different perceptions of what the options actually entailed which undermines the exercise a little, would be good to flesh this out!


  3. I would agree with these results. I would also like to add that if housing is integrated with rapid transit on the existing heavy rail corridor its operating costs are lower than buses not high as marked on the graph. Think 5 to 10 bus drivers compared to one train driver. Efficiency of steel wheels on steel tracks etc. There are big efficiency gains from economies of scale and this is one of the main benefits of integrating housing with rapid transit.


  4. Hey great work, but does seem a little too mode focused to me, a bit back to front. Suggest start with network plan first; reflecting current and desired future land use (housing and job density now and possible), then get into evaluation of route mode….


    1. Yes that was considered and no doubt there will be more traffic demand management work done as part of further business case analysis.

      What is needed now is to get some rapid transport infrastructure built ahead of Christchurch’s housing growth before the pattern of growth gets too dysfunctional.


    2. This has kind of already been done in regard to the prioritising of corridors to the north and southwest by the greater Christchurch partnership (see for example the Canterbury Regional PT Plan) . This would surely be a driver of why rail is the preferred mode, from this exercise, as the rail corridors correspond to the growth corridor particularly well. The point is surely figuring out how best those corridors are served, so I think the exercise is coming in at the right angle and has its priorities generally on track. The problem isn’t where so much as how. But perhaps this should be made more clear so it doesn’t look like the cart is being put before the horse?


    3. Well we started with developing network and land-use ideas way back in Workshop 1, so actually it feels quite late in the piece to be discussing modes… Although there is some overlap along corridors for different modes, in certain locations we don’t have much choice (e.g. rail tracks only exist currently in some places)


  5. I think this is a really interesting result. CHAT club has not particularly pushed any one option. Axel for instance has given advocacy to the northern busway option as a means to mitigate the down stream effects of Northern Arterial Motorway. Last year I wrote about BRT spine to the north.

    Light rail from the city to the university and eventually to the airport has in the past had strong advocacy from the previous Mayor Parker.

    Yet integrating housing with rail on the existing rail corridor and light rail out towards Halswell and the south west has though been more popular.

    Perhaps this indicates people want a longer lasting more strategic solution to Christchurch’s housing and transport needs?


  6. Good stuff! Would be great to do this exercise with policy makers and throw housing densities into the mix as well. A long-term transport and housing vision for Greater Christchurch is desperately needed. Local, regional and national government need to work together to establish this. The current vacuum in housing and transport planning will only result in in higher cost for housing and transportation, increase of environmental footprint, unnecessary loss of agricultural land and increased congestion. This planning is long overdue and postponing it any further is irresponsible in my opinion.


  7. I think the order preferance could be conceived as a variation of the ‘Copenhagen Hand’.
    The thumb is the northern rail corridor.
    The index finger starts as bus priority connecting the city to Uni and Airport at Riccarton station but later it is upgraded to light rail.
    The big finger (2nd finger) is the southern rail corridor and comes first.
    The 3rd finger is light rail to Halswel which comes 2nd (equal?) and is later extended to Prebbleton and Lincoln.
    The palm is the intensifying central area with a network of bus and light rail connections, cyclelanes, reduced speed roads and micromobility infrastructures. A tram-train loop (2nd equal?) connecting Riccarton station to the central bus exchange and to Moorhouse station becomes the inner core of the palm.


  8. I’m not sure of what CHAT is trying to achieve … gain new insights and develop ideas for an improved public transport system for Christchurch and surrounds, or evidence ‘public support’ for ideas held by the organisers? The focus seems proscriptive, and lacking in an ambitious vision for our future. Perhaps I am speaking out of turn (granted) and am uninformed (likely) – I do not do Facebook nor hold any interest in ‘blogging’; I have only had opportunity to attend two out of the four evenings. Nevertheless, I do sense there are some things the forum is not getting right, and that there is insufficient time allocated to truly work with and alongside the people who have sought to support this valuable initiative – it does seem very rushed, for such a weighty topic. I hope I am wrong and being unjust in my comments.
    Something worth keeping in mind for your transport goals: “The difficultly lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.” John Maynard Keynes

    Best wishes | Ngā mihi


    1. If you have a view that beneficial options were proscribed or missed feel free to tell us. Likewise if there is a particular vision CHAT has not properly examined, there is no need to hold back. The purpose of these public meetings and online forums is to get input from the public. The results that Chris has kindly collated and summarises represent the collective views of those that attended.


    2. “Rushed” is certainly a fair comment because we literally have 90 minutes about once a month to cover a vast range of topics related to good land-use and transport planning needed to make all this work. So we have to be relatively efficient with our time, cut a few corners, and unfortunately give relatively little time on the night for people to mull over what we’re presenting. Meanwhile, people for whom this is their dayjob are slowly working their way through similar issues and options as well, so we also have to be mindful of what they’re coming up with (remember, we’re just volunteers doing this in our spare time and yes, we do chat with ECan and CCC bods about all this too).

      What are we trying to achieve? Without wanting to put words in the mouths of my colleagues, here’s what I’m after:
      (1) Raise the bar on public understanding the issues, options (and complexities) of good public transport in Greater Chch, esp. rapid transit (e.g. how it is very much tied up with what we do with land use). I hear people say “just put some commuter trains on the rail lines; it’s simple!” – is it really that simple? When the relevant authorities do finally put out a plan for improved public trpt, we want people to understand how they got there.
      (2) Interest some of our political masters (or would-be politicos) into agitating for what they believe is needed in public transport (and improving their understanding – see 1 above). It’s no accident that we have been running these workshops less than a year out from local elections…
      (3) Fly a few kites and keep the authorities honest. Everyone has their favourite pet idea for ‘solving’ public transport in Greater Chch; some are good, some have a few problems when you dig down into them. We’re quite happy to throw a few ideas out there that may not ultimately be very realistic at present; better to have thrashed them out in discussion now for when the next person comes along and says “how come no-one has considered xyz?” Public agencies tend to get more ridiculed if they try that too often; meanwhile when they do come up with some ideas to present, we can at least consider them against what else has been considered and see if we agree with their prognosis (or that they’ve missed something).


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