Draft Regional Land Transport Plan

Canterbury have put out their draft Regional Land Transport Plan for public feedback, closing tomorrow (5th March). They have an online survey you can fill out which makes giving feedback very easy. This post is a very brief summary of a few things that stood out to me.

The regional land transport plan sets out all transport investment planned for Canterbury over the next ten years. Here’s where the money is planned to go:

Just maintaining our current roads is a massive chunk – 38% of the budget. We’ll spend twice us much maintaining our roads as we do running public transport. It highlights how little we spend on walking and cycling.

Here’s where the money comes from:

About two thirds comes from the National Land Transport Fund (think petrol and diesel charges). Roughly a third comes from local rates. This equates to about $700 per household per annum. Public transport subsidies make up about $70 of this. The rest is mostly funding road maintenance, with a very small amount going to other road improvements (including cycleways and bus lanes). I really just bring this up to again reinforce that driving cars is not fully self-funded, it is reliant on Council subsidies to the tune of around $1.7 billion over the next ten years, mostly for road maintenance.

Here are some projects I thought were of particular interest:

Year StartProjectCost
2021/22Bus Interchange Upgrades$0.6m
2021/22National Ticketing Scheme$4.0m
2021/22Various accessible city upgrades: Hereford St, High St, Antigua St, wayfinding, Ferry Rd, Lichfield St, Worcester St.$26.6m
2021/22Lincoln Road bus lanes – Moorhouse Ave to Barrington St, and Curletts to Wrights$2.7m & $9.9m
2021/22Major cycleways – Heathcote Express, Little River link, Nor’west Arc, Northern Line, Rapanui-Shag Rock, South Express, Wheels to Wings & Avon-Otakaro.$63.5m
2021/22Northern Arterial Extension and Cranford St cycleway links$4.0m
2022/23Rolleston overbridge and intersection upgrades$60.0m
2021/22Lincoln Road bus lanes – Curletts Road to Dunbars Road$25.0m
2022/23Brougham St improvements$40.0m
2023/24Various bus lanes around the city$24.5m
2023/24Colombo St bus facilities$2.6m
2023/24Street changes associated with new stadium$25.0m
2021/22Various rural state highway safety projects$238.5m

There’s increasingly the view that we’ve over-invested in car infrastructure over the last 50 years and we need to over-invest in cycling and public transport for a few decades now to get the balance right again. My overall impression is that this plan is taking a lot of small steps in the right direction – there are quite a few cycleways and bus lane projects in there. But the momentum of roads is so huge that it is hard to stop it – having to spend half our budget maintaining all the massive new roads we’ve been building won’t stop for a long time.

One thing I wonder about is the $238m budgeted for rural state highway safety improvements. Safer roads is great, but it is a lot of money and it could go a long way if we put it somewhere else (e.g. it could fund almost everything else on my list combined).

Also, we are spending relatively little on State Highways in the next ten years compared to other regions and compared to what Canterbury has been spending in recent years (northern and southern motorways). Yet despite this, the budget for State Highway Improvements is still higher than all the walking, cycling and public transport budgets combined.

This plan includes lots of encouraging steps in the right direction. But they are all very small steps, which aren’t really enough to reverse the momentum we’ve been building up for so long.

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