Mass Rapid Transit Business Case

Today Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District and Waimakariri District councils all endorsed a business case for mass rapid transit, following endorsement from Ecan and Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti over the last few days. The report came out a week ago and there’s been a wee bit of coverage. Business Desk did a good technical write up, Stuff went with a more story-telling kind of piece, and Greater Auckland did one for transport geeks.

The full business case is available here. If you don’t have time to read it, here’s a real quick summary.

The preferred option is this:

A few headline numbers:

  • It’ll cost somewhere between $3-4 billion. Whilst this would be one of the biggest transport projects Christchurch has ever done (possibly the biggest?), it’s cheaper than similar projects in Auckland (~$15b)and Wellington (~$3-4b but for only a third of the length). This is mainly because the topography is flat and there’s no tunnels or bridges needed.
  • The benefit-cost ratio is 1.4 for buses and 1.1 for light rail, excluding wider economic benefits. Again this compares favourably to Auckland and Wellington.
  • It would carry 5.7 million people per annum, by 2051.
  • It would be quite a lot faster than both buses and driving at peak times. MRT would be 21 minutes from city centre to Hornby: the bus currently takes around 34 minutes City Centre to Hornby, driving anywhere from 18-35 minutes.
  • It could theoretically be under construction by 2028 and operating by 2033, subject to funding and everything running smoothly over the next 5 years.

Although it’s great progress, all it really does is allow everyone to continue to the next stage of the project: another business case. But at least we’re now three down, with only one to go. Here’s hoping this next one is the last…

I won’t get into my personal views on it all too much, just two quick thoughts to end:

  1. I’m not complaining but, I was a pleasantly surprised how easily this went through. The Whakawhanake Kainga Komiti took about 20 minutes to endorse, the City Council around an hour. WKK, Ecan and Selwyn votes were all unanimous, CCC and Selwyn both unanimous bar one.
  2. I love our friends in Auckland and Wellington and don’t want to turn it into a competition, but in the meetings and media coverage there definitely has been an element of parochial comparison between the three, which all have similar MRT schemes on the go. My feeling is that Christchurch has benefitted hugely from being the last cab off the rank and learnt from some of the mistakes in Auckland and Wellington (there’s a lot of overlap in the personnel working on the three schemes).

2 thoughts on “Mass Rapid Transit Business Case

  1. There’s another benefit – much of the route used to be trams and so the services are already located away from the tram… er… light rail route. This should mean faster cheaper rollout as well as there is no need to dig up all the existing services to move them. Should… there’s no telling what the engineers will decide to do… but they should have very good reasons for digging up services.

    See here – – and check Riccarton Rd & Ilam Road – or Papanui Road & Tomes Road intersections. This will load up the underground services… nicely to the side where they have been for most of last century. Yay.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s