Carpooling best option to ease Northern Motorway congestion


Carpooling is the best option to help alleviate morning commuter congestion on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway according to the results of a new commuter survey.

Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated they would be open to the idea of carpooling or already carpool. 

The NZ Transport Agency’s Southern Regional Director Jim Harland, who is leading the team working on short-term solutions to ease congestion, says there will always be peak-hour congestion on the Northern Motorway, even when the new Western Corridor and Northern Arterial are built, because of the continual growth in traffic volumes from the north.

 “What everyone needs to do is start thinking about how they travel and consider using alternative transport options to their private car, such as carpooling, which provides more capacity on the network and more predictable journey times. 

“Carpooling and public transport are all parts of the transport network and greater use of these will help reduce congestion.” 

Those surveyed said they wanted incentives, such as carpooling lanes, to make carpooling easier. 

Morning congestion on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway.

Morning congestion on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway.

Mr Harland says the Smart Travel NZ(external link) website was a great starting point for commuters wanting information on how to take the first steps to carpooling. 

The Northern Corridor Commuter Research survey was completed by almost 400 commuters in late November/early December. Most morning peak-hour commuters said they found the congestion both frustrating and unsatisfactory. However, few said they saw public transport as an alternative option. 

Respondents’ perceived public transport as slower than driving and also inconvenient. Only 3% were regular bus users, compared with 90% who drove. 

Mr Harland says motorists will continue to experience delays and frustrations if they do not change their travel behaviour, looking at alternative options and travelling at alternative times. 

Environment Canterbury public transport manager David Stenhouse said the northern motorway research provided an interesting insight into commuter behaviour.  “It’s great to get people thinking about how they travel and how their choices affect congestion. 

“We’re improving the public transport services in the Waimakariri area to encourage more people to catch a bus to help ease congestion on the Northern Motorway. By catching the bus you can do your bit to reduce congestion.” 

Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers encourages North Canterbury road users to consider the options available for travelling into the city during peak hours. 

“We still have very high numbers of vehicles, around 85%, with only one person in them travelling into Christchurch in the morning peak hour. 

“If more people share their ride or catch a bus, even if it’s only one or two days a week, this will make a difference.” 

Mr Harland encourages the Waimakariri community to come along to next week’s Community Chat on Tuesday 3 May, from 7pm, at the Rangiora Town Hall (Upstairs Function Room), 303 High St, corner of King and High Streets, and learn more about the research, the short and long-term solutions that are being put in place to help ease congestion and how their journeys can be made better.

The results of the survey are online [PDF, 1.5 MB].


The Waimakariri Bridge at peak hour.

The Waimakariri Bridge at peak hour.