Christchurch’s new Christchurch Transport Operations Centre has today been launched to improve travel in the city by helping to keep all road users better informed with up-to-date travel information on road works, travel delays, detours and road closures.
A partnership between the Christchurch City Council, NZ Transport Agency and Environment Canterbury (ECan), the Christchurch Transport Operations Centre aims to make it easier for everyone to move around the city, says City Council Acting Chief Executive Jane Parfitt.
“The partnership builds on the cooperation which goes back to immediately after the earthquakes when the City Council and Transport Agency began the huge task of repairing the city’s roads.
“We now have 130 road work sites around the city so delays are inevitable. Anyone who lives in Christchurch is affected. But as SCIRT, which is managing the repair of the city’s infrastructure says, road cones are a sign of progress,” she says.
“Through the Transport Operations Centre, we will be able to provide all road users - motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and bus passengers - with the latest traveller information about what is happening on the network. This will help them to plan their journey, avoiding road works and heavily congested areas, thereby saving time and frustration waiting in queues.”
The Transport Operations Centre will monitor and manage the roading network, both local roads and state highways, by looking to improve traffic flows on all routes, but in particular key commuter, public transport and freight routes.
Mrs Parfitt says there are a number of live travel cameras throughout the network which will enable the Transport Operations Centre to provide road users with the most up-to-date and reliable travel information.
By partnering with the Council and ECan, the NZ Transport Agency Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield says they can help ensure the state highways and local roads within the Christchurch City boundary are being operated as one network.
“As one network, Christchurch residents can be reassured we are working together to get the greatest efficiency out of the existing roading network to achieve economic growth, greater productivity and social benefits for the community.
“The Transport Operations Centre will be able to review what is happening across the entire network and use a variety of measures, such as traffic light phasing and better managing temporary traffic management, to get people, services and freight to their destination safely and in the quickest possible time,” he says.
“This is critical with the large amount of road works underway; we need to keep everyone moving to support the rebuild and ensure the recovery is a success.”
Environment Canterbury Acting CEO Jill Atkinson says for Environment Canterbury as the operators of the city’s public transport network, the Transport Operations Centre is an important link in ensuring the efficiency and reliability of this operation to make it a more attractive transport choice.
“We need to be able to provide our passengers with a reliable service and this can only be achieved if we know what is happening on the network. Today’s launch is a great step forward in the seamless co-ordination and operation of the network.
“By managing the network, on an hour-to-hour basis if necessary, we can make significant improvements in our services and ensure everyone gets to their destination on time and with a minimum of frustration.”
She says public transport has a significant role to play in supporting travel needs but has been adversely affected by the changes in travel patterns in the city.
For the public, transportforchristchurch.govt.nz is the place they will find all the latest information, from what road works are underway and likely to cause delays on the network, which roads are closed, the roads and bridges where there are weight restrictions and information on temporary events which may impact on traffic flows.
There is also an app which is free to download and will enable road users to keep up-to-date when on the move:
“This is just the first step,” Mrs Parfitt says. “The proliferation of road works sites will be part of our landscape for at least the next three to four years but through the Traffic Operations Centre we are working hard on a range of initiatives to reduce congestion and delays.
“These include developing a system where road users’ sign up to get email and text alerts about the roads they regularly travel on. This will personally inform them about upcoming temporary works or emergency situations on their routes and suggested detours to enable you to avoid roads with delays.
“We’re also mapping customer feedback to identify hotspots and undertaking real-time travel monitoring, all aimed at improving the performance of the network,” she says.
Through the Transport Operations Centre, the Council and Transport Agency are already undertaking a series of trials to improve traffic management around road works sites. The first of these trials should be completed within the next couple of months and road users should start to see some improvements in the number of road signs, road cones and overlapping works sites.