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Access to Northern Christchurch – stats, facts and tips

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Project introduction

Congestion on the roads leading in and out of Christchurch from the north has worsened since the Canterbury earthquakes. Multiple organisations are working on ways to give travellers more options and to make travel times more reliable. There are also ways the community can help reduce vehicle number

Project updates

Northern Corridor Commuters Research 2016
Project reports, (PDF)
Ten years carpooling
Newsletters, (DOCX)
Stuck in traffic - Try carpooling
Newsletters, (DOCX)
Survey supports carpooling to ease congestion
Project updates, (PDF)
Northern Corridor Commuters Research
Project reports, (PDF)

About the project

Significant population growth in North Canterbury is putting pressure on the routes in and out of Christchurch. Commuters and locals are experiencing queues, delays and frustration in the north of Christchurch.

Below you will find information about what is being done to help ease congestion and to encourage people to use different transport options and how you can play a significant part in that.

Motorway improvements

New highways to help with predictable journeys.

The Transport Agency is building two new projects to the north of Christchurch – the Western Corridor now completed and Christchurch Northern Corridor.  These projects will help ease congestion and provide opportunities (room) for the Transport Agency and other agencies to improve facilities for other modes like public transport, cycling and walking.

These projects will:

  • Provide more predictable journey times and reduce congestion
  • Provide a safe off-road access over the Waimakariri River for cyclist that joins up with other key cycle infrastructure
  • Improve access to Christchurch’s Central City, Christchurch International Airport and Lyttelton Port
  • Allow for improved public transport (PT) infrastructure especially along the main PT corridor of Main North Road and Papanui Road
  • Allow for improved cycle and pedestrian facilities and public transport infrastructure
  • Provide safer streets by moving freight trucks and commuter traffic off suburban roads
  • Support economic growth by moving people and goods more quickly and efficiently
  • Support the urban growth plans for North Canterbury and Christchurch
  • The Western Corridor was finished in 2017/18 and the Christchurch Northern Corridor (CNC) will be finished in by the end of 2020.

More information on these projects can be found at these links:

Public transport improvements

Environment Canterbury is helping to reduce congestion by improving public transport services to and from the north of Christchurch and North Canterbury. Several improvements to bus services from Waimakariri district have and are being introduced. The frequency of bus services from Waimakariri has increased, route coverage has improved, and a new direct commuter bus service is also being introduced on the CNC motorway when it opens.

The Christchurch City Council is making infrastructure improvements to the Main North Road/Papanui Road bus corridor to improve the efficiency of buses using the route.

Christchurch City Council Main North Road project(external link)

Park and Ride facilities in Waimakariri

Waimakariri District Council is working on new and improved Park & Ride facilities in both Kaiapoi and Rangiora to be ready by the time the new direct commuter buses start on the new CNC motorway. Park & Ride facilities will support the use of the carpooling lanes and public transport. People in single occupant vehicles will be able to park and catch the bus or meet up with a friend to share a car to work.

Carpooling/T2 lanes on CNC

Carpool, T2 or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes encourage carpooling and bus use which will help reduce congestion and travel times.

The NZ Transport Agency is building two separate Carpool/T2 lanes on the CNC motorway to encourage ride sharing and public transport use.  A HOV lane can only be used by public transport and vehicles with more than one occupant.

Here is a video explaining how the Carpool/T2 Lanes will work:

Shared use path clip-on lane across the Waimakariri River bridge

A separated cycle and pedestrian shared path will run the entire length of the CNC project including a new clip-on lane on the Waimakariri Bride over the Waimakariri River. The CNC path will link to the CCC’s Papanui Parallel in the south and with the Waimakariri District Council’s shared path on the northern side of the river providing access through to Kaiapoi.

This path and the public’s eager adoption of electric bikes and scooters makes commuting from North Canterbury a viable option for many.

What about light rail?

Short term

Environment Canterbury and partners have investigated introducing a commuter rail service from Rangiora on the existing railway line to help reduce northern congestion in the short term. It was found not to be viable in the short-term for four key reasons:

  • The railway line doesn’t take people where they need to go. Many Waimakariri commuters work near the airport and central city which are not well serviced by the existing track.
  • Costs were too high for Ecan (and therefore your rates) as there would need to be upgrades to stations and the buying/leasing, operating and maintaining of trains. We would still need to run bus services as well to service the bus stops in between the stations.
  • The cost would likely be too high for the individual (>$10 each way) plus many people would still need to buy an additional bus ticket as well.
  • Use of the existing single track by freight would restrict the potential timetable and could delay passenger services – (The train would be infrequent and slower than driving).

For now, a package of bus improvements is a better, more cost-effective, short-term solution for everyone.

Long term

In the longer-term light rail is being considered as part of the PT Futures project managed by the Greater Christchurch Partnership.

Greater Christchurch Partnership website(external link)

What can you do to help

  • Catch a bus

    Every time you catch a bus you are not only saving on parking and petrol costs, but it gives you time to relax, catch-up on emails or social media while you’re being driven. By catching a bus, you can do your bit to reduce traffic congestion, reduce environmental pollution and create the open-space city we said we wanted to create post-earthquake.

  • Merge like a zip

    Drivers on the on-ramps should aim to enter the traffic stream smoothly at the end of the on-ramp. While, drivers on the motorway should allow room for traffic to enter the stream of traffic

  • Carpooling: Save money – share a ride

    More than 10,000 Waimakariri residents travel to work in Christchurch by car each day and about 80% to 85% of these vehicles have only one occupant during peak travel times. Everyone can save money and time by sharing their ride with one or more passengers in their vehicle. We are not expecting motorists to carpool every day but even carpooling a couple of times a week will help to reduce the volume of traffic on the motorway and reduce congestion.

    Smart Travel NZ is the easy way to find a carpool match.  Carpooling is an option that can save you money and minimise parking worries while reducing the number of cars on the road. Journey sharing can be as flexible as you want it to be. It’s all up to you. Fill those empty seats in your car and register now at Smart Travel NZ(external link).

  • Park and Ride facilities

    The Waimakariri District Council will be providing Park and Ride facilities in Rangiora at White Street and Silverstream Boulevard, to coincide with changes to the Blue Line route and the introduction of the new Rangiora to Christchurch Airport route.

    Road users can drive or cycle to these facilities, knowing there will be a parking space for their car or bike and jump on the bus for the rest of their journey into Christchurch.