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.
My first thoughts when reading this were, why would anyone bother using PT with the transport situation in Christchurch as it stands currently. That’s because on the whole, people will make a rational choice based on what the options are. Unless you can’t drive or you’re prepared to sacrifice your commute so others can drive there is probably almost no reason to catch a bus. That’s because the buses are going to be caught in exactly the same congestion as everyone else and be slower once stops are taken into account, something those involved in the survey suspected.
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.”
It seems to me Christchurch really needs to be having a discussion about a future rapid transit network. It seems to be a glaring gap in discussion for the city and the experience from Auckland shows that if we want the people from in and around Christchurch to use PT to avoid congestion then it’s vital they have some high quality services that are realistic options. That means dedicated PT infrastructure so the PT doesn’t get stuck in traffic.
If only there was a transport corridor to the north that could be used to provide an alternative.
You may recall that the regional council along with the NZTA decided to look at a rail option a few years back but they ruled it out because it would cost $10 million, a tiny amount compared to what’s being spent on motorways. There was also a risk that a short term service might prove too popular and people would demand it stay and be improved. Of course if rail continues not to go ahead, as the image at the top of the page shows, there appears to be a huge median in some places along the motorway that could be better utilised.