The rebuild of Canterbury provides us with a unique opportunity to build a better city. But there is a sense that the unique opportunity is being missed and the optimism following the “share an idea” process has diminished.
Much of Labour’s Canterbury policy package is focussed on the urgent issues of today – sorting out the EQC/insurance mess and flooding so that people can move on with their lives, sorting out the housing crisis, extra support for mental health, restoring democracy.
Our most recent policy will have significance for the next 100 years – a 21st century rapid transit system.
Within a decade Labour will ensure a network of local railway stations, with park and ride facilities, and pathways and cycleways drawing passengers from the surrounding communities.
The trains and the stations will be safe, modern and attractive, and will include free wi-fi for commuters. The rail service will be integrated with high-frequency bus services allowing for efficient connections, and a one-ticket system for the entire network.
In my view commuter rail is long overdue in Canterbury. But the earthquakes have changed the shape of Christchurch forever making it even more important. The population to the north and west of the city is growing rapidly. The extreme congestion on the northern corridor is the result of the transport network not matching the new shape.
Commuter rail will help ease congestion, will reduce carbon emissions, will help spark revitalisation of suburban town centres.
Now people simply have to vote for it to ensure that it happens!