Minto for Mayor: Christchurch can become the Dunkirk of the South


There has been some mischievous misinformation circulating about the Minto for Mayor policy of free public transport.

To put this misinformation to rest we are releasing a full description of the policy.

Dunkirk in France is one of the European cities providing free public transport. Christchurch can do the same. We can become the Dunkirk of the South.

Providing Free and Frequent Public Transport

The problem:

Our greenhouse gas emissions need to come down quickly to do our part in preventing climate catastrophe. 53% of Christchurch’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport – mainly cars and trucks.

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Free bus and rail travel in Christchurch City. This is the single most important way Christchurch can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

What would this look like?

Comfortable, modern, low-emission buses, fitted with free wifi, would provide free and frequent travel along transport corridors to all parts of the Christchurch City – up to Rangiora, West to Darfield and South to Lyttelton. A plan for the future development of fare-free tram and train services would be prioritized.

What would it cost?

Taking into account the current bus fares collected by ECAN (which runs the bus service) the initial operating cost of the policy would be approximately $20 million per year. However, it would also require capital investment to double the number of buses over the next five years as residents move to public transport.

Where will the money come from?

From funding already allocated for new road building in Christchurch. This would require negotiation with the government and ECAN but with a strong mandate from Christchurch in the election this would be easily achievable. The policy would lead to a rethink of the hugely expensive and unsustainable roading projects currently being developed for Christchurch.

Why don’t we just build more roads to reduce congestion?

It’s irresponsible to promote roads with the environmental crisis we face through greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Public transport is far cleaner and greener and this policy would significantly reduce Christchurch’s carbon footprint. A person who switches from their car to a full bus has 15 times lower greenhouse gas emissions.

In any case the experience elsewhere has been that new roads just mean getting to the traffic jam quicker.

Will Christchurch be the first city to do this?

No, but we’ll be the first city in Australasia to run free and frequent public transport.

So where else is it working?

Other cities ahead of us include Tallinn in Estonia, Dunkirk in France and Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan province and the fourth largest city in China where many of the main transport corridors run free buses. Germany is considering making public transport free across the country to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the benefits?

  • Cleaner and greener – this may well be the single greenest policy in the history of New Zealand! –  less pollution, a smaller carbon footprint and big ups to the environment!
  • EVERYBODY benefits – even those who never use a bus or train will be able to travel on a gridlock-free roading network.
  • More time at home instead of buried in traffic congestion
  • No extra charges for anyone – no rates increases, no extra fuel taxes, no congestion charges, no network charges, no toll roads, no PPPs, …
  • Improved productivity – roading congestion costs Christchurch tens of millions in lost productivity every year. This policy will release that lost productivity and enable better pay for workers. (NOTE: The New Zealand Initiative tells us we need higher productivity to get higher wage increases. Here’s a golden opportunity to pass on these productivity increases to workers in wages!)
  • Faster bus travel as no time wasted collecting fares
  • Revitalising central Christchurch as more people travel to enjoy the central city, Lyttelton and the city beaches.
  • Savings for workers and reduced income inequality. The Mayor of Tallinn has called it the “13th monthly salary” because of estimates the policy saves a month’s salary each year for workers using free public transport. People on low and middle incomes spend a higher proportion of their income on transport than those on higher incomes so this will help reduce inequality.
  • Economic stimulation as workers have significantly more to spend in the real economy.
  • A tourism boost as tourists relish the chance to see all parts of Christchurch.

Who loses?

The big oil companies and car manufacturers. They make a mint from petrol and diesel burned up pointlessly on our congested roads every day.

(Note: John Minto writing on Free and Frequent public transport for Christchurch in 2016🙂


Minto for Mayor – for a future which makes sense



  1. ( I’ll give this another go…)
    Trust me to be miles away when I read this because I’ll miss this event. If I was a migratory bird? I’d be the bird arriving as everyone else was leaving and the reason for that would be that I’d be a season too early.
    This early birdie reckons John Minto as Mayor of Christchurch would be as curative and progressive a change for Christchurch as Tim Shadbolt’s been for Invercargill.
    If it were not for Tim Shadbolt, Invercargill would have died a slow and terrible death decades ago.
    I know. I’m a Southlander. I have a street named after my paternal family in Invercargill and there’s a town not far away that bears the name of my Grandmother’s family name. The Wallace’s. You, dear reader, might remember reading about William Wallace ?
    I’m in Invercargill as I write this and as the snow flies past my lounge window, as the wild skies put on a light show, as the deep, southern ocean fishing boats bob and roll about this place feels alive and kicking. It’s an extraordinary and progressive city that feels more Scandinavian than post colonial Britain or, God help us, some ‘merican-esque, narcissistic debt trap like Auckland.
    Invercargill’s quirky, wealthy, eccentric and teeming with foreign bodies thanks to Tim’s brilliant idea to promote a free polytechnic, the SIT, here which has been like a blood transfusion into what was destined to become a dreadful, rightwing, redneck, rural wasteland like, for example, Balclutha. A little bill english town.
    Christchurch people? If you want to be seen as a proud flag bearer for the dawn of an AO/NZ renaissance then vote for John Minto. If you don’t? Your unfortunate decision not to will haunt you in more ways than one.
    ( Tim Shadbolt was voted in as mayor of Invercargill, then voted out, then, once the people of Invercargill came to realise their dangerous mistake, they voted him back in again.
    He’s mayor to this day in the amazing little city he saved just in the nick of time.)
    For Christ ( Church’s) sake. Vote for John Minto. If for no other reason than for us to be able to watch the cabal of neoliberals currently in office there to slink off in a sulk when they get chucked out. Then? We can rub it in later when the city flourishes.
    Oh! Happy days!

    • Totally agree. Whats not to like? Its win win which is how you can tell the neocons wont like it cause they are only into zero sum

  2. Sounds good to me, esp given Chch has historically had a bit of smog problem. A step in the right direction. The only challenge I suspect will be negotiating with central govt.

  3. The Oil and Motor industries are powerful behind the scenes players.
    Prepare for the lies and misinformation spreed on social media as well as MSM.
    Good Luck John.

  4. Should be ‘ free’ in all major NZ cities. And why not a hitching type of scheme where folk would, using an AI system, pay $5 for a seat in someone’s private car to go from say Tawa to Wellington, or Levin to PN. With some work on an IT system, the private car could take on the role of public transport on main routes. It could incentivise people to share, and benefit.

  5. Great idea hope you get in, when you do we also need free park and ride service in Ashburton and Timaru to get commuters to Christchurch.

  6. God yes. Imagine the three largest cities in the South Island headed up by like minded souls? Who could we get for Dunedin? How about Meteria Turei? Perfect! She lives in Waitati I believe.
    What a slap in the eye for the Neo Greens?

  7. John is a people person with a very good understanding of the issues we face as a a group of Nations.
    He is a good choice for Mayor.
    However,i seriously question if his talents would not be better spent at a national level.
    There is a pressing need for a new political party that comes to the house campaigning on a core policy to separate the British Crown from the Government of AO/NZ.

    We must have an independent Government because we have never had one before and this is why things are what they are now.

    Ihumatao is the halfway mark in our fight for independence from the Crown of England.

    In our beautiful country we have Scots,Irish,Spanish,Russians,French,Indians,Americans,Tibetans,the Muslim Community,the Asian Community,the Pacific Island Community and many others who have suffered for centuries under the brutal global oppression of the British Crown and have not forgotten,nor forgiven…

    We are all united by our struggles against the Crown.

    And when i look out at Ihumatao and the growing sense of unity there,i see the British Crowns worst nightmare standing in the field.

    The unthinkable is happening,the people of the World (Tangata Ao)are converging in unity against the Crown.

    The Global battle against the City of London and the Lord Mayor can be won here,at our place…

    My enemies enemy is my friend indeed.

    I think we can transition from the current paradigm to being a collective of independent Nation States inhabiting the islands of Ao/Nz.

    But it will not happen until the land is properly purged of Crown sympathisers.

    If you are a supporter of the British Crown you need to know that you no longer have a place here,many want you gone.
    Some will no doubt be taking the law into their own hands during the purge (the law of Utu that is)and you wont be relying on the Police for help because they will be in need of assistance themselves.

    There should be zero tolerance of the Crown and its sympathisers.

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