Future public transport

We work with partner organisations and stakeholders to consider what public transport in Canterbury could look like in the future and to keep up to date with new technologies as they develop.

The focus of our planning is on the development and implementation of plans to achieve the vision of public transport in the region.

Our vision

Public transport is innovative and successful and sits at the heart of a transport network that supports a thriving, liveable greater Christchurch.

The public transport system is accessible and convenient, with high-quality, zero-emission vehicles and facilities.

The system gets people where they want to go – and as a result, it is well used and valued by the people of greater Christchurch.

View the Canterbury Regional Public Transport Plan for 2018-2028 (PDF, File 2.18MB).

Greater Christchurch Future Public Transport business case

The Greater Christchurch Public Transport (PT) Futures programme is fundamental to achieving this vision, with the long-term goal of doubling public transport uptake. It comprises three components:

  • Foundations.
  • Rest of network.
  • Mass rapid transit (MRT).

Foundations and rest of network

A combined business case for these two components was formally endorsed by the partner Councils in December 2020, and by the Waka Kotahi Board in May 2021.

The business case recommends an investment programme for inclusion in the partner organisations’ Long Term Plans that:  

  • School busdelivers high-frequency PT options to existing Key Activity Centres (KACs) and planned growth areas
  • provides reliable bus services with journey times that are competitive with private vehicles
  • enhances the safety and attractiveness of the environment at bus stops for customers
  • improves bus routing and frequency that takes people where they want to go, when they want to get there
  • provides a catalyst for land use development adjacent to frequent public transport routes.

A further business case with a longer-term focus is being prepared separately and will consider the role of rapid transit in the Greater Christchurch area.

The first engagement on specific service improvements was in 2021, with implementation planned for 2023.

View Greater Christchurch Public Transport Futures Combined Business Case Summary - Nov 2020 (PDF File, 6.7MB)

Mass rapid transit (MRT)

MRT (or 'rapid transit' as it's referred to nationally) has been developed as a core component of the public transport networks in a number of major urban centres, delivering both superior customer experience and positive impacts on the built environment.  MRT systems typically exhibit the following attributes:

  • Airport busPriority and dedicated right of way: enables reliable travel by avoiding conflicts with other vehicles.
  • Speed: offers travel time reductions relative to other options - ideally travel to and from the CBD at least as fast as the private car.
  • Frequency: enable users to 'turn up and go' at most times of the day.
  • Reliability: consistent on-time service performance (95 percent or higher), regardless of mode or location.
  • Capacity: allows the movement of large numbers of people in a short amount of time.

Rapid transit will be a city-shaping investment for Christchurch that can help it achieve the urban form it aspires to.

In June 2021, The Greater Christchurch Partnership released an Interim Report from the team investigating an MRT system for Greater Christchurch. This Interim Report illustrates the importance of integrating land-use and rapid transit decisions, with utilisation of the scheme highly dependent on the land-use it services. It is recommended that the next phase of the business case aligns its development with the proposed development of a spatial plan for Greater Christchurch.

View Greater Christchurch Public Transport Futures MRT Interim Report - June 2021 (PDF File)

National Ticketing Solution

Bus passengerCurrent public transport ticketing and payment systems in New Zealand vary considerably in capability and customer experience across buses, ferries and rail.  To encourage public transport as the preferred travel choice for more people, more often, we must invest in new technologies to improve the customer experience.

We are working with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport AgencyGreater Wellington Regional Council, Auckland Transport, and a Regional Consortium of nine medium and smaller councils to improve public transport for New Zealanders through a centralised, standardised approach to paying for public transport, and a common customer experience no matter where you are in the country.

This solution will make accessing and paying for public transport easier, providing more people with more choice.

Read more about the National Ticketing Solution project.