POLICY 4. Free and Frequent Public Transport

For a peoples’ Christchurch – Decisions by us, for us, made here

John Minto writing on Free and Frequent public transport for Christchurch (ref. The Press – Stuff.co.nz)

Minto for Mayor Solution

Free bus, rail and ferry travel in Christchurch City

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 urban area. A plan for the future development of tram/train services would be prioritized.

What would it cost?
Taking into account the current subsidy the initial operating cost of the policy would be approximately $20 million per year – through ECAN which runs the bus services. However it would also require capital investment to double the number of buses over the next five years as residents flock to public transport.

Where will the money come from?
From funding already allocated for new road building in Christchurch. The policy would lead to a rethink on the hugely expensive roading projects currently being planned.

Why don’t we just build more roads to reduce congestion?
The experience elsewhere has been that new roads just mean getting to the traffic jam quicker.
It’s also irresponsible to promote roads in the face of the environmental crisis we face through global warming. Currently 67% of Christchurch’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport – mainly cars and trucks. Public transport is far cleaner and greener and this policy would significantly reduce Christchurch’s carbon footprint. In fact this is the single most important green policy the city could undertake.

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 Hasselt in Belgium, Tallinn in Estonia and Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan province and the fourth largest city in China where some of the main transport corridors run free buses.

What would this look like?

What are the benefits?

EVERYBODY benefits – even those who never use a bus or train will be able to travel on a gridlock-free roading network.
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: Business New Zealand tells us we need higher productivity to get higher wage increases. Here’s a golden opportunity to pass on these big productivity increases to workers in wages.
Faster bus travel as no time wasted collecting fares – Help revitalise Christchurch’s inner city as more people travel to enjoy the central city, Lyttelton and the city beaches.
Cleaner and greener – this will be the single greenest policy in the history of New Zealand! – less pollution, smaller carbon footprint – big ups to the environment.
Savings for workers – the Mayor of Tallinn calls it the “13th monthly salary” because of estimates the policy saves a month’s salary each year for workers using the free service.
Economic stimulation – as workers have significantly more to spend in the real economy.
Tourism boost – as tourists relish the chance to see all parts of Christchurch.

Who loses?

New Zealand seen as hypocritical

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

Who will oppose the policy?
The big oil companies, car manufacturers, corporate lobbyists and their political friends.

John Minto / Mayoral Candidate