Mass Rapid Transit

The Mass Rapid Transit investigation will identify whether an investment in Mass Rapid Transit in Greater Christchurch is worthwhile currently, and its most suitable route into the city.

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is any transport system (road, rail or light rail) that moves lots people quickly and reliably.   MRT could be a city-shaping investment for Greater Christchurch that helps us get the kind of city we want in the future. It could help us meet our communities’ aspirations for a well-functioning and sustainable city that is easy, safe, resilient, healthy, enjoyable to live in and move around in the future.

We want MRT to support and encourage the urban form changes our communities have asked for - more housing, jobs and activities that can be accessed easily in central and suburban hubs.

Previous work on Mass Rapid Transit has indicated that its viability is very dependent on more people living along the corridors/around the stations.

MRT is just one possible part of a wider integrated and effective public transport improvements plan for Greater Christchurch. If we decide to go ahead with MRT, it will not get underway immediately. We need to start planning now so we will be ready when we need it in the future.

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a step up from conventional public transport. As the name suggests, it is about moving more people quickly and reliably to where they want to be. MRT systems can take different forms, but in general they operate on a permanent route (road or rail) that is separated from other traffic.

Mass Rapid Transit 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 for both the built and natural environment.  MRT systems typically have:

  • Priority and dedicated right of way: enabling reliable travel by avoiding conflicts with other vehicles.
  • Speed:  travel times that are faster than 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: consistently on-time.
  • Capacity: allows the movement of large numbers of people in a short amount of time.

In June 2021, the Greater Christchurch Partnership released an Interim Report [PDF, 5.8 MB] which illustrates the importance of integrating land-use and mass rapid transit decisions, as MRT would need the support of even more people living, along the route and benefiting from the improved service and lifestyle changes.

We are now looking into three main scenarios for MRT that would connect north and south-west Greater Christchurch to the central city:

  1. Using trains on our existing rail corridor
  2. Using enhanced buses following our motorway corridors
  3. Creating a dedicated corridor on local roads linking already busy and compact suburban hubs. This scenario could use road-running or light rail vehicles.

So we can compare all three scenarios, we are developing concepts for each. We can then weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each scenario with help from the community.

We have worked on scenario 3 first as this option didn’t have an already defined route like the rail and the motorways scenarios.

We have chosen to look at a route following the urban arterials of Main South Road, Riccarton Road, Papanui Road and Main North Road linked via the central city. This route was chosen as it has the largest catchment of people living within walking distance and will link these people to the places they work, shop, relax, and live.

View the Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan and Mass Rapid Transit Progress Update 12 August 2022 [PDF, 4.7 MB]

We are keen to share our MRT ideas with the public and hear their feedback in early 2023.  We will do this together with the Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan and other transport improvement plans, as these projects all work together. We want to give the community as full a picture as possible of the future of Greater Christchurch.