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ARC Councillor Welcomes Public Transport Info

ARC Councillor Catherine Harland Welcomes More Effective Public Transport Information

Address by Cr Catherine Harland, Rideline Bus Launch 30 April 2002, Britomart Display Centre

Firstly I’d like to welcome everyone here today to assist in launching the first Rideline buses onto the streets of Auckland. I understand it’s been quite a process to get these buses looking as fabulous as they do, so it’s fantastic to be here to celebrate not only the success of our design and marketing people and our Rideline service, but also the recent increases in bus patronage, and the great uptake we’ve had with the introduction of mobile phone technology for public transport travel planning.

We’re currently emerging from what our travel planners and public transport operators refer to as ‘March madness,’ (even though we’re now into May!). Many services are reaching full capacity at peak times and patronage levels are booming.

Latest results from our research has shown that from July to December last year patronage levels across the region have risen 7%, which is equivalent to 1.4 million extra journeys taken on public transport over that six months compared to the same time the year before.

We’re committed to improving public transport services across the region, and we’re funding the operators to make more service improvements every couple of months.

I’m confident this level of commitment will see another patronage rise in the 2002-03 period, in line with the 7% and 7.6% overall increases we’ve seen in the previous two years.

Another success to note is that the most significant increase in public transport usage has been during off-peak times and weekends, with between 15% and 40% more people catching some services.

Major projects like the North Shore Busway, continual improvements to service frequency across Auckland, bus priority measures and real-time information on street displays are not the only contributors to getting people onto public transport.

Integral to seeing these numbers continue to rise, is the effective communication of information and promotion of services across the region. If people don’t know what options are available and why they should make a different choice, these new initiatives will not produce the results.

We have a great call-centre in our Rideline team, a comprehensive website, online forums specifically for our public transport-using customers and the recent addition of SMS and WAP technology for timetable information.

All of these resources are focused on making it simple for people to use a bus, train or ferry.

It’s not difficult to understand the information – but it is critical that we communicate to our customers just how easy it is to use and where to find it.

To give you an idea of the volume of enquiries the team in the call centre handle, an average of 3,868 people called Rideline every day to find out about public transport services in February – and the daily average measured for march was over 4000 calls. We’ve also seen a significant increase in queries to the Rideline website, with the largest number of hits ever recorded in the first week of march – equating to more than 1000 visitors each day.

Using buses to promote Rideline is part of our strategy to ensure public transport information is more visible to existing and potential users.

It’s amazing how often we hear that a lack of information is a barrier to using public transport, yet we have these wonderful information services that Aucklanders just need to know about so they can make the choice to get out of their cars.

I’d like to congratulate Stagecoach for coming to the party and providing sponsorship for a large part of the cost involved in bringing the Rideline buses to the streets. It’s great to see our largest operator getting involved in promotions like these that will only serve to increase the level of service we are able to deliver to our customers.

I know Russell Turnbull has been behind this project from the outset, and has also offered to position the buses around the region to coincide with arc and other ta promotions for public transport.

I’d also like to acknowledge Transfund for their financial assistance in launching both our Rideline website and the Rideline to mobile project.
These great services may not have been possible without their co-operation.

And a thank-you to Auckland City Council for its involvement with today’s launch and for the use of the Britomart display centre for regional public transport information while the CPO is under temporary wraps for its facelift.

- ENDS -

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