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Setting A New Direction For Public Transport

19 November 2012

MEDIA RELEASE

Setting A New Direction For Public Transport

Getting people out of their cars and back onto buses is one of the aims behind the change to the Christchurch Metro network.

On 3 December, Environment Canterbury is putting in place the first new high-frequency service since the introduction of the successful Orbiter service more than 10 years ago.

This new service, the Blue Line, will run between Belfast and Princess Margaret Hospital every 15 minutes. Community routes will connect with this service at key suburban hubs and there will be connections to the central city. It is the first step towards a more efficient public transport service for the city, based on the hubs and spokes model.

Commissioner Rex Williams says “Before the earthquakes, the rate of growth in passenger numbers on Metro had begun to flatten off and so we had begun thinking about how to improve the service and to be more innovative to attract more bus users.

“When the earthquakes happened, passenger numbers fell as people no longer were able to access the central city. The places where people worked also changed and bus services no longer were able to get people where they wanted to go. However in the last 18 months, patronage has been steadily recovering and the new service will to continue to attract back former passengers and to grow the number of new bus users.

“Changing routes to reflect changing needs and making it easier to get where you want around the city are the keys to our new service.

“We have done intensive research in to what we need to do to provide a more effective service so bus travel is seen as a reliable and convenient way to travel. The research, which has included consultation with the public, has resulted in this new model being put in place.

”The introduction of the Blue Line is the first step. Within the next 18 months we will be looking at how the Blue Line has been working and, depending on the feedback we are given, we will probably made further changes in 2014,’’ says Mr Williams.

Metro is also making it easier to get information about the services and has increased the number of ways passengers can find out when their bus is coming and where it is going. There are now improved ways to keep abreast of changes as well as finding out about bus travel – new improved website, mobile site, Facebook, Twitter feeds (free text alerts), QR codes on bus stops.

The upgraded Metro website - metroinfo.co.nz - shows all the services that will be changing, along with help on which new service to take. Passengers can also find new timetables and maps as well as the overall new network map and print-friendly PDFs of timetables have been created.

A mobile-friendly version was also created so people can access the website more easily on their cell phones. They can find out when the next bus is due by typing in a bus stop number or street and see real time information showing how many minutes until the next bus is due at that stop.

This service which will be available for every stop in Greater Christchurch gives people more freedom by allowing them to check what time their bus is expected from home, work, out and about. This feature is also available on mobiles meaning people who have smart phones effectively have a real time device in their hands.

Environment Canterbury has also sought from input from the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind about the design and layout of timetables and timetable strips have been updated for the new services to help people access the information more easily. The size of bus numbers has also increased so they can be more easily recognised.

Environment Canterbury is also working with the Christchurch City Council to ensure that bus stop infrastructure allows for easy access for all passengers.

ENDS

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