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Local knowledge and international expertise for trial

A significant milestone has been achieved as Timaru approaches its 2020 on-demand public transport trial, with the completion of contracts for both the technology provider and the vehicle operator.

“Our selected partners are ideally positioned to support this trial, combining comprehensive international expertise with in-depth local knowledge,” said Timaru Operations Manager Judith Earl-Goulet.

“Their wealth of experience will enable us to accurately test the potential of the concept in our local market, and the propensity of the community to engage with it, both essential characteristics that will influence its success.”

Following a competitive bidding process, global mobility and technology expert Via has been appointed to provide the next generation on-demand technology, while incumbent local operator Ritchies was selected for the vehicle service operation.

At the same time, Environment Canterbury has been inviting members of the public to suggest a name for the new service. MyWay by Metro was created from more than 700 names received.

Using the MyWay by Metro app, passengers will be able to order a vehicle directly from their smartphone. Bookings will just as easily be made using the dedicated website, and by phone.

Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple passengers to seamlessly share the vehicle. The powerful technology will direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

Ritchies provides local knowledge and experience

Richard O’Keefe, Corporate Services Manager at Ritchies, said that his team was excited at the opportunity to work on a service he is sure will really appeal to the Timaru community.

“MyWay by Metro puts the customer in charge. You can go to and from anywhere you choose in Timaru, whenever it suits you; there’s no set route or timetable. You say where you want to go, when you want to be picked up and from where. It’s a really simple solution and totally based around your needs.”

Ritchies will initially operate five on-demand vehicles as well as retaining the contract to run the remaining Link, Temuka and school services. Richard O’Keefe said there will be a mixture of vehicle sizes.

“These MyWay by Metro vehicles will be capable of meeting just about every transport need, including disability access and storage for prams and bikes. Just let us know your needs when you book,” he said.

“We will also operate a call centre, so that MyWay customers have the option of calling to book as well as using the app or website. We’ll be staffing this from our Timaru depot, recognising the importance of local knowledge.”

Via - re-engineering public transport

Via powers on-demand public transport in more than 20 countries across five continents, bringing extensive experience to the Timaru trial. Via was closely involved in the feasibility study, and are incorporating key learnings and recommendations into the design of the service. Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via said that he’s looking forward to working with an experienced local operator to make the project a success.

“We are thrilled to partner with the innovative teams at Environment Canterbury and Ritchies to bring Via’s technology to Timaru. The MyWay by Metro service demonstrates how public transportation and technology can work together to provide residents with a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to move around. This is a great example of a city embracing the next generation of public transportation,” Ramot said.

Working with the community

Responses from Environment Canterbury’s work within the community has been very positive and continues to grow.

Julie Fosbender, from CCS Disability Action, said that people are really looking forward to the freedom and control provided by a public transport service that comes when you need it.

“This is an opportunity to create a more inclusive transport option for all people. Timetables have provided limited choice, resulting in people not being able to access the community. This service will give opportunities for impromptu outings that all New Zealanders should be able to enjoy.”

Judith Earl Goulet agreed, adding that MyWay by Metro makes it possible for anyone to easily connect with vital services as well as the people, places and activities they love, through the investment in smarter technology and a more sustainable, efficient system.

Partnership with Timaru District Council

Councillor Sally Parker, Chair of the Timaru District Council Infrastructure Committee, has been involved with the project since its inception. She said that it is great that Timaru has been chosen to be the first in New Zealand to implement this new service.

“We’ve got a long history of innovation in this district and I’m sure that the community will embrace the opportunities that this new service provides both for traditional bus users and hopefully the huge range of new users that could benefit from it.

“As the district council we’re there to provide the infrastructure that enables people to use public transport, traditionally this was simply bus stops and some benches scattered about the city. With this new service we’ll be refocusing on the different ways of helping people get where they need to go, this could be anything from our library staff helping people to use the technology, to providing booking facilities in key high use areas.

“We’re keen to ensure that we help this service meet its potential, and we’re sure with the right support in place our forward thinking community will embrace it,” she said.

A staged service introduction

Judith Earl-Goulet said that MyWay by Metro will start early next year.

“We are now recruiting 150 people from across our community for our two-month pilot starting in February. Following that, the service is on track to launch to the public in April,” she said.

“People can keep up to date with progress on our Timaru Public Transport Facebook page, and we have plenty of information at www.metroinfo.co.nz/Timaru.”

What will MyWay by Metro cost?

Introductory fares for the 12 month trial:

Children 5-17 years$2.00$1.30

• Convenience fares are for app and Metrocard payments. Children under five travel free
• SuperGold cardholders travel free during all off-peak times

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