Community consulted on future of Timaru’s public transport

The research stage of Environment Canterbury’s on-demand public transport feasibility study is underway, and the regional council is appealing for interested parties to get in touch.

Consultation with the Timaru community started this month.

“We’ve been talking to a range of customers and stakeholders, as well as responding to requests to visit Strathallan rest home and attend today’s Active Retirement Expo,” says Environment Canterbury’s senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon.

“NZTA is assisting on the project, engaging with customers, riding the buses, and carrying out interviews and focus groups with people representing a wide cross section of the community.”

Last week, staff and councillors from Environment Canterbury and Timaru District Council undertook a two-day research visit to observe ten similar services in New South Wales. They found that on-demand services are allowing people to make trips across their communities that they otherwise would not have done.

“The team also found that the services are enabling people to get to where they are wanting to go more quickly. Passengers book via either mobile phone apps or by phone and pay using payment cards or cash. Both passengers and drivers said that the service creates a sense of community with those that use the services,” says Gibbon.

The objective of the research period is to determine whether there is appetite in Timaru for an on-demand public transport system to replace the unsustainable existing bus service.

“Our team will be continuing their research work through December, and we expect to have a recommendation put forward regarding a service trial by early in the new year,” says Gibbon.

The project team is interested in hearing from anyone interested in the project and can be contacted by emailing or calling 03 688 5544.