Thinking differently about Timaru public transport

Environment Canterbury is asking for registrations of interest (ROI) from suppliers in the passenger transport market to participate in the development and potential delivery of an innovative public transport trial in Timaru.

In 2017, Environment Canterbury conducted a survey in Timaru, to explore community views on the existing bus services, and gauge demand for public transport.

Senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon said the results of the survey supported the view that the current bus service does not meet the changing travel needs of the Timaru community, and therefore Environment Canterbury has been considering alternative ways public transport could be provided.

“The survey responses showed us the diversity of what Timaru residents want from a public transport service, and that their needs may be better serviced by an alternative, innovative, user-oriented and flexible form of public transport," said Gibbon.

"With the exception of school services, big buses on fixed routes are not meeting the evolving needs and expectations of the Timaru community. An alternative option for Timaru could be a demand responsive transport service such as those seeing increasing use internationally. These sorts of services typically have small-medium vehicles, operate flexible routes and schedules, and respond according to user demand. In most cases, these sorts of solutions involve users booking the service via an app or through a call centre.

"We are asking for transport and technology providers with experience or capability in operating these sorts of services to get in touch with us through the ROI process. There are many different forms the service could take, so getting input and ideas from the industry is important to shape our thinking and options.

“Once we see the ideas put forward by potential providers, we will be able to determine the next steps – a trial would only go ahead if a suitably aligned solution is available that we think the Timaru community will see benefit from.”

The earliest a trial of a demand responsive service would start is late 2018-early 2019, and could be for a period of up to one year. The nature, extent, and characteristics of any trial will be determined once we have a better understanding of potential delivery options.

More information will be available once all ROIs have been received and the public transport team has assessed the responses.

If you are a supplier interested in responding to the tender, please visit TenderLink, then log in and search for ECANZ-810453.