Community responds well to MyWay on-demand service

MyWay by Metro was rushed into service ahead of schedule last Thursday (March 26) as we respond to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Our South Canterbury Councillor, Peter Scott, said that providing the on-demand service was a natural move to meet the needs of the Timaru community.

“When it became clear earlier in the week that public transport was going to continue during the lockdown, our team quickly decided to move to introducing MyWay. The service was already in the fourth week of its nine-week pilot, so it was a logical move, and has removed the need to run the fleet of large buses to meet the lower demand during the lockdown.

“It’s been excellent to see how staff have been able to use MyWay to respond innovatively in a crisis. The on-demand service performs well in this situation because it offers more flexibility, and reaches all of Timaru. This is helping people from across our community access the essential services they need, rather than the limited destinations served by the fixed-route service,” he said.

Senior Manager Public Transport Stewart Gibbon said that the community has responded favourably, with use of the service steadily growing over its first week in operation.

“We started on Thursday last week with 30 trips, and yesterday, we carried 48 people,” he said.

“We are deeply appreciative of the excellent work done by Ritchies to assist us in enabling this service. The drivers and operational staff are doing an outstanding job, helping our community and keeping everyone safe,” he added.

Free, extended service for essential trips only

The service is available for essential trips only. This includes essential service workers – from medical staff to supermarket workers – as well as people accessing medical services and doing supermarket shopping. Passengers travel at no cost during the lockdown, and the service operates corner to corner, rather than door to door.

MyWay is operating longer hours than it did in the pilot, filling the gap left by the fixed route buses by running 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.

MyWay’s technology partner, Via, has several operational on-demand services around the world providing similar essential services.

Co-founder and CEO, Daniel Ramot, said that by building on its deep understanding of transit networks, ability to provide efficient on-demand and pre-scheduled transport, and highly modular platform, Via is actively supporting cities like Timaru during this critical time.

“We were impressed to see how quickly the MyWay by Metro team were able to operationalise their service, taking it from its pilot stage into service in a matter of days.

“During this emergency period, we are proud to apply our technology and operational expertise to assist cities like Timaru with optimising their service to meet the needs of the local community,” he said.

Next steps

Before the COVID-19 crisis, launch of the service was planned for 20 April, when the on-demand service would replace the Grantlea, Watlington and Gleniti services for a few months before eventually also phasing out the Timaru Link.

Stewart Gibbon said his team is now considering next steps.

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