Next steps for Timaru's MyWay public transport

Timaru's MyWay by Metro on-demand public transport service may be moved straight to its 12-month public trial as soon as the COVID-19 lockdown is over.

Environment Canterbury Senior Manager Public Transport, Stewart Gibbon, said that the community response to the service pilot has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Although shortened for obvious reasons, the pilot fulfilled its purpose over its first five weeks by helping us understand the community's needs for the service and the way that they would use it."

Positive response to MyWay pilot

Most pilot participants said that they were 'very likely' to recommend MyWay to friends, colleagues or family members, with an average rating of the service of 4.8 out of 5, he said.

"Fortunately, when the COVID-19 emergency began, we were able to work with the transport operator Ritchies and technology provider Via to quickly bring MyWay into service to aid those needing public transport for essential travel. The community's response to this has again demonstrated that the convenience and flexibility of the service really does meet Timaru's needs," said Gibbon.

"We are now working on the premise that when the lockdown is over, Timaru's public transport will resume with MyWay by Metro replacing the current Grantlea, Watlington and Gleniti bus routes. The Link and school services will resume as appropriate based on the government guidance regarding COVID alert levels."

Additional school service likely

Gibbon said the team is looking at options to introduce an additional school bus service in the interim to assist the transition to the on-demand service.

"A number of children used the current bus services to get to school, and we want to confirm that the on-demand service can handle these peaks at the beginning and end of the school day. This is something we will look to have in place before school resumes."

Gibbon said he is confident that the public will quickly adjust to the flexibility and convenience of MyWay by Metro.

Essential usage during COVID-19 restrictions

During the lockdown, MyWay has been used up to 90 times a day by people who rely on public transport for their essential travel. Most of these people have been using the app, which enables real time tracking of the vehicle as it arrives, and ease of return bookings.

"For those without smart phones, we have the support of many businesses and services throughout the community ready to assist with return bookings through our local call centre if required," Gibson said.

Fares are not required on public transport while New Zealand is at level 3 and 4 of its COVID-19 response, so travel on MyWay is currently free. This policy will be reviewed based on NZTA guidance as alert levels reduce.