Environment Canterbury approves on-demand public transport after trial’s success

Timaru’s MyWay by Metro on-demand public transport has been adopted into Environment Canterbury’s Long-Term Plan, following a successful year-long service trial.

The trial resulted in a patronage increase of 16% despite COVID-19 disruptions, and a marked increase in accessibility for people throughout the community.

Subject to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency funding approval, MyWay by Metro could be confirmed as Timaru’s public transport service beyond the end of its trial in October.

More than 500 users a day

Speaking after the Long-Term Plan deliberations, Environment Canterbury Councillor Peter Scott said that the service now has 6000 registered users.

“Before the trial, we had around 190 people a day on the suburban fixed route services. Now, we regularly have more than 500 users on the MyWay service on any weekday.

“Timaru people have embraced on-demand public transport, simply because it is so easy to use. The average wait time from requesting a ride is 15 minutes, which you can do in the comfort of your own home, and the average walking distance to be picked up is only a short distance, usually less than a block,” he said.

Enhancing accessibility in the community

Older gentleman on board

People are using MyWay to get to places they were not able to get to before.

On-demand public transport is far better suited to the needs of the Timaru community, said Mayor Nigel Bowen.

“It’s now just much easier for many of us to leave the car at home than to drive, and MyWay also caters exceptionally well to the needs of Timaru's growing aged population, the disability sector, and new migrants,” he said.

Patricia Jenney manages the Timaru Information Centre. She said that people are using MyWay to get to places they were not able to get to before.

“It gives people a more independent approach of getting to places or appointments on their own when they do not have anyone to take them,” she said.

Andrea Grant has been using MyWay to try living with one car for her family of four.

“We decided to give it a go. We work out who needs the car that day, and the others use MyWay or bike. The kids use MyWay to travel to their activities around town, enabling some independence. Using MyWay has been a great way for us to reduce emissions and maintain our budget, and know that we can get around where and when we need to,” she said.

Following Environment Canterbury’s confirmation of Long-Term Plan funding, Waka Kotahi will now consider the permanent introduction of MyWay. A decision is due in September, if the project’s funding is confirmed as part of the National Land Transport Programme 2021-24.

MyWay by Metro will celebrate its one-year anniversary next week with birthday promotions including the first three rides free for new users, and a competition for free travel for existing users.

MyWay by Metro fast facts:

  • 6000 registered users
  • 16% increase in patronage
  • 39% of users are aged 16-39
  • 28% of users are aged 40-64
  • 30% of users are aged 65+
  • 57% of users are employed
  • Riders rate the service 4.8 / 5
  • 90% feel MyWay makes public transport easier
  • 32% have increased their public transport use
  • The median rider takes 8 rides a week
  • Low emission vehicles will be investigated once the trial is completed.