Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ecan - Metro announces service changes in Christchurch

Tranzwatching in Christchurch, Te Wai Pounamu, New Zealand

Long suffering bus passengers around Christchurch have been waiting to see what Metro will do to restore mobility lost since the February 22nd earthquake which devastated many parts of the city, most notably the central city and eastern and coastal areas.

Environment Canterbury web-site has published the following notice

All three main bus contractors (GoBus, Leopard and Red Bus) have had input to the process to date. Consultation has also included Black Cat Ferries, Ritchies Bus Services and the NZ Transport Agency.

“We have to make changes so we can restore confidence in the Metro service and to ensure it remains financially viable. It’s essential agencies and companies involved in public transport work together constructively to boost public transport as the city rebuilds.” says David Stenhouse, Environment Canterbury’s acting manager passenger services.

Metro services are being changed to provide a better service to the new centres of employment created by the disruption caused to central Christchurch by the 22 February earthquake. These improvements are part of wider changes to the way public transport services are contracted.

“The changes will enable us to service the newly emerged employment hubs, restore public transport services to levels similar to those before the February 22 earthquake, and give us the flexibility to make changes to contracts and routes as parts of the central city open up in coming years,” says Mr Stenhouse.

The new routes will include the Sheffield Crescent business hub in Burnside and the Nazareth Ave/Wrights Rd commercial area in Addington/Middleton.*

Since the 22 February earthquake public transport use in Greater Christchurch has dropped by around 50 per cent on the same time last year. This has put huge pressure on Environment Canterbury’s public transport reserve funds and reduced the share paid by bus users to the cost of running the bus network.

Mr Stenhouse said the contracting changes provide more certainty to operators in what was a very uncertain environment. “Longer term contracts will result in efficient pricing, greater stability, and reduced subsidy over time. The contracts will also be more flexible to drive greater service improvement across the city.”

* For a full list of route changes see council agenda, Annex A, August 25.

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