Free bus service today

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt at the opening of a new bus service in the city today.
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt at the opening of a new bus service in the city today.

All bus trips in Invercargill are free today to mark the launch of the city's revamped public bus service.

The buses are free for people travelling on the four new Bus Smart routes and also for students heading to and from school.

The new service was officially launched by Mayor Tim Shadbolt and community services committee chairman Lindsay Abbott early this morning at Bus Smart central, outside the Reading Cinemas in Dee St.

All routes depart every 45 minutes and all begin and end outside the cinema.

The new service covers four new routes - the Waikiwi Link, Windsor Comet, Heidelberg Star and Kew Connection.

City council roading manager Russell Pearson said the new bus service, provided by the council and Invercargill Passenger Transport, also includes a new brand, new timetables, new signs, bus smart cards and new bus stops and shelters.

Initiatives to encourage people to catch the buses include free Wifi  so bus patrons can search the internet while using their smart phone.

A texting service will also allow people to text a bus stop number and they will get an automatic response listing the next two estimated times a bus reaches that stop.

Bus Smart cards are available for a one-off $5 fee so people can load credit on the cards to pay bus fares.

The free bus service off peak hours has been canned, with rides now costing $1 between 9am and 2.55pm, but super gold carders can ride free in off-peak hours.

The buses all have low access floors and bike racks capable of holding two bicycles each.

The Southland Times