New routes attracting people back into using the buses
Timaruvians are hopping on the bus in increased numbers, as they enjoy new routes.
Environment Canterbury launched the revamped service on July 15, the first change to the town's routes in 20 years..
It replaced Timaru's four routes - Gleniti, Grantlea, Marchwiel and South End - with the North, West and South routes, which would run on weekdays only, while the Timaru Link runs on Saturdays as well as weekdays.
Nearly 18,970 passengers have used the service since its launch - a 22 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Passenger services manager David Stenhouse was pleased with the early results.
"The changes to the suburban routes came after consulting with the public and we hoped the revisions would encourage more people back on to the buses. It appears from these early figures we are doing just that," he said.
Timaru's public passenger transport numbers peaked in the 2000-01 financial year at 263,170 trips, but patronage in the 2011-12 financial year was about 200,000. Similar numbers were expected for the most recent financial year.
Resident Kaz Howard said she appreciated the changes.
"My son doesn't have to go to town first before he comes home from school. He can get one bus to school and the opposite bus home," she said.
"I don't understand how people think the changes are confusing. It's set out pretty simply on the timetables and being able to scan the timetable at a stop with your phone to see how far away the bus is, is really handy."
Bec Bentley liked the new Timaru link route, but said it would be handy "if they all left from the same place in town, though rather than some by Kiwibank and some by the train station".
Some people found the new routes "too confusing", while resident Trish Watton did not like the changes.
"It made more work for us as my husband can no longer catch it nearby due to the change in route so we are having to be ready to drive him in every morning," she said.
ECan's commissioners opted not to go ahead with the service running all four new routes six days a week, after a staff report suggested this would be too expensive.
Timaru District Council provides the infrastructure for the new routes - including new bus stops and shelters.
Initially, there were some complaints by residents that some of the 70 new bus stops were right in front of their driveways, but other residents were in favour of it.
- © Fairfax NZ News