Two Timaru bus drivers recognised for their work ahead of public transport review

ECan southern public transport officer Tony Henderson, left, with bus drivers Tim Leatham and Roy Crosbie and Ritchies ...
LIAM CAVANAGH/FAIRFAX NZ

ECan southern public transport officer Tony Henderson, left, with bus drivers Tim Leatham and Roy Crosbie and Ritchies Transport Holdings South Canterbury area manager David Gale at the presentation on Friday.

Two of Timaru's top bus drivers who "set the benchmark" have been officially recognised, ahead of a public transport review looking at low patronage numbers.

Ritchies bus drivers Roy Crosbie and Tim Leatham received awards for customer service during a presentation at Timaru's Environment Canterbury (ECan) offices on Friday. 

ECan southern public transport officer Tony Henderson said both men were given the award following positive feedback from customers. 

Ritchies bus driver Gerald Keats with the new $400,000 bus, introduced in October last year featuring new USB charging ...
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Ritchies bus driver Gerald Keats with the new $400,000 bus, introduced in October last year featuring new USB charging ports and a new emission reducing engine. It was hoped the new hi-tech features would attract more users.

Each month drivers were chosen based on feedback from customers and performance. "It's quite prestigious". 

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"The happier our customers are, the more they will use [public transport]," Henderson said. 

The drivers were awarded ahead of a review looking at Timaru's public transport services, including why the number of customers using the service was low. 

ECan public transport senior manager Stewart Gibbon said the review was expected to take about six months. 

ECan was engaging with a local public transport advisory group, with representatives including Ritchies, the Timaru District Council, Aoraki Development, community and public health, and Ara Institute of Canterbury. 

The review would include how to best engage with the community, and identifying any issues with the transport system in Timaru. 

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The group had its first meeting earlier this month. 

Gibbon said patronage was not high in Timaru because travel distances within the town were not large and people could easily walk, drive, or bike. There was also "ample" parking, with no disincentive to drive. 

Anecdotal feedback from Temuka found the bus service from Temuka to Timaru was full, which made it difficult for some people to use the service. In general, routes from Geraldine to Timaru were "not well serviced" at the moment, he said. 

ECan staff would be out with informal surveys on the street and at events, to get feedback from the public during winter. Surveys would also be available online. 

Feedback would be taken back to the advisory group. Final recommendations would then be put before ECan councillors. "They make the final decision."

Ritchies Transport Holdings South Canterbury area manager David Gale said he was proud of his drivers. 

"I am really thankful they have recognised them. They set the benchmark."

Leatham said he had been driving for a year and a half and said the best part of the role was meeting people and driving the bus.

"Especially the new buses," he said. 

Crosbie, who has been driving buses for 50 years, liked to interact with people and the traffic in Timaru did not bother him.

 - Stuff

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