Lobby group suggests tweaks to bus services

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A Canterbury public transport lobby group is calling for changes to Timaru bus services.
Bus Go Canterbury, led by Nick Stoneman and Mike Early, both of Christchurch, were in Timaru recently to check out the bus services.
The pair said Bus Go Canterbury was an advocacy group for bus users and supported and promoted fast, clean, efficient, lowcost public transport in Timaru, Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn.
Mr Stoneman said the group was formed in 2014 as an offshoot of Otago Heritage Bus Society Incorporated.
‘‘I saw a need for something in Christchurch in terms of effective lobbying,’’ Mr Stoneman said.
‘‘In terms of bus services, Timaru has been really left to its own devices.’’
Both men said they would like to see the Timaru Link, which runs on weekdays and Saturdays, extended to Sundays.
‘‘Shops are open on Sundays and many other businesses are operating. Sunday is now like any other day,’’ Mr Stoneman said.
They said too many buses were coming into Timaru’s central business district, many of them empty.
Mr Early said the Timaru service was not running at its full potential.
‘‘The timetable is the main thing,’’ he said.
‘‘It is not a reflection of the operator, it’s a matter of trying to make what you have got better at the current cost and it’s not going to cost Environment Canterbury any more.’’
They suggested making Northtown a ‘‘super stop’’.
‘‘Basically, you are making a second interchange and dropping the number of buses coming into the CBD.’’
Environment Canterbury public transport manager David Stenhouse said the current contract for Timaru bus services finished in June 2018.
‘‘As part of the tender for the Timaru service we will review the operation of the current service next year, which will include analysing patronage, and we may consider a Sunday service as part of this review.’’
ECan would also consider whether there was any room for improvement in advertising bus information services.
‘‘We’d encourage everyone to pay their bus fares using a Metrocard, as it ensures they pay the cheapest fare possible, as well as speeding up boarding.’’
In July, the cost of catching a bus in Timaru changed. Adults now pay $2.40 cash or $1.55 on Metrocard on city bus routes.
The corresponding child fares are $1.30 and 90c.