A 12-month trial of Timaru’s new MyWay Metro public transport service was officially launched with cake and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.
Environment Canterbury deputy chairman Peter Scott said an alternative had to be found for the city with large, often empty buses operating in the town.
“The reality was that things needed to change, because ratepayers and taxpayers cannot keep subsidising a public transport system that is poorly utilised.”
Users can book MyWay by Metro vehicles to pick them up and drop them off at locations across Timaru, replacing the former system of timetables and set routes.
Since the service started, Environment Canterbury said patronage had risen from an average of 262 trips a day on the Gleniti, Grantlea and Watlington bus routes it had replaced.
When fares were introduced last week, patronage dropped to 244 on Monday and 263 on Tuesday but climbed to 325 by Thursday.
The NZ Transport Agency was funding 51% of the project trial. If successful, the agency would consider using the same service in other centres around New Zealand.