Room for taxi and MyWay services

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Battling on...Barb McHaffie says she is is grateful for the support of loyal customers. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

There’s room for taxis and the MyWay passenger service in Timaru, Timaru Taxis chairwoman of directors Barb McHaffie says.

“Some of our regular taxis users have tried it and are sticking to us. They prefer us over MyWay,” she said.

“We’re very thankful for our loyal customers helping us to keep going.”

Since the Covid-19 lockdown she said Environment Canterbury (ECan) had ensured holders of total mobility cards could also travel free in taxis which was appreciated.

The MyWay by Metro on-demand service has been free through levels 3 and 4 but would be reviewed based on NZTA guidance as alert levels reduced, ECan senior manager public transport manager Stewart Gibbon said.

“We are working on the details.”

Patronage figures for MyWay as released by Environment Canterbury showed numbers peaked at 91 for some days during level 4 and since going to level 3 hit a high of 143 on May 6.

The total project cost for MyWay by Metro is $2.18million.

“As public transport has been considered an essential service throughout the pandemic response, the Government is covering the operating costs based on existing contracts, so the costs remain the same, Covid-19 or not,” Mr Gibbon explained.

The Timaru Link bus service was out of action throughout level 4. Patronage on the service was low when it resumed on Tuesday, April 5 with only three passengers. On Tuesday, May 5 numbers reached a high of 39 adults and six children. Passengers could also travel for free during this time but fares would be reintroduced.

Meanwhile, on Monday with Level 2 in place MyWay replaced the Grantlea, Watlington and Gleniti bus routes operating at full capacity and the Timaru Link and Temuka service were back to regular timetables.

The Timaru school bus service resumed also.

“Two extra buses are operating on the Timaru Link during the school peak to provide capacity for the first few days and the need for this will be reviewed,” Mr Gibbons said.

Two trips a day had been retained for the school peak on the Gleniti route.

“We don’t recommend that MyWay is used for school trips at this time.

“We will be providing the 7am Gleniti trip towards central Timaru and the 3.20pm Gleniti westerly trips for school children.”

The total operating cost for public transport in Timaru was $1.06 million per annum.