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by Greta Yeoman

Community consultation over proposed changes to Timaru’s public transport services is under way.

Environment Canterbury public transport senior manager Stewart Gibbon said the regional council had been interviewing a wide cross-section of the community, including older bus users, students, bus drivers and Canterbury District Health Board staff.

“While it’s early days, it’s been really insightful.”

ECan public transport senior manager Stewart Gibbon

Discussions with elderly bus users, considered a “key customer group” by ECan, had confirmed that any service would need to have several options for booking, such as by phone as well as online, he said.

Staff were also making sure they talked to those who used the current services and those who did not, he said.

“This means looking beyond what is currently happening [and] to talking to people about what they really want from a public transport system.”

ECan has an online survey available on the MetroInfo website, which includes questions about the main mode of transport for residents, how often they take the bus, where people would travel to in Timaru if on-demand services were introduced and how far people were willing to walk to catch a ride.

Other questions include a scale for the importance of flexible services, price, punctuality and convenience, as well queries about preferred means of booking and whether people would use an app.

ECan was also advertising for a new public transport community transport adviser. Mr Gibbon said this was not a new role, but the new person would take over from Tony Henderson, who is retiring early next year.

“If we go ahead with an on-demand service, this person will play a key role in working with our community on that.”

The vacancy closes on Tuesday and a new person will start in February.

The public transport survey can be accessed at metroinfo.co.nz/timaru, or you can email metro@ecan.govt.nz or call (03) 688-5544.