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Southbridge to City commuters wanted

Wednesday, March 17, 2021   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: transport, services, public

Environment Canterbury media release: 15th March 2021

The 87 Southbridge - City trial bus service needs more regular use if it is to continue.

The trial bus service is for residents commuting to Christchurch city from Leeston, Doyleston, Irwell and Springston. It operates as an express service, running city-bound in the morning, and then City-Southbridge in the afternoon.

In a 2019 Southbridge/Leeston community survey of 200 people, almost all respondents supported the service. Currently average patronage is sitting at about 28 boardings in total per day – significantly less than expected from the community survey.

General manager public transport Stewart Gibbon said with appropriate community support, the trial service has potential to provide a valuable, sustainable transport option for people working in the city. But, to keep the service viable, customer numbers needed to increase.

“Having enough customers while keeping the service affordable for both users and rate payers is challenging,” he said.

Making the service viable

Public transport is funded through three sources:

  • targeted rates from the local community;
  • Government grants to match local rates; and
  • user fares.

Government funding policy for public transport sets an expectation that in order to get government funding, an appropriate level of usage is required.

Numbers need to increase

The average of 28 boardings a day - combined across the inbound and outbound service - is insufficient to sustain the continuation of the service.

Currently, the trial service is primarily made up of school children. There needs to be around an additional 15 boardings per day on average to sustain the service.

“Because there is a targeted rate for Leeston and Southbridge to cover this service, we need to make a call about continuation prior to Environment Canterbury’s Long-Term Plan being finalised,” Gibbon said.

School children make up almost 60 percent of patronage, with most people boarding in Southbridge, Leeston and Doyleston, and being dropped off at central city locations between Hornby and the Bus Interchange.

“Children are the main users of the service and we are aware that those students may rely on the service to get to and from school, but the service needs to be sustainable to justify a community charge through rates to continue it,” Gibbon said.