Valentina Bellomo / Stuff
The extension of government half-price fares will not apply to Timaru’s MyWay by Metro. (File photo)
Passengers using Timaru’s on-demand public transport service will continue to pay the full fare, even though the government has extended its half-price fare system for two months.
MyWay by Metro, which is managed by Environment Canterbury, will not be included in the program due to the “unique challenges that a rapid increase in footfall would bring to an on-demand service”the council’s senior director of public transport, Stewart Gibbon, said Thursday.
The government, when announcing the 2022 budget on May 19, said half-price fares would be extended for another two months to meet the rising cost of living.
“We are monitoring the impact of the fare reduction on our fixed routes – Timaru Link and school services,” Gibbon said.
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“Patronage for fixed-route services in Timaru has remained relatively stable at around 40% of pre-Covid figures.
“While a decline was noted in the last two weeks of March, following the introduction of 50% fares on April 1, fixed route ridership has gradually returned to settle again at around 40% of pre-Covid numbers.”
He said ECan has no plans to expand the area covered by MyWay, but will continue to improve the service to meet customer demand and add three new low-floor vehicles and upgrade technology. service later in 2022.
Gibbon has previously said that MyWay operates differently from a traditional fixed route bus service.
“Although this is generally a good thing, as we can be flexible and innovative, it does not allow us to respond to a sudden, large or unforeseen increase in demand.
“Like most industries in Aotearoa, public transport is experiencing staffing issues across the country due to Omicron.
“Although MyWay by Metro has capacity for ridership growth, we could not guarantee that seats would be available at our busiest times throughout the day if fares were cut in half.”
Half-price ECan fares are available on Timaru’s Link, School Services and Temuka and Total Mobility services in the Canterbury area also get the discount, but Community Vehicle Trusts do not.