Date: 11 May 2020
Metro's public transport networks have returned to regular timetables, and the central city bus interchange is now open.
Environment Canterbury's senior manager public transport, Stewart Gibbon, said that under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, the number of people using the bus services has doubled since Level 4.
"We know that people rely on Metro's network for their essential travel, to work, school and to pick up supplies, and we've been keen to increase our service frequency again to bring a little normality back to people’s lives," he said.
The reduced driver workforce may have an impact on some services, as a number of drivers fall within the 'at risk' category. Any service cancellations will be notified on Metro's website.
"Although there may still be some service disruptions over the coming weeks, our operator partners are doing their best to minimise these," said Gibbon.
To keep everyone safe, physical distancing, additional cleaning, and contact tracing are all in place. Fares will not be required during Alert Level 3 and 4
Physical distancing and cleaning measures
New Zealand is still under Alert Level 3 restrictions, and physical distancing requirements will remain in place for some time.
Under Level 3, buses can carry between eight to 11 people depending on their size, to allow for adequate spacing between passengers.
"We have only had a few trips reach their capacity, but as more people begin to travel, we encourage everyone to avoid peak commuter travel times unless absolutely necessary," said Gibbon.
To minimise the risk of COVID-19, operators are doing significant additional daily cleaning. All high contact surfaces are thoroughly wiped down with commercial grade sanitiser, and sanitiser fogging machines are in use.
The importance of contact tracing is increasing as New Zealand moves through to lower alert levels, and passengers are asked provide contact tracing information whenever they use public transport.
"Here in New Zealand, we are a team of five million. Let's work together – recording your travel is critical in supporting New Zealand's mission to eliminate COVID-19," Gibbon said.
Passengers can use the online form to record each trip taken, or call 366 8855 to have their travel registered.
Interchange to reopen
The Bus Interchange is now open, although the Metroinfo counter and the Riccarton Lounge will remain closed during Alert Level 3.
Keeping everyone safe is a top priority for Environment Canterbury and bus operators.
To maintain physical distancing between passengers and drivers, fares are not required under Level 3, and buses are boarded from the rear doors, except at the bus interchange.
Free fares will remain in place under Alert Level 3. When New Zealand enters Alert Level 2, Waka Kotahi, the New Zealand Transport Agency, expects regions to begin collecting fares on public transport as soon as possible if they can do so safely.
We are working with the Transport Agency to understand how soon fares might be re-introduced after we move to Level 2.