Metro bus services return to regular weekday timetables
Environment Canterbury is pleased to announce that from Monday 31 January, the majority of bus services affected by the driver shortage will return to their normal timetables.
This follows a period of eight weeks, where many routes across the network ran to a Saturday timetable due to a national driver shortage.
The only service that will continue to operate on a reduced timetable will be the Orbiter which will run every 15 minutes. Environment Canterbury will continue to work with the operator to bring the Orbiter back to its regular 10-minute weekday frequency once driver staffing levels allow.
General Manager of public transport Stewart Gibbon says he is pleased to see most services returning to normal in what has been a difficult situation for both passengers and operators.
“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this challenging time,” he said.
“While the change to a Saturday schedule was necessary to reduce the number of cancellations and give customers more certainty, we understand the disruption that this has caused for many customers.
“We would also like to thank our operator who we have been working closely with over the past two months, for their commitment and focus to resume normal services as quickly as possible. We are pleased that normal timetables will resume in time for the start of the school year, and when there is most pressure on the network.
“The driver shortage is an issue affecting the public transport industry across all of New Zealand and we would like to acknowledge the effort of all our operators in recruiting and maintaining drivers in this challenging environment.
“While we are uncertain what the future will bring with the country currently bracing for more Covid-19 cases and the impact this might have, we are pleased that for the time being we will be able to provide more frequent and reliable services once again,” Gibbon said.
Online timetables and real-time displays will be amended to reflect the updated, regular weekday timetables for services that were affected. Orbiter services will continue to appear in real-time on bus stop displays and the Metro Journey Planner.
Stay up to date
We realise the disruption this will cause for some Orbiter users, and are doing our best to get the message out via our website, online newsletter, Facebook and with on-street signage at bus stops.
We'll be working closely with our operator to try and get the Orbiter back to its regular 10-minute weekday schedule. We encourage you to follow the Metro Facebook page and sign up to our Metro newsletter for the latest information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use these links to jump to the appropriate section:
> Why has this driver shortage been occurring?
> Why hasn't the Orbiter gone back to its regular schedule?
> Does this mean there is a brand new schedule for the Orbiter?
> Won’t less frequent Orbiter services mean some buses are full?
> Will the On-street Bus locators and Metro Journey Planner tools show the correct schedule?
> Will the timetable changes also be reflected in Google and other 3rd party apps?
> Will school services continue to run as per previous years?
> Is there still a possibility my bus will be cancelled?
Why has this driver shortage been occurring?
Driver shortages have been an issue in other regions across New Zealand for some years now. Our operators are reporting that immigration and a very competitive labour market are factors contributing to the driver shortage across New Zealand and mean we are the latest region to be impacted by bus driver shortages.
Why hasn't the Orbiter gone back to its regular schedule?
While most services have been able to move back their regular weekday timetables, our operator is still experiencing a driver shortage which is why the Orbiter will be operating on a reduced schedule.
We can’t say exactly when the Orbiter will move back to its regular weekly timetable, but we will be working closely with our operator to bring regular 10-minute services back as soon as we can.
Does this mean there is a brand new schedule for the Orbiter?
Yes, a new schedule has been designed to take into account environmental conditions such as road conditions and patronage, as these vary between weekday/Sat/Sun. This new schedule is live on the Metro journey planning tools and bus tracker devices at bus stops. A downloadable PDF (2.5MB) of the new Orbiter schedule is also available for customers who prefer to see a timetable in its entirety.
Won’t less frequent Orbiter services mean some buses are full?
We will continue to monitor capacity across the network and adjust when feasible. Any changes will be communicated to customers through our normal channels.
Will the On-street Bus locators and Metro Journey Planner tools show the correct schedule?
Yes, the on-street devices and the online Journey Planner tool go.metro.co.nz have been updated to reflect the timetable changes and correct bus arrival times.
For the timetable changes to reflect in third party journey planning tools and apps (like Google, Transit, Moovit etc), it requires these third-party developers to update their data feeds.
The new data files were supplied to the developers on Monday 31 January. Google has already processed these updates and Google Maps is accurately displaying the new timetable now. For the other third parties, we cannot predict when they will update their data feed after the new schedule data we provided, but we will be communicating with them frequently, so they understand what is required to maintain accuracy for their users.
Will school services continue to run as per previous years?
The 2022 school services are going ahead as normal. The 2022 school service schedules are available on our website. There may be a few changes to your service compared to last year, so please check timetables carefully. With the rest of the weekday timetable being restored to its normal schedule from Monday 31 January, with it is the return of regular services like the Route 130 service to Burnside High.
Is there still a possibility my bus will be cancelled?
At this stage our operator has advised us they have sufficient drivers to support the shift back to weekday timetables. We are mindful that COVID-19 could cause some challenges and will be closely monitoring driver availability to support any future changes that may be required. We have recently updated our systems so that the on-street devices and the online Journey Planner tool reflects the correct bus timetable, and any cancelled trips will be removed from these channels as soon as we are notified by the operator.