Timetable changes coming into effect 6 December

Published 1/12/2021

Over the last month we’ve unfortunately been experiencing some trip cancellations due to nationwide driver shortages.  

While the proportion of trips being affected is low, we know uncertainty with cancellations is unsettling, so we’ve made the hard decision to make changes to our timetables on select routes. This will hopefully give you more confidence in our network during the driver shortage. These timetable changes will be applicable from Monday 6 December 2021. 

We recognise it’s a far from ideal situation and not one any of us wanted to be in, and we apologise for any distress caused while we all transition to this new timetable. We continue to work with our operators on options to mitigate the impact to our customers. 

Affected routes

From Monday 6 December, the following routes will operate to a Saturday timetable Monday-Friday:  

Check the timetables page on the Metro website or use the links above to see what this means for your weekday travel plans. 

Although the timetable is changing for these services Monday to Friday, their usual weekend timetables will remain unchanged. 

For some services, the last bus of the day won’t run as part of the new timetable. If you are a late evening weekday passenger, we encourage you to contact Metroinfo for more information.  

We encourage you to contact Metroinfo for more information about how your travel plans or specific route is affected by the Monday-Friday timetable change.  

All other routes will run to their normal weekly timetables: 3, 28, 29, 81, 85, 86, 87, 91, 92, 140, 155, Diamond Harbour Ferry and all school services. 

Stay up to date 

We realise the disruption this will cause for some, and we will be doing our best to get the message out via our website, online newsletter, Facebook and with on-street signage at bus stops. 

We’re working with the operator and across our network to try and minimise the impact this situation has on you and will continue to share any related updates. 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 is this driver shortage occurring?
> Why are you using the Saturday timetable?
> How am I likely to be affected?
> 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?
> What is Metro doing to attract more bus drivers to the workforce?
> How long is the driver shortage and associated timetable changes expected to last?
> What other steps is Environment Canterbury taking to solve the issue of reduced network?
> How will these timetable changes impact the school services?
> Why is Environment Canterbury consulting on proposals to increase frequency while there are driver shortages causing reductions in frequency?
> Won’t less frequent services mean some buses are full?
> Why is the front seat taped off?
> Why are some routes affected and not others?
> Is there still a possibility my bus will be cancelled?
> Is my Gold card concession now available all day every day? 

Why is this driver shortage 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 are you using the Saturday timetable? 
With the driver shortages, one of our operators has insufficient staff to operate the  services at their current schedules. The Saturday timetable is a less frequent service that requires fewer staff to operate, and our operator has advised us they have sufficient drivers to support the delivery of this timetable. We understand that this is not ideal and that it may mean customers will need to check schedules and catch a bus at a slightly different time. 

How am I likely to be affected? 
The Saturday timetable has a reduced frequency for most routes and some routes don’t start operating until later in the morning. Your bus may be at a different time now than on Monday-Friday, so we’re encouraging you to plan ahead.  

Will the On-street Bus locators and Metro Journey Planner tools show the correct schedule?
Yes, all going to plan with the technology updates, from Monday 6 December, the on-street devices, and the online Journey Planner tool go.metro.co.nz will have been updated to reflect the timetable changes and correct bus arrival times. This will also reflect the late evening services not running on selected routes.

It’s our plan to get this loaded into the system and live before Sunday 5 December in time for the Monday start to the new timetables. Until this time, our best advice to customers wanting to see what these changes mean for their weekday journey would be to visit the timetables page on the Metro website, click on your desired route, and navigate to the Saturday timetable by using the tabs.

Will the timetable changes also be reflected in Google and other 3rd party apps?
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. We are working to get the new files to these developers on Friday 3 December. We expect Google to process these updates and have their tool accurately displaying the new timetable by Monday 6 December but cannot make any promises on their behalf. Similarly for the other third parties, we cannot predict when they will update their data feed after the new schedule data is provided to them, but we will be communicating with them frequently, so they understand what is required to maintain accuracy for their users.

What is Metro doing to attract more bus drivers to the workforce? 
We have been working closely with our bus operators (who are responsible for employing drivers) to support with recruitment advertising. We've also recently confirmed an agreement in contract changes which means all our bus drivers will receive the 2021 Living Wage as a base wage rate.  

How long is the driver shortage and associated timetable changes expected to last? 
At this stage we do not know how long this driver shortage and the timetable changes are going to last but we do not anticipate being able to resolve these issues quickly. We continue to work with our operators on options to mitigate the impact to our customers. 

What other steps is Environment Canterbury taking to solve the issue of reduced network? 
We are currently exploring options to align the frequency of services to the needs of customers. This includes working with our operators to look at alternate timetable options and different ways of delivering services. We are also engaging with Central Government on the challenges of maintaining a bus driver workforce and advocating the importance that drivers play in keeping a public transport service operative in this COVID-19 climate. 

How will these timetable changes impact the school services? 
School services are staying as they are for the remainder of 2021 and at this stage, we do not expect any impact on school services in 2022. We will be continually reviewing any potential impacts and will communicate this to customers should any arise.

Why is Environment Canterbury consulting on proposals to increase frequency while there are driver shortages causing reductions in frequency?
We’re currently reviewing routes 17 & 28. This review is planning for the future of these services and includes potentially increased trip frequencies from 2023. We understand that these temporary changes to the route 17 schedule could cause confusion, however, we need to maintain planning for the future of public transport and encourage the public to continue to have their say on these proposals. If you’d like to find out more about this consultation, please go to our Have Your Say page. 

Won’t less frequent 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.  

Why is the front seat taped off? 
Taping off the front seat is a precautionary measure in place to provide an extra level of protection for drivers while COVID-19 is in the wider Aotearoa community. We understand that this does mean fewer places to sit when services are likely to be busier than usual during the week. 

Why are some routes affected and not others? 
While most Metro buses in Greater Christchurch are branded similarly, the network is made up of three different operators, who are responsible for providing drivers. During this driver shortage one of our operators has been impacted more than the others so their routes are most affected. 

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 Saturday timetable. 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 (go.metro.co.nz) reflects the correct bus timetable, and any cancelled trips will be removed from these channels. 

Is my Gold card concession now available all day every day? 
No. The concessions remain off peak Monday to Friday and all-day Saturday and Sunday.