We continue to experience driver shortage-related network disruptions

Published 28/09/2022

The Greater Christchurch bus network is currently experiencing disruptions due to driver shortages. We are all working hard to keep the buses running as normal during this period, but unfortunately it has led to some recent trip cancellations and a reduction in frequency for the Orbiter.

Services impacted

While our operators are experiencing driver shortages, the following list indicates the routes most likely to be affected:

Orbiter, 1, 5, 7, 60, 80, 100, 120, 125, 130.

Further to this, the Orbiter is operating to a new 15-minute frequency schedule that is less driver resource intensive. We plan to reinstate the 10-minute frequency once driver staffing levels allow.

Planning ahead

During this period of disruption, we recommend customers use the Next Bus tool within Metro Goand the on-street bus finder devices. As soon as our operators recognize a trip needs to be cancelled, they update it in the system and it disappears from the arrivals list, making Metro Go and on-street devices the best source of truth for finding out about any cancellations.

Route 1, 5, 95 express buses to pick up and drop off passengers along route

While we are experiencing these staff shortages and related cancellations, these express services (which do not normally pick up passengers at non-express stops) will now provide this extra service in both the morning and afternoon. The 1X, 5X and 95X express services will stop for passengers who signal to be picked up along their regular routes for a limited time. In the afternoon, customers can also board these outbound Express services at the Interchange to get to Papanui or Church Corner should their all-stop service be cancelled.

Reduced hours for Metroinfo counter and contact centre

Staff shortages are also having an impact on our Metroinfo customer service team. Until further notice, the team will be working to the following hours:

Metroinfo Interchange: Weekdays 9am - 5:30pm, and weekends 9am - 5pm.
Metroinfo Contact Centre: Monday to Saturday 7am - 7pm, and Sunday 9am - 5pm.

Thank you to our customers for your patience

We recognise that any cancellations are far from an ideal situation and not one that any of us want to be in. We are doing our best to minimise these disruptions, and we apologise if you have been affected. We also want to acknowledge you, our customers, for your patience and understanding during these disruptions.

A huge thanks to our drivers

When you're out and about, please be kind to our drivers. We appreciate that cancellations are frustrating for everyone involved, but they aren’t personally responsible and deserve kindness and respect. We would like to thank our drivers, especially those who have been picking up extra days or extra hours to help reduce disruptions felt by customers.

Cause of the driver shortage

These continuing cancellations are due to the ongoing driver shortage and have been compounded by drivers calling in sick during a particularly bad flu season. This issue is being experienced nationwide across Aotearoa New Zealand public transport and other industries.

Addressing the driver shortage

Bus drivers deliver essential services to Ōtautahi Christchurch and together with our industry partners and central government, we are investigating ways to attract more drivers. In mid-October we were able to secure a pay increase for bus drivers in Greater Christchurch from $24 to $28 per hour. We anticipate the wage increase will make a material difference to our driver shortage, but the recruitment process will take time.Meanwhile, advertising and the recruitment of new bus drivers continues.

Consideration of a reduced timetable

A reduced timetable would allow us to operate to a schedule based on lower staff numbers and reduce the likelihood of unplanned cancellations. At this point the numbers of cancelled trips do not warrant reducing the frequency of our timetables, but we are monitoring the situation closely.