Sustainability

Land transport emissions make up 36% of Christchurch's greenhouse gas emissions. We all have the opportunity to make a real difference.

Environment Canterbury, as your regional council, is responsible for public transport across Canterbury. We take our responsibility to provide an environmentally sustainable and socially responsibly service very seriously.

Our plans are guided by our Regional Public Transport Plan, which sets out the visionary change needed for a sustainable transport future. In this plan, we highlight our commitment to sustainability through reducing emissions, introducing new technologies, and providing better service options, so that Canterbury remains a thriving, healthy place to be.

What is sustainable public transport? 

We think of sustainability as meaning more than providing low or zero emission vehicles. We need to support new ways of thinking, so that taking public transport becomes an option for more people. This means providing a system that is more convenient, reliable, easier to use, and better for the environment. 

Our top priorities are: 

  • Improving our environment: Increase the number of people using public transport and reduce the carbon footprint of public transport by shifting to zero emission vehicles. 
  • Growing patronage: Greater priority on high demand routes and a high-quality travel experience. As the population grows, rapid transit may be added to improve travel times along key corridors to and from the city. 
  • Accessibility: Provide more frequent public transport services so that more people can get to workplaces, shopping, education,and recreation within 30 minutes.
  • Innovation: Trial and introduce new transport and technology initiatives with lower environmental impacts, greater safety, and lower costs.  
  • Affordability: Expand the network at a rate the community can afford, with cost effective new services and infrastructure that is financially sustainable for ratepayers and funding agencies.

An electric revolution 

Naturally, the most obvious place to improve our environmental impact is in our vehicle fleet. Metro runs a fleet of around 200 vehicles across greater Christchurch, and around 10 in Timaru. 

Christchurch’s fleet of electric and low emission vehicles is growing fast.

By 2023, 92 new buses — that’s 40% of the Metro fleet — will be electric or low emission.

We’re phasing in the new buses, keeping costs down and making sure we keep up to date with newer electric or hydrogen technologies.

During this time, we’re testing and monitoring the new vehicles to ensure they are suitable for our network, before purchasing decisions are made for further new vehicles. We’re committed to having a fully zero emissions fleet by 2035 at the latest.

Read more about our new electric vehicles

Service improvements 

Electric vehicles help us stay ahead, but taking the bus is already one of the best choices you can make. With every step forward, we’re making service improvements for better bussing: 

  • Three bike racks on all vehicles for carbon-zero onwards journeys 
  • Copper-free brake pads for all new vehicles, which reduces stormwater contamination 
  • Air conditioning and USB ports on all new vehicles 
  • Bigger vehicles on busy core routes providing extra capacity

On-demand public transport trial 

Timaru’s public transport has been experiencing a revival with the introduction of an on-demand public transport trial. The community has been enjoying the flexibility and accessibility of MyWay by Metro since early 2020 and has increased use of public transport by 25%.

The success of MyWay by Metro has been the real increase in accessibility that it offers for people throughout the community. Rather than using a fixed route and timetable, the service goes where people need to get to. The simplicity of the service makes it easy to leave the car at home, and the smaller vehicles produce lower carbon emissions. 

During the trial period, the service has used existing vans owned by the operator. In the coming years, funding will be sought to transition to a low or zero emission fleet. 

Learn more about MyWay by Metro.

Our environmental contribution 

As an organisation, Environment Canterbury is conscious of its own carbon footprint. We continue to work to reduce our organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions and to manage our 2,700 hectares of forestry, which provide a significant carbon sink (natural systems that suck up and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).   

Read about Environment Canterbury's environmental contribution.

Making a difference

Nice one - by reaching this page, it’s clear you are already interested in taking action to help our environment. Thinking about how you travel is one of the simplest changes you can make.  

Saying no thanks to a few of those car trips, and yes please to public transport, walking, cycling and carpooling, goes a long way towards reducing your emissions footprint and makes a real difference to our environment. 

Ready to jump onboard? Plan your journey here.

If you’d like to learn more about Canterbury’s changing climate and actions you can take, visit It’s time, Canterbury.