Environment Canterbury is preparing to provide increased public transport services when the country moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 next week.
Under Level 3, government advice is that travel is still restricted, and is only allowed for permitted movement in your local area – e.g. for going to work or school, shopping, or getting exercise.
Senior Manager Public Transport, Stewart Gibbon, said that increasing the availability of public transport services is the first step in the journey to a semblance of normality.
“We know some of those going back to work or school at Level 3 will need public transport as an important part of their day. Starting on Tuesday 28 April, we will be moving to a Saturday timetable running Monday – Saturday, with the Sunday service running on Sundays, for most services.
“The timetable will have some modifications, including Route 85 running to its usual weekday timetable and some changes to the ferry timetable. These will be updated on our website,” he said.
The physical distancing requirement will mean that, depending on the vehicle, a smaller number of passengers than usual can be carried. The number will depend on the size of the vehicle, but will generally be between 7 and 11.
Mr Gibbon said that although fewer people should be travelling on public transport, the possibility of capacity constraints mean that people should allow plenty of time to reach their destination.
“If the bus or ferry has reached its allowed capacity, these physical distancing requirements mean it will not be able to pick up additional passengers. We will do our best to limit the impact of this.
“We really appreciate everyone’s patience and kindness as we work within the limitations in place to keep everyone safe. Public transport can be used for those that need to travel but we do need everyone to be aware there will be limited capacity, and please try and avoid peak times unless you are a worker or are travelling to an educational facility,” he said.
Mr Gibbon said that keeping drivers safe is a top priority for Environment Canterbury and bus operators.
“Central city buses will continue to use the Manchester Street super stops as the Bus Interchange will remain closed under COVID-19 Level 3. To maintain physical distancing between passengers and drivers, fares will not be required during the Level 3 period and buses will be boarded from the rear doors.
“Bus and ferry companies will continue the regular deep cleaning of vehicles, and passengers are requested to continue to record their travel on the Contact Tracing app at ecan.govt.nz/trace,” he added.
Metro school services will resume where there is a need for them.
“We are working with schools to get an understanding of how many children will be returning to school next Wednesday, and whether they will require the Metro school bus service,” said Mr Gibbon.
Timetable information, including modifications to some services, will be updated regularly at metroinfo.co.nz and trip information is available by calling Metroinfo on 03 366 8855.