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New Zealand’s Timaru prepares to throw out bus timetables in favour of on-demand services

Timaru’s on-demand public transport service will begin with a two-month pilot, followed by a year-long city-wide trial.

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Timaru has reached a milestone in the preparation for its 2020 on-demand public transport trial with the appointment of key partners.

 

Following a competitive bidding process, Via has been appointed to provide the on-demand technology, while incumbent local operator Ritchies was selected for the vehicle service operation.

 

“Our selected partners are ideally positioned to support this trial, combining comprehensive international expertise with in-depth local knowledge,” said Timaru Operations Manager Judith Earl-Goulet. “Their wealth of experience will enable us to accurately test the potential of the concept in our local market, and the propensity of the community to engage with it, both essential characteristics that will influence its success.”

 

Timaru in Canterbury is understood to be the first city in New Zealand to roll out such an on-demand public transport service at scale.

 

The new service will be called MyWay after it was named by the public following a campaign by Environment Canterbury, the regional council.

 

Using the MyWay by Metro app, passengers will be able to order a vehicle directly from their smartphone. Bookings can be made via the dedicated website and by phone. Multiple passengers will share the vehicle, co-ordinated by Via’s technology which will direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pick-up and drop-off.

 

Timaru in Canterbury is understood to be the first city in New Zealand to roll out such an on-demand public transport service at scale.

 

Customer in charge

 

Timaru’s on-demand public transport trial is scheduled to start in February, with a two-month closed-group pilot to fully test the systems. After the pilot, the service will be introduced for a trial period of 12 months. During the trial, two scheduled bus services (Timaru Link and Temuka) and school services will continue to operate as normal but on-demand transport will replace the Grantlea, Watlington and Gleniti services. If the trial is successful, the on-demand service may also replace the Timaru Link.

 

MyWay by Metro puts the customer in charge. You can go to and from anywhere you choose in Timaru, whenever it suits you; there’s no set route or timetable.

 

Richard O’Keefe, Corporate Services Manager at Ritchies, said: “MyWay by Metro puts the customer in charge. You can go to and from anywhere you choose in Timaru, whenever it suits you; there’s no set route or timetable. You say where you want to go, when you want to be picked up and from where. It’s a really simple solution and totally based around your needs.”

Ritchies will initially operate five on-demand vehicles with a mixture of vehicle sizes, including disability access and storage for prams and bikes.

 

Via powers on-demand public transport in more than 20 countries and was closely involved in the feasibility study.

 

Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via, said: “The MyWay by Metro service demonstrates how public transportation and technology can work together to provide residents with a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to move around. This is a great example of a city embracing the next generation of public transportation.”

 

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