13 Apr 2023

Dozens of Canterbury buses still MIA each day, but trend improving - council

5:00 pm on 13 April 2023
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A council spokesperson said its operators had been recruiting heavily for bus drivers. Photo: Environment Canterbury

Canterbury Regional Council says the number of missed bus trips across the region is trending downwards, but thousands of buses were still not showing up each month.

The council said last October and November its Metro bus service missed an average 8.2 percent of scheduled trips per day. This included all urban and school routes for Greater Christchurch, as Timaru had not had a driver shortage, it said.

Last month that number dropped to 5.4 percent, or 2737 trips. On average, it worked out to about 88 missed trips per day in March.

An RNZ investigation has found hundreds of bus services were also being cancelled every day in Auckland and Wellington.

A council spokesperson said its operators had been recruiting heavily for bus drivers.

"We have had approximately 50 new staff start since late February… our operators are now short by about 10 drivers," they said.

"However, many of the drivers recruited recently are still in training and not yet active on the network."

They said the downward trend in missed buses was expected to continue as they began driving.

For example, on 3 March there were 175 missed trips, compared to just eight on 3 April.

Despite the missed trips, passenger numbers were increasing - last month reaching 95 percent of pre-Covid-19 numbers, the spokesperson said.

"In February and March, we celebrated more than one million monthly passengers.

"With this increasing patronage and the recent driver wage increase, we look forward to more drivers joining the Metro network, and our services recovering further as a result."

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