A fact-finding exercise is taking a look at what appetite there is for public transport in Ashburton.
Safer Mid Canterbury and the Ashburton District Council have launched a survey to gather information about the future need for public transport in Ashburton, including what people are willing to pay.
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown has previously stated that whatever option the district comes up with there will need to be “some innovative ways of how it would work and how it would be funded”.
Currently, the only form of public transport in the district is the Mid Canterbury Connector service, a vehicle which travels from rural towns to Ashburton.
The new survey considers bus options as well as escooters and ebikes.
The council has asked ECan, which runs public transport in the region, to consider public transport options for Ashburton as part of its regional land transport plan.
As per the council’s request, ECan is looking into innovative transport solutions in Ashburton in the plans.
The Ashburton survey and research will be valuable in preparing a submission on the plan, council's Infrastructure and Open Spaces group manager Neil McCann said.
The survey responses will be analysed alongside feedback from community groups, businesses, and transport operators, to help the council gauge if a public transport pilot is feasible.
The process is aimed at finding out the likely level of demand for a public service in Ashburton, McCann said.
“We want to know how often people would use public transport, what sort of schedule they want and if they would be willing to pay.
“This is a great chance to see if we should trial something like a MyWay or if we need any sort of public transport at all.”
The annual operating cost of the MyWay on-demand bus service in Timaru is $2.7m, consisting of $1.1m from rates, $1.3m from NZTA grants, and $0.25m from fare revenue.
Passengers book directly for the MyWay service using an app, website or the call centre.
They then catch the bus from a nearby ‘virtual bus stop’ or an existing stop, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips.
Environment Canterbury and the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee are working on the 10-year plan for the region’s transport system.
It proposes a $10.8 billion investment in Canterbury over the next decade, with Ashburton’s second bridge the top project on the list.
The draft document points to public transport development in Ashburton.
The draft suggests “potential private innovations” be investigated to support the community transition to a public transport service being rolled out.
Hard copies of the survey are available from Ashburton District Council, Ashburton Library, Ashburton Community House, and Age Concern.
The online version is available HERE.
The survey closes on 8 March.
By Jonathan Leask