Half-price fares confirmed for The Link, School and Temuka services

Published 24/03/2022

Exciting update! 50% off fares has been extended until 31 January 2023! 

Make the most of the savings and jump onboard.

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Following the Government’s announcement last week, we can confirm that half-price fares for Timaru’s Link, school and Temuka services will come into effect on Friday 1 April 2022.

Most public transport fares across Aotearoa New Zealand would be temporarily reduced for a 3-month period. The temporary fare reduction aims to help ease the financial burden for Kiwis as the cost-of-living increases. This will be welcome news for many.

Between now and 1 April, we’ll be working with our operators and associated partners to prepare for the temporary fare reduction. We are on track to have our ticketing systems ready.

Half-price fares for our fixed route services in Timaru will come into effect on Friday April 1. These are the Timaru Link, School and Temuka services. Both cash and Metrocard payments will attract the temporary half-price reductions from 1 April – 30 June 2022. This will make a Timaru Link fare $0.80 for an adult with a Metrocard and $0.45 for a child. Cash fares will be $1.20 and $0.70 respectively.

We are very supportive of this reduction in public transport fares, and we anticipate it to lead to an increase in public transport use in areas where there is capacity in the system.

MyWay by Metro fares excluded from fare reduction

The fare reduction will not include the MyWay by Metro service due to the unique challenges a rapid increase in patronage would cause to the on-demand service.

The service is restricted to eight vehicles, which meet the current and gradually increasing demand from the community.

On-demand public transport operates very differently to a traditional fixed route service. While generally this is a good thing, as we can be flexible and innovative, it doesn’t enable us to meet a sudden, significant or unplanned increase in demand.

As with most industries in Aotearoa, public transport is experiencing staffing challenges around the country due to Omicron. Our council has agreed it would be irresponsible to introduce a change that would lead to a greater uptake than our service could cope with.

In making this decision, Councillors have been mindful of the need to ensure we can maintain an appropriate level of service and experience for existing and new customers. Although MyWay by Metro has capacity for some patronage growth, we couldn’t guarantee that seats would be available at our busier times throughout the day if fares were halved.

Timaru Link consultation on hold

A planned consultation on the future of the Timaru Link service will be delayed until later in the year.

As part of our trial of on-demand public transport, we removed the three fixed route services with the intention of eventually looking at removing the Timaru Link if the MyWay service was successful.

Two years on, with the success of MyWay, it is timely to consider the future of the Link, and whether it still has a place in Timaru’s public transport system. The service has experienced very low patronage and declining use, which is not a prudent use of ratepayer dollars.

Given that the Timaru Link will be available under the Government’s half-price fare offer, we will pause our consultation on the future on the Link until later in the year. A new consultation date will be planned for once Covid-19 impacts have reduced.

FAQs

Why haven’t the half price fares been applied sooner?
There are a lot of moving parts, system changes and operating partners involved with making a change of this scale. We hope that customers can understand that time is required to be able to confirm the scope with government and implement this across the network.

How are these fare reductions being funded?
As communicated in the Government’s announcement on 14 March, regional transport authorities like Environment Canterbury will be reimbursed by central government to compensate for any loss of fare revenue. For any further information on funding for this initiative, we recommend you contact the Ministry of Transport.

Are you expecting these fare reductions to increase public transport patronage? How might an increase in customers impact capacity?
Reductions in fares often result in increased usage of public transport, and given the size of the fare change, we would expect to see a positive change in patronage. However, given the challenges that Covid-19 continues to present, we cannot say for certain what level of patronage change might occur. We welcome any initiative that supports increased public transport use and will be monitoring patronage numbers closely to see how they may impact the capacity of trips across each time and day of the week.

How long will they be half price for?
The Government-supported fare reductions are planned to run for 3 months (April to June inclusive). If there are any changes to this period, we will let customers know.

Which services will it apply to?
In Timaru the half-price fares will apply to Timaru’s Link, school, and Temuka services.

The fare reduction will not include the MyWay by Metro service due to the unique challenges a rapid increase in patronage would cause to the on-demand service.

Community Vehicle Trusts are separate entities to Metro and set their own fares. These services do not fall under urban public transport and are not included in the discount.

What time will the reduced fare come into place on 1 April?
The discounted fares will be applied to all fares from when the first Metro services depart on 1 April.