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GDC looks into transport smart cards

GISBORNE District Council is considering introducing electronic smart cards as it seeks ways to increase patronage on city bus services.

The regional transport committee has approved a draft proposed regional transport plan to be released for public consultation along with the regional land transport plan and the 2018-28 long term plan.

It will also hold a review of the public transport routes before the awarding of the next public and school bus contracts in 2019.

A report from director of transformation and relationships Keita Kohere said an interim review had highlighted several problems with the service.

Patronage is declining, as is the fare box recovery rate, (the share of the cost of the service paid by fares.)

Customers are dissatisfied with route coverage and the frequency of urban departures. Fare prices have also risen significantly.

Data supplied in the proposed public transport plan showed patronage had been declining steadily. Adult patronage for urban buses fell from 50,000 in 2010/11 to just over 30,000 in 2016/17. Total mobility trips were also declining but school bus patronage was steadily climbing.

The total cost of operating the scheme in 2016/17 was $259,086 for Gizzy Bus, $197,907 for the school bus and $67,237 for total mobility trips.

The proportion of the cost of the service paid from fares (the remainder of the cost is shared by the council and the government) has dropped from 46 percent in 2010/11 to 32 percent in 2016/17. GDC has set a target of 40 percent in 2018/19 and a year on year growth target of 1 percent.

The council has agreed to undertake a number of improvements in the next three years including a review of the network, electronic ticketing, renewals and improvements and ride sharing.

The review of the three services has been designed to coincide with the next urban bus contract in early 2019.

The plan says smart cards have been widely adopted throughout New Zealand cities. The current ticketing system is reaching the end of its life cycle presenting the council the opportunity to invest in up to date technology that will increase simplicity and drive affordability for the network.

Modern app-based ride-sharing services had radically changed public transport around the world. As part of its strategic network investigation the council will explore the opportunities presented by ride sharing to the Gisborne community.

The council has identified, designed and will build new bus shelters in high use areasand has budgeted $18,000 annually for this for the next three years.