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Express service . . . The Rangiora 91 bus service picks up passengers on one of its morning runs..File photo

By DAVID HILL

Environment Canterbury is hailing the success of the new Park and Ride bus service, amid Covid-19.

The Park and Ride service was launched in January last year as an express bus service linking Rangiora and Kaiapoi with central Christchurch.

Thomas McNaughton, spokesperson for ECan’s Metro, says the new service was well used despite the challenges of changing Covid-19 alert levels.

“Despite the impact Covid-19 has had on bus patronage, usage of the Park and Ride bus services has been good.”

“Metro also operated special Park and Ride services during Alert Level 3 when all other buses were running to a Sunday timetable.

“These services were introduced as the 91 and 92 services do not have a Sunday timetable and there had been significant demand from essential workers for services to operate.”

He says there were around 32,000 passenger trips on the 91 direct service from Rangiora and 18,000 passenger trips on the 92 Kaiapoi bus.

Around 26,000 adults and 5600 under-18s used the 91 service during 2021, while around 15,500 adults and 1800 under-18s used the 92 service.

Mr McNaughton says the focus for this year will be building patronage, particularly on the Kaiapoi route.

ECan will be conducting a planned 12-month review of its Waimakariri services soon and the key findings will be made public once it is complete.

“It’s great to see the community getting behind these new services, despite the various challenges over the year,” Mr McNaughton says.

“We know that our customers love these direct services, and we encourage people to spread the word by talking with friends and family who commute to Christchurch.”

The Park and Ride service is a partnership between ECan, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Christchurch City Council and Waimakariri District Council.

Waimakariri council road safety co-ordinator Kathy Graham says the Council is pleased at how well the new Park and Ride facilities are being received by locals.

“Whenever a new service starts it often takes time for it to be adopted widely, but we’ve seen a jump in users from day one and received really positive feedback to date.

“While there’s more work to do to promote the services more widely we’re confident that user numbers will continue to grow.”

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon is regular user when he commutes for meetings in the city and enjoys the “easy and stress-free” travel.

“By using these facilities you’re doing your part for the planet, easing congestion and saving money otherwise spent on petrol, and a more immediate benefit is that you don’t need to worry about where to park your car when you arrive.”

Between 40 and 100 car parks are provided at the park and ride facilities in Rangiora and Kaiapoi, and maintained by the council. Lighting, security cameras, and secure bike storage cases are provided at each facility.

Both the Rangiora and Kaiapoi services run four morning trips into Christchurch and five return trips in the evening from Monday to Friday.