Why can’t the media understand public transport?

Posted on August 5, 2010 by

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It’s interesting that the local media have put so much spin on job losses at Red Bus. It has clearly given the impression that bus services are being cut, when in actual fact bus services are actually being increased! On websites such as Stuff illustrate this well with plenty of comments about how terrible Metro are for cutting our bus services and raising fares at the same time! Not true of course, although the increase in fares has recently happened (and isn’t even too much of a hike to be honest). What the general public don’t seem to understand very well, is how the whole system works. Res Bus gets confused with Metro, which gets confused with the Christchurch City Council (there have been a few people blaming the Mayor for service cuts and job losses!).  I don’t really blame them though, public transport in Christchurch (and most of the big NZ cities) is a complicated affair. A very very basic outline of it would be this:

Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council) – Responsible for providing public transport in the Canterbury region including Christchurch. They design and plan the routes, allocate funding etc. Basically they decide what bus routes exist, how often they run and where they stop.

Christchurch City Council/Waimakariri & Selwyn District Councils – Are responsible for infrastructure such as bus stops, the Bus Exchange, bus lanes and other such measures. They also have some input into the running and planning of public transport.

Red Bus/Leopard Coachlines/Christchurch Bus Services/Black Cat Group – Are the companies contracted to operate various services. Contracts for different routes become available at various times and each company can make a bid (This is why Red Bus lost their routes, because they were outbid by Leopard and Christchurch Bus Services). Generally, Ecan will stipulate service standards such as frequency, bus standards etc.

Metro – Is the brand name for public transport in Christchurch. Publishes timetables, maps and information etc.

Okay, so that’s a very basic rundown of how public transport works in Christchurch. I’m sure many of you all know this stuff (and can probably correct my quick rundown on a few points too) but my point is that many don’t even have a basic understanding of how it works, including the media! There is more on Red Buses woes today, and it is interesting to notice that despite a proposal to slash 80 jobs only 25 staff members took the chance to give feedback. Probably an indication that the new operators will take up the slack at Red Bus.

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Posted in: Christchurch, General