Council to examine routes as bus patronage falls

Fewer people than ever before are utilising Invercargill’s municipal bus service. The buses are...
Fewer people than ever before are utilising Invercargill’s municipal bus service. The buses are seen here at the Dee St stop. PHOTO: GIORDANO STOLLEY
Invercargill's bus service continues to be patronised less and less, year after year, with user numbers down by almost 75,000 over the past six years.

Figures made available by roading manager Russell Pearson this week showed the city's bus service carried 186,913 passengers in 2018.

This was a slight drop on the 192,025 people transported in 2017, but more than 20,000 down on the 207,304 transported in 2016.

In 2012 the service transported 262,000 people, meaning numbers have dropped almost 29% during the past six years.

"We are continuing to see a gradual decline in the use of buses," Mr Pearson said.

"This is a trend that many cities are experiencing throughout New Zealand. In Invercargill, petrol prices do not have as big an impact as in large metropolitan areas. Parking here is also very cheap, and very accessible to the CBD, which is a disincentive to bus travel."

SuperGold Card-holders, who travel free from 9am to 3pm weekdays and all day Saturday, have increased from 25,582 in 2016 to 30,891 in 2018, while adults have decreased from 79,353 to 75,428 during the same period.

"We plan to consider the routes travelled, with more direct travel, which will decrease travel times. This is one area highlighted in the annual survey of users. The bus fares are now fixed at $2 per trip for all customers. We believe this is still good value for money."

Invercargill's bus service is contracted out to Go Bus Transport Ltd, which, according to its website, also operates municipal bus services for other councils, including the Otago Regional Council and Auckland.

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