Wellington Scoop

Buses on demand – being tested in Tawa next year

News from Metlink
A new on-demand public transport trial starting early next year will improve access to public transport in Tawa by tailoring services to meet community needs.

The trial is part of Metlink’s wider strategy to enhance the coverage and accessibility of its services to connect communities and get more people out of cars and traffic and on to public transport.

On-demand public transport uses technology similar to ride-hailing, using an app to receive bookings, take payments and schedule pickup and drop-offs.

Tawa, including Grenada North, was identified as an ideal test location to encourage more connections to Metlink’s rail services and enhance transport coverage in areas difficult to access through conventional public transport.

Metlink General Manager Scott Gallacher says these factors made Tawa the perfect test case for on-demand services.

“With 63% of residents living in the eastern and western parts of Tawa many people have to walk up to 30 minutes to reach a train station. With park and ride facilities at capacity, and steep hilly terrain, it’s not surprising that a significant proportion of Tawa residents prefer to drive to work instead of catching public transport. Offering passengers easier first and last mile access to the Linden and Redwood train stations is one of our key aims during the peak periods.

“In addition to better connections to our rail services, we’ll also be providing passengers with better access to key social and retail destinations in Tawa and Porirua. For the trial we have decided to use fully wheel chair accessible vehicles allowing people with limited mobility a cost effective option for local travel. We see on-demand as a great social service, helping those with limited transport options to get out and about more and connect back with everything their community has to offer.

“The trial is a win/win for the community and Metlink. We’ll get more people travelling by public transport while improving services for passengers and at the same time we’ll be reducing transport emissions through fewer private car journeys,” says Scott Gallacher.

The trial will be made possible through Metlink’s partnership with international technology platform Via and existing bus operator Mana Coach Services. While on-demand public transport is not currently funded from the central government National Land Transport Fund, Metlink hopes the results of the trial will prove a number of clear benefits to support future funding for a regional roll out.

On-demand trials are also occurring across the country including Timaru and Auckland.

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  1. Greenwelly, 15. October 2021, 11:56

    I am yet to be convinced this will be a success. Last year AT killed off their “on demand” trial after they poured millions in to it for little gain… Their eventual solution: an enhanced feeder bus service running at 20 minute peak and 30 minute off peak.

  2. Dave B, 15. October 2021, 18:39

    I would have thought a feeder-bus service, timed to connect with every train, and running a circuit around the more distant parts of the suburb, would be the best way to get people to the train from the non-walkable areas of Tawa.

    Just copy what already works well at the major interchange hubs at Johnsonville, Porirua, Paraparaumu, Waikanae, Petone, Waterloo, Taita, Upper Hutt and Featherston. And the less-formal interchanges at Paremata Station (connects with bus 236 to Whitby), Naenae (bus 130 to other parts of suburb), Silverstream (bus 115 to Pinehaven), Trentham (bus 114 to other parts of suburb), and Woodside (bus 204 to Greytown).

    Is the idea of an “on-demand” service, that you don’t have to run it if nobody books it? So if you forget to pre-book then you may have to walk from the station?

  3. Thomas Nash, 15. October 2021, 18:49

    Cool new public transport trial coming soon to Tawa – dial up a minibus for the same fare as a normal bus and you get picked up within 10 minutes and delivered straight to the railway station. Nice. [via twitter]

  4. Ray Chung, 15. October 2021, 19:51

    This “on-demand” service sounds good! We used to have a minibus (route 50) doing a circular route between Broadmeadows and the Johnsonville Railway Station but it was only an hourly service so you had to ensure that you were on time! We’re now on the 24 route and the feedback we’ve received from commuters is that it works well and the frequency has been improved to a half-hourly service during weekdays.

  5. Ross Clark, 15. October 2021, 22:44

    I wonder if there is also scope to:

    * Run buses from Porirua through Tawa which would then run direct to about Taranaki St and then points south

    * Run smaller transfer buses (say, from Takapu Rd) which would then head up the western side (Oriel Dr) and eastern side (Woodman Dr, Bing Lucas Dr) of the Tawa Valley.


  6. Dave B, 16. October 2021, 3:44

    Cr Thomas Nash, wow – 10 minutes from booking to pickup? Is that achievable, even if there are others also requesting a pickup from elsewhere in the suburb and wanting to connect with the same train?
    And will the service also be able to pick up passengers from every train, coming from either directions, immediately the train arrives (presuming they booked 10 minutes earlier while still on the train), then drop them off around the suburb while picking up others wanting to get the next train?

    If all this can be achieved by a single minibus and driver then fantastic. Or will it require a whole fleet of them to work properly?