Bus Industry News, Electric Buses, International

New Zealand’s first fully electric bus network is a booming success

Weekend patronage has significantly increased - up 92 percent - across the whole network
New Zealand

Public transport use in Palmerston North and Ashhurst, New Zealand has skyrocketed, with its new network seeing more people jumping on buses than ever before.

The new network, launched in early March, replaced Palmerston’s meandering, infrequent and confusing bus routes with fast, frequent and easy-to-understand lines, while also doubling the number of services each week.

Horizons Regional Council transport services manager Mark Read says the first three months of the service have been extremely encouraging.

“March, April and May have all seen significant patronage increases when compared to the same months last year. April had 54 percent passenger growth and May saw 32 percent growth year-on-year,” Read says.

“We are seeing increased patronage every day of the week. Weekend patronage has significantly increased (up 92 percent) across the whole network, while Ashhurst patronage is up 309% on weekends and 62% overall.”

The busiest lines on the new network are the 101 Airport – Massey, 102 Maxwells Line – Roberts Line, and the 105 Summerhill – Milson, while there has been increased patronage across all age demographics.

“Buses with ‘fully loaded’ signs, indicating they are unable to take more passengers due to being full, have been a daily occurrence since the network launched,” Read says.

“People are giving positive feedback about the network. Users who have filled in our surveys have given an average star rating of 4.5 out of 5, with 5 being the most positive rating.

“People are also commenting positively via other channels about the comfort of the buses, how easy the routes are to understand, and the benefit of extended services each day.”

Horizons chair Rachel Keedwell says the decision to move from the old network’s coverage model to the new network’s patronage model, aiming to get as many people on buses as possible, is proving successful.

“Patronage under the old network was declining, so patronage growth shows the network is delivering what people want,” Keedwell says.

“With buses running every 30 minutes from 6.30am until 9pm daily, and as often as every 15 minutes at peak times, people now have vastly improved options for travelling across the city and a real alternative to private vehicles.

“New features to improve the network continue to be added, with real-time displays currently being installed at shelters across the city. The displays will enable people to know exactly how far away their bus is while they wait.”

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