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Bus Talk 11: Bus ambassadors help passengers adapt to changes

Bus Talk column - 28 September 2017

You may have noticed pairs of people in hi-vis vests riding Dunedin buses and hanging out at bus stops over the past few weeks, talking to bus passengers and handing out timetables and flyers.

Many bus-users will have met Otago Regional Council Bus Ambassadors Madeline Enright, Maria Kean, Robbitti Stanley, Anna Platten, Suzy Mullin, Robyn West and Natasha Davidson, who helped passengers negotiate route and timetable changes to the Dunedin bus service, which took effect on 18 September.

It’s been a busy time for the ambassadors as the changes bed in. For more than three weeks they’ve answered questions from users about new routes, bus stops, frequencies, transfers, fares and zones. Most queries have been about how often buses will come and how to get from point A to point B.  Maria said it had been valuable to talk through the changes with passengers face-to-face and explain the reasoning behind them. She found the best tool to refer passengers to was the ORC website www.orc.govt.nz, which had detailed timetable

Maria said it had been valuable to talk through the changes with passengers face-to-face and explain the reasoning behind them. She found the best tool to refer passengers to was the ORC website www.orc.govt.nz, which had detailed timetable information. Passengers also found the Google Maps-driven Journey Planner tool helpful. This is accessible from the ORC website.

She had received many favourable comments from bus-users, especially about additional services, earlier starts and later finishes. One dad said he was enjoying spending an extra 30 minutes in the morning with his children — adding up to two-and-a-half hours per week — now buses on his route ran more often. Many passengers were pleased wifi was coming soon.

Anna said people were usually aware of changes to routes and timetables, but it had been rewarding to help those who were confused by the changes.

The ambassadors had gained great respect for the bus-drivers’ customer-service skills; they were “approachable, helpful and went beyond the call of duty”.

The ambassadors said they had learnt a lot about the complexity and large size of the city’s bus network and its importance, not just as a public transport network, but in helping people make
friends while travelling each day on the same bus.

Regional Council Support Services Manager Gerard Collings said the transition had generally gone smoothly so far, partly thanks to excellent work by the ambassadors. “We’ll be looking
closely at feedback from bus-users to ensure the system works as efficiently as possible.”

We’re always interested in hearing your feedback on the bus service. We invite your call to our bus helpline on 474 0287 or email transportoperations@orc.govt.nz 

Bus ambassadors Robbitti Stanley (left) and Anna Platten (right) speak to bus-user Dale Smart and her son, Lucas Jephson-Smart, this week

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