Orbus and COVID-19 update #2

Bus Talk column - 16 April 2020

Orbus is still running its Alert Level 4 timetable until further notice. As we don’t know when we may return to Alert Level 3 under the COVID-19 crisis, or what that looks like, we will continue to run the network on reduced services, working with our operators and taking feedback from passengers.

Still moving essential workers

During the lockdown, patronage on our buses has understandably dropped.

Compared to the same period in 2019, Dunedin patronage in the first week of April (Wednesday 1 April – Tuesday 7 April) was down 90%, while in Queenstown patronage was down 94%.

Turn this around, and it shows that Orbus is still moving around 780 essential workers or people accessing essential services in Dunedin and 230 in Queenstown every day. Without the bus, many people would be stranded, unable to get to work or access the supermarket. We all benefit from buses getting these people around. Passengers have been heaping praises on our drivers while using the bus, but also through our Facebook page. Here’s a sample:

Buses will appear empty due to the drop in patronage but it’s important we continue to use the current large bus fleet with rear doors as this enables passengers to physically distance from each other and the driver, and provide accessibility for all our passengers.

We want to thank our amazing drivers for being part of the essential services, supporting essential workers and people accessing medical facilities.

 

Changes to the service

Thanks to everyone who got in touch with us about how the bus service is supporting them, or how it could be improved. We have listened to the essential workers in the community and made additions to the current reduced timetable.

 In Dunedin, changes to routes 77 and 37

  • 7:00am Mosgiel – City
  • 5:12pm City – Mosgiel
  • 6:30pm Mosgiel – City
  • 07:20am Concord – Uni

In Queenstown, changes to routes 1 and 4

During Alert Level 4 we have also introduced a couple of changes to the Queenstown service, changes that were already in progress. These include:

  • A temporary stop on the Frankton to Jack’s Point route at Hanley’s Farm, located on Jack Hanley Drive near the playground
  • The extension of the number 1 – Fernhill to Remarkables Shops (via Airport) all the way to Sunshine Bay

 

Total Mobility fares reduced

Do you or someone you know use Total Mobility for assisted travel?

As of Tuesday 14 April, additional assistance is available for clients to use the service during Alert Level 3 and 4 to access essential services such as the supermarket, pharmacies, doctors and the hospital. For many people this will mean free travel.

Please visit www.orc.govt.nz/public-transport/total-mobility-covid-19 or call 0800 474 082 to learn more (including operators available during this time and end dates of this subsidy).

Here’s an example of how the subsidy will work: If the fare is $60, then $50 of that will be covered by ORC and NZTA and the remaining $10 would need to be settled between the passenger and the driver. If the fare is less than $50, you will not need to pay anything.

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