Media release

COVID-19 preparedness for public transport users

Wednesday 23 February 2022

The Otago Regional Council is asking passengers to be prepared as COVID-19 and driver shortages may impact public transport and the Total Mobility service.

As COVID-19 spreads through the community, the council is working with operators to assess the potential disruption to Orbus services. 

While council and operators are working to keep the buses running during this period, the community should prepare for travel disruptions on the buses such as reduced services, similar to lockdown.

This is to ensure basic continuity of the service while adhering to government requirements around self-isolation for those with COVID-19 or close contacts thereof.

Julian Phillips, ORC Transport Implementation Lead, said, “We are reviewing timetables with our transport providers to ensure our key services and peak timetables remain operational should the situation become more acute.

“The national shortage of bus drivers further limits the amount of flexibility in the service and, as the situation changes, we are advising there may not be enough drivers to operate all routes/trips daily.”

ORC and operators have also recently provided additional services and or extensions to the network to supply schools affected by the closure of Otago Road Services.

Bus companies have access to Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) for drivers and, in accordance with guidelines, all drivers who have been identified as close contacts but who are asymptomatic are required to return a negative RAT before starting their shift.

Passengers are asked to remain diligent with facemask wearing when travelling on the bus (noting this is a legal requirement on board unless exempt) and not to travel if they have been required to self-isolate or are feeling unwell.

In cases where trips are cancelled or changed, the latest alerts and notifications can be found here. Passengers are urged to get familiar with the webpage, and to make sure they check for any alerts before setting out on their trip.

The capacity to provide drivers for buses may change quickly so please check the Otago Regional Council website before travel for the most up to date information.

Passengers who use the Transit app are asked to pin their most frequently used routes as this will give them notifications about any large changes on the network.

Those who use Total Mobility services – the subsidised service available to those who are unable to use public transport – should also be aware that drivers could become unavailable at short notice. Total Mobility users are asked to contact their personal support networks to make a travel plan should their Total Mobility taxi be cancelled.