Metlink announces on-demand public transport trial for Tawa

Metlink On Demand

Metlink have announced details of a new on-demand public transport trial which it says will improve access to public transport in Tawa by tailoring services to meet community needs. 

The trial, which starts in early 2022, 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 rails 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 as 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.