Public transport in Christchurch

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New Bus Exchange 893.JPG
The new Bus Interchange in August 2015
Locale New Zealand
Service area Christchurch
Service type Bus services
Fuel type Diesel, biodiesel
Operator Red Bus Ltd
Go Bus Christchurch
Black Cat Ltd[1]
Metrocard issued by Environment Canterbury for use on Metro services
MetroSticki (mobile version) issued by Environment Canterbury for use on Metro services

Public transport in Christchurch, New Zealand consists of bus services operated by two bus companies supported by a ferry, all jointly marketed as Metro.


Since deregulation of the urban bus market in 1991 the Canterbury Regional Council (now branded Environment Canterbury) has taken responsibility for the tendering, planning and administration of public transport in Christchurch. Over the course of that time improvements and changes have shaped the predominantly bus based public transport system including the introduction of services such as the Orbiter. Originally branded as CanRide this was replaced in 2003 with the introduction of the Metro brand and the eventual Metrocard.

Ticketing and fares are, with some exceptions, standard across the city's network. The electronic Metrocard provides a discount off regular fares. Under 18s receive a discount, and senior citizens travel free on off-peak services (9:00am to 3:00pm and after 6:30pm weekdays, all day weekends and public holidays).

'Real-time' bus arrival times are displayed on electronic displays at bus stops, online and mobile (cellphone) WAP.

The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake resulted in significant changes to the Metro bus network with the two key changes. The first change was the removal and or reorganisation of many routes due to the closure of the central city, road damage along routes, or reduced patronage. The second change occurred in December 2012 with the shift of the bus network from a radial network to a hub and spoke model network and the Blue Line was introduced. This resulted in many services being localised to hubs with connecting core services into the Central City and Cross Town.

More changes were made in December 2014, with the introduction of the Purple Line, Yellow Line and Orange Line, and more suburb to suburb routes.


The local bus service is marketed as Metro and designed, specified, put out to tender and subsidised by Environment Canterbury. All bus operators are required to display the required external Metro branding to vehicles under contract to ECan.

Christchurch City Council provides roading infrastructure and street furniture such as signs and seats and regulates parking at bus stops, and is also owner of Red Bus Ltd through its holding company Christchurch City Holdings. The city council previously funded the zero-fare The Shuttle service which ended after the 2011 earthquake.

The Christchurch City Council also provides bus lanes which operational during peak commuting hours on some routes. The routes have been controversial with some business owners concerned at the loss of parking from outside their businesses during the lanes operational times, but the lanes have improved bus travel times, schedule adherence and have resulted in an increase in passenger numbers.

Vehicle safety standards are regulated by the NZ Transport Agency.

Bus interchange[edit]


The city council provided the previous central city bus exchange in November 2000, which was damaged and closed after the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The previous bus exchange in the city centre served as the principal bus interchange point and passenger hub for the Metro network. The Exchange had attracted interest from other worldwide city authorities investigating how to improve their bus services. Since the Bus Exchange opened in 2000, the number of people using the bus service had doubled.


With the closure of the central city, two separate temporary central city facilities on the outer fringes of the CBD were established; one in Bealey Avenue, and one in Hagley Avenue. On 25 October 2011, bus services shifted to the new Central Station between Lichfield and Tuam Streets (in the block between Colombo and Durham Streets), which served as a longer-term temporary city bus stop. The expectation was that Central Station was to be in use for "up to two years".[2]

2015 Bus interchange[edit]


The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was unveiled on 30 July 2012,[3] which had an indicative time-frame for a new Bus Interchange building to be open by June 2014.[4] Central Station was in use until 25 May 2015, when Christchurch's new $53 million Bus Interchange building opened,[5] with half of the 16 bays operational. On August 20, the building was physically completed and further opened to the public, including bike parking and more seating. On Thursday October 8, the remaining bays opened. Later retailers took spaces.[6]


Part of the hub and spoke model network is that many passengers need to interchange to other buses at suburban centres.[7] The 4 Metro Line services, which cross the city every 10 to 15 minutes, serve the Interchange,[8] but the Orbiter doesn't.[7] The Interchange also provides for the less frequent buses, longer distance coaches (on Lichfield St, except for Newmans to Queenstown),[9] taxis, cyclists and pedestrians.[8]


Architectus and Aurecon designed the interchange and Thiess and Southbase Construction built it.[8]

To save space a ‘reversing bus bay’ design of 16 bays[10] has a 7 m (23 ft) backing lane, separated from the 5 m (16 ft) wide circulation lane.[8]

The passenger hall has underfloor heating from a groundwater heat pump. Wind towers and louvres draw air into the hall and air curtains prevent fumes getting in.[10] Each bus route has an area within the interchange, buses being automatically directed to a stop in that area. Doors to the hall open once the bus stops and another door at the front allows cyclists to access bus bike racks. Although pedestrians aren't permitted in the bus manoeuvering area, bus speeds are restricted. Cycle racks for 100 bicycles[8] are on two levels and there are e-bike chargers.[11] There are also toilets, luggage lockers and an information counter. Tactile paving guides sight impaired passengers.[12] A large canopy and verandas provide shelter outside.[8]

Riccarton Road lounge[edit]

The first bus lounge, which provides indoor waiting facilities, was planned for Riccarton Road. ECan requested it to be open in December 2014, but Christchurch city councillors found it difficult to make the required decisions. The opening was initially delayed to April 2015, and the city council then gave itself a new deadline of August 2015, and then said it would be open in November 2015.[13] It wasn't until 14 December 2015 that the Riccarton Road lounge, on the corner with Division Street, finally opened.[14]

Bus services[edit]

Oversimplified map of the Christchurch Metro Network

On 8 December 2014 a new bus network was launched offering three types of bus services. Five colour-coded frequent bus routes (the Metro Lines) run through Christchurch's major road corridors, connecting people to popular destinations.

City Connectors (buses with two numbers) allow people to travel from outer suburbs and satellite towns direct to the city.[15]

Suburban Links (buses with three numbers) allow people to travel between inner suburbs, while avoiding the central city. People wanting to go to Central Station would need to transfer onto another bus at transfer points, located throughout the city.[15]

The following services are operated under the Metro brand:

Metro Lines[edit]

# Route Name Start Major destinations End Timetable Notes
Or Orbiter Eastgate Mall St Martins, Princess Margaret Hospital, Barrington Mall, Riccarton Mall, Canterbury University, Northlands Mall, The Palms Mall Eastgate Mall [1] Bike-icon.svg
B Blue Line Princess Margaret Hospital Sydenham Shops, Central Station, Bealey Ave, Northlands Mall, Belfast, Kaiapoi Rangiora [2] Bike-icon.svg
Every other service Belfast to Rangiora
P Purple Line Airport Avonhead Mall, Canterbury University, Riccarton Mall, Chch Hospital, Central Station, CPIT, Ferrymead Shops Sumner [3] Bike-icon.svg
Y Yellow Line Rolleston Templeton, Hornby Hub, Church Corner, Riccarton Mall, Chch Hospital, Central Station, Fitzgerald Ave, Eastgate Mall New Brighton [4] Bike-icon.svg
Every other service Rolleston to Hornby
O Orange Line Halswell Addington, Chch Hospital, Central Station, The Palms Mall, Burwood Hospital Queenspark [5] Bike-icon.svg

City Connector services[edit]

# Route Name Start Major destinations End Timetable Notes
17 Bryndwr to Hunstbury Sheffield Crescent Sir William Pickering Dr, Rossall St/Leinster Road, Park Tce, Central Station, Moorhouse Ave, Waltham, St Martins Huntsbury [6] Bike-icon.svg
28 Papanui to Lyttelton Papanui Northlands Mall, Cranford Street, Edgeware, Central Station, Sydenham Shops, Opawa, Heathcote, Lyttelton [7] Bike-icon.svg
29 Airport to City via Fendalton Central Station Fendalton Airport [8] Bike-icon.svg
44 Dallington via Shirley Dallington The Palms Mall, Shirley, Warrington St Shops Central Station [9] Bike-icon.svg
60 Hillmorton to Southshore Aidanfield Hillmorton, Barrington Mall, Chch Hospital, Central Station, The Palms Mall, Travis Rd, New Brighton Southshore [10] Bike-icon.svg
80 Lincoln to Parklands Lincoln University Lincoln Town, Prebbleton, Riccarton Mall, Chch Hospital, Central Station, Eastgate Mall Parklands [11] Bike-icon.svg
95 Waikuku and Pegasus Waikuku Beach Pegasus, Woodend, Kaiapoi, Belfast, Northlands, Bealey Ave, Central Station CPIT [12] Bike-icon.svg

Suburban Link services[edit]

# Route Name Start Major destinations End Timetable Notes
100 Wigram to The Palms Halswell Wigram, Church Corner, Canterbury University, Riccarton Mall, Merivale Mall The Palms Mall [13] Bike-icon.svg
107 Styx Mill to Northlands Northwood Supa Centa Northwood, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Styx Mill, Veitches Road Northlands Mall [14] Bike-icon.svg
108 Casebrook to Northlands Mall Northwood Regents Park, Casebrook, Sawyers Arms Road Northlands Mall [15] Bike-icon.svg
120 Burnside to Spreydon Sheffield Crescent Burnside, Canterbury University, Riccarton Mall, Addington, Spreydon Barrington Mall [16] Bike-icon.svg
125 Redwood to Westlake Redwood Northlands Mall, Bishpdale Mall, Airport, Avonhead Mall, Hornby Hub, Westlake Halswell [17] Bike-icon.svg
130 Hei Hei to Avonhead Hornby Hub Heihei, Church Corner, Riccarton Mall, Canterbury University, Avonhead Mall Burnside High School [18] Bike-icon.svg
135 Burwood Hospital to New Brighton Marshland Burwood Hospital, Beach Rd/Bower Ave New Brighton [19] Bike-icon.svg
140 Russley to Mt Pleasant Hornby Hub Russley, Church Corner, Westfield Riccarton, Moorhouse Ave, Eastgate Mall, Ferrymead Shops Mt Pleasant [20] Bike-icon.svg
145 Westmorland to Eastgate Westmorland Barrington Mall, St Martin Shops Eastgate Mall [21] Bike-icon.svg
150 The Palms to Spencerville The Palms Mall Marshland Spencerville [22] Bike-icon.svg
535 Rapaki to Eastgate Link Rapaki Ferrymead Shops Eastgate Mall [23] Bike-icon.svg
820 Burnham to Lincoln Burnham Izone Business Park, Rolleston, Springston, Lincoln University Lincoln [24] Bike-icon.svg
960 Hornby to Rangiora The Hub Hornby Airport/Antarctic Centre, Silverstream Rangiora [25] Bike-icon.svg
An Oversimplified Map of the Christchurch NZ Metro Network, showing the Metro Lines and the City Connectors.


  • Bike-icon.svg Buses on route fitted with bike racks

Bikes on buses[edit]

Sportworks double bicycle carrier mounted on a Redbus

Christchurch was the first place in New Zealand where bikes were carried on suburban buses. The trial started in November 2007 on the 35 route to Heathcote.[16] Bike racks on buses are provided on all suburban buses now. Other towns have now followed the example, including Dunedin,[17] Feilding,[18] Gisborne,[19] Hawkes Bay,[20] Invercargill,[21] New Plymouth,[22] Taupo,[23] Nelson[24] and Waiheke Island.[25]

Other transport services[edit]


There are a variety of taxi operators active in Christchurch. Operations are regulated by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Airport transport[edit]

Christchurch International Airport is served by buses and shuttle vans.

  • Three bus routes are available from the airport bus stand located outside the International Arrivals Terminal;
    • the Purple Line (via Avonhead & City to Sumner)
    • the number 29 bus (via Fendalton to City)
    • the 125 Redwood via Papanui or West lake via Hornby
  • Shuttle vans provided by several operators, including most taxi companies, provide door-to-door transport to and from the Airport.

Diamond Harbour ferry[edit]

A ferry connects the suburb of Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour, a settlement on the opposite side of Lyttelton Harbour. Ferries first began crossing Lyttelton Harbour in 1888. The ferry is operated by Black Cat Ltd.

Christchurch Tramway[edit]

Christchurch Brill Tram No 178 on the heritage tramway

Christchurch Tramway Ltd operates a one-way tram circuit of the central city. This is mainly marketed as a tourist attraction, but is available to local commuters with an annual season ticket. Trams were originally introduced to Christchurch in 1905, ceased operating in 1954,[26] and returned to the newly built inner city loop in 1995, mainly as a tourist attraction.

Preliminary investigation into light rail options for Christchurch was made in 2009. Investigating options and protecting possible routes is an action point in the City Council's "A City for People Action Plan" (approved in 2010).[citation needed]

Heavy rail[edit]

Commuter rail service was discontinued in the 1970s, while long distance rail travel (by KiwiRail Scenic) has been scaled back to just the Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine services, which depart from the Christchurch Train Station in Riccarton.

In May 2014 an article on the website stated that the Templeton Residents' Association had urged Christchurch City Council to consider the implementation of a local commuter rail network for the city.[27] In an article dated August 2014 it was subsequently confirmed that the city council were to discuss the possibility with the NZ Transport Agency.[28]

Cultural references[edit]

Christchurch's public transport system served as backdrop for Tim Veling's 2006 book "Red Bus Diary", in which the author toured the city on public buses and compiled the stories of the people he met.


  1. ^ "About Metro". Metroinfo. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Mathewson, Nicole (17 October 2011). "Temporary hub will 'restore vibrancy' to city". The Press. p. A3. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Cairns, Lois (30 July 2012). "Rebuild plan for Christchurch unveiled". The Press. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Christchurch Central Recovery Plan. Christchurch: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. 30 July 2012. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-478-39718-5. 
  5. ^ Meier, Cecile (25 May 2015). "Christchurch bus interchange opens". The Press. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "Your new Bus Interchange". Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  7. ^ a b "Metro Bus Services Review May 2014". Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Bus Interchange: Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  9. ^ "Christchurch – Bus Timetable // Search Bus Fares From Christchurch". Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  10. ^ a b "Christchurch Bus Interchange / Architectus". ArchDaily. 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  11. ^ "Inside the new bus interchange whats in it for cycling". Cycling Christchurch. 
  12. ^ "Bus Interchange". Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  13. ^ "Bus lounge date missed fourth time". The Press. 4 December 2015. p. A4. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "Riccarton Rd bus lounge now open". The Press. 15 December 2015. p. A5. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Metro Network" (PDF). Metroinfo. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "Bike-carrying racks on more bus routes from November". Christchurch: Environment Canterbury. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "Dunedin bus network changes effective from 1 July 2015 | Otago Regional Council". Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "Bike racks, additional routes and services for Feilding | Scoop News". Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  19. ^ "Bus Tender (Contract EW12/11) Tender Evaluation Report" (PDF). Gisborne District Council. 
  20. ^ "Bikes join ride on local buses". Hawke's Bay Today. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  21. ^ "Buses – Invercargill City Council". Invercargill City Council. Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Bikes on buses » Taranaki Regional Council". Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  23. ^ "Taupo Connector". Waikato Regional Council. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bus service a winner". Nelson Mail. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  25. ^ "Bikes & public transport". Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  26. ^ Douglass, Malcolm (2006). A Wheel on Each Corner: The History of the IPENZ Transportation Group 1956–2006. IPENZ Transportation Group. p. 12. 
  27. ^ "Christchurch City council urged to look at commuter rail | News |". 21 May 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  28. ^ "Council keen to investigate commuter rail for northern Christchurch | News |". 14 August 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 

External links[edit]