Visiting Christchurch, New Zealand but don’t have a car? Don’t fret; Christchurch has a great public transportation system. It is one of the cheapest in the country, and it is efficient, clean and comfortable. Getting around a foreign city is always daunting, so we have decided to write some blog posts to take you through how the local bus system and explain how it works. In part 1, we are going to look over two topics that we are regularly asked about; which companies run the Christchurch bus system, and look at how much it costs to ride. For more details on this, be sure to look at the official Metro website for Christchurch.
Who runs the bus system, and where do I find more information?
There are three companies that operate and run buses in Christchurch; Red Bus (the most iconic), Christchurch Bus Services and Leopard Coachlines. To keep everything simple, the Christchurch City Council runs the Bus Exchange (otherwise known as the Bus Xchange) under the Metro Christchurch brand. This simplifies transport greatly; instead of having to go to each company and check their different bus routes, you only have to go to the Metro Christchurch website and look up the different bus routes and timetables, all numbered. These services all essentially work as one and the bus drivers all have knowledge and understanding of all of the Christchurch routes, even though they work for different companies.
How much does it cost?
One of the best things about the Christchurch bus service is that it is very cheap, one of the cheapest in the whole of New Zealand. To use the bus service, you do not need to purchase any tickets. You simply flag the bus down at the bus stop, go onto the bus and pay the driver directly with cash (they do not take eftpos). An adult fare is $3.20 when paying by cash and $1.60 for children (18 years and younger). The $3.20 is a flat fee whether you ride the bus for 2 minutes or for an hour.
When you pay by cash, you will receive a printed ticket that outlines the date/time that you purchased your fare. Keep this ticket; it is important. You are allowed to use your ticket to ride another bus for free within 2 hours. This means that if you require a transfer/two buses to reach your destination (it is extremely unlikely that you would need three buses) then you only need to pay $3.20 one way. It is also very useful for days when you are running short errands; for instance, you can pay just $3.20 to bus to a supermarket, and then bus back within 2 hours and not have to purchase another fare.
The metro card; a cost-effective solution for busing around Christchurch
If you are in Christchurch for more than a few days and you intend on doing a lot of busing, then I highly recommend you purchase a metro card. These have an initial $10 upfront cost but they will save you at least 25% on all of your bus fares. When you purchase a metro card, you will be given a hard, plastic card that you deposit money onto and use that to pay for your fares. The card is scanned and the bus driver will automatically deduct money from your balance.
The savings with this are huge. As an example, bus fares normally cost $3.20 for adults when paid for by cash but when you pay with a metro card it will only cost you $2.30 per fare. Another great way you save money is in the fact that the maximum amount you pay per day is $4.60, or two fares worth. If you paid by cash and you took the bus three times, you would need to pay $3.60 each time you rode the bus if you weren’t able to use a free transfer. But with a metrocard, you could take any bus as much as you like in a single day, and pay a maximum of $4.60 each day. You don’t even need to purchase this deal; once you have spent $4.60 the card will automatically stop you from spending more money. This does not include extra fee’s such as ferry fee’s to/from Diamond Harbour.
Thank you for reading our post! In our upcoming posts we will take a look at other common questions such as public buses to/from the airport and take a look at recommended bus routes.