Selwyn’s trial bus services to continue

Commuter bus services from Darfield and Southbridge to Christchurch city will continue operating after funding was confirmed as part of Environment Canterbury’s Annual Plan 2020/21.

The 86 Darfield-City service will remain on a permanent basis, while the 87 Southbridge-City service will continue for the 2020/21 financial year at this stage.

Senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon says that he is pleased to be able to provide further certainty to Selwyn residents on the future of these two services.

“The Darfield service has been well supported by the community since the trial started, with consistent and sustained usage,” said Gibbon.

“Prior to COVID-19, we had been seeing some improvement in the viability of the service from Southbridge and Leeston. This has been helped by the special fare that was introduced at the start of 2020.

“We hope to see usage increase as people return to normal work and school routines.”

Timetables and fares for each service will remain the same. See details for each service on the Metro website:

Previous updates

18 December 2019~~

Trial commuter bus services to the city from Southbridge, Leeston, Doyleston, Irwell and Springston will continue until at least April 2020.

The express service trial has been running since January 2019 to determine levels of customer demand, bringing passengers into Christchurch city in the morning and returning in the afternoon.

Senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon said that while there has been some support of the service from the community, the overall number of people using it is lower than hoped, with nearly 60% of the users are school children.

“The lower fares contribution from children may affect the viability of this service, and to meet the cap we needed to address the fares,” he said.

“For this service to be viable, we are unable to keep the fares at the Zone 3 rate and have instead introduced special fares.“

The intention is to encourage the use of this service so that it might become viable in the future. Fares have been set as low as is practical, and at a level which is less than the current Zone 3 cash fare.

How much will it cost?

  • Adults will pay a flat fare of $6
  • Child fares will be $3.50 for all locations along the route

Metrocards can still be used on this service, but there will be no discount for Metrocard holders as there is on other services.

Tickets (both cash and Metrocard) will be non-transferable to other Metro services.

Holiday timetable

The service will pause on Friday 20 December for the holiday period, resuming on Monday 27 January for the new school term. It will be initially offered until the end of Term 1, with the option to continue if it is well supported.

25 October 2019

Trial commuter bus services running in Selwyn are set to continue beyond the end of October.

In July, Environment Canterbury confirmed that the trial commuter bus services in Darfield and Leeston would continue through until the end of October 2019, after funding was made available through the Annual Plan process.

It has now been confirmed that the Darfield service will continue until at least June 2020, however options for the Leeston service beyond the end of the calendar year are being considered.

86 Darfield-City

The Darfield service has continued to be well supported by the community with consistent usage and will continue until at least June 2020. As part of the next Annual Plan process, funding of the service longer-term will be considered to allow it to remain, provided the sustained usage continues.

87 Leeston-City

Usage of the Leeston service remains below where it needs to be to continue it in its current form long-term. It will continue operating as is until December 20, 2019 and, over the coming months, Environment Canterbury will consider options for the service for the new year.

This will include looking at introducing a different fare structure to increase viability and assessing whether the extension from Leeston to Southbridge remains viable.

If a suitable solution can be found, the service will take a break during the holiday period, recommencing for the new school year in late January or early February 2020.

15 July 2019

Trial commuter bus services in Darfield and Leeston will continue for a further four months, with the Leeston service being extended to include Southbridge from Monday 22 July.

Environment Canterbury senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon confirmed that funding has been made available through the Environment Canterbury Annual Plan process to allow the trial services until the end of October.

“It’s encouraging to see the strong level of support from the Selwyn community to continue these services. We’re happy to confirm they will continue to be provided on a trial basis, meaning that we are likely to test out different options to see further growth in patronage, particularly for the Leeston service,” he said.

In the first instance, this will involve extending the 87 Leeston-City service to include Southbridge, starting from Monday 22 July. Trips to the city will depart from High Street opposite the Southbridge Hotel at 6.50am on weekdays. Departure times from other locations will remain unchanged. A map and fare information is available at

Boarding numbers for both services remained relatively steady over recent months, with an average of around 45 boardings per day on the Darfield service and around 30 per day on the Leeston service.

Selwyn District Council Mayor Sam Broughton says the council is pleased with the result, which it supported through a submission to the Annual Plan.

“As a Council, we advocated for these buses on behalf of our community. It’s great to see such a good uptake of the service, allowing Environment Canterbury to continue the trial, to look at areas for improvement and hopefully to the services being implemented permanently.”

Environment Canterbury will continue to closely monitor these services over the four-month period and will work with partners to consider long-term options should these services continue to be well-supported.

Service timetables

The available funding still only allows for one trip in each direction Monday-Friday for each service.

Before the trial services started, the Darfield and Leeston communities were surveyed to determine the most suitable trip times.

“As the funding only allows for one trip daily in each direction, it is a difficult balancing act to set trip times that work for everyone who may use the service. The recent steady boarding numbers suggest that the current times are working well for a number of people, so if we were to alter them we would need to make sure that they still worked well for current users,” said Gibbon.

“A survey we ran with the Darfield passengers in March, regarding the time of the afternoon service, showed that we were unable to find an alternative that would not reduce the number of current passengers who would use it.”