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Passenger Information System/Transit Management SystemEnvironment Canterbury

New real-time information system for Canterbury's public transport

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Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council successfully launched a new real-time information (RTI) system for the Metro public transport network in late 2021. The implementation was completed when the Bus Interchange technology was upgraded.

The project was refreshed and Metro's RTI system was upgraded within nine months, replacing the previous radio-based solution with a GPS based solution supplied by NEC NZ Limited.


Travelers looking to receive information on bus arrivals would encounter lapses in receiving information. This is because the previous solution was radio-based, with reception being poorer in certain areas.

They needed a new system that not only provides wider coverage, but one that could be integrated with other systems and evolve over time.

"As the Metro network grows, technology advances and customer expectations increase, we need to be able to be able to evolve to meet those expectations," Environment Canterbury Manager of Public Transport Business Services and Improvement Jeremy Dickson said.


NEC New Zealand has entered into a multi-year agreement with the Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury to work together to improve the passenger journey and experience for Cantabrians.

The RTI system in place enables improvements to the service, including managing and minimizing the bunching of buses and providing schedule adherence through driver display units. In addition inbuilt machine learning technology was incorporated as a key feature to accommodate the effect of traffic during peak times to predict arrival times with high accuracy. NEC's Smart Transport Centre of Excellence in the ANZ region will be used to continuously improve the experience for the public.

The elements of the solution include improvements to:

  • the Bus Interchange
  • on-bus equipment
  • on-street passenger information signs
  • feature-rich bus location data
  • online passenger journey tools
  • third-party APIs to feed mobile applications

The new system also provides a bus operator management system which enables operators to manage their buses in sync with Metro timetables and enables the monitoring and measuring of bus reliability on the Greater Christchurch network.

Despite complications due to COVID-19 restrictions, the upgrades were delivered successfully. The Bus Interchange hardware and software were completely swapped out. Upgrading the system was challenging as the network operated 19 hours a day, seven days a week. One of the key objectives during the implementation was to not disrupt the passengers. The implementation team was agile and able to meet this objective. During the development of the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP), reliability and punctuality were identified as critical aspects of public trust and the use of public transport.


Since the project's completion, Metro customers in Greater Christchurch can now access accurate, real-time arrival information for every bus in operation on the network. The timeliness of information gathering enables monitoring and management of the network or timetable.

According to Christchurch City Council Transport Operations Manager Stephen Wright, the system will provide more even more accurate and accessible information at bus stops. "The new bus finders are easier to see, hear, and operate, making it easier to catch the bus."
The launch of the new system also includes improvements such as better accuracy of journey planning tools, integration with third-party mobile applications, and text-to-speech options. The system has also increased the coverage of real-time tracking in hilly areas and at the edge of the network, enabling more precise arrival time estimates.

(FEB 21, 2024)