Public Transport Strategy

The issues of increasing the number of people using the bus around Canterbury is a strategic challenge that needs to be addressed as the region grows and Christchurch city rebuilds. A long-term shift in the social norms around public transport are required for sustained and long-term behaviour change.

Looking at the issue from a strategic behaviour change perspective, we had to unpack the causes behind declining bus usage.


We did a desk review which looked at successful transport behaviour change projects around the world, talked directly to those involved to identify key success factors.


Initial qualitative research gave us insight into how people felt about the bus service, why they didn’t use it and how bus transport was viewed. This was complimented with quantitative research which gave a clear picture of the current market, the potential market for change, the barriers and challenges to changes and the most-effective incentives and rewards


Taking a whole of system approach we ran insight workshops with local government, stakeholders, businesses, commercial partners, bus drivers and regional council staff to build a clear picture of the public transport eco-system.


From the draft behaviour strategy a series of protoype sessions refined the incentives and rewards – the ‘offering’ that was needed to get people to think about and more importantly, use the bus for some journeys.

The extensive behaviour change strategy which emerged looked at upstream issues such as connectivity, network coverage, contracting model and operational behaviour change such as travel planning, rewards and incentives. From this a cross-workstream action plan was developed and a pilot programme – the Change Moment pilot – was developed and implemented in late 2015. The pilot was a success; a 26% increase in bus usage over the two month pilot. An increase from 4% to 50% in those who plan to frequently (at least twice a week) take the bus and a decrease from 55% to 27% in those who will only occasionally use the bus going forward.

The behaviour change strategy gave us a clear indication of all the constituent parts and how they worked together. It also identified the opportunities, within the system, on which we could hang our behaviour change.