Red Bus trials new reading initiative

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Red Bus is trialling a new electronic reading initiative to help passengers pass the time on their bus trips.

Being launched on Wednesday, August 1, the free Stories on the Go project means passengers can read a short story or poetry on their phone using one of 20 different QR codes on the bus. Each QR code contains a different story to read, so people can change seats each trip to read something new. New stories will be added over time.

The initiative is the brainchild of Magdalena Lorenzo who set up Commuting Book in 2016 to promote reading by making books available in public spaces. Lorenzo began by dropping donated books at bus stops and has subsequently been working to develop the idea.

Stories on the Go will initially be available on the CBD to airport bus service, coinciding with a free wi-fi trial by Environment Canterbury on the same route. The service carries more than 200,000 passengers annually.

Passengers will be able to scan a different short story or poetry onto their phone each time they take the bus. All works are by New Zealand authors, including Julie Hill, Frankie McMillan, Charlotte Grimshaw, Pip Adam, Rachal King, Heather McQuillan, James Norcliffe, and Kirsten McDougall. Some of the authors are participating at the WORD Christchurch Festival, while others are local writers or students from The School for Young Writers. The works will cater for both adults and younger readers. One work is in Te Reo Maori and can also be read in English.

Chief executive Paul McNoe said the trial was part of Red Bus’ continued aim to enhance its service to passengers.

“Christchurch people are hungry for enhancements to the way the city functions. Our support for Stories on the Go is part of our commitment to innovation and new technology. We’re a forward-thinking organisation. Our vision is to influence and grow passenger transport through world leading innovation.

“We need to ensure our public transport service is future proof and fit for purpose with a modern, regenerating city.”

McNoe hoped Stories on the Go would subsequently be added to other routes.

The innovative move follows an announcement by Red Bus in June that it is buying three electric buses that will be delivered by next March, and used on the same direct service route between the CBD and Christchurch Airport.