A free bus service for workers commuting from Timaru and Oamaru is proving to be a key factor with job seekers at Oceania Dairy's South Canterbury dairy plant, says the company.
More than 70 of the more than 300 staff have started using the service, and the company expects about 70 per cent of staff will eventually use the buses on a regular basis.
The initiative started this month on a trial basis and to date has run without a hitch, the company said. Oceania's milk tanker provider Hilton Haulage owns and operates the buses.
The service runs to and from Timaru and Oamaru in line with Oceania's 6am and 6pm shifts.
Oceania general manager Richard Hickson said a growth in production came with an increase in the volume of people travelling to and from work seven days per week, morning and night.
"The buses help ensure we minimise health and safety risks, attract the best people, and make it as easy as possible for people to do a great job. They also reduce our carbon footprint by cutting the number of vehicles on the road each day."
UHT Process Controller Pawandeep Kaur catches the bus from Timaru. After two years with the company she says one of the perks is now getting to have a rest immediately after a long shift.
"It would take me around 45 minutes driving by myself to work, which was tough," Kaur said. "Now it's really nice to be able to relax on the bus and not worry about driving in the dark."
Other staff say the bus trips have saved them money.
UHT Process Controller Kevin McCloy said he would usually spend around $90 to run his car to and from work for two days.
"Using the bus is just like getting a pay rise." he said.
Oceania was acquired in 2013 by Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group. The company says it has plans to build another ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk processing line, canning and blending line, and new laboratory.
Hickson said this would bring the total number of employees to around 400 by year's end.