The good oil on pub­lic trans­port is avail­able

South Waikato News - - NEWS/OPINION - By NORM BARKER

EW councillor

IT is timely for the South Waikato com­mu­nity to dis­cuss pub­lic trans­port. Over the last three years I have been lob­bied by var­i­ous groups and in­di­vid­u­als to look at pro­vid­ing some bus ser­vices be­tween Toko­roa/ Pu­taruru/ Ti­rau into Hamil­ton as well as some in­ter-district ser­vices be­tween Pu­taruru and Toko­roa.

They have been lob­by­ing me as an En­vi­ron­ment Waikato councillor as EW has the leg­is­lated re­spon­si­bil­ity for plan­ning, con­tract­ing and over­all co-or­di­na­tion of pas­sen­ger trans­port in our re­gion.

Most peo­ple are aware that EW plans and con­tracts the buses in Hamil­ton which have been hugely suc­cess­ful with pa­tron­age in­creas­ing 68 per cent in three years. What a lot of peo­ple don’t know is that we con­tract bus ser­vices be­tween ru­ral towns and Hamil­ton.

Ex­am­ples are Paeroa/ Te Aroha/Mor­rinsville to Hamil­ton, Raglan to Hamil­ton, Huntly to Hamil­ton and two very new ser­vices about to start in Jan­uary (Te Awa­mutu to Hamil­ton and Cam­bridge to Hamil­ton).

In ad­di­tion EW con­tracts the bus ser­vices within Taupo and Huntly.

An ex­ten­sive tele­phone sur­vey was com­mis­sioned and paid for through a shared ser­vice be­tween South Waikato District Coun­cil and EW.

This sur­vey in­di­cated there was enough com­mu­nity sup­port to con­tinue to look at ways at pro­gress­ing var­i­ous bus ser­vice op­tions which would need a com­mu­nity tick off in an SWDC an­nual plan.

Why would a ser­vice need SWDC sup­port?

It’s be­cause most bus ser­vices re­quire a sub­sidy.

If we were to try to get pas­sen­gers to pay the true cost the charge per ticket would be too ex­pen­sive and would pe­nalise the very peo­ple who most need trans­port op­tions, namely the trans­port dis­ad­van­taged, the youth and the el­derly who can no longer drive or don’t have a car.

So around the coun­try the New Zealand Trans­port Agency gen­er­ally gives a con­tri­bu­tion to run­ning costs, as do ratepay­ers.

The ratepayer or ‘‘lo­cal share’’ con­tri­bu­tion comes from the district coun­cils and in the Raglan to Hamil­ton in­stance the Waikato District Coun­cil pays.

In the new ser­vice from Te Awa­mutu to Hamil­ton the Waipa District Coun­cil pays.

If the South Waikato com­mu­nity want a ser­vice to run from the district into Hamil­ton and it re­quires a lo­cal share then the SWDC coun­cil­lors will need to be con­vinced at an­nual plan time to rate for it.

I am happy to pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion on the pub­lic trans­port ques­tion­naire and the re­port on it that went to South Waikato coun­cil­lors last week. Con­tact me at norm. barker@ ew. govt. nz or phone 021 815 437.

Fi­nally, thank you very much for the feed­back I re­ceived on my first col­umn which ap­peared re­cently.

It’s al­ways great to hear the com­mu­nity’s views as this helps me to best rep­re­sent the district around the EW coun­cil ta­ble.

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