The good oil on public transport is available
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.